This is not a post for discontented singles. There is a difference between a sad single and a discontented single. Sadness is an emotion to be felt and processed. Discontentment is a state of the heart to be softened and changed.
A contented single is satisfied in God regardless of their relationship status. They know where their identity and value are rooted. Whether subconsciously or consciously, they know and believe that God is more than enough for them.
A discontented single is the opposite. They are dissatisfied and unfulfilled in God while single. Some blame and become angry with God for their celibacy. Others battle insecurity and lack of identity, believing that if they had a special someone they would be satisfied and fulfilled.
This post is for the sad but contented single.
I’m not going to put up a case for contentment in singleness because way too many others have said it better before me, and if you’re not content yet, another blog post about the joys of singleness isn’t going to get you there. That’s between you and God.
Hopefully this helps some sad, contented singles deal with sorrow, especially since Valentine’s Day is this week.
Being sad is not sinful, but as with all emotions, we must be careful how we handle it lest it become bitterness and/or discontentment. Different things can set off sadness. I have spent the last year amazingly happy and satisfied with God and singleness. But sometimes things happen, and I get… sad. I encounter a taste of what a relationship can be, and wistfulness and loneliness set in.
So many things can prompt this odd sense of loss, and it’s different for each person.
For those who have not always been single, it may be seeing pictures of a former girlfriend with a new boyfriend on social media. Or it maybe it’s an old anniversary that is an anniversary no longer. Or a song bringing back a wave of memories and feelings in the strange, powerful way only music can work, tying lyrics and melodies to moments and seasons in life.
For those who have always been single, it might be watching a romantic movie that leaves a longing after the credits role. Or it could be the seemingly endless stream of endlessly happy couples on social media. Or perhaps it’s something that comes in a dream from which waking feels like a loss (an especially bewildering thing since it’s a loss of something that was never actually there in the first place).
But what to do with it?
When you’re sad to be single, it’s strange because it feels almost as if you’re missing a specific person. In some cases, maybe you are, but for singles like me, there’s no person to miss but still a sense of loss and a yearning for reunion.
Obviously, I am no expert, so this is by no means comprehensive since I don’t know what it’s like to cope with and process sadness and loneliness after a relationship—whether dating, engagement, or marriage—dissolves.
Take the time to be sad and even mourn, but don’t wallow. This is one of those things that is so hard to balance since emotions—especially strong ones—need to be felt to be processed.
You can’t just stuff them down to the bottom of your heart and muscle your way through. That doesn’t work because the sadness doesn’t go away; it sits and ferments. And sadness left too long doesn’t foster and give birth to healthy emotions. Sadness can be a precursor to bitterness, anger, and depression, and it’s surprising just how quickly that can happen, especially if a rose-colored reminder of a past relationship is what brought the sadness on in the first place.
But wallowing can result in the same thing. If, instead of bottling it up, you sit in it and dwell on it, sadness and what follows will control you. Your thoughts will start to circle back to it more and more until you’re under the thumb of your emotions.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway just in case: the only thumb any of us should be under is the Holy Spirit’s. He should be the guiding and controlling force. He is altogether trustworthy; our hearts and feelings are not (like, at all).
Be honest with yourself and God. Don’t bury it or ignore it. Don’t revisit it again and again. Don’t pretend it’s more than it is. Don’t pretend it’s less than it is.
Pray and do whatever else you must to work through it. Talk to a trusted friend or mentor. Journal. Read some Psalms. Listen to good music. Take a walk. Exercise. Write a song. Paint. Give the dog a bath.
And if you’re not “getting better” after a little while, get a little more aggressive with your dealings with your sadness.
Pray more and suit up. Take time to remember specifically how God has satisfied and met all your needs as a single thus far. Read 1 Corinthians 7 aloud (and when I say read it aloud, I mean actually read it aloud). Tell someone you know will pray with and for you that you’re struggling; this is no time for embarrassment or going at it alone. Read Psalm 16 aloud (yeah, actually read it aloud). If you must cry, cry out to God.
Turn away from sorrow and run towards joy. Run towards the joy of your salvation–Jesus. Race after the lover of your soul–Jesus. Hurtle towards your greatest reward–Jesus. Fix Jesus—His character, His faithfulness in all things—at the front of your mind and go.
Acknowledge and work through your sadness. It’s not something to be ashamed of; it’s a reminder that we are not complete—we are not perfect—until the day we look Jesus in His holy, flaming eyes. Watch out for depression, bitterness, and anger. Remember that sadness is not for forever, and so don’t live like it is.
With much love,