Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to overcome loneliness

Loneliness is not an issue that only a few select people struggle with.  Loneliness crosses the boundaries of race, gender, relationship status, and location.  A person can be single or married, in a rural or urban community, have an active social life or tend towards being more solitary, and still feel lonely.  I used to think that I would never be lonely once I was married.  However, after talking with several different married couples, I learned that they still have their moments of loneliness.

With this knowledge in mind, God began to reveal to me that it was very important that I learn how to overcome these feelings now, before entering a relationship, so that I could be well-prepared for marriage.  I don't want to place all my hopes and dreams on another human being, no matter how amazing he is,  because the bottom line is that he is just that...human.  He will not always be able to be there for me,  If I am not in the practice of turning to God first, I will be creating unrealistic expectations for my husband that he has no hope of ever fully attaining.

So how do I deal with loneliness?  First, I know that God's Word promises that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).  However, being more than a conqueror is not as easy as simply reading this verse and agreeing with it.

My mind is the first place that I tackle issues of loneliness.  My emotions might make me feel discouraged and down, but I need to choose to focus on God's truth rather than what I'm feeling.  I am not a helpless victim to my thoughts.  2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  What this verse means is that I need to take action against the negative thoughts racing through my mind that focuses on how lonely I am.  

After choosing not to allow myself to think negative, discouraging thoughts, I have to replace those thoughts with ones that are focused on God's truth.  His truth is that I am never alone, He will never leave or forsake me, He has a great plan and purpose for my life, and that I am precious in His sight.  And these truths are just a tiny portion of the full scope of God's promises for my life!  

I don't normally feel emotionally better right away, but as I continue to reaffirm God's truth over my feelings and circumstances, my emotions begin to come into alignment with my state of mind.  I'm not saying that it's all about positive thinking, but rather, purposefully thinking truthful, God-honouring thoughts.

As I end this blog post, let me encourage you that now is the time to begin taking action against the power of loneliness, no matter if you are single or married.  As God's child, loneliness has no power over you.  Believe this truth, claim it, and live it out through your thoughts, words, and actions.  You will begin to see results as you are faithful in standing your ground against the enemy's attacks.  The more you practice having the mind of Christ, the easier you will find dealing with future situations where you feel lonely.  And I promise that you will be more than a conqueror in Christ as faithfully trust and obey God!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to answer the ever-present question: Why are you still single?

First, let me preface with a disclaimer: I have never been in a relationship before.  Yes, I am almost in my late twenties and no previous boyfriends.  So I get this question quite a bit.  Things went from family and friends saying, "Don't worry, you're so young.  You have lots of time!" to something more along the lines of, "What about that guy over there?  He looks nice."

At a Family Camp last year, there was only one man that was there that was around my age and single.  Wow, let me tell you, every person in my family as well as my church made sure that they told me how great of a guy he is.  There were definitely no subtle hints...more like they were already planning the wedding!  Haha, I didn't really mind, but it sure made things awkward when this man and I finally did talk as both of us knew that we had a lot of eyes watching us.

When it comes to question, "Why are you still single," I've always struggled with how to answer that.  I recently came across an advice column on 10 comebacks to that very question, Ten Great Comebacks to the ‘Why Are You Still Single?’ Question.  Some personal favourites of mine are: "My mail-order spouse should be here any day now" and "Name one married superhero.  Exactly."  I especially loved the superhero comeback until a friend of mine informed me of a few superheroes that actually are married.  Bummer!

It hasn't been easy, remaining single this long.  My answer to the question, "Why are you still single?" is not necessarily straightforward.  However, I believe that what it all boils down to is that I truly have not found the right man yet.

Back when I was in my teens, I felt that God was calling me to wait until I felt His blessing before moving forward into a relationship.  Not going to lie, I'm pretty sure I didn't date some guys simply because I was too afraid that I would make a mistake.  I took dating relationships very seriously (still do).  Before, my hesitance in dating someone might have been partially due to my fear, but looking back, I honestly believe that none of those guys were truly God's best for me, neither was I God's best for them.

Back to the present day.  I certainly want to find love, get married, and start a family.  That desire gets stronger the older I get.  I see more and more of my friends leaving the single life behind and starting their own families.  Yet, I can't deny that God has placed unique opportunities in my life, such as this blog, that I might never have been able to do if I had gotten married years ago.

I have no desire to settle for someone who might be a great guy, but not God's best for me, simply because I no longer want to be single.  The fact that I am still single is my choice.  Yes, there have been times where there simply seemed to be not many options for single Christian men in my area.  There have also been missed opportunities, as well as times when I have said no to a potential relationship, or where the man said no to me.

Through it all though, I have no regrets.  I honestly believe that God knows my heart has always been to honour Him in this area of my life.  Even my human shortcomings can't get in the way of God's best for me because He knows my heart is to be obedient to Him.  He won't allow me to miss out on His best for me.

Therefore, I have no shame in replying to the question, "Why are you still single?" with a simple, "I have not found the right man yet."  It's not a bad thing to have high standards as far as the character and faith of your potential spouse is concerned.  Although I strongly desire marriage and am certainly not afraid to put myself out there to find the right man, I am enjoying my life right now as a single woman.  My life is full and I am so thankful for all the blessings that God has brought into my life.

My encouragement to you is not to be ashamed of being single.  You are not somehow less of a person because you are not in a relationship.  Not settling for just anyone because you want to experience love is an honourable thing.  Feel confidence in who God has made you to be and shake off that shame of your single status.  You are God's treasure, single or married!