I would imagine that the right person to date and marry has been one of the most frequent requests of God that women have shared with me. As a preacher who often speaks on the faithfulness of God in hearing and answering prayers, I have had many a woman tell me that they have given up believing that God will answer their prayers for a “good” man. They have demonstrated great patience as they have waited for God to answer their prayers. But, with the passage of time and God seemingly remaining silent on the issue, they tended to settle for any man, mainly because of the deep pain of loneliness.
It’s difficult to adequately describe loneliness in words, because it results in such deep feelings of isolation, rejection, and abandonment. It burrows deep into the mind and into the spirit, depriving our sense of worth of the necessary nutrients to remain vital, resulting in such low self-esteem that one struggles to believe that they have any value at all. And in a society in which so much of the social world is constructed with at least two people in mind, to go anywhere alone leaves one open to ridicule.
Before I met Douglas, I remember going to a restaurant alone, and as I walked in the hostess asked me how many. I said, “One.” Looking thoroughly confused, as if one was not truly a number, she responded, “One?” When I answered in the affirmative, she looked at a young man who was folding silverware and napkins, and she gave him a look that I could not interpret, but I knew it was not a good thing. Then, he gave a small laugh, and asked if I wanted him to sit with me. I told him thank you, but no.
I wasn’t bothered by their lack of respect, mainly because I had witnessed this same behavior at other places. It is as though a single woman represents a threat to the society, so people seem to feel that they must make you feel bad about your singleness, so that you hurry up and find a man, any man, just so you can be considered as worth their time and energy. I have single women friends who will not go to a restaurant alone, because they are convinced that everyone is looking at them and feeling sorry for them, and, sadly, they are probably right.
So, when after many weekends alone and one Valentine’s Day after another alone and one Christmas after another alone, I am not surprised that so many churchwomen who have prayed for years for Mr. Right settle for Mr. Right Now, meaning that as long as he is breathing and reasonably cleaned up, he will do. That is what loneliness causes so many to do. I know, because I have been there and got the T-shirt!
Loneliness leads to impatience, and as the wait stretches, faith begins to fade, and every man one meets, one wants to believe is the one God has sent in answer to prayer. As the lonely nights increase, standards start to decrease, and women start to accept that which they said that they could never accept in a relationship, as they seek to eliminate the pain and suffering of loneliness, at any costs.
Yet, when the violence starts and the cheating begins, then the illusion is broken, and the tears and frustration return, along with the loss of hope. And, so they come and ask, “Why is God not answering me? I see every other women with their husbands, why won’t God do the same for me? What have I done that God is not hearing me?”
What do you say? They already know all of the Scriptures on patience and waiting. They have had them quoted to them so many times that they can recite them forwards and backwards. They have been told that their day is coming. They have heard all of the advice about losing weight or gaining weight, wearing more or less makeup, dressing more or less provocatively, or changing how loud or how quiet they talk. So what else is there to say?
I tell them that although it seems that God has forgotten them, He really has not. I tell them that He loves them, and it is His desire that they are happy. Then, I ask them to write down what is good in their single lives. I want them to concentrate on what they have, rather than what they do not have.
I ask them what are they asking God for in a mate. Then, I tell them to take a sheet of paper and write what they specifically want in a mate, including the behaviors they know that they cannot live with in another person. Then, pray the list, understanding that there are no perfect people.
But, lastly, I tell them that God knows the future, and He may have a good reason to say no to their request for a husband, and that I have learned after many failed relationships that sometimes we need to learn to live alone and how to make ourselves happy, rather than depending on someone else for our happiness.
Sometimes, we need to take a hiatus from dating, letting go of the desperation to find someone, and simply enjoy what’s good in our single life. Pray about it and let it go. Stop obsessing on what you don’t have, and realize that some of the married women whom you are envying are probably wishing that they had your single status.
Sometimes we run ourselves crazy trying to be what the world says we must be, and there is too big a world to enjoy to sit at home alone. Don’t let the world steal your joy and peace. And remember Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
These are things that I had to learn, because I was the queen of bad relationships. They are the answers that God laid in my Spirit, when I prayed one night for His help in finding a good husband. I remember the night I sat down to write what I specifically wanted in a husband. Then, I stretched out on my floor and I pointed my hands to God, and I gave Him my list, with the understanding that God knows best. Three of my specifics was a man who worked for God, a man who loved sports (especially football), and a man who loved to travel. BINGO! Got all three in Douglas and so much more that I did not know I needed, but, thanks be to God, He knew me better than I knew myself.
Yes, loneliness makes waiting so much harder to do. Patience is hard to demonstrate when you are lonely and believe that only by being with another person can you find happiness. But, when we stop concentrating so hard on what we are missing, we can better acknowledge what is already good in our lives, letting go of cultural expectations and living life patiently on our own terms. And never fear: God hears, so trust Him to know what’s best for you.