February 14th. Also known as Valentines Day, an occasion many a forlorn single dreads.
Each year, while the rest of society posts sticky-sweet, chocolate-coated tributes to their spouses and significant others’ online, all the lonely hearts of the world mourn their singleness like it’s some sort of malignant disease.
Surely, you’ve seen the ‘woe-is-me-I’m-so-alone’ posts on social media, too?
Now, before you think I’m just picking on singles here, let me clarify, I’m a 28-year-old single woman who would very much like to be married yesterday. In fact, I thought I’d be several years married and have half a dozen babies by now. But here I am, single, childless, and sharing my bed with two larger than life dogs. Truth be told, I don’t mind that last part. But still, the desire for marriage is one that has only grown deeper in the last couple of years. It’s a longing I almost daily take to God in prayer.
So, it’s not that I don’t ‘get it.’ I certainly do.
But I also get that the enemy loves to draw our eyes away from Christ and onto other, lesser things. And as Christians (married or single), that is where our eyes should be—on Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:1-2 instructs, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God,” (emphasis mine).
So, let’s look at some of the weights and sins that so “easily ensnare” single Christians, especially but not exclusively, on Valentine’s Day. And then let’s explore some ways we can shift our focus back to the Lord.
1. Self-Focus & Self-Pity
Our society conditions and even encourages us to be entirely self-focused; and Satan, the enemy of our souls, takes great delight in fueling this self-centric mindset even further. He will do anything and everything to get our eyes off Jesus and onto ourselves. So, it’s no surprise that he’d use Valentine’s Day as fodder.
Here we have a day meant to celebrate the romantic love shared between a man and a woman—a beautiful, valid reason for celebration. And because we personally don’t have that kind of relationship, we let the enemy hijack the day and twist the purpose of it to that of highlighting our loneliness. We let him paint those sappy social media posts as intentional jabs at our singleness. And we let him run amok with our thoughts, accepting every garbage lie he dumps in our brains until we feel… well, like garbage.
When we allow ourselves to ride the self-focus train, the station we’ll inevitably find ourselves pulling into is self-pity.
“I’m so lonely. I thought I’d be married by now.”
“Why hasn’t God given me a spouse? I’m doing everything right.”
“Why don’t guys ask me out? Am I not desirable?”
“I wish I had someone special to spend the day with.”
“How come everybody else gets to live happily ever after? When’s it going to be my turn?”
Self-pity is a messy mindset. It’s a sinful mindset, one that puts us and our problems at the center. One that discounts every good gift God has ever given us and labels the presence of Jesus in our lives as ‘not good enough.’
As Christians, this is not how we are to think. We are not to be absorbed with ourselves.
Scripture instructs us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” (Romans 12:15).
That means that if we want our married friends to weep with us on the days that singleness is painful and lonely, we need to learn to rejoice with them on the days that marriage is beautiful and sweet.
That means instead of feeling sorry for ourselves because God hasn’t written marriage into our stories, we need to celebrate the beautiful marriages He’s orchestrated in the lives of those around us.
That means instead of trying to garner sympathy and attention by posting about our ‘single and miserable’ plight, we need to read the sweet and sincere posts of our married friends with gratitude for the blessing God has given them.
Because the truth is, it’s not all about us.
“For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him,” Colossians 1:16 (emphasis mine).
All things—including your life and mine—were created for Christ.
We are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19). As Christians, our lives are God’s to use for His glory. And if He’s chosen to glorify Himself in my life and yours through singleness, whether that’s forever or for now, our response ought to be “yes, Lord, have Your way.”
2. Unfair Comparisons & Covetousness
I’ll be the first to admit that singleness has its difficulties. There are days when it’s not the most fun in the world. There are days when I long for the companionship and love of a husband, and my arms ache to hold the babies I’ve dreamt of having since I was a girl. It’s not wrong to want others to understand the difficulty of the season you’re in. I’m very grateful for the people in my life that allow me to transparently share my heart and respond with understanding and compassion.
However, we do ourselves and our married friends a disservice when we compare the highs of their season to the lows of our own season. Because the truth is that while singleness has its struggles, so does marriage. Marriage is difficult. And while marriage has its advantages, so does singleness. Marriage is not better or more blessed than singleness, and vice versa.
When we make unfair comparisons, we often give way to the sin of covetousness. And we all know how God feels about coveting, don’t we? Let’s refresh anyway:
Exodus 20:17 says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
In the gospel of Mark chapter 7 we read that coveting defiles a person.
Brown-Driver-Briggs describes coveting as an “inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire,” and an “idolatrous tendency.”
In other words, any time we draw unfair comparisons between singleness and marriage, we risk defiling our own hearts by idolizing the thing we selfishly desire.
Friends, let’s steer clear of the comparison trap and guard our hearts against covetousness. Let’s examine our motives, ensuring that if we want marriage, it’s for the right reasons—because we want to die to self, grow in holiness, and glorify God through matrimony.
3. Discontentment & Resentment
One of Satan’s oldest tricks is to tempt humanity with discontentment. That’s what he lured Eve with in the garden. He caught her attention with the one thing she could not have, and in so doing, made her discontent with all she did have.
Wouldn’t you know it, he plays the same slimy trick on us today?
He catches our attention with what we do not have—a spouse—and in so doing makes us discontent with all we do have—Christ Himself.
With our gaze diverted from the cross and all that Christ provided for us on it, we long for that which we think will fulfill us, make us happy, and meet our needs.
Looking to that thing, and forgetting all we’ve been given, we slip into resentment towards God.
“It’s not fair. Why would You give her a husband and not me?”
“Don’t You see all the good things I do for You? All the ways I serve You? When will You give me what I want?”
“I thought You were good; so, why won’t You give me this good gift?”
And just like that, we’ve made the same decision Eve did—to place our trust in the lies of a serpent and resent God for withholding the latest object of our fleshly lusts. As if our good and loving and all-wise Father God would shortchange His beloved children.
Friends, I well know the temptation to dwell in discontentment over the circumstances of my life and resent God for seemingly giving everybody else what I’ve petitioned Him for. I know what it is to look at unmet expectations for how I thought my life would go, and feel confused and grieved, and yes, even resentful because of it.
But I also know that my feelings, while real, are not always true. My feelings, when influenced by the lies of that no-good serpent, can cause me to forget the truth, and quite frankly, act like an ignorant beast before the Lord.
“When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You,” (Psalm 73:21-22).
The truth is that Christ does satisfy. He is a good portion, a worthy object of our hope (Lam.3:24). Everything we need for life and godliness is found in Him (2 Peter 1:3). In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand is where we find pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). And on the days when our hearts fail us, and our flesh is weak, God alone is the strength we need.
“Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:23-26.
Contentment comes from Christ alone, not our relationship status nor anything else.
3 Ways to Shift Your Focus
1. Plan a Day of Prayer.
You want to know what kills self-pity? Intentionally praying for others. Instead of spending the day bemoaning your singleness, plan to spend Valentines Day in prayer… for all your married friends. Yup, not you, not your “future someone”—pray for your married friends. As I mentioned above, marriage is hard. The enemy hates it. Your married friends need your prayers! Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to spend time tending to your own marriage right now and invest that time in prayer for your married friends. Shoot them a text before the 14th, asking how you can pray for them.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started: Pray for unity. Pray for strong communication. Pray for them to die to self and serve each other well. Pray for the husband to lead his wife well, and for the wife to submit to him with grace. Pray for their sanctification and growth in holiness. Pray for them to guard their hearts above all else, to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and to protect the purity of their marriage.
2. Make a Gratitude List.
The temptation is to focus on all the cons of singleness. And while there is certainly a time and place to process through difficult emotions and grieve unrealized dreams, let’s not forget to look for the good of our current season. Singleness is not a curse! It is a gift from God. And there are plenty of reasons to be grateful, but we must be intentional to find them!
Here’s a few reasons to be grateful for singleness: you can devote more time to prayer and study of the Word of God. You can commit more time to service at your local church. You can make plans with friends without having to consult a spouse.
3. Remind Yourself that Christ is Your Portion.
On the days you forget this truth, be intentional to saturate yourself in the Word of God. Spend extra time in worship (I love the lyrics of this song by Christy Nockels!). Go for a prayer walk, express your feelings to the Lord, and then ask His Holy Spirit to remind you of what His Word says. Ask Him to help your emotions line up with your decision to trust that He is sufficient.
Here’s a couple passages to mediate on (bonus challenge: commit them to memory!):
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” -Psalm 90:14
“For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” -Psalm 107:9
The Most Glorious Sight & The Most Perfect Love
I hope this article helps you wake up on Valentine’s Day feeling equipped to recognize the weights and temptations the enemy may place in your path. I hope it gives you a few practical ideas on how you can not only ‘get through’ the day, but actually enjoy it as a single person.Jesus Christ is the most beautiful, the most radiant, the most glorious sight we could ever behold. And His love is the most precious and the most perfect love we could ever experience. Click To Tweet
But mostly, I hope it serves as a reminder that to look at Jesus is not to look at a lesser, duller view.
Jesus Christ is the most beautiful, the most radiant, the most glorious sight we could ever behold. And His love is the most precious and the most perfect love we could ever experience.
“Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD…. O LORD my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them,” Psalm 40:4a-5 (emphasis mine, NLT).
Jesus has no equal, friends—not in power, not in authority, and certainly not in love.