Loneliness has got to be one of the most frustrating and painful aspects of singleness.
This time of year can seem to exacerbate loneliness and maybe even tempt many of you into depression. (Depression this time of year is an issue for many people, actually.) For singles, it’s easy to feel like “everyone else” has a husband or children or has their family around and “all of them are happy and loved” and to feel very left out if you are not married and you long for a husband and children of your own. Even going to church can be painful as you see couples and families together – a constant reminder of what you wish you had for yourself.
(If you need to talk about loneliness and the pain you are experiencing – I am glad to listen!)
- Marriage is a gift from God.
- Singleness is ALSO a gift from God!
How can singleness be a gift? God loves to use times of waiting to refine our faith and teach us to trust Him more and more. Many times, the source of our greatest pain in life ultimately births our greatest ministry for God to others. Maybe there are things that God desires to show you – treasures of heaven – in this time? Maybe this time can be a time of learning to truly find contentment in Christ alone and to be sensitive to His voice and ready to obey whatever He asks you to do? Maybe there are people your life touches whom God desires to love through you?
Paul believed that singleness was a greater gift than marriage and wished all men were as he was. God used Paul’s complete devotion to Him to start most of the churches in the Gentile areas and to write half of the New Testament (mostly while he was in prison and suffering for his faith). What plans might God have to use you to impact the world for Christ? I believe He has an incredible adventure in store for you if you are willing to wholeheartedly follow Him, submit completely to Him and obey Him. I can’t wait to see what He has in mind for you!!!!
COMMUNITY IS IMPORTANT
I don’t believe it is good for singles to be alone all the time. I’d like to encourage you to develop godly friendships with godly women – married, single and widowed. Plan things. Do fun stuff together. Go out for dessert and coffee. Pray with each other. Have each other over for supper. Develop a group of people, or at least one close godly friend, with whom you can share holidays and special times.
Maybe you can even join your church singles’ group of women and men (or just your church family) and do some fun things to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s together – not focusing on trying to find a future husband, but just enjoying your brothers and sisters and the fellowship of being together.
A SINGLE WOMAN’S EXAMPLE IN MY LIFE:
I grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and we were members of a little Southern Baptist mission church. Almost everyone there was transplanted from the South. Most families didn’t have extended family nearby. The church family became our extended family. It was wonderful!
There weren’t many restaurants open on Sundays in the 70s and early 80s. So, different families took turns cooking and inviting others over for fellowship for lunch after church. One of my favorite places to go was Miss Hilda’s house. She was a single woman, probably in her 50s at that time, a chemist who invented the styrofoam that we see used in styrofoam cups today! She wasn’t fancy, frilly or girly. She had short grey hair and glasses and always wore a button down shirt and slacks – even on Sundays when most women wore dresses or skirts. Her house was simple, welcoming and cozy. She always had something amazing cooking in the slow cooker when we all got to her house and she had such a gift of hospitality. I remember many afternoons at her house and all the laughter as the adults shared stories. I remember her smile and her peaceful spirit. She was such a blessing to everyone who knew her.
MARRIAGE DOESN’T GUARANTEE FREEDOM FROM LONELINESS:
Here’s a little secret – loneliness is one of the most painful things about marriage, too, when things are not going well. Several years of our marriage were the loneliest of my life.
- sometimes because Greg and I worked opposite shifts for 2 years
- sometimes because Greg worked a full time job then worked on the house until midnight 6 days a week for months or a year at a time.
- sometimes I was lonely because I repelled Greg with my disrespect, pride, self-righteousness and controlling behavior and he would ignore me almost all of the time – wouldn’t look at me, touch me or talk with me much at all.
Ultimately, I believe now as I look back, that I was in great pain because I didn’t know how to find my contentment in Christ alone.
THE SECRET TO CONTENTMENT:
The truth about contentment is that if you are not content now, you would probably not be content even if you had what you wanted. Once you have that, you would want something else or something more.
One time when our son was about 4 years old, he said, “Mama! If I could JUST have that new Thomas the train I would NEVER ask for anything else again for the rest of my life!” I had to laugh so hard. Of course there were MANY more things he wanted after that ONE thing he just had to have. We are insatiable.
If you are basing your contentment on circumstances, then you will always think that if you could just have one more thing, you would be happy.
- If a guy would just act interested in me, I would be happy.
- Then a guy is interested in you and you think… if he would just commit to be my steady boyfriend, I would be happy.
- Then you get a boyfriend, and you think… If I could just have an engagement right, I’d be happy.
- Then you get an engagement ring, and you think… If I could just have a set wedding date, I’d be happy.
- Then you have a date and you think… If I could just be done planning this wedding, I’d be happy.
- Then you have your wedding day and you think… If we could just have a beautiful house, I’d be happy.
- Then you have a beautiful house and you think… If we could just have some children, I’d be happy.
- Then you get pregnant and you spend months throwing up every day and you think… if I could just get to my second trimester, I’d be happy.
- Later in the pregnancy, you think, if I could just have this baby and not be pregnant anymore, I’d be happy.
- You have the baby and you think… if the baby would just let me sleep for 2 hours in a row, I’d be happy.
I’d be happy if only:
- I made more money
- I had better health
- I lost weight
- I gained weight
- my church were different
- I had a better job
- I worked a different shift
- I felt loved by a man
- if my husband didn’t work so much
- if my husband didn’t watch tv so much
- if my husband paid more attention to me
- if my children were better behaved
If we are not careful – we can make idols of these things and decide that we MUST have them or we cannot be content. Some of these things are good things. But we have to be careful where we put them in our priorities. If we put them above Christ in our hearts in importance – that is big time sin – idolatry.
Hopefully, you get the picture. There are always more things for us to want, but when we get more things, even good things, if we don’t know how to find our contentment in Christ, we will still be discontent.
GOD GIVES US THE POWER TO CHOOSE CONTENTMENT NO MATTER WHAT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES!
The Bible has a pretty amazing standard for contentment:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
God’s standard for me to be content is to have Christ and His Spirit and to have food for today and clothing on my back today.
This is not a popular idea today in our society – to be content with very little. But this is exactly what God desires us to do. As we make Christ the MOST IMPORTANT focus of our lives, the other stuff starts to not matter nearly as much – “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” We can truly begin to say, “Not my will but Yours be done” and we can learn to be content no matter what circumstances may come, trusting God to do what is ultimately best for us in everything.
What a blessing not to have to depend on circumstances but to depend fully on Christ for our joy and contentment!!
How can we be content in any and every situation?
Through Christ who gives me strength! Philippians 4:13
If God grants us the desires of our hearts – awesome. But if He chooses another path for us – we can trust that we are in His loving hands and nothing can separate us from His love and that His wisdom is infinitely higher than our own.
1. What kinds of things help you during the Christmas season to experience God’s love in a deeper way?
2. What kinds of things make this time of year harder for you as a single or fuel discontentment or loneliness?
3. What are you involved in that brings you joy? A hobby? A friendship? Maybe a ministry to others?
4. How can you avoid comparing your life to what other people have?
5. What blessings do you have in your life right now?
6. How can you plan to shoot down any fleshly feelings of resentment, bitterness, jealousy or idolatry in your heart this week?
7. What kinds of friendships do you have that boost you, encourage you and nourish your soul?
8. Is there someone who is lonely, too, that God may want you to reach out to this week?
9. How do you plan to focus on being content in Christ this week and next week as New Year’s approaches?
I lift up my precious sisters (and brothers) to Your throne room in the highest heaven from which You reign in total sovereignty, love and justice. I pray for godly friendships for each of these beloved children of yours. I pray for a sense of family in their churches and in their communities. I pray for godly mentors for them. I pray for opportunities for them to minister to others and share the love of Christ and experience the joy that comes from giving of themselves. I pray for them not to isolate themselves but to reach out to others to develop deep spiritual friendships that will nurture their souls and sharpen them in their faith in Christ and that will bless their new friends, as well, for Your glory.
Let this not be a time of loneliness, isolation, depression and tears.
Let this be a time of great joy, thankfulness, celebration, trust in You, peace, patience and hope as these friends of mine train their eyes to stay on Christ, not on their circumstances. May they find the true contentment that only comes from Christ this Christmas, and every day, even if their circumstances are not what they wish they were.
Surround my sisters (and brothers) with Your love. Let them spend much time feasting on Your Word, praising You, thanking You, worshipping You, seeking Your face and listening to Your voice. Make them a bright light for Christ in this dark world. Use them for Your greatest glory this week and every week. Make them faithful to Your Name, Lord!
In the Name and power of Christ,