Written by Grace Lim, Australia
I have been longing for a partner for as long as I can remember, to have a family where we all worship God together. However, my plans of getting married young did not happen. Instead, my 20s were marked with too many unhappy-ending love stories and rejections. And now that I’m in my 30s—and still single—there are days when I feel incredibly lonely.
It has been impossible to meet men via friends and in church. Most of my friends are either partnered up or already married, and my church family are made up of mostly youths or young families. Sometimes, I feel like the odd one out, the one who has been left behind. It can be challenging hanging out with my married friends—they are often time-poor, have different priorities, and it’s hard connecting with them due to our different stages in life. It’s also hard to make new connections through them because a lot of their friends are married.
I used to just sit back and wait for God to provide me with a partner, but this view changed as I got older. I have also heard of a few successful matches via dating apps. And I thought, who am I to box God up and limit what He can do? I believe that God’s able to use any media, including online dating apps, to provide me a godly partner.
It’s been more than a year since I signed up on these dating apps, and I must admit that it has not been a smooth ride. As some would say, online dating is not for the fainthearted. Countless swipes, repetitive hellos and questions often led to only disappointment and discouragement. Even so, I keep praying for my heart to always be set before God, and for the Holy Spirit to guide me in this journey. After all, I want to build a family that has Christ at the centre.
After numerous rejections, I was finally matched with someone whom I strongly connected with. We shared many common interests, including our faith. We had a few meet ups and found that we really enjoyed each other’s company. The thought that he might be “The One” crossed my mind. Nonetheless, I prayed for God’s will to be done and to make it plain to me if this was the person He had for me.
Well, God answered my prayer pretty quickly. One afternoon, the guy messaged me to say that he was not interested in me and could not see a future together. It came as a shock, since we had met up just the day before, and we had a really good time and good conversations.
Disappointed and confused, I began to wonder if I had done something wrong in our meetups. Even though I had wanted God’s will to be done, I couldn’t help but feel upset that it had not gone the way I had hoped. I was also puzzled as to why God had shut the door so abruptly, considering this was someone who I thought possessed the traits I wanted in a potential partner.
Yet, in His grace and tender mercy, God met me in my brokenness. I sensed a gentle whisper asking me, “If you are fully trusting God and letting His will be done in your life, why are you so heartbroken and angry?” God saw the battle inside of me—of wanting to do His will, and yet feeling frustrated when His will was carried out.
The question I received prompted me to reflect and ask God what He wanted to teach me. While He didn’t answer my prayer the way I hoped he would, God allowed me to learn two things from this incident.
It was about exposing the condition of my heart
First was to expose the condition of my heart. Many times, our hearts crave to fulfil our own desires, to the point that our desires consume us.
Elisabeth Elliot once said, “Few things have the power to make us feel as sorry for ourselves as has loneliness.” Even though my past relationships and experiences have taught me that God has my best interest in mind, when I feel really lonely, I’m unable to see that truth. As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
However, God knows my heart and whether I had really set my heart before Him, just as I had prayed to do. And so, the question came: would I still worship Him when things did not turn out as desired?
I needed a reminder to submit to Him as the Lord of my life and to surrender every desire to Him. I needed to repeat this truth to myself and preach it to my heart—that Jesus bought me with His own life, and my life was no longer my own (Galatians 2:20,1 Corinthians 6:19-20). These verses have comforted me, showing me how Someone loves me enough to pursue me all the way to the cross.
It was about a lesson in patience
Secondly, this incident was also a lesson of patience. Entrusting my future to God’s good plans (Romans 8:28-30; Isaiah 55:8-9) helps me become patient in my waiting. I know that His definition of good may be different from what I can comprehend. As Proverbs 3:5 reminds me to “Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding”, I know I do not have to try so hard to find someone or make something happen (for instance, checking the app three times a day, or trying to connect with a new person to talk to). As I wait, I can be faithful in doing what God has entrusted me to do in my church and communities, such as using my time to write articles like this (writing has been an effective way of taking my mind off my loneliness), taking an active part in my life group, and following up on my friends who are in need.
Walking closely with God has showed me He is sovereign, He is good, and He does good in my life. It has reminded me to keep on leaning on the Holy Spirit when things don’t turn out as I hoped. I might not understand the situation I’m in but surrendering my life to Him daily helps me realign my desire to God’s. In turn, He fills me with strength and wisdom.
I have also developed a few routines to get through those hard days, such as offering my loneliness in prayer, declaring God’s good promises out loud, going for a walk or calling up a friend. Doing these little things help turn my thoughts away from the downward spiral of self-pity.
I don’t know when God will answer my prayer for a partner, but I trust in His timing, and I know Jesus will be with me in my loneliness. In fact, I know He’ll use my loneliness to draw me closer to Him, and what a wonderful and precious relationship this is!