Should I commit to a relationship when I’m happily single?
To most people, a “happily ever after” consists of wedding bells, picturesque bouquet arrangements and tear-jerking vows said at the altar. But not for me. I was very much fine (perhaps too fine) staying single.
So entering the relationship that I’m currently in was an extremely difficult and somewhat painful process for me. It meant entering into a shared space where I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I had to learn how to face my own faults and be okay to bare my own insecurities for another person to see.
At the same time, I also needed to learn how to accept another person’s faults and show grace in the face of disappointments.
As a single person, I was serving in ministry, working hard, going to Bible school… I felt like the Mulan of God’s army.
During our exploration phase, which was a time of dating and seeking God before deciding to officially be “boyfriend and girlfriend”, I was constantly grappling with this question: Why would I willingly choose this person and continually choose to be with him, given all the hurt and work that comes with a relationship?
With that question in mind, I’ve gained a couple of insights about relationships along the way. This article won’t be about how to move from singleness into a relationship – and it’s not my success story either. These are just a few things I’ve learnt.
1. I GREW PROUD FROM BEING SINGLE
While I was extremely comfortable being single, I came to learn that I was also extremely prideful.
I idolised singlehood. Being happily single was a way of proving to myself and to others that I was capable and strong. I was serving in ministry, working hard, going to Bible school… I felt like the Mulan of God’s army.
But on the inside, my heart was hardened with pride and fear: Pride in my independence and ministry achievements, and fear of being vulnerable and owning up to my weaknesses.
My hardened heart needed to be replaced by a heart of flesh beating for Jesus. That meant God had to pry open hands that had a death grip on singlehood’s comforts and my desire to prove to the world that I didn’t have to be attached.
Ultimately, God opened my hands, not for a relationship or a person, but for Him. When I humbled myself, I could receive Him in the secret areas of my heart.
Whether we’re single, dating or married, our hearts need to be soft and our hands need to be open towards God. We’re called to chase God (Matthew 6:33) above anything else.
2. I DISCOVERED GOD’S PURPOSE FOR MARRIAGE
After God dealt with the pride and fear heart, I began to think about a relationship more seriously. So when he started showing me signs of interest, I found myself at a crossroads: Should I reciprocate or should I turn him down?
The question was a big deal to me because throughout my Christian life, I never envisioned having a marriage and family. Being a wife or mum was just never an attractive image in my head.
So God helped me process this question by imparting a vision of marriage into my heart through the book of Hosea. Hosea had a wife, Gomer, who was unfaithful. In spite of Gomer’s behaviour, God told Hosea to marry her and remain faithful to her.
Hosea had every right to get out of that relationship. Why then did Hosea stay and allow himself to feel the pain of being in an imperfect relationship? Because his motivation for remaining in a relationship wasn’t about needs and desires, but fulfilling God’s purpose in his marriage.
The book of Hosea spoke to my fears of being in a relationship. I learnt that there are no perfect relationships – it’s God who perfects relationships through His perfect love which casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Our partners are human and will always fall short of our expectations. Disappointment and hurt cannot be fully avoided. And yet Jesus, like Hosea, still chose to love His Bride – the Church – even to the point of giving His life for her.
There are no perfect relationships – it is God who perfects relationships.
It dawned on me how much self-sacrifice is required in marriage. Marrying someone is basically choosing to die to yourself for another person! Yet through this self-sacrificial agape love, more of God is revealed to others.
Ultimately, the purpose of a marriage – indeed the purpose of any Christian’s life – is to glorify God. This purpose remains the same whether you’re in a relationship or not.
I realised that I really needed to ask myself the question of which would bring more glory to God – remaining single or entering into a relationship.
3. I SAW THAT GOD WAS WALKING BESIDE ME
I prayed and laid this question down at God’s feet. As a response, God showed me a picture of myself standing at that fork in the road. In that picture, He walked down each road with me, revealing what either path would be like.
One path saw me walking through the woods alone, admiring my surroundings at my own leisurely pace, enjoying that time with God and His creation. It was a peaceful time with Him, I felt loved and complete on this quiet and joyful walk with my Father.
The other path saw me walking through those same woods. The only difference was that I was walking with another person besides God. On that road, I was enjoying God and His creation all the same – it was just a bit noisier now with a person chattering beside me. It was disruptive, distracting, tiring – but at the same time exciting and vibrant!
I had a great sense of assurance and confidence in knowing that God remained the same whichever path I chose. He didn’t value one more than the other. And my worth in His eyes remained the same in both paths as well.
I chose the noisier path because even amidst the chatter, distraction and hurt, more of God and His love was revealed to me there. I chose him because, ultimately, I choose Him.
God has shown me that both singlehood and being in a relationship have their joys and pains. And as I wrestled over getting into a relationship, He groomed within me a heart of faith that seeks Him first.
There’s beauty in both paths, and while our paths may differ, we have an unchanging God who walks beside us.
THINK + TALK
- Would you like to get married someday?
- Why or why not?
- What would the purpose of your relationship be?
- What are some ways you’re preparing for marriage now?