We’ve just read four beautiful, true love stories shared by women with chronic illness.
While each post has included words of advice for those who are still single, Emily and I would like to conclude this series with some encouragement specifically for those of us who don’t have a Special Someone at the moment. (I include myself because while Emily is about to get married, I’m currently single.)
Here is some encouragement (not in particular order) while we wait:
1. Bloom where you’re planted
Be content in your singleness.
This is hard. I know. God has given all of us—or the majority of us—a desire for relationship, for That Relationship. And that isn’t wrong. But if we focus too much on our desires for the future, they can leech our joy from the present.
Be faithful in the little things. Own the responsibilities you have. Take advantage of this season of singleness.
In her book Disciplines of a Godly Woman, Barbara Hughes1 shares four advantages of single life:
- scheduling flexibility
- more free/personal time
- financial freedom
- devotion to God.
Don’t stop praying, hoping, waiting. But don’t lose sight of where you are right now either. Embrace this season, this day, this moment, and live fully to the glory of God.
2. Keep a right perspective of singleness
This post is not a treatise on singleness, so here are just a few reminders based on Scripture passages and other resources:
- Singleness is a gift.
- Singleness offers advantages that married people don’t have.
- You are not less because you are single.
- Your value is not determined by your relational status.
- God gives singles (even temporary singles) a place in the New Testament church.2
“God has ordained a season of singleness for every human being on the planet. Singleness does not exist simply as an extended adolescence, a pursuit of career ambition, or a preparatory phase for marriage. Rather, God has ordained the unique freedoms of single life not for distractions or ambitions, but for devotion to him.”Single, Dating, Engaged, Married by Ben Stuart3
3. Keep a right perspective of dating and marriage
It’s easy to equate marriage with an ideal of perfect bliss, perfect harmony, and unending happiness. It’s also easy to forget the purpose of marriage—the purpose of any relationship—and the reality of two sinners living together.
In our conversations since she and Andrew started dating, Emily has struggled to put into words the love she and Andrew share. “There’s nothing like it,” I remember her telling me once. “It’s just amazing.”
I have also heard, both from Emily and from other dating, engaged, or married friends, how hard a relationship is. How much work it takes. How ugly it can be sometimes.
This post is not a treatise on marriage either, so here are a few reminders from Scripture, friends, and other sources to keep us in touch with reality:
- Marriage—or dating—is not about what you can get out of it.
- It’s wisest to date toward marriage rather than for fun.
- Marriage does not make you more holy.
- Marriage does not solve all your problems.
- Marriage is work.
- Marriage is a way to show the loving relationship between Christ and the church.4
4. Don’t be afraid of a relationship
When we’re dealing with chronic health issues that make our lives difficult, sometimes the last thing we want—as much as we want a relationship—is to make someone else’s life difficult as well.
I really appreciated Kristen and Tim’s transparency in their interview for our series. Kristen struggles with CFS and other conditions, and Tim openly shared how difficult life can be at times both for him and for her. Marriage with a chronic illness is not easy.
But it’s not impossible. And if God has given you your chronic illness, he will give you a man who will walk through your valley with you.
Don’t be afraid of being a burden. These stories have shown us that true love willingly shares all burdens.
5. Pray for your Special Someone
He’s your brother in Christ. Pray for him.
He’s your future husband. Pray for him.
He’s going to be your spiritual leader. Pray for him.
If you still have your health condition when you meet/date/marry, he’s going to need the grace, compassion, and patience that only God can provide. Pray for him.
6. Prepare for being a godly wife
The traits of a godly wife don’t suddenly kick into gear the morning after your wedding. Be cultivating those traits now: love, submission, faithfulness, compassion, selflessness, etc.
Even if you can’t physically do all the things that most wives do—or you think you should do—that’s okay. You can be a godly wife whether or not you’re completely healthy.
I pray Proverbs 31 for myself often, and when I get overwhelmed by this Herculean exemplar, I try to take a step back and identify the underlying character traits that her actions demonstrate: compassion (reaching out to the poor), planning ahead (her family has winter clothes), diligence (making things by hand), financial prudence (buying property), etc.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to cultivate His fruits in you (Gal 5:22-23). Do your part to intentionally develop characteristics and habits that you can bring with you into That Relationship.
7. Connect with others
When we’re unattached, it’s easy to feel lonely. Loneliness in itself is not a wrong place to be, but if we park there too long, pretty soon we can find ourselves sinking into self-pity and unnecessary pain.
One of the best ways to counteract loneliness, especially as a single, is to connect with others, particularly others in your church family. They don’t have to be single like you—they can be families, younger friends, older friends, couples, kids, etc.
Go out for lunch with someone. Have some friends over for a game night. Join a church ministry or a community group.
If those activities are too much for you, find ways that you can connect with others, virtually or in person. Take advantage of this time as a single to really develop these other relationships. They may not substitute That Relationship, but they can take away a lot of the loneliness.
8. Keep God as your first love
Even after marriage, no one can love you as much as God loves you. Your earthly priorities will shift when you date/get married, but the one thing that should never shift is your relationship with your Heavenly Father.
If you haven’t already, fall in love with Jesus. Stay in love with Him, because He’s the only one who will truly “never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5).
Keep God at the center of your life, and make sure He is and remains the center of That Relationship. As Jesus Himself said, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We need Him, we will always need Him, and when we enter a relationship we will need Him even more.
Let God be your first and forever love.
1Barbara Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Woman. Crossway, 2001.
2Mikel Fernandez, “Solteros (y casados) para la gloria de Dios” (“Single [and married] for the glory of God”). Iglesia Bautista Bíblica de Irún, Nov 17, 2019.
3Ben Stuart, Single, Dating, Engaged, Married. Thomas Nelson, 2017.
4Francis and Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever. Clear Love, 2014.