I just spent a few days in heaven, a.k.a. Camp Luther in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, cottaging with friends. We spent our days kayaking, swimming, hiking, frisbee golfing, and eating. We spent our evenings playing board games, glow-in-the-dark bocce ball, and staying up way longer than is smart.
My friends and I usually find a few hours each day to get deep into conversation about our lives and our faith. It was during one of these moments that a single friend asked me, a long-term single gal, “Don’t you ever get lonely?”
Man, do I. I really, really do. Sometimes I can’t breathe for the loneliness I feel. I yearn for partnership. My heart cries for intimacy, and I’m not even talking about physical intimacy, though there is that. I’m talking about having someone to share your life with. Someone to share the burden with. Someone to tell my troubles to. Someone to increase my joy. “Burdens are halved; joys are multiplied,” and all that.
But here’s the thing. My heart isn’t crying out for a man. My soul isn’t yearning for another imperfect human being.
The only thing that will fulfill me and satisfy me is a relationship with God. And if I had been married all this time would I have had the chance to truly rely on Him? Probably not.
Let me ask you one question.
When something happens to you – good or bad – who do you go to first? Your spouse? Or God?
THAT’S what you miss out on when you’re in a relationship. It’s easy to turn to your partner and share your life. Unless you don’t yet have a partner. Then you learn to rely on God. And that’s the strength, the beauty, the benefit of being single. God becomes all to you – your partner, your joy, your comfort.
Yes, we yearn to be in relationship, and that includes human relationships. It’s what we’re made for.
But our souls long for communion with God. And if we’re trying to replace that with human relationships then we will be disappointed.
The loneliest person I’ve ever met was someone in an unhappy marriage. They had built their foundation on the idea that a spouse would fulfill them, that a partnership would satisfy what they yearned for. And it wasn’t perfect. It was difficult. And eventually it became dread and loneliness and disappointment weighing down their soul.
So yes, I do get lonely sometimes. But mostly I’m not. I have amazing friendships. I have strong family ties. And whenever I feel particularly alone I bring my concern to God. That doesn’t mean the feeling goes away completely. I do believe God places desires on our heart – desires He will fulfill, but He does give me satisfaction with my stage in life. And He renews my strength and places people in my life who remind me what a blessing it is to experience singleness and wholeness with Christ.
I’m not saying you can’t find satisfaction in God when you’re married, or that you can’t experience wholeness in Christ if you have a spouse. The emotional intimacy you gain in marriage provides a view of God that we singles have yet to experience. Being a parent teaches you about the love of God in a way that we childless can’t yet know. What I am saying is that sometimes it’s more difficult to put your relationship with God first when you have the distraction of human relationships vying for your attention.