Being single in university felt both liberating and lonely
When I first entered university, my goal was to find a boyfriend. I wanted someone I could connect with, relate to, and be with. I tried to get the attention of guys, and when I got it my self-esteem rose. I wanted guys to notice my beauty and pursue me. I wanted romance. But I honestly didn’t find it.
I found myself flipping between pride, “I don’t need anyone” to despair, “why doesn’t anyone want me?” It was easy to look at other couples and place them on a pedestal of happiness. I’d catch myself thinking, “If I only had what they had, then I would feel complete, satisfied, and special.” I thought a relationship with a guy would fulfill my longing for something deeper, intimate, and passionate.
At times, I enjoyed being single. I liked being on my own, not being tied down, and able to live a life that revolved around my needs and desires. I didn’t have to answer to anyone else and that felt freeing. It was just God and me taking on the world.
But then my friends, one by one, started to date and get married. I felt stuck on the shores of singleness while their boats sailed off the coast into marital bliss. I felt left behind.
Can you relate?
Being single isn’t the problem
Over the past few years I’ve come to understand that being single, even though I someday hope to be in a relationship, is okay. The truth is that I was created for a much more satisfying relationship – just not the romantic one that I thought I needed. It’s not that dating is wrong, or even bad. But I realized that no guy will ever be able to fill the deepest longings of my heart. I longed for an unconditional love, free from the fickle limitations of human nature. Someone who can love me with an eternal and unchanging love.
Ironically, my singleness gave me the freedom to discover that my deepest relational needs could only be met in God. Being secure in Jesus liberated me to be my true self in my friendships and relationships. I realized that I wasn’t missing out on anything. I was in the exact place in life that God desired me to be.
Here are three valuable truths about God that I learned (and am still learning) in this stretch of singleness:
1. God first, people second
God created me for relationship, first with himself, then with others. I need to come to God to fulfill my heart’s deepest desires first. I need to discover his unchanging and persistent love for me, regardless of what other relationships I am in. Then I need to surrender my heart to God and trust him to provide the relational connection he designed me for, instead of trying to find it on my own.
This is the good news about God: He is perfectly good (Psalm 100:5), and thus what he gives us as his children are good things – even if in our limited wisdom and understanding they don’t seem good (James 1:17).
In moments where I experience relational rejection or pain, I can cling to God’s goodness and believe he has good in store for me. That doesn’t mean that I won’t experience relationship challenges or hardships, because I will. But in the end, I can be confident that God will work all things for my ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)
The security I have found in God’s innate goodness drives me to find relational fulfillment and peace in him first, trusting him to lead me to the best relationships that he has set out for me.
2. Christ is enough
One of my favourite worship songs is titled just that: “Christ is Enough” by Hillsong. The lyrics proclaim that Christ is my reward, and all of my devotion.
It’s a great song, but how do I live like Christ is enough for me?
There are moments as a single where I question if Christ is enough for me. Even if I don’t find the guy, what will my response be? Do I only love God when he gives me what I want? Am I satisfied with God alone, even if my hopes of romance don’t materialize?
I look to the cross and I see that he must be.
This is the good news about God: Jesus understands my relational pain. He left the perfection of heaven and experienced my world of relational pain, sin, and brokenness. He chose to open himself up to the most pain and heartbreak that a human could be exposed to: grief over the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:32-36), temptation (Luke 4:1-2), betrayal (Mark 14:10-11), rejection (Mark 6:2-6), and abandonment (Luke 22:61).
More painful than anything else, he chose to obey the Father by dying on a cross. Taking on the pain and sin of the world upon his perfect self he experienced separation from God (Matthew 27:45-46). His oneness with God was ripped from him so that I (and the world), could be restored relationally to God. Jesus willingly chose to go through that so that I could experience healing, redemption, and transformation through the Holy Spirit.
The cross is evidence of God’s work in my life. His work is far greater than any pain I experience relationally. He can make good come out of circumstances that don’t work out the way I had hoped they would. Christ is enough for me in my singleness.
3. Created for community
God created me to find my ultimate worth in him first, but he also created me to serve others. My priorities as a single is to put knowing God first, and serving others second. As I surrender fully to God and trust his love for me, he will guide me into the right relationships that he desires for me.
How do I find the right community to pursue?
I payed attention to the relationships God had already placed in my “spheres” in life: family, peers, mentors, church, school/classes, work etc. I don’t need to be anxiously searching for people to love and serve – God provides the right people at the right time. I can trust that he will bring the right people into my life.
This is the good news about God: The love God has for us frees us to love and serve other people even when our life is not ideal. Jesus even commands that we love others with sacrifice, and that when we do we will receive deep joy (John 15:9-11).
In my singleness it’s easy to feel anxious about wanting that special person to cherish, love, and serve. But I need to take a step back and assess. Am I faithfully loving and serving the people God has already placed in my life? I need to start with those people first, trusting God will navigate and lead me into the relationships I need in this season of life.
Don’t resent your singleness
Being single is an incredible opportunity for you to find your deepest heart desires met in Jesus (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). No matter how long your season of singleness may be, use it to bless others for God’s glory.
As a single person I can spend my time and energy serving God and others in community. I can also choose to invest in my own development and maturity. I am also growing in financial responsibility, emotional health, and spiritual maturity.
One of the most fruitful investments I’ve made in my singleness has been in the lives of young families in my church. Serving moms by: helping them clean their house, babysitting, or giving them emotional support. I hope to have my own family one day, but regardless, I’m already investing myself in a large spiritual family where I can bless others and be blessed.
Do you struggle with remembering God’s truths in a season of singleness? Take a step of faith to share with a trusted friend, and pray together.
My prayer is that you will find your worth and value in Jesus’ love for you, regardless of the season of life you’re in. Being in a romantic relationship never defines your true worth or value – but if you cling to God and find your true security in him, you will be able to navigate any circumstance that comes your way.
by erin ford
Erin is passionate about helping people grow in their faith and discover God. Favourite pastimes include ballet, cycling on the weekends, photography, and writing! One day Erin hopes to serve God overseas to help people from unreached places hear about Jesus. You can read more of Erin’s writing on her blog eringlenys.wordpress.com.