In the spring of 2017, I realised that my prayers around my singleness had changed. I was no longer begging God to come through for me and give me a husband. Nor was I praying, as I had for a season, “Lord, I do want your will, but if that could include a husband, I’d really appreciate it. Any time…” I knew I’d still love to be married, but I also realised that God had given me a deep, satisfied, joyful contentment with where I was.
I shared this on the women’s WhatsApp group at my church, wanting to give some hope to those at the beginning of this journey; those looking around in despair at the church with its imbalance of males to females (smaller than in non-London churches, but still significant); those who spent every summer weekend at hen parties/bridal showers or weddings, but with no hope of the same on their own horizons; those who were beginning to wonder if God could really be trusted with this area of their lives.
I got an incredible response. This affected far more people than I realised. I began to have opportunities to talk to some of them and pray with and for them. I’d love to be able to tell you that after one quick prayer, everyone found freedom from the fear and doubt and longing they felt.
They didn’t. It rarely works that quickly. I can look back to long sessions with a mentor in the early 2000s, the lessons from which are only just now beginning to make sense and bear fruit in my life. I could see the logic and the truth of them at the time, but I only really “got it” after years more of walking with God. He loves me. And that’s all that matters. The sense of absolute security that this knowledge brings is a source of constant amazement to me. And as I’ve followed his lead through twists and turns, I’ve seen him open innumerable doors and richly provide for me. As the evidence of his faithfulness has stacked up in so many other areas, it has freed my heart to trust in and experience his goodness in this one.
Contentment leads to intentional living
So by 2017, having realised that he was indeed good, more than enough to meet all my needs, and totally worth giving my all to, I was able to consciously surrender my desire for marriage and fully engage with my life. Up till then I had tended to drift through it fairly unintentionally, like a plane in a holding pattern above an airport – not really going anywhere, but without having arrived, either.
It’s amazing what a difference that has made, across so many areas. I hadn’t realised how much it had hindered me to be clinging onto my desire for a husband. Marriage is a good thing, but even carrying around the desire for something good restricts your hands from free movement. I’ve got a new level of joy and fruitfulness not just in my spiritual life but in my writing, in leadership, in hospitality, in discipling others in the church and in love for my neighbours outside it.
This desire that I thought was just a small, peripheral longing turned out to be a huge, idolatrous blockage that was affecting so many areas of my life.
I may not have a husband, but I’m doing almost all the things I thought I needed a husband to be able to do – providing hospitality, nurturing younger believers, working from home so I can be more deeply connected with my community. Even my longing for physical intimacy no longer stings quite so deeply as I have grown in spiritual intimacy with God. I released the dreams I was clinging to, only to find that he gave them back in richer and more wonderful ways than I could ever have imagined.
Life doesn’t always go the way we hope it will. Whether it’s singleness, childlessness or some other big disappointment, it’s hard to be content when life lets us down.
Author of If Only, Jennie Pollock knows what it’s like to feel discontent. With warmth and honesty, she answers common doubts that arise when life doesn’t go the way we had hoped and walks readers through the process of taking our eyes off the things we wish we had and instead enjoying the character of the God we do have.