by Sharon Tubbs
I know my married sisters mean well. Really, I do. They feel sorry for their single friends who want a wedding ring, the ones who talk about disappointment and loneliness or trusting in God’s plan. The “marrieds” want to offer sound advice and encouragement like good friends should.
But many don’t realize this is dangerous territory. Their attempts to bring hope may do the exact opposite, especially when they try to diagnose why their friend is single or use their personal experience as the gold standard for Christian love connections.
“What?” they say. “I would never do that.”
Consider the following, the most common clichés and theories that married Christians say to single Christians.
“It’ll happen when you least expect it.”
The mother of all marriage clichés, this typically precedes some story of a woman who was going about her merry way—laaa de da, de da. Then, from out of nowhere, her future husband appeared, just as she was not even thinking of a man. No sirree, no man crossing her mind. And for that very reason—that she wasn’t thinking about it—our wise God, sitting on His throne, said: “Hey, now’s the perfect time to surprise her with the husband of her dreams!”
It would be a stretch to support this theory biblically, and even if you could, I should’ve been married a gazillion times by now. Matter of fact, my husband would’ve appeared from the bushes this morning as I scurried from my front door to put out the trash, wearing a raggedy T-shirt and pajama bottoms, hair uncombed and breath still ripe. I guarantee you I was “least expecting it.” Yet, here I sit just as single as ever.’
“Just focus on God.” (or something similar)
On its face, this sounds good, and I suspect it’s what some marrieds actually mean when they say the least-expect-it thing. True, God’s Word says in Matthew 6 to put Him first and He’ll supply our needs. But marrieds must tread carefully here. Don’t assume my singleness means I’m not already putting God first or that my spiritual focus is out of whack. Many women have unfulfilled desires that they long for. A single woman who thinks about marriage is no more off-focus than a married woman still yearning for a job promotion, for a child, or for her healing.
This advice can be especially deceptive and hurtful to a single woman who is, indeed, striving to be more like Christ. In the past I’ve questioned myself after hearing this, followed by a story of how some woman was sold out for God, moving Him to give her the love of her life. Feeling inferior, I would compare myself and cry out to the Lord: I thought I was living for you, too! Why not me? What am I doing wrong? Thankfully, I stopped buying into this and accepted that I was loving God the best way I knew how. My singleness was not punishment for falling short.
Many more theories and clichés exist. Like the one about writing a list of specific traits for the desired husband, prompting God to fill the order. Or the one about getting out more and going where the men are. Or the one about being “prepared” by learning to submit and cook and getting in the habit of stocking up on toilet tissue. (Is anyone ever fully prepared for marriage?)
Likely some truth exists in these sayings. Some have, indeed, found a great guy through faith that God would deliver on their lists or after stopping by the sports bar on game day. That won’t happen for everyone, though. Single women have tried, and these theories don’t always work. God moves differently with each of us. Sometimes singles are single, not because they’re doing the wrong thing, but because they’re doing the right thing, listening and waiting on Him.
The truth is most marrieds just don’t know why their fantastic, loving, talented friend is still single. And that’s okay. The next time that single friend stops by, the marrieds should just listen, unless they’ve truly discerned otherwise. Then they should point her to Scriptures about faith and God’s promises to provide her needs. Encourage her to fill her life with purpose by using her gifts, talents, and serving others. Pray with her. Pray for her. Ask God to fulfill her desire in His perfect timing.
Sharon Tubbs works with the Women’s Ministry at Grace Family Church. She is also an inspirational speaker, author and business owner. As she continually strives to reach her potential in Christ, Sharon’s joy comes from inspiring others to do the same by truly seeking and knowing Him.
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