One of the most annoying things you hear as a single person is when someone says the words, “There’s someone out there for you”. Ok, well that’s great. Even worse is the Christian version, “God has someone out there for you,” or other fun variations like, “God will bring the person in His timing,” (thanks Calvin), or one of my favorites, “God is just getting them ready for you.” That one makes me laugh.
I’ve heard some of these from the pulpit believe it or not and of course at conferences when I was younger as well as from many well meaning friends (all married of course). But well meaning as it may be it isn’t a good idea. It touches on some things we’ll talk about more such as, thinking God owes you a spouse, thinking that it is all God’s fault you are single, thinking that it is all about you, feeling that God is holding out on you, the whole “This is God’s plan that you are single” thing, and worst of all, having your spirituality tied up in this stuff. But there are more immediate problems for this post.
First of all when someone tells me that God has someone for me I want to say, “Really?! You know this for sure? You’ve prayed and God has told you that He has someone for me? Tell me more.” Look, I think a lot of people say this stuff because it makes them feel better and/or they hope it will make the other person feel better but it usually doesn’t. Now of course if you’ve actually prayed and felt like God gave you a word about this for your friend then by all means share it. (I’ve had this happen to me actually – crazy story).
But otherwise this is not great advice. For starters it’s not Biblical. No where in the Bible are we promised a spouse. You can’t read the Bible and think, “God has someone for everyone”. Now to be sure marriage is set up by God and is a great thing. It is also part of the original plan and it happens pre-sin so to speak (more on this later) but the problem is there are all sorts of people in the Bible who aren’t married. There are people called to singleness. And frankly, we did sin. And friends, that screwed up every single aspect of creation, including this one.
We should not assume that we, or teach anyone else to assume that they, will get married. It’s just not a good starting point. This has all sorts of ramifications. I’ve had a couple of friends recently say to me, “Should this change what I tell my kids growing up?” My answer would be yes. As single people we need to have an attitude of submission to God in this area. “God what do you want for me here?” would be a great starting point. It’s scary because we might not like the answer (either answer can be scary) but we need to ask it. According to Jesus both marriage and singleness seem to be a calling of sorts. Maybe we should be working that out.
I think about how many times in my twenties that I prayed for God to bring me someone or for that matter to help me land a particular someone. I don’t remember even really considering if He called me to something different.
We need to ditch the cliche answers that sound nice and actually engage the first questions first.