A note from Kelly King: I’ve been married for nearly 30 years, but I can still remember hearing my boss tell me at 25 years of age that my chances of finding a husband were slimmer than being bombed. If I remember right, there was a cover on a popular magazine that supported this theory. Needless to say, those words were not encouraging. I can laugh about it now, but Valentine’s Day can bring up all kinds of emotions—especially for single women who long for a husband. I’m so glad Casey Merrifield shares her thoughts with us today. If you’re a woman who is celebrating today alone, I pray these will be words of encouragement—real encouragement!
It’s February, and depending on your season of life, this can be a month of anticipation or dread. To all the single ladies—even those of you who may be currently dating—lend me a moment or two. For some of you, Valentine’s Day passes with little to no thought, as your life is fairly content with your purpose and daily ventures. For others, the longing for a significant other leaves you emotionally tender this time of year, and only those in the same season remotely understand the tension between trusting the Lord and still longing for that special someone. Because, let’s face it, as well meaning as their words are, the friends who married right out of high school, college, or shortly thereafter just don’t really understand the journey of the single woman into her 30s, 40s, and yes, ladies, even 50s. Take heart! Let me share some things that may make Valentine’s Day more bearable and hopefully more rewarding as you set your gaze forward!
I was single for 39 years, the last two of those with a steady boyfriend who is now my husband of almost five years. I get the longing and the waiting. I also get that everyone in the world has the perfect guy for you, only you meet him and wonder what your friends really think of you. You’ve been there—the set ups, the awkward meetings, and the anticipation of the “maybe-meetings” that never come to fruition. Or, how about the set up or random meeting you do have with (finally) a normal guy, only to wait for some kind of further contact, but NO, NADA, ZERO, ZILCH—NOTHING! Try getting set up in the midst of the receiving line at a funeral for a great uncle (seriously). Bless his heart, the great nephew was just as mortified as me with this unusual encounter. We all have our stories, right?
And how about those dating websites? Fill out this questionnaire, swipe left or right, go fishing in the big pond of plenty. Goodness! Had the “meet a farmer” site been around before I met Scott, we may have never met. A little advice here: don’t fall for the free communication weekends, y’all! Just don’t. If you want to meet guys on these social sites, please pay for the month-long service. See the pictures and get all the information you can up front. You’ll thank me later, or you’ll have your own Scary Larry stories to tell! In all seriousness, be prayerful as you proceed. Your heart is first and foremost the Lord’s. Let Him direct your steps as you journey this path.
The set ups, the dating sites, and the disappointments can leave you struggling and despondent. They often leave you wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” “What am I doing wrong?” “Will I ever find somebody who will love me for who I am?” Oh friend, the questions are not wrong to ask, but we must not get carried away with questions. Instead, let God’s truth pour over you, and remind yourself that His purpose in you is far more valuable than any dateless evening or one gone awry (Proverbs 19:21).
Here are 5 things to ponder this Valentine’s Day:
1. Don’t believe the lie that married people are happier. Relationships are difficult, so keep perspective about the longing of your heart. I recently heard someone say that married people are infinitely better off than single people because they know that marriage is not the end-all of happiness and satisfaction. Marriage is absolutely a gift, but boyfriends and husbands are horrible gods. Don’t get sucked into the idea that a dating relationship or marriage will solve your contentment issues. Instead, let the God of creation, who loves you wholly, be the ultimate gaze of your affections and pursuit. Believe that His steadfast love never ceases, and that your satisfaction in Him is your greatest hope (Lamentation 3:22-24).
2. Don’t believe the lie that something is wrong with you because you are not yet married. Being in a significant relationship is not the plumb line for the status of one’s emotional health and maturity. Nor is your identity or worth tied up in your single status. You are a daughter of the Most High God and an heir to all of His promises (Galatians 4:4-7). In Christ, you are enough. You are redeemed by His sacrificial love, and fullness of life is found in His presence (Romans 5:8; Psalm 16:11).
Even so, we are all a work in progress. As my friend Steve Cockram puts it, “We never graduate from the school of self-awareness.” It’s right and good to examine whether your actions or attitudes are off-putting to potential suitors. Let your intentional pursuit of growth focus on what honors Christ. Any man worthy of your consideration for dating or marriage should first and foremost be one who is attracted to your pursuit of Jesus (Proverbs 31:30).1 Pray like David, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). Spend time asking this question to the Lord and close friends: what are the tendencies that may be causing problems in your relationships? Ask for honest feedback, and let God mature you in areas of weakness.2 But please don’t let the enemy keep you in despondent self-pity. The goal is not to change so that you may gain a relationship. The goal is to be like Christ. Believe that God is using all things to grow you into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).
3. Don’t believe the lie that lowering your standards will give you a better chance at love. Please remind yourself that God’s standard for purity is not to keep you from pleasure but to protect you from the pain and heartache that is associated outside of His protection when we choose to disregard His Word (Proverbs 14:12). In 2012, the National Association of Evangelicals reported that 80% of 19-29 year old born again believers were engaging in pre-marital sex, while a 2014 study by Christian Mingle reported that 61% of Christians said they would engage in premarital sex. While the statistics vary in percentage, one thing is clear: professing single Christians are engaging in sexual relationships in increasing rates. There’s a good chance you may be in this statistic. But you are more than a statistic. As a Christ-follower, you have been bought with a price, and God is not angry at you for pursuing sexual relationships outside of His revealed plan (Psalm 86:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 8:1).3 He knows, however, that there is heartache when you give yourself to one who has not committed his heart to God first and then to you in a covenant marital relationship (Psalm 106:15). Please don’t buy the lie that following your heart is your ticket to freedom (Jeremiah 17:9). Inform your heart with truth that is life-giving and run in the path of His commands where your heart is set free (Psalm 119:32).
4. Don’t believe the lie that singleness is a curse and a stage of life that cannot be enjoyed. Paul is clear in chapter seven of his first letter to the Corinthians that those who are unmarried are free to experience a life unencumbered by the commitments that marital relationships require. I know you long to be encumbered by whatever comes with marriage, but let your days of singleness be filled with growing in your affections for Jesus and the ministry He has called you to in this season. Go on a discipleship mission trip or several, serve in the ministries of your church that ignite your heart (children, students, singles, recovery ministry), or find a place to mentor at a local youth center, homeless shelter, or other para-church ministry. Whatever you do, don’t make your aim finding a spouse. Make your aim making much of Jesus (Philippians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 5:15).
I used to wonder if I was called to a lifetime of singleness. I wasn’t sure what the future would hold for this area of life, but I didn’t want to waste my days while single. Singleness is truly a gift that is worth using for God’s glory. I don’t know if you will live all of your days as a single woman, but don’t buy the lie that singleness is a curse, no matter how much you long for marriage. Believe, instead, that God is the ultimate satisfaction of your heart, and walking with Him is not only a promise of His nearness, but also a promise of His good plan for you (Psalm 73:26-28; Psalm 84:11).
5. Don’t buy the lie that Valentine’s Day has to be a horrible day. Instead, be intentional with this day. Invite your girlfriends over to your place and host a party. Set out that fun the dinnerware that you got at a local garage sale (because nobody throws a “hey, you’re single shower” and buys you dishes, right?) or the hand-me down China from your grandparents, and celebrate the friends who join you. Go around the table and remind them of their worth in Jesus. Remind them of their eternal purpose in Christ Jesus that keeps their single days meaningful and purposeful (Philippians 3:14,20). Call each woman by name and pray a blessing over her life. Pray that she would yield to the Spirit to pursue a life of faithfulness (2 Peter 1:3). Don’t buy the lie that eating a tub of ice cream and watching a sappy chick flick will soothe the aching heart of loneliness. Instead, believe that you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus and that nothing separates you from His love. In fact, He sits in honor at the right hand of God, not just thinking of you, but interceding on your behalf (Romans 8:31-39).
That’s the kind of love worth your gaze, today!
You are loved, dear ones. Believe it. Walk in it. Give it away!
Casey Merrifield, a native Texan, has made her home in Oklahoma thanks to a good Elk City man, whom she married in the Spring of 2013. Her journey from Texas to Oklahoma began when she finished high school in Texhoma, Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). Her life has been full of adventure serving the Lord in full-time student ministry and Christian higher education in Texas & Oklahoma. She completed her M.A. in Marriage & Family Counseling and Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prior to beginning her Ph.D. (ABD) in Leadership Studies with a concentration in ministry. She currently works as a Senior Associate for GiANT Worldwide, a global leadership consulting firm and serves on the State Women’s Leadership Team with Oklahoma Baptists. She is often involved with the women’s ministry of First Baptist Church, Elk City helping with their yearly IF:Gathering and leading Bible studies. She is enjoying married life with her husband, Scott and their dogs, Mex the bird dog and Bodee, the cutest pug you’ve ever seen.
1. Check out ThePorchDallas.com for a great series called Relationship Goals: A Dating Series at the Porch, August 2016-October 2016. This resource will be a great encouragement to anyone pursuing Christ in a season of singleness.
2. 5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively With Everyone You Lead (2016) by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram has been a helpful resource to help me pray through God-given tendencies that I have needed God to mature in me to build healthier relationships.
3. For more resources to encourage you in a faithful pursuit of purity, follow Marian Jordan Ellis at RedeemedGirl.org.