No matter in which phase of life we are, we all struggle with gloom and unhappiness if we set our minds on the wrong targets. Sitting around thinking about what we do not have is a recipe for despair because there are always better circumstances we can conceive in which to find ourselves.
With that being said, I want to approach this topic carefully. Please understand that I am in no way suggesting that single adults are inevitably unhappy (certainly not true), a segregated minority (again, not true), or that they should stop wanting a relationship. God made us to desire relationships and companionship – first and foremost with Him – and also with others.
Remembering my pre-marriage days and watching my truly remarkable single friends, I am convinced that unmarried men and women can deeply desire a spouse while still leading happy lives. Why? Because they have set their hearts on Christ. They have an eternal perspective. They trust that their loving Father has every detail of their lives in the palm of His hand. Do they have bad days? Absolutely. Do they ever entertain doubts? Of course. However, they are continually drawn by the Holy Spirit and reminded of God’s great love for them. In their season of singleness, they are still leading amazingly abundant lives.
My single friends travel the world, pursue higher education, work with fabulous ministries, pack up their lives and follow where the Lord leads them, and welcome new experiences. Do they want to be married? Yes. Are they sitting idly on their couches reading romance novels? No, they are too busy living their lives. ~smile~ They amaze me, honestly.
If you are struggling to find happiness in your season of waiting or you know someone who is going through a dark time, please take note of these five tips:
- Seek Out Support. And, do not turn it away when it presents itself. Why do you think we have such a hard time reaching out when we have a need? Fear of rejection? Fear of appearing weak? Not being sure what we are even looking for in the first place? There are times I desperately need someone to talk to when the overwhelming grief of infertility hits me like an unexpected tidal wave. I do not want to burden anyone, but when I do open up to a friend, I do not regret it. Even though my friends may not understand exactly what I am feeling at the time, they care and let me pour out my heart. That is what matters – having support and knowing you have a safe place to let your guard down. It is okay not to be strong all the time. It is okay to say, “You know, I would really love to be married and I am struggling with my singleness today.” Sometimes talking is not even necessary. Sometimes it is a comfort just to watch a movie with a friend and know that you are not alone.
- Conquer Your Fear. It is easy for me to sit here and say, “Do not let fear keep you from going out and meeting new people.” However, I do not know where you have walked and what pain you have been through. We all are at different places in life – emotionally and otherwise. Sometimes we need to take time to heal, but it is important not to use our past as a reason to push away future possibilities. After years go by and as nothing changes, you will probably be frustrated that you allowed fear to rob you of so many opportunities. I have been there and the regret is no fun.
- Take One Step in the Right Direction. Then Another. Then Another. The “right” direction is not the same for everyone. Maybe you want to buy that house, but you have told yourself for years that there is no point while you are still single. Instead of waiting, start preparing. Save for a down payment and go after it when you are ready. If you find yourself involved in a dating relationship between now and then, great. Keep living and you may be shocked by what happens when you are not so busy looking. Do not wait until you have a husband or wife to live. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, ESV).
- Make Friends. Friends are the best. I married my friend and I would not have it any other way. So many relationships start off with butterflies, flirtations, and high expectations – then the truth about each other comes out. With friendships, you see the person first and then grow to love him or her. It is such a better way to form a loving relationship. Do not look at each new connection as a possible match. Just enjoy getting to know new people and develop friendships – you never know what they can turn into.
- Stop Dwelling on the Negative. Whether you are single, married, dating, or “happily” divorced, dwelling on ugly situations always, always, always leads to unhappiness. There is simply no way around it. We can have pity parties and cry out, “Why me?” constantly, but our inner world will eventually show on our faces, in our speech, and in our interactions with others. For anyone who is unhappy for any reason, this is the first place to start. Chronic negativity paralyzes us into a self-centered, embittered, stuck place. To move forward, we have to start filling our minds and hearts with the truth. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, ESV).
This list may seem far too simple (and it may be), but it is a good start. Married or single, what we allow into our minds will flow into our hearts. What flows out of our hearts will come out of our mouths. We were all created to need a relationship with God and relationships with others. If we seek God first and place nothing higher than Him, we will naturally put good messages into our minds and hearts.
If you are unhappy, try these tips and see if your countenance and outlook change for the better. God never promised us constant happiness; but, if you find yourself in a pattern of unhappiness, take a look at where your mind is focused. See how much better you feel when you reposition your mind on what is true and lovely, reach out to others, and choose to live your life to the fullest. ~smile~
Are you embracing happiness regardless of the stage of life you are in right now?