Relationship… Just those letters may drip with pure thrill or temptation to run away and hurl… Trust me, I understand.
Most people my age have popped the question and ring with wedding ceremony planning of homemade decor, catering and picturesque scenery underway. Others are chasing their toddlers or coming up with precious baby announcements and names- Truly exhausting, yet beautiful seasons I love to celebrate with them.
Yet, my reality is I am 26 years old and still single. I am not where or with who I expected to be. And maybe you are, too. So, rather than talking about dating, engagement, or marriage today, we are going to face the elephant in the room.
Now, if you are not single, please do not scroll to the end or click away. I believe this word the Lord has put on my heart has implications for ALL, whether you are 17 or 86, been through a divorce or happily married, and even if you have kids rustling in their beds ready to awaken at any moment or you’re counting down the months until you will get to see your grandkids… So, let us press in and see what Jesus has waiting for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This verse found in Jeremiah 29:11 is well known and rehearsed, especially around this time of the year with graduations and many preparing to launch into the next phases of life. But if we only read verse 11, we are missing the key ingredients, especially to singleness.
Starting in verse 12, it says:
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
So, here in just this one verse, we are given three commands.
- First, we must CALL on God. We do not have to use complicated wording or be in a certain place. We can talk to God anywhere, like we talk to a friend. But we must tell Him we need help because we cannot do it on our own.
2. Now after we have called, we must COME to God. The incredible thing is just like the disciples, He meets us where we are, messes and all. He may cause us to put aside our own ways and “fishing nets” and follow Him, still I promise what He has in store is worth anything we will leave behind.
3.Then we get that third ingredient: PRAY. Notice before the sentence even ends, before there is a period or any punctuation for that matter, God assures us by saying “I will listen to you”. So, even when it feels like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and going nowhere, we can know God is there. Dear friend, even through your anger and tears, He is listening to you. He truly does care.
As we proceed in verse 13, this section concludes with:
“You will seek me and find me when you SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile”.
You see, it is not like a game of hide and seek where everyone is not always found. When we chase after the Lord and His Word alone (without distractions), we will find Him. Thus, in light of this, singleness is a true gift.
Having been in several relationships over the past six years, there have been countless sweet memories of going on dates to fancy restaurants, hiking through caves, staying up late to talk on the phone, and the increasingly lengthy goodnight kisses.
With each guy, I would get so wrapped up in our relationship that all I could see, think, dream, and speak was his name, if we were not together, I was just counting down the moments until we would see each other again. It was as if I was putting on rose-colored glasses, blocking out the world and all problems, so it was just him and me. The fairy tale I had dreamed.
“Love” truly had mesmerized me.
Although when the phone rang or the text message came across the screen, I was crushed and again, even more empty and hurting.
After multiple dating roller coaster rides with guys who were even Christians ending in heartbreak, I finally decided enough was enough. There had to be more I was missing.
In my wrestling, the 29th chapter of Jeremiah continued coming to mind. So I pulled out my Bible one night and rather than stopping after I read verse 11, I proceeded into the following two. It did not take long for me to realize I had been so caught up on all the good and plans to prosper me, but God had been forgotten as the centerpiece.
Therefore, it was not until I started pursuing a personal relationship with Jesus that I found what I was looking for all along. The void and emptiness inside could not be filled by a guy no matter how “perfect” he was or how hard he nor I tried.
And though it has not always been easy or the way I expected, ever since that day, God has come through each time and satisfied my heart beyond any kiss, present, intimacy, kind words, or act of service a man could give.
God needed to be at the top of my pyramid.
So, you may be thinking “that’s great Alisha, for you but that does no good to me now in my singleness”… At various times, I’d wholeheartedly agree with you. But before you dismiss it, I’d like to challenge you to four practical tips you can put into action to transform singleness from a curse to a G.I.F.T.
G- GO out and get to know others.
Now with COVID, this is a bit challenging. Although, we can get creative instead of succumbing to isolation and comparison. You will be surprised to find as you meet people, whether via Zoom or in person, that there is far more depth beyond filters, posts, and followers on social media. We all have a story. None of us are perfect, so you do not have to pretend to be either.
I- Be INTENTIONAL
Hours and days somehow find a way to get away from us. Thus, we must be intentional in setting aside time to read scripture, study, and pray. Do not feel pressured to wake up at the crack of dawn or read 10 chapters of the Bible each day. We are not all wired the same way, so it really is up to you how you go about it and when you set time aside. It can even change based on your various seasons. Although, especially for a planner like me, I have found consistency is key.
In the past I followed Bible Study books from wonderful authors like LaTan Roland Murphy or Priscilla Shirer. Though recently, this time for me has looked like listening to a podcast where sections of the Old and New Testament are read aloud with commentary (about 15-20 minutes) as I get read each morning and then I like to journal about the Psalm I read. It does not have to be done all in one setting either. Just take 5 minutes here and there and I promise you will be amazed at not only the time that adds up, but your closeness with Jesus.
F- FOCUS on becoming the person you would want to marry.
When we are single, we are tempted to constantly be on the lookout everywhere we go for Mr. or Mrs. Right. The one who has mastered the list of desirable traits. The one for which we could check off all the boxes. Rather, I have found it is far better to look into the mirror of the Word in order that we ourselves may become the person that someone would desire to marry.
For example, if you are looking for someone who is clean, do you do the dishes or do you let them pile up in the sink for weeks? Are you wanting someone who speaks truth, although you tell a lie every opportunity you can? Are you wanting them to be a believer, yet you are only found in church once a month? This is not to say we must be the same person. But, our character needs to be consistent if we are longing to honor God and one another in order to commit and sustain a marriage.
FINDING mentors who can walk with you on your journey is also key. At 16, 26 or even 66, we do not know everything. Thus, it is so helpful to tap into others’ experience and wisdom.
T- TREASURE YOUR TIME.
In a culture with immediate gratification, we often long to move on to that next big thing. Although, it is so important you make the most of your singleness season, whether it lasts for 10 weeks or 10 years. For once you say “I do” or have kids, you cannot get this time in your life back.
Thus, use each minute wisely to fall in love with Jesus, who is the ultimate example and model of love to begin with. It does not have to be boring or dull. I promise the more you get to know Him, the greater peace and purpose you will find, plus the fact that He really is alive in the form of the Holy Spirit today.
When we are right in our relationship with God, everything else will fall into place. As we become the person we desire to marry, we will find we are more fully able to love ourselves, which will in turn pour out into our relationships with others as well. Thus, I pray you take the opportunity today to pause and see which of these “gifts” you are missing and how you can invest this season of your life.
If you have questions about singleness, relationships, or are in need of prayer, please feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Instagram (@mess_2_masterpiece), or commenting below!
You are so dearly loved and no matter what you may be facing, you are never alone!