This blog first appeared on the Prayer Ideas website and was edited by Karen Barber.
Are you discouraged about still being single? I’ve been struggling lately with doubt and resentment aimed at God about still being single and alone at age 41 with no glimmer of a husband or children. I know that this sounds terrible to say but I imagine that some of you have also felt this way in the past or feel this way too right now.
There are no easy answers, but I’ll share my struggles and how it’s helpful to talk honestly to God about how you feel. At the end I’ll share my personal prayer that helps me keep hope alive.
- Be honest with God about advice from books and others that don’t comfort or help you.
I’ve read books about how I need to find my completeness in God and my comfort in the arms of Jesus. Cerebrally I know that a man cannot complete me. I know that I have to be content in the person that I am on my own and with my relationship with God before I have anything to give someone else. I feel pretty good in my own skin and feel like I have a lot to offer. I know that I have some areas I can improve but I feel like I am trying but it’s never good enough. I wonder, “What am I doing wrong?” and “What else do I need to do?” The only answer I can think of is God should be all I need but the fact is I want more. I worry is God not going to finally give it to me until I can say I don’t want it anymore and all I want is Him? I used to want to be a nun before I understood all that entailed. Why is God making me be a nun when I don’t want to be? I don’t think I will ever not want a man. God made Eve for Adam so Adam could have a companion. I want a companion and I think God wants me to have one, but when?
- Talk to God about your sense of self-worth, worthiness, and well-being.
I know I sound like a two-year-old pitching a fit because I’m not getting what I’ve asked for and have been asking for as long as I can remember. I feel like I am an okay person and have a lot to offer, so I don’t understand why no one wants me and I am still being denied this. I feel like I’ve been relatively patient and have done my time at singlehood and enough is enough.
I know that you can’t earn things and that God does not grant you them based on whether you do enough or are a certain way. Three friends have had/are having babies in a six month span. I am happy for them and it’s not so much jealously but I feel “Why can’t I have that? When will that be me? What should I do? Should I make it happen myself and take it into my own hands or keep waiting?”
I recently began re-reading a book about waiting. In it the author talks about how single people can do so much for the kingdom that married couples and parents can’t because of demands on their time. I know I am looking at it the wrong way, but that almost doesn’t seem fair that I am being asked to do more spiritually and also being denied what I want most. I know that being married and having kids has its own demands and challenges and that mine is a terrible attitude to have. I am volunteering at church teaching an English-as-a-second-language class. I have found it very rewarding and I know that serving gets you out of your own head and doing something good for others, so I am glad I have taken that step. The book made me realize that waiting is not enough. I agree I should put my extra time to good use and answer that call I’m just not sure how yet.
- Ask God to speak to you through the Bible.
I have written to God and He has answered me that I will find my husband soon and to be patient and that he will be the man I want and that we are being prepared for each other and I will get to be a mother. But that was months ago. My Bible studies have even had me re-read the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1:5-25 and of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 12. That was very comforting at the time but then I started doubting again.
- Ask God if there’s anything else you should be doing or if you’re supposed to wait.
I know people are praying for me in addition to my own prayers. It feels like it doesn’t matter what I or others do because it is all totally in God’s hands. I know that should be a comfort and I should feel relieved that God’s got my back, but that’s where the resentment comes in. Knowing that I am at God’s mercy and I must totally surrender myself to Him and wholly trust in Him and His plans and His will and knowing that His ways are always perfect, that He knows best and it will all be worth it in the end is at the same time inspiring but also exasperating and the realization is hard to accept. I keep wanting to do something and I know I can’t do anything—I have to wait on God. And the waiting is what’s getting me down. I usually don’t feel like it’s an “if” it’s going to happen, but it’s a question of “when”. Then after more time has elapsed, I start despairing again and wondering will it ever happen.
- Ask God to help you take comfort in any signs that come your way without reading too much into them.
I thought God gave me a sign in the form of a hummingbird once, but then I started thinking I may have misinterpreted it so I tried to clarify by asking to see a hummingbird again if the guy I like is my future spouse. I asked for the sign twice and the lack of seeing it those two times meant to me that I had been wrong about who I thought God was telling me is the one. The first time I told myself you can’t demand a sign from God. But, I couldn’t get the story of Rebekah at the well (Genesis 24) out of my mind. As I cried profusely, God told me to look up and I saw my wind chime with doves on it. It made me cry harder as I realized those are all the birds I need. Then I also heard a voice telling me not to give up my faith because of one hummingbird and I wondered why I keep testing God and asking for reassurance when I feel like He was loud and clear before I started doubting. I need the reassurance because nothing is happening. The doubt has me wondering was it Him, or me, or Satan telling me he was the one? If I was wrong and the guy isn’t the one, why won’t God send someone else who is???
- Ask God to direct you to a source of encouragement and help that works for you.
Sometimes when I am troubled I listen to Christian radio and it doesn’t help. Sometimes I open the Bible hoping that a verse will jump out at me and comfort me or speak to me and it doesn’t. What I find to be most helpful is doing targeted Bible studies. That is when I discover (or rediscover) the comforting passages. The Psalms have never really spoken to me until now. Here are some verses that have helped:
Psalm 32:8: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 71:14: As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
Psalm 100:5: For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 145: 8-9: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Other verses which have been helpful are:
Jeremiah 29: 11: “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.”
Lamentations 3: 22-24: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Joshua 1: 9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Proverbs 3: 5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Genesis 15: 1-7: After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
Genesis 16:4: He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. (This verse tells me not to take things into my own hands.)
Genesis 17: 16-19: I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
Romans 8:24-25: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Hebrews 6:11: We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.
- Pray it through until you feel better
My uncle also told me when I cannot find comfort, to pray through it. He said to pray until I feel better. The following is a prayer that I wrote to help me pray until I feel better:
Please, Lord, hear my prayer and may the Holy Spirit intercede for me and plea on my behalf with the words that I do not have.
Please help me to remember your promises to me and those that I see fulfilled in scripture. Please help me to keep doubt from taking over and from questioning you and myself. Please help me to have faith and not just believe you have my best interest at heart, but to find peace in it, appreciate it, and not resent it.
Please open my heart to your majesty and praise you even when I’m disappointed, frustrated, and hopeless. Help renew my hope and trust that you will deliver on your promises to me. Help me trust that you will provide and heal my heart and longing. Please help me to be patient and not despair that I am not doing enough. Please remind me that I need to let go and stop trying to control things.
Help me to surrender control and to quit trying so hard and relax. Help me to know that your time is the best time and that this is not wasted time. Please prepare me and help me strengthen my relationship with you so that I will make you the center of my life and not make an idol out of a human.
Please open the heart of the right man for me and stir a longing in him for me. Help us to find each other and have a relationship based on love for you and each other. Please prepare me for motherhood and let my body still be able to conceive and bear a healthy child and for me to find the father of my children before my child bearing years are past.
Please help me to see how you are faithful not just in my life but in others’ lives and help me to be faithful to you.
In your son Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.