In my work, I’m constantly working with and supporting people who are single and dating, helping equip them with the tools to build God-centred and enjoyable relationships. Unfortunately, I hear many painful stories in the process.
Just last month a woman, who’d been single for decades and wanted this to change, told me about a date she had. She met up with a guy, they got on really well, had similar values and views on God, and had a great time.
She was really excited afterwards, but he called her later and said: “You’re amazing, you’re so great; but it showed me that I want to get back with my ex.”
All she heard was: “Being amazing wasn’t enough.”
I vividly remember being in church as a single person and seeing all of my friends pairing off and getting into relationships, and thinking: “What’s wrong with me?” My friends would say: “You’re a great guy; an amazing catch.” Yet being amazing didn’t seem to be enough. It’s hard isn’t it?
Sometimes we fall into the trap of trying to improve our looks, get more involved in church, or take up some hobbies to be more ‘amazing’. Yet if we’re single and wanting to be in a relationship – and not succeeding – we can still be left thinking: “Why is it not happening for me?”
In my own experience and in the work I do, so many of us in this situation can run away from God. We’re told very unhelpful clichés like: “You need to learn to be content with singleness before God finds you someone”, or “God’s timing is perfect” or even: “You just haven’t prayed enough,” which makes us feel more confused and upset.
But we can find a way to run towards God.
What I love about the Psalms is that all the writers are showing unedited raw emotion, good and bad, towards God. They remind us that God wants us to be real, authentic and vulnerable. If we think God is to blame, tell Him. If we feel disappointed, tell Him. If we feel overwhelmed, tell Him. The Psalms teach us to hold nothing back.
“You [God] have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends.” Psalm 88:6-8
Or: “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.” Psalms 6:6-7
The psalmist’s situation doesn’t always change, but we see that we can’t have a real relationship with God, draw close to Him and remember that He is ultimately good, unless we tell Him when we struggle to believe it.
God never asks us to be amazing. No one is perfect.
God only asks us to be real – both in our relationship with Him, and with others.
Imagine if we stopped trying to be amazing and pretending it was all okay. Imagine if we stopped ignoring the disappointments. If we’re single and want to get married, we’re allowed to tell God our frustrations instead of putting our faith in an unhelpful cliché.
So when it comes to relationships, are we trying to be amazing or are we trying to be authentic? When we go through challenging times, are we really stopping to pray and tell God the raw unedited feelings, and drawing closer to Him in the good times and struggles? If not, let’s take our cue from the psalmist and let God into our situation.