Stay single long enough and you will surely be the target of all kinds of cliché and unhelpful advice from well-meaning people and even the church. It’s unfortunate but often true that you will probably have to endure some of these “this is why you are still single” statements – whether you asked for such advice or not.
So, as a likewise single sister, let me help you debunk a couple of the most prevalent words of counsel you might encounter and then offer you what I consider the most hope-inspiring truths yet.
You just need to make Jesus your husband.
This concept isn’t wrong in itself. God can act as a husband by providing for, protecting, and cherishing His daughter-in-waiting. And I think it is perfectly fine to let God be God in our lives, while we trust Him for our future mate.
However, where I have problems with this is when this concept becomes inextricably linked to me landing a future husband. The assumption goes like this: If you will really and truly learn to make God your spiritual husband, then God will bring that earthly husband into your life.
Yes, God is a jealous God. Yes, He wants His daughters to place complete faith in Him. He might even desire that you find security and worth in Him before He brings that spouse. That is valid.
But to hear that you are still single because you haven’t made God your husband comes off as sounding more than a bit smug and self-righteous. Please, if you are tempted to give this kind of advice, think before you speak. You could be crushing the spirit of your fellow friend in Christ by saying such a blanket statement.
The single woman wonders, How do I know if I have truly made God my husband? How many years must God play that role in my life before He brings the earthly version? How perfectly must I love God in this type of relationship before I pass the test? It’s all so nebulous. And, secondarily, has the advice giver walked the talk and done the same?
I had a woman tell me this while I stood in a prayer line at church. I was extremely vulnerable at the time and really just needed an “I’m sorry” or “I know this must be hard” and a hug. Then she hit me between the eyes with the “God needs to be your husband” argument. When I told her I had been trying to make God my husband, she questioned my sincerity and offered that perhaps I hadn’t REALLY done that. Perhaps I was still holding on. Maybe I was making an idol of marriage and needed to lay that down. Perhaps I hadn’t truly let go so that God could effectively take that husband role.
But how can someone else know your heart? And what right does that person have to question your relationship with the Lord? When that married woman was waiting for her future spouse, did she truly make God her husband? Some would be lying if they told you yes, so be careful when you hear this advice.
Your future husband will come when you aren’t looking for him.
How many times have you heard this one, ladies? I have personally lost count. Now, to be fair, guys can sense when you are desperate or “on the hunt”. It is true that when you get busy having your own life, you can open yourself up to many possibilities, including relationship. But if you aren’t aware who God is bringing across your path and aware of your circumstances – in other words, if you aren’t looking – you might miss him altogether. So how is that going to help you?
Let me offer a counter-argument that turns this whole philosophy on its head. Consider Ruth in the Bible. She didn’t exactly stop looking for a man. In fact, she looked, she saw, and she pursued – and that was biblical! Boaz became her husband partly because she was bold enough to do as the Lord had asked and go to the man who would become her future husband.
Have you written down and prayed over your list?
Oh, right. So, if I don’t have my edited 30-point or more list of husband traits and character qualities, God’s hands are tied?
I don’t treat God like Santa Claus and bring Him my long list and expect Him to smile at my efforts and take my Prince Charming out of his big, red bag and deliver him to my doorstep. God isn’t a magic maker.
Ultimately, I have learned that I make the ‘list’ so that I can know what things I most desire and need. That way I will be able to recognize those qualities in the flesh when that man shows up.
But there is a catch to this perspective: the assumption that God won’t give me what I want and need until I know what I want and need. Somehow God is dependent on me. But this is putting the cart before the horse.
The second assumption is that we have to know ourselves super, super well, as if that somehow is the key to unlocking our future. Correct me if I am wrong, but God wants us to focus on Him above ourselves. See, sometimes we are blind to the things we truly need and desire until God brings that someone along to help us recognize that.
Look, God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need for today and for tomorrow, whether that’s financial provision, safety, a home, or a husband we can grow with before we even ask. He knows the desires in our hearts that we are afraid to voice or that are hidden from our consciousness. We as humans are typically short-term thinkers and can’t always know who will be a good choice over the long haul. But God can and does.
Maybe God doesn’t want you to be married.
The underlying view here is that since you aren’t married yet, maybe God isn’t going to honor your heart’s desire. But I beg to differ. Just as much as I think you will KNOW that you have met the person who is meant to be your future husband, I think you will KNOW that God wants you to be single. Both are partly tied into your desires.
If you long for a spouse, I don’t think God gave you the gift of singleness. But neither can anyone else prescribe when God will bring that man into your life. We don’t always have control of that. But in the Word it says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
God typically doesn’t replace all those original desires you have with something completely different. He does honor the deposit within you. He might change some of those unholy desires through the process of sanctification, but wanting a husband isn’t wrong. You should never be ashamed to want that, even if you are an older single woman.
It’s all in God’s good time.
OK, you want to know what I think is the best advice? Here it is: God has it all figured out. If I can continue to walk in obedience to Him, He will work it out in His time. If I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will add these things to me (Matthew 6:33). He knows my needs. He wants to fulfill my desire. But I need to trust Him that He has His own timetable, and that as I abide in Him and He in me, He hasn’t forgotten the plan He has for me.
It’s His grace, ultimately, that will cause such things to happen in my life, not my performance. I don’t serve God so that He will bless me with what I want; I serve God because He is Lord. Blessings are secondary. I wait upon Him, not as a timid child realizing I need to add more gold stars to my progress report before God honors my request for a mate; I wait on Him because He is worth the wait, because I believe Him, trust Him, depend on Him.
He might not do everything the way I would choose – most especially in this area. But His timing will be considerably better than mine – and I speak that in faith. He will bring the blessing when He is ready. And if He is ready, then so will I be.