Rejected and alone, I was terrified of being single forever
Jyrminn Soh // July 24, 2020, 6:25 pm
Heart freshly broken by the man I loved after being informed that there was nothing in me that attracted him, I was utterly lost and crushed in spirit.
I remember nights of sitting by my bed, all of 22 years old, crying out to God while journalling, continually laying before Him my pain, affections and longing.
With nothing else to offer Him, I often repeated lines from King David’s prayer in Psalm 51.
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise.”
The question that haunted me over the next two years was this: Am I really so undesirable and unlovable that he could not even find a single thing in me to like?
It hung over me like a death sentence with no chance of parole. His words felt like a final confirmation of what I had already felt all my life, which was not being good enough to be loved, and that somebody else would always be preferred over me.
I was so convinced by his words that there was no place in my heart to even believe what God had to say about me. Psalm 139 is my favourite psalm, yet whenever I reached verse 14 on being “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, it made me uncomfortable.
My reaction was: “No, I do not believe it of myself.”
“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)
I desperately wished that I could believe it, but I could not, and that pained me deeply.
One night, about one and a half years later, I cried out to God again, this time asking Him if He thought the same as the boy who broke my heart did, that there was really nothing in me remotely beautiful or desirable.
In the midst of all the tears and the pain that tore away at my heart, I heard His quiet and still voice against the storms – I am not him.
And in that moment, I was set free. The words that chained me to a narrative of worthlessness no longer held the weight they used to, and I was finally free to believe the words of God.
The journey that had led up to this was wrought with a lot of forgiveness and release – forgiving of people who had hurt me and releasing others of their “debt” to me, which ultimately led to the release of myself.
It wasn’t just the words of people that kept me in my prison; I kept myself in that prison because I refused to let go of the narrative shaped by the many men and adults in my life.
God showed me that He thought it was completely worth it to give His life as a ransom for mine.
I held onto a lot of shame, blaming myself for even putting myself out there to love when I was supposed to know that I wasn’t worthy of love.
Yet God was never satisfied with leaving me where I was. He was determined to show me who He was, determined to show me that I was loved by Him, determined to showed me a better way.
He patiently and gently beckoned me to offer my heart to Him for healing, and showed me that He loved me so deeply that He thought it was completely worth it to give His life as a ransom for mine (John 3:16).
After almost two years of healing, now 24, I thought I was ready to put myself out there for a relationship. It felt like my heart had space to love again.
My desire for a relationship ran deep, and I held dreams for a family, to be a wife and a mother. Somehow, I believed that I could only live out my womanhood if I were in a relationship.
Singlehood was, to me, almost like a waiting place before I could live out my life fully. I did not even see singlehood as any sort of gift, unlike what people said. I saw it as a state that I had no choice but to be in.
My yearning was so strong that it coloured the way that I looked at men. My heart wandered a lot, and I was often distracted. I started evaluating every man I met, especially Christian men, weighing in my head their possibility to be my partner.
It was difficult for me to know them simply as friends because I kept entertaining the possibility of a romance at the back of my head.
And some other part of me was so frustrated because I wasn’t free to love them like brothers; I desperately wanted to see them as the people that they were and not as “potentials”.
“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living. Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” (Jim Elliot)
If singlehood was the will of God in this season of my life, I definitely was not “all there”. So I asked God, “What does it mean to be all there? What does it mean to live in Your will?”
His response came in the form of Romans 12:1-2.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
God was beckoning me to offer my life to Him, to live in His will, however that might look like. These verses challenged me profoundly, and eventually became the very verses that have anchored my singlehood.
But for the longest time, I wasn’t ready for complete surrender. I was terrified. Choosing to live in God’s will meant entertaining and accepting the possibility that singlehood could be His will for me for the rest of my life.
My fear of being single forever was crippling. It meant giving up my dreams and desires. I was afraid that it would reinforce the idea that I was unwanted.
I still desperately wanted to be in a relationship. I wanted to be chosen and desired.
I foolishly thought that holding onto these fears would mean that God wouldn’t give me what I didn’t want — which was to remain single — but all I was doing was setting myself up for disappointment and bitterness towards Him.
If I was currently unable to see how this divine will would play out in my singleness, then it was my mind that needed transforming, not my circumstance.
I was acting like a spoilt child. I wanted His gifts more than I wanted Him.
Yet, I did want to explore what living in line with the will of God would look like. Why else had He said that it was good, pleasing and perfect?
I wanted to see it, I wanted to test it and I wanted to approve of it. If I was currently unable to see how this divine will would play out in my singleness, then it was my mind that needed transforming, not my circumstance.
God, I want to choose Your will, please help me.
And one night, in a miraculous display of provision as I came before Him pleading once again, I felt my desire for His will rise just a tad higher than my fears.
In a weak and trembling voice I said: “If Your will for me is singlehood for the rest of my life, I accept that. I choose to trust that You will change my mind even if I can’t see the perfection and beauty of Your will right now.
“Even if it is not pleasing to me now, I trust that this is not the end of it.”
From that day, I walked into yet a greater freedom with the Father. I found that the joy of singlehood was found in that very surrender He was inviting me into.
When I finally let go of all the dreams and fears that I had held onto so tightly, I was free to love Him with abandon. I was propelled into a new state of discovery and exploration of His will and personhood.
I stopped looking ahead. I started to savour my season as it was and saw the beauty of singlehood.
Today, I finally see that the beauty of every season is only seen in its fullness when God is our greatest desire and love.
I can say with confidence that in the last few years, my heart has stopped wandering as I have grown in greater intimacy with Jesus. It no longer wavers in my interactions with men, and I can love them as brothers.
In the transforming of my mind, my head and heart have been freed up for people, and I love that I have been available to journey with those I love. I adore the space that I get to explore and grow into the woman God has created me to be.
I now see the wisdom behind Jim Elliot’s words: What a waste it would be for us to live our singlehood any lesser than what God had intended for it.
Should marriage be His will for me in the future, I do not want to regret not having lived out my singlehood fully. I do not want to, in my constant looking to the next thing, miss out on all the lessons He has for me in the here and now.
The most amazing thing of all is that singlehood is now something that I want for myself because of how good it is.
Being single at 29 years of age, I have never felt like I was shortchanged of anything. I stopped seeing marriage as the side of the meadow where the grass was greener.
What a waste it would be for us to live our singlehood any lesser than what God had intended for it.
My life has been enriched by the presence and companion of my community, much of which was constructed by women and men who loved God sincerely. I am learning how to love from the deep friendships I have built, as I have learnt that I am loved through their extending of God’s love to me.
There have been many stories shared about singlehood, many of which end with the authors sharing about how God blessed them with good partners after years of waiting. It is without a doubt that God gives good gifts, and such “endings” are truly beautiful.
However, I’d also like to introduce an alternative that is just as good a gift.
This is my happy “ending”: I am still single and God has blessed me with all of Himself, much of which I am still exploring in excitement and wonder.
This is abundance at its finest. I am given so much more than I ever deserve.
Jyrminn runs Raeil, a flower store with weekly themed florals inspired by God’s love. Her passion is building others up through her craft – that each person may be “rooted and established in love”, which is what Raeil stands for.
THINK + TALK
- What has your journey in singleness been like? What are your thoughts and fears towards it?
- What is the greater purpose of relationships with regard to our faith in God?
- How can we be good stewards of the seasons we are in?
- Have you found the “abundant life” in the season you are currently in?