Originally posted on 11 February 2015
Being a woman and being single is very difficult. Being a Godly single woman is awash with all sorts of pitfalls and minefields. The big question for today is, “What happens when we don’t do it well’. I’d like to be able to say that I have always handled being a single woman well and from a biblical viewpoint but, frankly, I’d be lying. God has used this particular issue in my life to teach me many lessons and deal with the sin(s) in my life. I want to take some time to highlight a few of the big pitfalls I come across as I’m talking and ministering to women concerning singleness.
Loneliness and Being Alone: I sometimes think that loneliness is one of the biggest issues driving women into relationships that they know they shouldn’t be in. The trouble is that when you are vulnerable and feel lonely the temptation is that dating and/or marrying anybody is better than nobody at all. However, this just isn’t true. Forever after is a long time to be in an unhappy marriage if you do it for all the wrong reasons. Combatting loneliness is no easy thing and it can take time and prayer. But it is better in the long term to seek our contentment in the Lord during lonely spells rather than to fill the space with someone random and spiritually unsuitable.
Discontentment is also a major issue for lots of Christians. It’s so easy to believe that “If only I had… my life would be so much better”. It can be hard to trust God and to remind ourselves that He is sovereignly in control of our whole lives. It is so easy to forget that we are right where He expects us to be. We have to fight hard to reminds ourselves that He does have a plan and is using our current circumstances to grow us into the people He wants us to be. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing.
Discontentment can be such a weed of an idol; it’s like an infestation that needs digging out. If we are not careful and allow discontentment to run wild and unchecked, we can quickly become angry, bitter, moany or weepy. It’s all consuming.
Self-Centeredness – Becoming high maintenance is the curse of single women. One of the big dangers with being on your own is you are the only one who makes the decisions. You choose what to do, you decide what you want and when you do stuff etc. If not held in check it can be easy to become self focused and inward looking. Life can quickly become all about you and your needs rather than about God and His will.
The odd one out syndrome. Being the third wheel when all your friends are married can be a struggle for many and it can be especially hard in the Christian world (where it seems like everyone is married, getting married or marrying young!). It can be tempting to want to avoid all the marrieds, head for spinsters row in church and just hang out with your single friends (if there are any left that is). Avoiding the marrieds isn’t going to make you feel any better. If we do, we miss out on so much. Most of the marrieds may secretly be envious of all the free time they think you have anyway!
Fear: Fear of getting hurt again, fear of being left on the shelf, fear of never having children. The list is endless. When fear rules, dodgy decisions aren’t far behind. Fear of being hurt is definitely something that I have had to seriously work at not ruling over my life. Self-preservation can completely come across as defensive or stand offish. Dale Ralph Davis comments on this well when talking about Psalm 11 in his book “The Way of Righteousness in the Muck of Life,”
“Self-preservation is important, but when I assume it is all important I have made it an idol… We have probably crossed the idolatry-line when we think we should take no risks. It is possible to make such an idol of security that you prize it more than God. The first line of this Psalm says that in Yahweh I am safe as I ought to be.”
A stark reminder that when fear is controlling us we should be trusting in God. It’s an understandable reaction to terrible things that may have happened but we cannot let it rule, control and shape us. I still have to remind myself of 1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Unhelpful helpfulness – The whole, ‘you not got a boyfriend yet?’ or ‘I just want see you happy with someone’ line can be very tiresome. So to the people, who out of love, may not be using their words in the wisest way please consider their weight. To those ‘matchmaker friends’ please ask your friend if this is what they want first before you hijack them with your version of TVs, “Dinner Date”.
Porn and Masturbation. It is a common myth that this is just a blokes problem. Many women struggle with this as well. There’s a really good PDF book called ‘Porn Again Christian’ although written for men is actually very helpful for women. Idolatry of any kind, even this kind of sexual immorality, needs to be combated with repentance, prayer and good accountability. You need to find someone you trust and speak about it, put some boundaries in place and ensure they keep you accountable. If you do not deal with this sin when you are single it will follow you into marriage and pollute your intimacy. Don’t flirt with sin, flee it.
As always it is vital that we know our strengths and weaknesses and build good accountability into our lives.