I have been struggling with this question for the past couple of weeks. As a single woman in my mid-30s, I have been told numerous times that God is all I need.
Is He though?
I have spent years going through seasons where I am content, happy even, with my current station in life, knowing that “God is enough”. During the seasons where that does not seem like the case, though, I spend anywhere from hours to weeks or even months feeling like I must not be spiritual enough or close enough to God because of the ache of loneliness that threatens to smother me.
As I hit one of those more difficult seasons recently, I began to really think about this “truth” that I am so often told, and I am now convinced that it’s a bunch of hooey (for lack of a better term). One day I was suddenly smacked in the face with the words of Genesis 2:18 “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone…'”
Um… The man wasn’t alone. He had God to walk in the garden with everyday. Why, if God is supposed to be enough for me, wasn’t He enough for Adam?
Do I think that this means God intends for us all to be married immediately when we feel alone? Well, no. If I thought that, I’d believe something was seriously wrong with me since I’ve wanted for be married for more than a decade and a half… I do think though that there are some valuable lessons here – both for those who hear that phrase and those who say it.
Let’s start with those of us that hear this “encouragement” so often. Is God, on His own, enough to satisfy every deep desire of our hearts? I don’t think so. He made us in His image as relational beings and we need other people. To feel lonely doesn’t make us less spiritual than anyone else. We should not allow ourselves to feel guilty for experiencing the need for companionship.
However, we should also recognize that a romantic relationship isn’t going to fill that need either. I will be the first to admit that sometimes it is difficult to reach out to others when I’m in this place for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it hurts to hang out with people who have everything we think we want, especially if it seems like all they do is complain about those things. Sometimes it seems like people are so busy with their own lives, we don’t want to interrupt or can’t imagine that they would have time to hang out with us. Perhaps we’re enjoying a pity party, and inviting others in might ruin it – especially if they try to encourage us with heartfelt sentiments that “God is enough”, or the ever popular “it will happen when you stop looking”, or “marriage doesn’t fix your problems because of xyz…”
Despite all of the excuses I can tell myself to justify isolating myself, I am learning that isolation only makes it worse. Imagine that… Isolation makes loneliness worse! DUH!
It’s true. We need other people, but that doesn’t have to be a spouse or even a significant other. So, let’s put ourselves out there and reach out to people instead of wallowing in our own misery. It really isn’t good for us to be alone, but God has put us in a world with millions of others who can help us through the rough times whether we are in a romantic relationship or not.
We are also in a world with millions of people we can love and serve. Let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and live our lives fully, no matter what our relational status.
Now, for those who may say this, (whether married or dating or whatever), I’m guessing you have days where you feel lonely, where it feels like no matter how close you draw to God, it’s not filling every need in your heart. Maybe there are days when you look to your husband or wife to fill the longings, and they let you down. I understand that marriage isn’t the fix-it that many singles seem to think it is.
If you have days like that, try to imagine how a single person might feel. Yes, we probably complain more than we should about our longing to be loved by another person. After all, we still have the freedom to go and do what we want when we want much of the time. Our life probably looks like a dream to many of you, but your life looks like a dream to us sometimes too.
The truth is that there are blessings in every season of life, and too often we don’t enjoy them as much as we should because we are too busy being jealous of what someone else has.
Sorry, that was a slight detour. The truth is, most of the time, when we are complaining about being single, we don’t need to be asked if we’ve tried online dating sites. We don’t need to be told that when we stop looking it will miraculously happen. We don’t need to be told how good we have it. We certainly don’t need to be told that God is all we need.
In all reality, we might just need a hug. We might need to be told that we’re great, and that you appreciate our friendship. We may need to be included in a family dinner or contacted even when you don’t need a babysitter, simply to say hello. We might need to be asked out for coffee. We might need to know there is someone we can call when we get a flat tire. We may need some to just listen. In short, we need a friend. We need to know that we are not alone, that we are loved, that someone cares.
God never intended, even from the beginning of creation, to be enough for us. He is certainly the One who will meet every need we have, but He often wants to meet those needs in community. No one relationship can ever be enough for us. We need each other, and most importantly we need God.