Guest post by Sara Fore
When I was growing up, I had a picture in my mind of what I thought my life would look like, where I would find contentment: I would be married between the ages of 23 and 26 (but 26 at the very oldest!), have a godly husband, some nice kids, and be a stay-at-home mom in a suburban neighborhood. Then later, I imagined myself adopting some kids… And raising them with my godly husband as a stay-at-home mom in a suburban neighborhood.
But guess what? It didn’t happen like that. I’m 30, and I do own a house in a nice suburban neighborhood. But I have neither husband nor kids, and I certainly don’t stay home all day.
It’s not that my life is bad. I work full-time on a church staff, a job that I thoroughly enjoy. I am blessed with wonderful family and friends. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a car to drive. But there’s that part of my life plan that’s still missing… a husband and children.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I was in a serious relationship for the better part of a year. And then suddenly, I wasn’t. I knew we were supposed to end it–God had confirmed it for me. But I mourned the loss of something that had seemed so close for a while–the life I had dreamed of since I was a kid.
I remember, in the midst of my hurt, crying out to God for contentment. I wasn’t praying for him to bring a new guy along at that moment, but I wanted him to make me content in my circumstances. I clung to Philippians 4:12-13: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
I was crying out for contentment, but at the same time, I think I didn’t fully understand the concept of what it means to be content.
That year at Christmas, my best friend gave me a book called Sacred Singleness: A Set-Apart Girl’s Guide to Purpose and Fulfillment by Leslie Ludy. Honestly, I was afraid to read it. I thought it would tell me that I was just supposed to be single for the rest of my life and I had to be okay with that.
But the book ended up being just the perspective I needed to hear. It encouraged me to use this season of my life not to hunt for a husband, but to serve the Lord. (It’s a really good book, by the way. If you struggle in that area, you may want to check it out.)
2 Timothy 4:5 says this: “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Fulfill your ministry. We all have a ministry. Regardless of whether or not you have a paying job in ministry, you have a circle of people that God has placed in your life for you to influence. There’s your ministry. The things God has called you to do and the places He has called you to go–that’s your ministry. Whenever I feel like I’m missing out on something that my friends have, or I scroll through my Facebook feed and see the endless stream of engagement announcements, wedding photos, and albums of baby pictures, I remind myself that in this season, God has things for me to do. He has placed me where I am for a reason, and I am still fulfilling my ministry. I will be fulfilling my ministry until I die, but when I’m married with children, my ministry will look a bit different. But for now, my job is to fulfill my ministry where I am.
I know that I’m going to be married one day. I used to worry about it. What if God wants me to be single for the rest of my life? Should I just go ahead and start collecting cats now? Even now sometimes, when I’m frustrated with the dating scene, that sounds like a viable option. But I really do believe that God has a plan for me to marry. How do I know this?
Psalm 37:4 says this: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Many people look at that verse and think “Oh, if I delight myself in the Lord, He’ll give me what I want.” But my pastor interprets it this way: If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will plant His desires for your life in your heart, then fulfill them.
The Bible says that marriage is good. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” I know that what I desire is a good thing, and that as I have spent time with God and delighted myself in Him, He has given me the desire to have a husband and children. But not just any husband–as my delight in God has grown, so has the type of husband I desire. I not only just want a husband, or even just a husband who’s a Christian. I can honestly say that the first and most important quality that I’m looking for in a husband is someone who is passionately in love with Jesus, and honors God with his life. And I believe those are desires God has planted in my heart as I’ve grown in my walk with Him and delighted myself in Him.
So here’s where we come back to contentment. The dictionary defines contentment as “a state of happiness and satisfaction.” I always assumed that that means I have to be happy no matter what and not concern myself with thinking about the next thing–just be happy where God put me and not desire for things to be different. But I heard a pastor explain it once in a way that finally made sense to me. You can be happy in your circumstances, and still be desiring what’s to come. I can be happy and thankful for what God has given me, and be fulfilling my ministry where I am, while also praying for God to bless me with a spouse. I can serve God in my season of singleness while still being excited about what’s to come. The key to this delicate and complicated balance is to not let the desire take over so much that it is constantly making you unhappy in your current circumstances.
I certainly have my days when I am unhappy with my singleness. There are days when I struggle with envy, and I question the plan that God chose for me. But overall, I have more good days than bad days. Overall, I’m happy with the life I have. I know that somewhere out there, God’s choice for my husband is walking around. Would I speed up the process if I could? Absolutely. Do I often pray for that? You can bet your bottom dollar I do. But I know that God has me in this place, with my ministry to fulfill, and I don’t want to miss a second of that.
Do you have more bad days than good days? Are you struggling to be content in your circumstances, whatever they may be? Whether you’re desiring for a job, a child, a spouse, a healed relationship, or whatever it may be, I would charge you to spend more time with Jesus. Let His presence fill you up. Let His heart speak to yours, and plant His purposes and His desires in your heart. Keep fulfilling your ministry, and somewhere in the midst of that, I have a good feeling that those desires will be fulfilled.
Sara Fore serves as the Ministry Operations Coordinator & Youth Director at Grace Fellowship Church in Shillington, PA. She’s passionate about the local church and seeing people seek God with their whole hearts. In her spare time she enjoys being with friends & family, listening to good music, drinking strong coffee, and spoiling her niece and four nephews.
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