Identity Status: Single
Bekah is writing for us today, in a beautiful post full of encouragement and honesty. She is refreshingly open about her own struggles in wanting a relationship, and she challengingly reminds us where our worth is truly found, breaking down the lies that tell us our value is in relationship with others. Whatever stage of life you are at - whether the desire for relationship occupies an uncomfortable proportion of your thoughts, or whether it's something you haven't considered yet - this post is a valuable reminder of our identity as a saved, loved child of God.
As I sit on my bed, half eaten bar of chocolate at my side, propped up by cushions to prevent the stinging of yesterday’s sunburn, I realise that I don’t really know how best to start. Talking about something that you’ve struggled with arguably more than anything else in your Christian life is, unsurprisingly, pretty difficult. At the same time, that seems to be all the more reason for me to share.
I am a perpetual singleton.
With an apparent propensity for the over-dramatic.
As I’m only approaching twenty, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that a little bit too early to resign yourself to the eventuality of becoming a ‘crazy cat lady’? Perhaps you’re right.
Nevertheless, my relationship status is probably the thing that I have most frequently wrestled over with God. Reading back on prayer journals from the past few years, aside from a worrying over use of the word ‘I’, the theme that comes up most frequently is my love life.
‘Why won’t he like me back?’ ‘Why haven’t I found someone yet?’ ‘Where is he, God?!’
For the majority of my walk with God, I shamefully admit that I have rarely been fully satisfied in Him, spending most of my teenage years obsessed with the idea that I was incomplete unless I was in a relationship.
I’d repeatedly tell myself ‘seeking a godly man isn’t a bad thing.’ And yes, it’s true. Seeking to be in a godly, Christ-centred relationship is not a bad thing. The problem came when this search consumed every part of me. I’d spent a long time capitulating to the cliché of a Christian woman: I’d written lists featuring such essentials as ‘taller than me’ and ‘prefers dogs to cats’; I’d heard near enough every talk that I could find on Christian dating; I’d even read Joshua Harris’ books. But still, nothing was able to fill this man-shaped gap in my life.
It was in the summer before my gap year that I started to understand the gravity of the problem. Attending various Christian camps, I’d find myself, instead of listening to the talk, glaring around the room, asking God repeatedly whether my future husband was sitting anywhere near me. I’d massively overreact any time a Christian guy even spoke to me. I’d see smiling faces announcing their engagement over Facebook and curse their happiness, and my singleness, muttering 1 Corinthians 7 under my breath. It was almost a disease; it utterly consumed me.
It was with this realisation that I decided that I would take a year out from relationships. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? A girl who isn’t in a relationship taking a year out from them? Nonetheless, on 11th November 2012, just over a year and a half ago, I started out on my year of singleness.
If I’m brutally honest with myself, the main reason that I did this was because I thought that God would reward me by giving me my husband at the end of it. Suffice to say, this didn’t happen. Instead, I began to learn something far more valuable: God started revealing to me the truth. For however many years of my life, I came to learn that I had believed pervasive lies about who I truly was. In learning the truth, I’ve found unexpected freedom. My prayer is that, as I tell you about these lies that I believed, God will show you his glorious truth as well.
Lie #1: I’m single because I’m [insert word here]
For me, that sentence ended in an infinite number of ways. Because I’m too fat. Because I’m too ugly. Because I’m too boring. Because I’m not funny. I’d look around at other girls who were in relationships and compare myself to them. I’d think that they were prettier than I was, or more intelligent. I’d think that if I became more like them, I’d instantly find a boyfriend and therefore, be happy.
I can’t even begin to express to you the extent that this is a lie. Comparing yourself to other people is like a disease; it damages every single part of you. I am not somebody else for a reason. I am created in the image of a powerful, beautiful, creative God (Genesis 1:27).
I may be throwing every Christian cliché out there at once but this is the truth, whether you’re single or otherwise:
You are the daughter of the King of Kings. He has called you by name. You are beautiful. You are worthy of love. There is nothing that you could do that could make him love you anymore. Nor can anything make him love you any less.
Lie #2: My singleness defines me
This is something that I’ve struggled with enormously. Having to force out a smile when asked the dreaded ‘have you finally found a boyfriend yet?’ at family parties, the fact that I’m single has caused massive problems with my identity in the past. I’d allow the word ‘single’ to permeate every aspect of my life and I believed that I was truly defined by the absence of a relationship rather than the evidence of a whole lot of other stuff in my life. My singleness began to define who I was; I thought my value and worth came from my relationship status.
In my year of singleness, God showed me that I wouldn’t suddenly gain an identity if I were in a relationship. I began to learn that I had an identity already; I was already defined by something else. I am a new creation in Christ and that is where my identity lies (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not in whether I have a boyfriend. Not in whether I remain single forever. God gave me value before I was even born, value that can never be taken from me. I’ve started to understand that my singleness doesn’t define me. God does.
Lie #3: Nobody can fill this man-shaped space in my life
In the midst of my angst and worry about my relationship status, I’d begun to notice that I had created within myself a void that I believed only a man could fill. I didn’t think that I could be fully satisfied in life were I not in a relationship and eventually married with children. I was determined that this was where my life was headed and nobody, not even God could stop me.
What God revealed to me was not what I expected. He showed me that I did have a hole in my heart which needed filling. A void in my soul that needed satisfying. But it couldn’t be contented by just any man. It had to be filled by him. Only by putting my trust and hope in the only one who will never leave me, never forsake me, never let me down, can I be truly fulfilled. Only God can satisfy my soul.
It’s taken me a long time to realise these truths. It feels like the journey has gone on forever.
Will I ever put my relationship status above God and treat it as an idol again? Undoubtedly. I’m not perfect. I’m not going to pretend that one year has completely transformed my way of thinking forever.
But perhaps now, I can walk into a church without thinking with hope that maybe my future husband is somewhere in this room. I can see another Facebook status about someone’s engagement and be overjoyed by the gift of marriage for them and not have to feel alone and envious. I can know that my identity is in Christ and that I am the apple of His eye, the crown of His creation and the daughter of the King of Kings.
I’m never going to be the perfect wife. And I’m never going to find a perfect husband.There’s only one person that will ever complete me. Only one man that can ever fully satisfy everything I need. Only one who would give everything for me, no questions asked.
His name is Jesus. And He’s already given it all.
Hello, I'm Bekah. I've just finished my first year studying English at Durham and absolutely love all of its quaint coffee shops, wonderful people, and beautiful scenery. When not studying, I live in the Midlands and spend my time reading books, drinking copious amounts of tea, binge watching cookery programmes, pinteresting, and writing. I'm daily overwhelmed by God's awesome grace and mercy in my life and he's given me a real heart to seek justice, love the unlovable, and live out Isaiah 58.