When I was in college and right out of college, ok until I was 32 or so, I spent a lot of time (and I mean a lot of time) praying to God about getting a spouse. It was a focus, I would now say an idol. I wrote songs about it. The songs were about hurt, pain and angst. Haha. I can laugh now but it’s what I felt.
I think it’s really easy as a single to become bitter. You watch others have something that you want and you don’t have it. It’s in your face – especially in the Christian culture. We desire to be with someone and we aren’t. That seems like grounds to be upset.
For me I feel like my anger really started as a teenager. I just wasn’t good with the ladies. But I never saw what I did wrong, what I saw was that I couldn’t get the whatever girl I was currently obsessed with. College was ok, but then after college I fell into the trap of bitterness again. It’s understandable, but it’s not a very good path.
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to write about the people we get mad at as singles. For today I want to focus on the main person we are mad at – God. That’s right. We might not say it, but really that is where a lot of our bitterness and anger comes from.
Why God?! Why can’t you bring me someone?! I remember one day in my late twenties walking out of my office on a beautiful fall afternoon. I looked at the day, my work (which was going extremely well), the opportunities I had in ministry. I looked at the car I was driving and I thought about all God has provided for me. But I also felt confused. Why could God bring me all of that but not a wife? I would think, “Come on God, I’m trying to follow you. I’m doing your work. I’m trying to live a pure life – when is it my turn.” Can you hear the entitlement? Does God owe you a spouse?
Look I think it is good to be real. If you are frustrated then you might as well take that to God. But it’s dangerous as a single to stay there. It’s so easy to let our focus slide to what we don’t have, what we want so much and what we think we are missing out on.
It’s one thing to share my frustration but it’s another to live in bitterness.
It’s bad because I begin to view the world around me through that lens. It changes how I view my married friends. It gives the enemy a foothold to work with. Can you just hear the enemy’s voice, “See, God doesn’t deliver on the stuff that you really want.” or, “God could do it but He doesn’t want to.”
In one sense it puts the focus squarely on me. It becomes all about what I want, what I don’t have and I’m mad about it. It’s all about me. It also affects me because it makes me way less attractive to the opposite sex. No one wants to date the mad, bitter, feeling sorry for themselves person. I see this in my single friends a lot. I know it because I’ve lived it. Ladies, no guy wants to date the girl who is whining about being single. We are scared of the desperate chick. Trust me. And gentlemen, no girl, and I mean NO girl, wants to date and angry, depressed, focussed on what’s wrong guy.
This leads me to another key problem. When we make it all God’s fault we tend not to deal with the parts that are our fault. I wish I would have had less people who fed me spiritual platitudes about God’s timing, God’s preparing someone for me, and God’s got stuff to teach me, and more people who would have told me how I was doing it all wrong.
We all have wounds that mess us up in this area, are we working on those? Maybe we date all the wrong people – is that God’s fault of something from inside me that I need to figure out? Maybe I need to work on my appearance or my approach – is that God’s fault? Maybe I want every girl to like me too much and have a huge approval idol. Is that God’s fault?
There’s a flip side here and it’s important – it’s not all my fault. I’m going to get to being mad at ourselves later. But the first person we are usually mad at is God and we need to get that worked out.
So are you mad at God that He doesn’t have you married yet? Have you spent time being bitter? How has that affected you and your relationship with friends, the opposite sex, and most of all God?
True, I have a friend who is in his 30’s, and still looking, but I know he’s also mad, he swears a lot, so there’s no way I’m dating him, even though he’s an incredibly empathetic person for an Aspie, and I myself, am in no position to date because I don’t have my life together, but I wish I did, because then I’d be more open to what God may open up for me. But until He does, I don’t really need to date.
Also, just wanted to let you know, what you’re doing with this blog is truly incredible. And you’re right about the confidence thing. It doesn’t matter to a guy how a girl looks, but if they are confident in who they are. Do they care about themselves enough to try. Which is something in itself, if we don’t try, then we can’t succeed. But like I said earlier, some people He prepares and molds faster than others. Others are stuck, or just aren’t prepared for it yet, so that’s where we need to grow as Christians and grow at living life.
You’re awesome, thanks for posting these blogs. 😀
Thanks for the kind words and your thoughts
I think for me, the most dangerous effect bitterness has is in the way I start viewing the church. It is easy to see all the ways in which churches are catering their services, time, and energy to those married and/or with children and begin to feel left out as a single person. The feeling of being left out grows from sadness to bitterness and it becomes easy to begin to turn the criticism on the church and possibly even give up attending all together. Now granted, there are plenty of things the church should be working on and ways in which marriage and children can become a dangerous idol to those who have them, not just for us “have nots”, but ultimately I am called to love the church, to love my fellow mankind, to love the life God has given me, and its really hard for love to thrive where bitterness abounds.
Great point – hadn’t even thought about being mad at the church.
My church once had a pastor who kept glorifying marriage. He even hosted a breakfast event that was for married people only! One time at a fellowship meeting he got us into a discussion about how everyone met their mate and I walked out of the room upset.
Justin – AWESOME post! It is so easy, especially in our culture, to feel entitled about a lot of things.
The biggest obstacles I see with wives who email me on my blog is the attitude, “But if I submit to God and my husband, when is it MY turn? What about ME? What about what I want?” And – to me, when I see those questions – it is a huge red flag. If I am focusing on what I want – I am not focusing on what God wants. Having Christ as my Lord means I have to die to self and live for Christ.
When I focus on God’s will – I am content AND because I have given up all anger and bitterness, I can have the power of God’s Spirit in me – filling me with His supernatural peace and joy. When I focus on what I want – I am full of anxiety, discontentment, fear and loneliness.
Thank you for so eloquently describing this battle in this particular arena of life. We definitely can’t move forward when we are bitter and angry towards God. Beautiful job!
Another thing about bitterness. It’s like a plant that grows into a tree. If you get to it esrly enough, you can pull it out by its roots by hand. If, on the other hand, it gets a chance to grow deep roots, it’ll take heavy machinery to pull it out. That’s why we have to relentlessly allow God to get rid of every seed of bitterness.
“It’s one thing to share my frustration but it’s another to live in bitterness.” – Yes! There’s nothing wrong with voicing your emotions, but dwelling on them and rehashing them and failing to move forward…that’s not healthy.
“Ladies, no guy wants to date the girl who is whining about being single.” – This made me laugh, because it’s true…but it’s also interesting because so many times I’ve heard, “Oh, you’ll never get a guy interested in you because you’re too self-sufficient. You act like you don’t need a man.” So there’s a fine balance — don’t be too desperate, but apparently don’t be too independent, either. 😉
Thing is, if you’re looiking for a friend in a partnership, which is what marriage is, wouldn’t you be entering it as an independent person? I mean, it’s another thing to be not self-sufficient enough to date or be in a relationship. You need to love on your own before marriage, and be comfortable in God, be comfortable being alone with God, comfortable being alone without crying. Working, and not worrying at home worrying if he’s going to come back every day… You can’t be too reliant on the guy for support.
I have a guy friend who actually is a very good friend, but even though he’s independent, I don’t know if he works, he smokes, and he has problems with anger where he swears. Granted, he is extremely emotionally connected and easy to relate to, but I know well that I wouldn’t date him. He’s more mature, which is what I look for, and he’s starting to grow in Christ, but it’s not the right time for either of us. If it ever will be. It’s entirely possible to just remain close friends, but would a future husband consider him a threat to a marriage?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being independent! It’s just funny how many people think they have the answer as to why a person is still single, and how that single person needs to change to stop being single. 🙂
(Of course, I’m also happy being single, which isn’t the case for every single person in the world.)
Amazing. As a single (not by choice) Catholic woman, I’ve read any number of posts on this topic, almost entirely written by women. They didn’t really move me. Ran across this one in a Google search for something else entirely …but I have to say, boy, you nailed it. NAILED IT. I have all sorts of new things to think about now. WOW. Still not content being single (despite the complaints of my married friends, who haven’t realized the grass is brown on both sides) but rethinking my anger at God about it.
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Single 34-year-old Christian guy. I don’t want kids, so my prospects for a mate are quite limited. Sometimes I just wish God would take me home. The thought of doing it myself occurs more often than it should.
Chris, Although I don’t know you, I can empathsize with the feeling that this earthly existence isn’t always what we want it to be. But what we view as limited prospects may be us not seeing the whole picture. As a 36 year old single myself, I know the waiting can seem unnecessarily cruel, but I would encourage you to seek out a community that can help speak truth into your life, truth about your real value as a child of God that has nothing to do with having kids or a spouse. I will be keeping you in my prayers.
I agree, often, we never see the whole picture, but God does. And sometimes He has better plans for us. His desires for us are to be pure, to be love and light to a hopeless world, but He also sees the larger picture of our lives. Sometimes He says wait, other times He says a no answer. But with His answer, He gives peace and security. Growing in faith and trust in Him is never the easiest path, but waiting on Him leads to fulfillment of the cross and fulfillment of the resurrection in our lives, even fulfillment at the Rapture. He fulfills all of our desires on His own, at the Marriage of the Lamb, any relationship is a true reflection of Him as it is meant to be, but unless both people involved are reflecting Him fully and are mature individuals, sometimes it’s better to wait.
First off, I just want to say that I’m sorry you’re hurting. I’ve been exactly where you are at different times. My hope and prayer is that you have people to walk with you in it. And that you know that God does care about you and that you belong to Him first.
It is so hard for me to feel anything but bitterness, anger, and despair toward God on a consistent basis, and a big reason for that is my being single at 33. I went through one failed relationship that lasted on and off for over a decade, but this void still exists in my soul. I’m so tired of hearing people say I’m making mortal love an idol, or not trusting God enough…because neither are among my highest aims at all. I want to love and trust God, the way I know He does for me…but most times, it just doesn’t seem possible on my end. I keep thinking about Adam, who had daily personal visits with God Himself, yet was still empty (and I assume frustrated) because he didn’t have anyone to share his life with. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told God in prayer, “Please, I can’t stand this anymore. I need my Eve.”
Bitterness and anger toward God, and sometimes the church, can actually come across in daily interaction, with people. I’ve seen that particularly with one person I know, and it’s hurtful for women to be around a guy that’s bitter/angry, because we are emotionally driven. But I think that you’re one the right path, in not placing it as an idol. Just a woman’s perspective.
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I feel like if we aren’t proactive about it we might be missing on any new people. Is focusing on God too much to where you’d miss that special someone or new people in your life?
This hit the nail on the head. “He doesn’t give you what you really want.” I may have fallen down and am broken, but life shows and experiences is EXACTLY that. True or a lie
Resonated with what the person said about being mad at the church. Unless you have kids or are getting married, you’re one of the extra people — especially if you’re single and childless past your 30s. You’re not getting baptized or baptizing anyone, you’re not getting married, and you’re not catechizing kids. Other than being expected to be constantly available for volunteering — what, you have something better to do? — the church just doesn’t have a reason to take an interest. Its energies are expended elsewhere. Considering the importance of raising families, it’s understandable, but it also sucks.
As for God, apparently we’ll have to agree to disagree on what He thinks is good for me.
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I have prayed for 35 years and became a christain at 35 yeas old and still alone at age 70….Pathetic..If I was not a christain I would be married.I am bitter and angry and will continue to be.God answers prayers alright.God will give you the desires of your heart.All lies.Last time I had a date was 20 years ago.This man said he was a christain but was not..I ended this relationship because we were disobedient and I knew in my heart God would not bless this.I did the right thing.They said God will honor obedience.all are lies.Why am I still alone.It is a punishment for something I did.I will never accept being alone.I have gone through life alone and it is almost over.I hate being a christain and would never do it again.And now I am stuck in this horrid world to go it alone til the end.This is a punishment in it self.
I want to encourage you. Like you, I would have been married a long time ago if allowed to date a non-Christian. It helps to remember the words Jesus said when his disciples asked what they would get for leaving everything to follow Jesus?
“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”
Please continue to trust in God’s promises even if you are not rewarded in this life. Perhaps this is one of those phrases you are tired of hearing; but, it still has meaning for you.
It’s pointless to ask at this point, or wish, or play “what if” concerning your issue and desire for marriage.
Know that you are not alone in these matters. The church has done a terrible job of encouraging marrige…………..most Christians have had premaritial sex, Christian divorce is only a few paltry ticks / percentage points lower than the secular world. Plenty of Christians have had children out of wedlock and are “welcomed” as if “Jesus planned this to happen”
Lookism is rampant by men and women inside the church (ie, he / she must be *hot* or deemed *good looking enough* on a cultural standard to even get a cup of coffee).
The marrieds in church have made into a “high school club” that purposely and subtly enjoys keeping others out, and letting others in.
We have sermons one day chastizing men for not asking women out, then the next month of “only let God lead you”
I have been and at times still waver in “what” I am supposed to do, or not do. No, I am not as aged as you…….but all of my friends…..Christian and non-Christian alike are now sending off the oldest children to the military or college…….and it’s strange for me as a lifelong single to see this happen.
I have prayed for a long time too for a wife…….and if I lived as a Christian in India, or Pakistan, or many African countries…….I would have been married. We live in the USA, where looks, money, and a faux-cloaking of Faith gets you the rewards. Be arrogant? Be bossy? Be self righteous and self centered with looks to boot???????? You could be dumb as a doornail and be married.
Our American protestant church is a “feel good club” today, and its geared to the popular kids. I just recently left my church for the fact they seem to be more concerned with “not hurting anyone’s feelings” than the call to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry. Call out sin, gently rebuke, inspire and love.
Looking for a church now…..but finding a church that talks about hell, sin and the realities of it are very unlikely.
Again…..I know the pain you are having, but only lie is the church today….not God. I wish I could give more comfort….but you are not alone…..more Americans are single than ever in the church, and the blame SQUARELY lies on the church today for un-biblical teachings, blatant favortism, poor teaching, terrible praise music, and contradictory messages about matters like this thread is discussing.
Remember…….when Christ spoke in Revelation about the “seven churches” all of them had let Him down, and were called out. Whren He does return the modern American protestant church is in for a major surprise……….and it’s not going to be pretty.
I pray for your comfort in this. You can think my words mean nothing. But I will pray for you with intensity and heart. Not for a spouse but for real comfort
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CHRISTIAN singles do not have CHRISTIAN friends. I found that out after a major backsliding experience when people started inviting me for cookouts and boat rides and I realize these Christian’s never did this. I was so angry at God for being single I made blasphemous comments on phone along with obscene phone calls. I got kicked out of that church and got year of probation. I got rejected by those Christian’s in public. I have done my best to make that church look bad for last 30 years. I have bought a lot of sex
I don’t remember anybody from that church inviting me to dinner