QUESTION: They say that the moment you stop thinking about [finding a mate] or “lay it down” is the moment it will happen for you. Is this even possible to stop thinking about it when surrounded by people getting married, having babies or getting invitation cards that read to _____ and partner?
HE SAID: Sure it’s possible to stop, but it certainly isn’t easy to refrain from thinking about finding a mate (or from comparing yourself with friends who have) when you’re receiving piles of invitations to weddings and showers, and surrounded by everyone else’s marital and maternal bliss.
I have also heard “They” say, “The more you try not to think about something, the more you do.” How true is that?
We are sort of raised to have a “Circle of Life” mindset.We graduate from high school, go to college, meet our college sweetheart, get married, settle down, have kids, they grow up and the whole cycle continues. That’s what many older singles including myself probably “thought” would happen before AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) notices start showing up in our mail.
We formulated and prayed for our plans and goals, tried to achieve them in the best and most honorable way we know how, yet we are disappointed and frustrated when “our” plan doesn’t come to fruition especially when we see others, some of who may not have led as moral of a life, have.
I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for (Jer. 29:11, GNT).
It’s natural to measure ourselves against others based upon our age or where we are in life, and it’s easy to look and think about what others have. However, each of us has our own journey (and timeline) which God has specifically planned and created for us.
We are instructed in Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” and although most of us aren’t necessarily coveting his wife or her husband specifically, we may be in a sense coveting what our neighbor has–a mate, a marriage and children.
Even though our yearning is to get hold of “things” we want when we want them, over the years I have learned many of those “objects of my desire” weren’t necessarily the best for me or weren’t right for me at that time. I have often been spared from hardship and as a result been able to enjoy a variety of other blessings I never would have expected.
The way I try to (somewhat) “not think about it” is by keeping my eyes open for what God has for me that is “even better” than a relationship at this time. I look for what he wants me to focus on and be a part of now, instead of worrying about what I want. Then I expect great things from him.
Each of us has a specific path for our lives, some may look very similar, but many may be altogether different. It’s not easy to live in a society where you are “expected” to have a significant other and don’t, constantly being bombarded by advertisements and media telling us “what we need” or “how we can become more ‘complete’.” We ARE complete, if we are in the Lord.
I’m reminded of the lyrics to the classic hymn, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
If we turn our eyes and attention upon Jesus, looking at him and striving to do what he wants us to do in our situation, the “things of Earth” (including other people’s relationships or our lack of) will grow dim (in our thoughts) because we are focusing on something that is even more radiant, his will.
I understand that’s a lot easier said than done, but it can be done.
And yes, there is some truth to “their” statement–When you aren’t “looking” for a mate and seeking God is the moment it will happen, he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
SHE SAID: Yes. And no. And everything in between. Next question?
Seriously, though, this is great to ask because it really is something that all singles can relate to in their singleness. We are always surrounded by reminders that we are single (but we are not alone, amen?). And me, myself and most of my single friends have struggled with how to stop constantly thinking about finding a mate as well.
Sometimes it’s easy to lay it aside and sometimes it’s not. That’s my short answer, really. I’ve found that the busier I am in other areas of my life (work, church, volunteering, etc.) the less I think about the fact that I am single and where, oh wherefore art thou, is my future mate?
Then, there are other times when I have some down time in my schedule, and I have more time to think. Or a movie (drama, romantic comedy) can also trigger my mind and get me thinking (okay, maybe obsessing) about finding a mate. And then there are the holidays. Any holiday. Take your pick. Wherever and whenever there are lots of people gathered who are socializing around any sort of occasion, there is bound to be discussion about family and significant others. Plus, you can guarantee you will be asked “why are you not married?” or “are you dating anyone?” at these kind of get-togethers. I promise.
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Cliff Young & Laura MacCorkle. Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).