Dear Frustrated Single Young Woman,
Maybe you read Owen Strachan’s letter to frustrated single young men and wonder how to respond to your singleness and also to men who have been too timid or apathetic to gird themselves for the responsibility of marriage, not to mention dating. No doubt, there are several casualties in prolonged male adolescence—not just parents supporting their 20- and 30-something children, but also women who strongly (and rightly) desire to be wives and mothers.
One Sunday, after hearing from our pastor that single women should encourage and follow appropriate initiative and leadership from single men, a couple of single women who desire to be married asked me, How do we encourage it? It was a good question. My answer, without any reflection, wasn’t very satisfying. I basically said, Wait until the leadership comes and then respond.
Maybe you’ve asked similar questions. Since that encounter, I’ve reflected more deeply on how you you might think about your brothers in Christ and respond to them. I will also suggest how you can think about your singleness in relationship to God.
Pray for single men and guard against bitterness. Society hardly encourages men to take initiative. Rather, they are told to shirk responsibility. Sitcom dads act like their children, and their wives treat them as such. No man wants that kind of family, so many fail to see the benefit of marriage. Today’s world works against Christian men who want to act biblically.
As their sisters in Christ, guard against resentment and bitterness. Instead, pray for these men. Pray for strong leaders to encourage them toward godliness. They need to be inspired to think outside of themselves and provoked to care for and lead others. They need courage. Pray that the Lord will give you wisdom to show appropriate love for them that will somehow encourage that very leadership they need to exercise. Pray, pray, pray.
Remember God’s providence. It may seem typical for me to tell you to pray and trust the Lord. But there’s no escaping reality: this is where our theology is put to work, when we see if it’s made of the right stuff. Let’s be thankful that the last word on your singleness is not left to guys who have too little courage, but to the God of the universe who has planned out its beginning to its end. Your singleness does not surprise God. It’s not a dilemma he needs to work around. It’s the very means to your holiness. Whether single, dating, or married, pray that your heart is bent on complementing God’s means for your holiness and not kicking against it. Nothing better prepares you to trust the Lord in submitting to the leadership of your future husband than to trust the Lord when you are single.
As Owen’s letter mentioned, there are godly men seeking godly wives. Few things appeal to them more powerfully than a woman who displays evident trust in the Lord. I’m not going to attempt to offer advice on how to attract attention. But the fruit of trusting the Lord, a quiet spirit and a joyful submission to God’s will, appeals to godly men. Trusting that the Creator of the universe is wise and good to you produces peace—not a complaining spirit, but a quiet one. By trusting in God’s goodness, you can even submit to his intentions with joy. Believe me, these qualities are not lost on godly men.
Guard what you read and watch. Lots of books and movies marketed towards single women provoke selfishness, self-pity, and emotional indulgence. Guard your heart against being swept away with unbiblical emotions. Read books that promote a big vision of God and the gospel. Read books that prompt you to service. Encourage other single women in this as well.
Above all, pray for thankful hearts, because as far as the East is from the West, so far he has removed your sins. With hearts thankful for the good news of the gospel, you will be slow to think poorly of timid, single men and trust God’s good intentions for your life. As the Lord has been gracious and patient with your sin, be patient and gracious to single men, who are battling against the world’s enticements in order to be godly and courageous.