Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Contentment in Singleness #1: Disliking your circumstances

1. Contentment in Singleness: Giving yourself the freedom to dislike your circumstances while trusting your God.

Read this post.  (this post inspired my new blog series) Read it before you read mine because it says what I so dearly believe and won't be able to phrase correctly.

I have spent a good bit of my single years being annoyed with people who seem to think that one day I will finally be happy with my singleness, that I will finally agree that this is good.  I even spent many evenings feeling like a failure for wishing I had a spouse -- good Christians don't long for things other than Christ right? Why can't I just get past this? (not to mention, hearing people who have what you want say that you should just get over it and be content is quite frustrating and insensitive) But, here is the reality of it, it is not good to be alone.  Not in a perfect unfallen world.  And like the author of the article states, I finally got to a point where I quit kicking myself for wanting to be married.  I quit trying to distract myself with business and telling myself that I should be "content and happy with singleness." And I quit believing those lies from friends and families.  I also quit buying into the sunday school lie that once I am finally content, God will bring me a husband....or bring you a child...or find someone a great purpose and career.  I kept trying to "learn my lesson" so that I could be content and this season would then pass (although was I really striving for contentment in my circumstances when the point of contentment was to tempt better circumstances along?)  Am I really supposed to be happy with my circumstances? Will I ever get there?

When someone has an illness which is a result of an imperfect broken world, they might be told to learn to be content in their circumstances, but what is really expected of them is to be content despite their circumstances.  Cancer is bad, God thinks its bad, he doesn't you to pretend its good, He wants you to love Him despite your sucky circumstances, He wants you to be content in Him, not in the fallen broken circumstance you are living in.  We seem to understand what contentment in bad circumstances means regarding disease or job loss or other forms of heartache, but not in singleness or waiting for a child (biologically or throught adoption) or even waiting for healing in broken relationships.  These are forms of grief as well, something that is not good and intended by God, so why do we belittle that as a real longing and real pain?  Some go forever without one or all of these things and this is something they will struggle with. No one tells someone who is sick that those are good circumstances to just accept, but what about singlness --- what is the answer if it isn't happiness with your circumstances?

"So what is godliness with contentment in these circumstances? It it NOT bucking yourself up to be all happy and smiley with your situation. Contentment is not a command to be OK with something God Himself says is not good. You long for something that is normal to long for by the very nature of your creation by God. Yet in our fallen world, that God-given aspect of your nature is unfulfilled. Contentment is understanding that you are not left as an orphan in this longing. You can say, “This sucks!” Because it does, but you can say it hand in hand with God, who said it first but in nobler terms. And you can say it knowing that you are equipped by the gospel to do battle and not be overwhelmed in this season.

If there is a lesson to learn in your singleness, it's to stay engaged with God in the wrestling. It's not to put to death longings that are part of your very God-given nature. And it's not to disengage with God because He refuses to answer those longings. It's to stay engaged with Him, alternately crying out in longing and resting in peace in His arms, calling on Him at every moment to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs exposed by your unfulfilled longing."

What I have learned during my singleness is this: RUN to Jesus.  When others seem to shun my heart for longing for something different, I take the concerns to my Father, His arms are always open. (which by the way, making a single person feel that longing marriage is frivilous or silly is one of the most hurtful things you can do, but that is an entirely different topic for a different day!) Ironically enough, I begin my single years trying to fix my God-given desires because others scolded me - fearful that my failure to be happy with my situation made me a horrible Christian.  Eventually, the constant frustration over others not understanding and dissapointment in myself for wanting marriage pointed me to the arms of my Savior.  It felt like He was telling me that it is okay to long for the things He created as good.  Simply accepting that brought so much Joy and peace, despite remaining longing.  I didn't quit wanting marriage, but I quit beating myself up for being the way the Lord made me!

I can now freely say that I do not like singleness.  I don't hate it. In fact, it even has its "moments" I enjoy my life, but I don't love that my circumstance remained singleness for so long.  I think that over the past couple years (whether dating someone or single), I have learned atleast a little more contentment and I think that began when I quit trying to like singleness and be happy with my circumstances.  (And you know what? If I never get married and remain single forever, I will still not like that I remained single!) I felt like I was hiding who I really was and how I felt from my Savior, but now I am honest with Him about the way He made me. Seeking happiness in my circumstances was from my own strength which is why despite the scolding of others, I failed time and time again.  Seeking my Savior as a place of rest and peace despite negative circumstances and despite those who are critical brought a place of refuge and yes, even contentment on many days.

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