I think to find love, to fall in love, and to be in love is something that seems to be a universal heart cry. I am no longer surprised when someone I haven’t seen in a while asks: “so have you met anyone yet?” I have to dance awkwardly around the question pretending that I am fine, while inside my heart is crushed. Thank-you for asking, but that question is just another reminder that I am still single.
In the past, celebrating with those I love over their joys of newfound love was really hard, but somehow I have managed to overcome the pressure and/or sadness that used to overwhelm me. God has taught me so many wonderful truths through this journey, such as:
Marriage is a beautiful union that God designed to demonstrate God’s love to an imperfect world, a place that embodies Christ love for His church. This is no small matter, and I believe the desire for marriage is noble and good. I have, however, put marriage on a pedestal and pursued it in my heart for satisfaction, purpose, meaning and fulfilment.
Marriage is not meant to fill voids in our lives. Wanting a spouse to meet our deep personal needs puts unbelievable pressure on others to fulfil something within us that is much too heavy, and we will be left very disappointed!
Singleness is a gift because it gives you the time to know and walk intimately with Christ, focus your energy on the building of His kingdom and finding your true self – the self He created you to be.
The first memory I have of this journey is around 15 years ago. I was sitting in a Grade 10 High School class worrying about who I was going to marry when a voice spoke to me and said, “Don’t worry about it, I will take care of you.” Matthew 6:34 followed. I knew this was the voice of God.
A couple of years after graduation, I moved to Dallas Texas and attended a small ministry school. Once my second year in Dallas TX was over, I moved back to Steinbach, MB. I was about to walk into the hardest season of my life. Eight months later, in February 2011, two days after my 23rd birthday, my mom was killed in a tragic snowmobile accident.
The situation was hard as you can imagine. My siblings and I lost our mother, and my father lost not only his wife, best friend and partner, but he also lost his primary care giver. (My dad has a condition called Muscular Dystrophy which means he is unable to walk on his own and needs care.) We as his children would now need to take on that role.
The loss was tremendous. Loss of my mother, my independence, my freedom, and in many ways, certain friendships. I helped with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and tended to a garden. Throughout this whole time, my desire for a husband significantly increased.
As the eldest I felt the responsibility of taking care of my dad and brothers and played a roll of wife and mother – except this wasn't my husband or my own family. I wept many times before God because the loss felt so great.
Many mornings and evenings were spent worshipping, crying and praying. I didn't understand why God would allow my mom to be taken, but I worshiped Jesus. With one breath I would question God and the next declare, "but I choose to trust you God, you are good." As I worshiped Jesus and thanked Him for the 23 years of life with her, my heart started to heal. HE WAS GOOD and that truth has carried me through my journey of singleness.
My dad got married 3 years after my mom passed away. I was happy that I could move on. I learned and leaned on the truth that God was my shepherd. I began to ask myself questions like, "what if I never get married," and "God what if I could be 50 and single?" After 4 months of asking, He answered while doing my devotions: “Vanessa I want you to lay down your hope to ever get married. I want to be your source of hope, life and joy.”
For many years, I believed that if I got married and had a husband that would in some way satisfy me. I would be happier, my life would really begin, and I would be complete. I was waiting for that 'moment' because when I got married, that’s when my dream would be fulfilled and life would really begin. My identity was wrapped up in being married.
I had wanted to get married so badly and now God was asking me to give that desire up. I felt betrayed and blind sighted by Him, up until now I had held nothing back from Him. I had done my best to surrender my future and life to Jesus but then He was asking me to lay down the greatest dream I had.
After three days, I made the decision to submit and surrender my desire of being married to and trust that Jesus had the best for me. I had already laid the foundation of trust when my mom passed away. Before me lay the choice of rebellion. I could go the opposite direction God was calling me to, and do life my own way, but through my past experiences I had already learned that choosing selfishness would only lead to hopelessness.
The life of Abraham really spoke to me during this time. Abraham had waited 25 years for his son. When God finally delivered on that promise, He asked Abraham to sacrifice this child on the alter. Here at 27 years old, I was like Abraham and God was asking me to lay down my Isaac— He was asking me to sacrifice and surrender this dream and lay it down. What God was asking of me was to be okay with being 40-50 years old and still single. I chose to trust and believe God the best I could, my answer to Him would be “Yes!” The rewards of being obedient to Jesus would be greater than any short-term fulfillment of choosing my own way.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to go on dates and on some occasions geared myself right up. The word disappointment doesn’t quite catch how I felt… more like devastated when these didn’t work out. Once again, I had come face to face with my struggle in being single and had to re-surrender. Once again I had seen a glimmer of hope, and just as quickly that hope was squished, smothered and completely gone.
I sought God and the question deep in my heart was, “God why do you say no?” He answered this question with a picture I received from Him one evening.
The picture I got was of me inside the executive office of Jesus. The office was made of dark mahogany wood, books lined up from floor to ceiling, there was a very large wooden desk in the middle of the room and there was Jesus. I walked into this office with a small wooden box in my hand. Then he asked if He could have the box. I didn't want to give it to Him, because it was my most valuable, precious possession. But He didn't relent, finally and reluctantly I handed the box over to him and I wept. I wept because I had to re-surrender my desire for marriage and love. He asked me over and over again, “Do you trust me?” As I handed over the box to Him, as He touched it, it started to glow and light up. His life was lighting it up. (Imagine in Lord of the Rings, when the words appeared on the ring in fire.) The box was opened and inside was my heart, my live beating red heart and I could see as soon as I gave the box to him, life flowed into the heart. He spoke to me and said, "Your heart is safer in my hands then in yours." I knew Jesus was asking me to surrender the desire for marriage to Him again and that this was the safest and wisest choice. I had to give it to Him, surrendering and trusting the outcome to Him.
More recently I had the biggest break through yet. I had the opportunity to meet an amazing man and basically checked off every box on my list (if I had one 😉). We talked, got to know each other but soon after we met, I developed some serious anxiety! And again, I was devastated. Here was someone that I had prayed for 10 years, specific prayers I asked for had been answered in this man. I became very angry with God when things ended 5 months later.
I didn’t talk to God for a long while. I was absolutely broken and crushed in spirit. But He was extremely patient with me and waited until I was ready to talk again.
When I was ready, I began to ask Him the question, “Why am I worthy of knowing Your love?” He brought Matthew 13:44-46 to mind:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
What he showed me in connection to this passage is that God was that man and merchant and I was that treasure, that pearl. Jesus sold all that He had in Heaven, left the place of perfection and beauty and came to a world full of brokenness and sinful people. And He did it in joy! He then bought me, and you, with His own precious blood.
God showed me then and there that I was worthy of love because He left Heaven, lived and died for me. God clearly demonstrated there that His love for me was real and that the brokenness I had experienced was for a purpose. He had allowed me to be broken so that He could rebuild me as He wanted.
Somehow after this powerful revelation from God’s word, I understood that God is for me and not against me! There was another level of surrender that I had to walk through in order to find greater freedom. And since that time, I have been the happiest, most content that I have ever been in my life. I can honestly say that I am surrendered to God’s will entirely – whether being single or married. He is good and He loves me, His plans for my life are the best.
If I would go back to my 16-year-old self and see where I am now, I’d be both horrified and amazed. Thirty-one, in Steinbach, my biological clock ticking and not married but totally and completely happy?! Crazy!!
God really can transform our hearts if we allow and give Him permission, I am a testament to that. Trusting His plan for our lives is no easy feat. Our sin nature keeps us from seeing that God is good, that He has the best in store for us.
In my life I have continuously realized that I want to be in the driver’s seat and have not been willing to submit entirely to His plan around marriage. Until the beginning of this year I had not been fully submitted to God’s plan for my life but by His grace and gentle leading I can say that I am fully surrendered.
I don’t know if I will ever get married – only God knows. I still want to, but I am completely at peace whether I do or don’t. Trust and surrender can be painful, but I would never trade the peace, trust, hope and life in Christ for anything – even marriage.
About the Author:
Vanessa is 31 years-old and a happy single. She was raised in the Steinbach area alongside two awesome brothers. She enjoys reading, being with people, and good food. Goals? She hopes that one day she'll enjoy working out.
If you would like to send Vanessa a message, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put her name in the subject line.
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