I was 30 years old when a budding relationship with Jesus turned my life upside down. My understanding of love, dating, sex, and marriage slowly began to change as God’s word and His people challenged my previously-held beliefs.
I was just a few years into being a Christian and participating in the Celebrate Recovery ministry at my church, when I heard people say they were taking a season of being “intentionally single.” This sounded so strange to me. Since I’d pretty much always had a boyfriend, I couldn’t imagine not dating—or at least not being open to it should someone come along. But God had other plans for me and my ideas about relationships. As a result, there was, in fact, a season in which I chose to be intentionally single.
During that time, an ex-boyfriend approached me to pursue a relationship again. The old me would have jumped at the chance. But, after much prayer and processing with older, wiser women, I declined—to his great astonishment. The decision came not because I was strong. I wasn’t. I desperately wanted to be married, and at least he was a known-quantity. However, I said no because I knew I wasn’t in the right place to be a healthy partner in a dating relationship, much less a marriage.
But what does healthy even mean, right? Well, at least for me, there was a list of things to overcome (or at least address) following decades of dating the world’s way, apart from Christ:
• I had a habit of pursuing men & relationships to fill a deep need in me.
• I was addicted to romance and the “happily-ever-after” I thought I deserved.
• The necessary slow pace of relationships sometimes crippled me emotionally if things weren’t moving fast enough to quench my desperate desire to be married.
• There were people in my past I had not yet forgiven for harm they’d done to me; therefore, I was still reeling on the inside from those wounds.
I couldn’t do any of this healing on my own. Instead, I just showed up at the foot of the cross, confessing my struggles and asking for God’s help. I was so dependent on the feeling of being loved and needed—which I sometimes got from relationships and sometimes didn’t—that it became clear to me that a “break” from dating could be really healing for me.
The truth was, I hadn’t had a lot of dates since becoming a Christian. There were two guys that hung around for short stints at different times, as long as things between remained mostly uncomplicated. But, in both cases, as soon as the relationship hit a bump, they were gone. But choosing, actually choosing, not to date would be huge for me.
I decided six months was a doable length of time. During that season, I focused on my relationship with Jesus. I sought to build intimacy with Him rather than pursing a man. I dove into bible study, scripture memory, serving at church, and investing in relationships with other women. When things were difficult, and they were a lot, I cried out to God about my loneliness and asked Him to meet me there.
As it turns out, those six months turned into a few years. As I waited and wondered and prayed for Jesus to meet my needs in those lonely days, He was with me. And I began to trust Him more and more. It was never easy, but that season of singleness was so good and healing and full.
If you’re considering a season of singleness, I’d love to hear about it. What do you hope God will teach you or show you? What do you need to heal or recovery from? You don’t have to do it alone. The Lord will meet you there, I pray He will make His presence known to you.