When I turned 30 and still hadn’t been asked out on a date, I started preparing myself mentally to be single for the rest of my life.
Being 30 and totally unattached was immensely discouraging at first. All my friends went on dates. All my friends had boyfriends and fiances and husbands and kids. So what was wrong with me? Was I really just so obnoxious and overbearing and annoying that nobody could stand to be around me? I didn’t think that was the case, but it had to be something like that.
If you reach contentment in any of those bad situations, won’t that just trap you in those bad situations?
But as I was sorting out my feelings, I thought of what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12. “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
Paul, one of the greatest believers in the history of faith, said that Christ-followers needed to learn to be content in every situation. But could I be content with being single? Is that even right? What about being content with a lousy job? What about being content with a serious illness?
If you reach contentment in any of those bad situations, won’t that just trap you in those bad situations? Once I’ve learned to be content as a single person, I won’t want to be married.
No. That’s not how contentment works.
Don’t confuse contentment with complacency.
If you are content, you are thankful for what you have in your life right now. If you are complacent, you aren’t, and you are more likely to take your life for granted. The difference is gratitude.
Contentment means you choose to be thankful for what God has given you regardless of what situation you’re in.
Being content means that you choose to be thankful for what God has given you regardless of what situation you’re in and whether it’s the situation you wanted or not. Complacency has nothing to do with gratitude. Complacency is laziness. It’s apathy. It means you don’t care anymore, or you think you don’t matter.
Contentment with God’s plan for your life will often encourage us to work hard, to try greater challenges, to seek out better circumstances. Complacency means you just give up.
Can you be content when you don’t want to be single?
It’s difficult, but yes. You can. Want to know how?
Well, Paul discovered the secret. He said so in the verses I quoted earlier–the secret of living in every situation.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
That’s the secret.
Stop rolling your eyes. I know it’s a verse we quote too often, but is the Bible true or is the Bible not true? We don’t get to pick and choose the verses we like and don’t like. Either the Bible is all true, or none of it’s true.
The secret of living in every situation is to recognize (and whole-heartedly embrace) the fact that we can do the impossible with Jesus’ strength. That includes learning to be content with being single even if our heart’s desire is to be married. The key is what you’re focusing on right now.
Are you focused on finding a husband? Are you devoted to chasing down a guy who will tolerate you so that you can be in a relationship that will satisfy your immediate needs? Or do you trust God enough to put that search on hold and do the next thing God has called you to do?
Life is made up of seasons.
You learn different skills in different seasons. You learn to shovel snow in winter. You learn to harvest crops in summer. But you can’t shovel snow in summer. You have to wait until it’s winter to do that.
Life is the same way. Right now you’re in a season of life where you’re single, and that’s okay. This time may not come again for you. So take the time during this season of singleness to learn what it means to be content in every situation. Learn to trust God while the only person in your relationship with Him is Him.
God isn’t holding back some awesome relationship because He’s mean. He only withholds things from us when He has something better to give us.
What’s the next thing?
God has a plan for everyone, and His plans are always good. They’re always better than what we have planned for ourselves. But sometimes God’s plans take us in the opposite direction of what we want, and we have to trust Him enough to go along with Him even if it doesn’t make sense.
He only withholds things from us when He has something better to give us.
Maybe your next thing is helping someone move into a new house. Maybe your next thing is traveling across the country to volunteer somewhere. Maybe your next thing is taking care of an elderly relative, mentoring a troubled high school student, or supporting a friend through a difficult time.
Your next thing is what you’re supposed to be doing right now. Whatever that task is, be thankful for it. God has a plan for you. He has a purpose for your life. And maybe it’s not “just” getting married. Maybe it’s something bigger and better.