By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
I've had many single friends quit social media, or at least, take a step back from it. Their reasons? Because every other post had wedding pictures or engagement photos. When they scrolled through these, they felt an overwhelming sense of missing out. That they'd been forgotten. That their peers would see they hadn't found a godly spouse yet and would ostracize them. And sadly, sometimes that does happen.
So, fellow singles, what happens when we seem to get bombarded by posts of acquaintances getting hitched? We know we should feel happy for them—and many of us do—but how do we combat the feeling that God has somehow left us out?
Although these so-called "solutions" may not apply perfectly to your situation, here is what prayerful endurance has led me to click that like button, write that "congratulations," and continue to trust that God has my best interests at heart.
Solution One: Remember Relationships Aren't a Race
Even if they were a race, in the sense that life is one (Hebrews 12:1-3), I would love to impart some wisdom my cross-country coach had laden on me back in high school.
"You run to defeat your personal best time. Don't pay attention to the other girls on the course. Make your ultimate goal beating the fastest time you've run the 5k."
In the same way, we don't try to compete with the other couples. We don't try to get hitched as quickly as possible so we can slash a checkbox on the list. Too many believers feel the rush to get married that they get married to the wrong person. They leave and cleave to someone who doesn't wholeheartedly love the Lord, someone who abuses, or someone who has an immature or corrupted character. Hence why Christian divorce rates tend to match those of the world's.
Know that every Christian has a different "race." Yours may be up a mountain, whereas your friend, who just got engaged, may have more of a plateaued course. So keep enduring, keep running, and keep waiting.
Solution Two: Remember That Everyone Posts Their Best Lives on Social Media
You may see these picture-perfect couples and feel distraught at your own dating life. But couples don't mention the fights, the hanging on the relationship by a thread, the horrible dates they went on before they found this one, the countless dating apps and small groups they tried. No one likes to post their negative moments on social media.
Social media curates perfection.
So when we witness the perfect engagements, the perfect weddings, the perfect offspring produced by these couples we don't keep in mind that they probably took 40 pictures to find the one photo with just the right lighting. That they managed to capture their kids on camera smiling just before they threw a fit.
All to say that everyone struggles with a different mountain. Marriage doesn't fix anything. In fact, most of the time, it exacerbates pre-existing issues. This leads me to my next point...
Solution Three: Remember Contentment Carries on from Singlehood to Marriage
Cue the eye rolls. Yes, every married person tells single people, "Oh, just be content now. Otherwise, you'll never be happy in marriage."
But hear me, a very much single person, say that some truth does exist in this (Philippians 4:11-13).
I'll use an example from the publishing world. I thought that my life would get fixed once I had a publishing contract. So after years and years of toil, I finally acquired one from a traditional publishing company. Did this make me completely content? Did this fix all my insecurities and issues?
Absolutely not, because I got my first royalty check (and let's just say, the numbers didn't uplift my spirits). And I said, "Ugh, I wish I had been contracted by a bigger company so I could make more money off of books." And what happened? Exactly that. Did this fix my problems?
Of course not.
You get the point. It's the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" dilemma. Once you acquire one thing, you'll need another. In relationships, it may play out like this:
Well, if I had a godly dating partner, I'll truly be happy.
Well, if I got married to this person, I'd be truly content.
Well, if my spouse showed me more affection, I'd be happy.
Well, if we had children—which gave us a reason to work together more—we'd be truly happy...
And on and on. We need to exercise contentment in our current situations to ever experience happiness in future ones. This doesn't mean slapping on a fake smile and falsely saying, "I love being single." Let's be honest. For those of us designed for a romantic relationship, we probably cannot honestly say those words. But we can thank God for the blessings he's already brought into our lives. We can realize the benefits of singleness and express gratitude for those.
Solution Four: Remember the Silent Majority
No, not all of your friends have gotten married. It may seem that way. But many single Christians who struggle with their singleness remain silent.
Satan has a way of doing this to Christians. To stay silent on feeling alone, feeling ostracized, feeling left out.
Although I stand with some of the more vocal single Christians on issues of ostracization in the church and how they handle singles ministries, most singles feel utterly and completely alone. Know that this is far from the case. Plenty of people feel the way you feel and can use prayer just as much as you yearn for it.
We can combat this by becoming more vocal about our loneliness. We can ask for prayer on social media and ask our fellow married Christians not to leave us out of church and life activities.
Think of the prophet Elijah. He thought he had to do this prophet thing alone. That no one else in Israel stood with the Lord (1 Kings 19). He wants to literally die because of his loneliness. The Lord feeds him, gives him rest, and assures him he's not alone. "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him."
You do not fight this battle alone. Find a network of single Christians, pray for one another, encourage each other, and trust in the Lord.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/kvkirillov
Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,200 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.