I’m sure that for some of you that word reminds you of what it must sound like to hear nails scraping across a chalkboard. Trust me…I was there myself (JUST came out of it actually) and I honestly believed that there was NO WAY in the world that I would EVER be content in my singleness. You see, singleness felt like a curse to me. It felt like I had been branded as damaged goods. It felt permanent. It felt like I’d be stuck in a constant state of loneliness while the rest of the world was off making life happen. I felt incomplete. It didn’t fit my 10-Year Plan that I so carefully took the time to write. I felt as though God was punishing me but that was a lie from the devil himself. I remember so many times when I would say within myself, “God isn’t going to bring you anyone until you develop a real relationship with Him.” I wasn’t sure if it was His voice or mine but I knew this was true. I did my best to brush it under the rug and out of my mind because I honestly didn’t believe that I had the discipline to develop the kind of relationship that I truly wanted to have with God, and because I mean…c’mon…my Clock was ticking. I was so selfish and full of pride without even trying to be smh. Let’s take a walk through my journey to Contentment…
I was 20 years old when the first one of my friends got married. I was super excited for her and I was honored to be a part of her wedding party. I helped make a lot of her invitations, stuffed envelopes, made party favors…this was great! Then the ceremony came and I was so emotional that day as I watched her walk down the aisle and cross over into that sorority we call “Wifehood.” She was breathtaking! The wedding was beautiful…the reception was to die for…and all I could think was that I wanted to be as happy as she was on my wedding day. At this point, I was about to begin my senior year at NCCU so marriage wasn’t even in my immediate scope. I had been in several situationships up to this point and I didn’t have a problem with attracting guys so I thought surely I’d be married soon. But for now I was in love with the Pomp & Circumstance of the day and would continue to check other things off the list of my 10-Year Plan until the “Marriage Box” came up next.
Then the next summer came and again I was a part of a wedding party for another friend of mine at the time. Then the next summer came and my best friend got engaged. Then the next summer came and I was in her wedding too. Then the next summer came and I was the makeup artist for several different weddings. Then the next summer came…and… yeah…you get the point. I was having a real-live “27 Dresses” moment and I began to enter into a state of panic. Even though I was extremely happy for my friends it caused me to wonder if something was wrong with me. I had all of this love poppin around me…did I have on Cupid Repellent or something? It was at this point that I began to do the very thing that lies at the root of discontentment: I began to COMPARE myself to others. This is so dangerous and I’m telling y’all…it sent me to a place of bitterness and the enemy began to toy with my mind. I began to question my self-worth, started gaining weight from emotional eating, and spent hundreds of dollars trying to “look good” so that I could catch-me-a-man. I cried nights on end grieving the empty space on the other side of my bed. I entertained guys that I saw no future with but tried to construct one with in my head just to have someone to fill my empty voids, and then obsessed over why it didn’t work out when they left. I hate to admit this but I hated myself. I didn’t think that I was attractive anymore because of my weight gain and because my call-log was so dry. I even hated looking in the mirror and taking pictures (and I love a good selfie). For so many years I had allowed the presence of men in my life (whether they were committed or not) and their words to affirm me. Now that I had no one and was approaching the expiration date of my 10-Year Plan I was having an identity crisis. My entire identity up to this point had been wrapped in the fact that at the age of 19 I decided that I wanted to be married by the time I was 24, and I would soon surpass that age without a prospect in sight.
I remember taking a class on Psychological Development and Behavior when I was in grad school. I LOVED grad school! Taking classes where you’re always reflecting and having group conversations is a Counselor’s dream lol. Well, this one night my professor introduced a new concept that I’d never heard of before and as soon as he said it I knew that I was living it. “We’ve all heard of the ‘Mid-Life Crisis’ that a lot of men and even some women experience when they’ve reached a certain point in middle adulthood. With every phase of growth we face a different conflict in life. Raise your hand if you are between the ages of 24-26. Raise your hand if you have ever thought that your biological clock was ticking. Raise your hand if you haven’t achieved some of the goals that you thought you would up to this point. You just might be experiencing what we call a “Quarter-Life Crisis.” It was as if someone had dumped a ton of bricks on me. There I sat…in the middle of a class discussion…completely checked out from my surroundings and trying to ponder my life in just a few short minutes. When I got home that night I had to ask myself a very serious question…did I even WANT to be married at that time? If God were to drop my husband into my room right then and there would I be emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually ready to receive him? The answer to that question was no. I had been pushing myself into a depressive state over something that I didn’t even want at the time. I just thought that I should be married because everyone else around me was getting married and because of “The Plan.”
Later that year I attended and facilitated a workshop for high school students in support of one of my classmates. One of the large-group facilitators later on that day was someone who I think the world of. She talked to the kids about how she made it out of a rough environment growing up and that they too could do it. Her very last point still rings in my mind today and catapulted me towards my healing, “YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.” God knew exactly how much I needed to hear those words because for so long I didn’t feel like I was enough. I got tired of people asking me why I was single and when I was gonna settle down and have some babies. It made me feel as though everything that I had accomplished up to that point wasn’t as important as me becoming a wife and mother. I even made myself believe that. From that point on I wasn’t as pressed to join the Marriage-Train but I was definitely on the hunt for love. My second mistake: trying to FIND a man instead of being FOUND by one. The view that I had of myself had improved tremendously and I had even dropped about 25lbs worth of my emotional weight (both literally and figuratively), but I still YEARNED to love and to be loved. A year prior to my newly-found mojo, I reconnected with someone that I’ve known the majority of my life but never really talked to on a personal level before. Let’s just call him Jeff. Jeff and I went on one date and from there I was completely sold on him. Like most of us singles I had made “The List” of things that I wanted in a man and he checked ALL of the boxes, plus a few that I didn’t think about adding to the list lol. I thought surely he’s it…he’s the one! This led to on-again-off-again bouts of conversation that always made me feel amazing in the beginning but confused and disappointed in the end. Jeff sent a lot of mixed signals and I just wasn’t sure how to take him but nevertheless, despite all of the self-work that I had done, he was still my love-interest. Not long ago we reconnected again but it was TOTALLY different than any other time. He actually expressed a concentrated interest in me. We spent A LOOOOT of time together and he even alluded to the possibility of an “Us.” When we first reconnected, God was definitely at the center of all of our conversations but as time progressed He wasn’t quite as prevalent as He had been before. Mistake #3: God was no longer at the Center. That’s when I started to notice a change in him. He began to be distant…wasn’t as affectionate with me as before…stopped inviting me to events…and then I was unexpectedly placed in the Friendzone without my knowledge. That REALLY broke my heart because I had developed REALLY strong feelings for him and felt like I was FINALLY getting somewhere with this guy. I constantly found myself in situations where I liked a guy and he didn’t like me back OR a guy liked me and I didn’t like him. So for the first time in YEARS I’m actually on the same page as someone I just couldn’t figure out how I made it to the dreaded Friendzone. For someone who struggles with the fear of rejection this one took the ENTIRE cake for me. I found myself becoming angry, bitter, frustrated, and even….dare I say it…angry with God. This is the man that I pray for, Lord! He approached me! I asked you several times if he was my husband but that warm, fuzzy feeling never went away…what happened?! So I did what most spoiled brats do when they don’t get their way: I threw a tantrum. I stopped praying…I didn’t really want to talk to people at church…I didn’t want to talk about relationships…scrolled really fast whenever I saw a wedding dress on social media (y’all know how we do lol). I was so drained, sick of crying, and just sick of being disappointed. THAT was my defining moment. Something really was wrong with me and even though I didn’t want to talk to God, He was the only one who could fix me and give me the answers that I needed.
A few weeks later I went to Barnes & Noble in search of some reading material. I was desperate for healing…I needed a little help. I skimmed through several books until I found, “CRUSHED: Why Guys Don’t Have To Make Or Break You” by Jessie Minassian“. I wholeheartedly believe that this book saved my relationship with God and was the catalyst for my restoration. Jessie taught me about the biblical basis for marriage and the fact that it’s purpose is far greater than just for making someone happy. It introduced me to a concept that I should have always known as a Christian but failed to tap into: our worth can only be found in God…not in ourselves…not in the ones we love…but ONLY in Him. Then I approached her chapter on the very thing that I was trying to avoid: Contentment. I felt my skin begin to crawl. Why was this one word so sickening to me? I’ll tell you why. I had allowed the devil to have such a large seat in my thoughts that he began to warp my thinking. This is the very thing that God commands us to be: Content in Him. The bible is laced with countless scriptures on contentment but this one always strikes a cord with me, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”(Matthew 6:24-25) I had no problem believing God to do the miraculous but the one thing that I desired most was the one thing that I didn’t trust He would deliver to me. I had come to the realization that I didn’t really trust God like I thought I did…and that made me feel bad. Jessie later posed a question that threw me off balance because the weight of its truth was too heavy for me to hold: “Is God enough for you, or do you feel you need a boyfriend to be happy?” Here was that word “Enough” again but this time it was presented to me, not from a place of encouragement, but from a place of correction and it literally slapped me in the throat. Had I reduced God’s value to be less than the value of a man? Smh……
Then came Christmas Night. While browsing Facebook I stumbled upon a video that one of my Pageant Sisters posted called, “My Story: The Journey from Faith to Faith & Enjoying Your Singleness” from Heather Lindsey’s Youtube Channel. Her story was so encouraging to me and it made me feel as though I wasn’t alone. I continued browsing her channel and decided to take some notes while watching. Then I stumbled upon her video, “When It Feels Like God Has Forgotten About You.” Out of everything she covered in this message, what stood out to me the most was when she read Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” It was as if God Himself had come down from Heaven and wrapped His arms around me and told me to rest in Him. So here I sat at 4 o’clock in the morning crying like a baby. I had found the missing link! Prior to this moment I didn’t understand God’s love and commitment to me. I had been making such a mess of my life and trying to blame it on God when He was there all along to hold me together if I had just been willing to take the time to cling to Him. Eventually I had to be honest with myself. I had made the concept of relationships and marriage into an idol-god because I truly desired it more than I desired God. That leaves a sour taste in my mouth just thinking it. If He says that He will have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3) then why would God bless me with something that He knew I could possibly try to replace Him with? Sis, do you desire a man more than you desire the One who created man? It was at this point when I began to look at Contentment in Singleness in a totally different way.
Just like the Israelites who took 40 years to make an 11 day trip to the Promised Land as a result of their rebellion (Deuteronomy 1), I too had been wandering around aimlessly in the desert because of my rebellion and rejection of Him. It had taken me 27 1/2 years to come into the knowledge of who God truly was and I had probably delayed the possibility of me being married sooner. My sisters…I don’t want you to repeat the same mistakes that I’ve made! You can be whole NOW and I speak that over your life in the Name of Jesus! So how do we get to this place of Contentment without all of the unnecessary detours?
- Let Go of Your Timeline– I know, I know…it’s hard to do! Our society teaches us to be goals-oriented and we thrive off of meeting our goals but the longer you hold on to your timeline for marriage, the longer it will take you to reach it. You have to let go of the life you thought you would have in order to gain the life that God desires and has planned for you within His Will (Jeremiah 29:11) . We serve the AUTHOR of Time! Can He not restore to you all of the time you’ve spent being single in the form of a better husband than you ever could have imagined for yourself? (Joel 2:25) I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set goals but they should always be fluid. Allow God the opportunity to do His job. Our lives were predestined before the beginning of time. God had you on His mind and designed you to fulfill a specific purpose. You fulfilling your destiny is far more important than your timeline so be sure to pray and ask if your plans are within His Will. If they’re not then pray for direction. He already knows the outcome of your life anyway so trust in HIS timing. (Philippians 4:19)
- Stop Comparing Your Life to Others- I did this ALL of the time without even knowing it. One day, I finally asked myself what I would have missed out on if I were married before now. I know me, so let me just talk about Lynn for a minute. I probably wouldn’t have gone to grad school, which means I probably wouldn’t be a School Counselor (and I absolutely LOVE my job by the way), I probably wouldn’t have competed in my last 4 pageants or held any of the titles that I’ve held, I wouldn’t have had this time to grow and develop into a whole person, wouldn’t have had the opportunity to impact the lives that God sent me to touch (and I say that in confidence through Jesus…not within my own abilities), I wouldn’t be blogging, and I wouldn’t have a testimony to share with you guys. My life is exactly the way in which God intended it to be for this particular season in my life. He had a purpose and a plan for me when He created me. He had to develop me through my single season so that I could fulfill my purpose (Jeremiah 1:5). Being married is but a portion of your purpose…not your entire purpose. Whoever you marry within the Will of God will also have a his own purpose and your purposes will be knitted together. Your life is perfect just the way that it is.
- Accept that You are NOT God– Oooooowwwweee! This is a big one and I’m sure that many of you are thinking this is crazy to even say. Let’s take a look at history. “…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:2-5) You see, we have a predisposition to desire to be like God because of The Fall. If we don’t live our lives according to the spirit then our flesh will desire to actually be God and that is NOT of Him. What it really boils down to is that you must relinquish the idea that you have CONTROL over your life. You are not your own! You were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) so in turn you must serve your Master, Jesus Christ. Servants don’t try to rise up against their masters. Stop idolizing marriage and making a god out of yourself by thinking that you know what’s best for your life. I promise you don’t. Had God allowed me to marry the last few guys that I thought I would marry….SMH…I shudder to even think about the outcome. Let God be God.
- Spend Time with The Lord- When you spend time with God, He’s able to heal your broken pieces. He’ll love you back together if you let Him. He’ll show you things about yourself that you need to work on and He’ll give you a new perspective about your gifts and talents. He’ll restore you. Don’t you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be for Him, yourself, and for your future husband? I was a hot mess a few years ago. I wouldn’t want to do that to anybody lol. Only through spending time with the Lord do you begin to see that He really is ENOUGH for you and that you are also enough. When I think about the things that I desire in a mate, I find in the Word that God is already all of those things: Unconditionally Loving; Jeremiah 31:3, Caring; 1 Peter 5:7, Loyal; Hebrews 13:5, A Protector; Psalm 91, and A Provider; Psalm 37:25…just to name a few. When He sends the one who He has for me, he will be all of those things too because he’ll know and serve the same God that I do.
- Change Your Focus- What is your life and mind consumed with? From time to time we must focus on certain things whether it be a job or a task, but God does not want us to be focused on anything more than we are focused on Him and His assignment for our lives. Any thing or thought that takes up most of your time can become an idol if you’re not careful. I made an idol out of the concept of marriage and God was not pleased. I allowed the enemy to magnify this one thing that I didn’t have and it made me discontent. It was as if none of the other things that God had blessed me with were as important as marriage. The devil actually tricked me into believing that even though God COULD do anything for me, He WOULDN’T do this one thing for me. How ridiculous is that?! (Y’all I really hate the devil lol) I was so consumed with doubt and pride that I willingly relinquished my power to speak the Word over my life…the very Word that I knew was true against all of the lies that the enemy tried to whisper to me (2 Corinthians 10:5). I had the power to speak to my feelings but I refused to do it. Your life would be so much more enjoyable if you made the conscious decision to just trust God and be content in your season. You have the power to speak to the mountains in your life that try to block you from living a life that’s full (Mark 11:23). Loneliness is a choice. Discontentment is a choice. Depression (other than the kind that is clinically diagnosed) is a choice. Anger and bitterness are choices. Stop allowing the enemy to win! You must learn to change your focus and start telling the devil WHO RUN DIS! (James 4:7)
- Get Busy!- We waste so much of our single lives focusing on finding a mate or the lack of suitable prospects that we fail to discover our untapped, God-given gifts, the beauty of the gift of singleness, and what our TRUE purpose is on earth. (1 Corinthians 7:32-33) As Paul said to the Corinthians, being married makes your spouse the #1 priority in your life but if you’re single then doing the work of the Lord is your #1 priority. Who’s life are you impacting? Who has come into the knowledge of God or His love for us because of you? Which ministries do you serve on? If you have no answers to these questions then you’re probably not ready for marriage. Let’s think earthly for a moment: What are your hobbies? What have you accomplished up to this point in your life? Do you still have emotional baggage from your past? Do you have a savings account? It’s time to get busy sis! We have so much to do while being single! We should be focusing on building better versions of ourselves through Christ so that when “The One” comes along, we’ll have a mind of our own and a purpose worth joining with his. Had I spent more time developing ME I probably would have had clearer standards and boundaries early on which in turn would have eliminated some of the heartbreak that I experienced along the way (check out my post on Situationships). If we’re going to Become 31 Status Women then we must do as the Proverbs 31 Woman did and WORK…so get busy girl!
Y’all it has LITERALLY taken all of my life to be in the place where I’m truly content with God and in my relationship status. I couldn’t feel more free and full of the joy of the Lord than I do now! Please understand that being content does NOT…I repeat…DOES NOT mean that you are thrilled to be in this season, or that you’re totally okay with being single for the rest of your life. Some actually have that anointing but I don’t believe that God called me to a life of singleness. I believe that God wouldn’t have given me the desire to be married someday if He wasn’t going to bring it to pass (Philippians 1:6). I’m so thankful that I now understand what my responsibility is during this time: to rest in Him, trust in His timing, and do the work of the Lord until Bae finds me lol! I encourage you to do the same! You’re not alone in this fight Sis! The state of Enjoyable Contentment is all about your attitude and how you handle your season. It can be done. Never lose hope and learn to free-fall in your Heavenly Daddy. His love is amazing…let Him love you until He’s ready to release you to the very best that only He can offer.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – (Proverbs 3:5-6)