Raise your hand if you’re a single woman over the age of thirty who has at some point been told that your singleness indicates that in some way, You. Are. Defective.
If no one has said it to you personally, society has a way of communicating that not only singleness, but also having few friends is a deficiency. In sitcoms, movies, and even in commercials, this person is often the odd one out. Whispers abound.
They list your potential faults:
You’re too bossy.
You’re not cute enough.
You’re awkward and unapproachable.
You haven’t accomplished enough. Do more!
Try losing ten pounds.
Those teeth whitening strips might do the trick.
And on and on the list goes. But raise your hand if you know that entering into a relationship to justify your worth doesn’t make you worthy.
Your purpose was determined long before you were born (Psalm 139: 13-16). Your worth runs far deeper than any person in any earthly relationship can fathom.
When we neglect to realize this, we circle the mount of harmful relationships. Whether we meet a new girlfriend who shares our interests, or we meet a godly man who seems to be on the same set of tracks as us, it doesn’t take long before the bomb starts to tick. Before we know it another bomb explodes in our face and we stand there speechless. Again.
I don’t know about you but after the umpteenth time, I started to ask God:
“But what’s wrong with me, God?”
“I’m the only constant in this equation, so it must be me, right?”
“There’s some flaw in me that attracts these kind of people into my life, right? Just point it out to me, Lord, and I’ll give it over to you!”
“Just tell me what it is, and I’ll change it.”
Notice a trend in that line of reasoning? I was basically asking God to help me fix myself so that others will love me. Have you ever indirectly asked God the same thing?
But see, here’s the thing. There was nothing wrong with me. And there is nothing wrong with you.
Sure, we all have growing edges and areas of improvement. We can all benefit from learning relationship skills. But when we notice that not having many friends and not being in a romantic relationship causes us to deeply long for it as though it will prove us worthy of love, that is when we might need to accept that our heart is pointed in the wrong direction.
This is why I believe that the only way to enter into a healthy relationship – platonic or romantic – is to first become content in who you are in Christ.
It’s a matter of the heart.
Instead of asking yourself what you need to change, ask yourself in which direction your heart is pointed.
You have to know your worth in Christ before you could ever contribute to a relationship in a healthy way. And knowing your worth requires you to have a different kind of heart.
If we continue reading Psalm 139, in verses 23-24 David asks, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
In this verse, David is essentially asking God to cleanse his heart and align it with God’s will. Proverbs 4:23 describes the heart as the wellspring of life. And when the heart is mentioned in scripture its translation is all-inclusive – referring to the core of human emotions, motivations, thoughts, behaviors – everything.
The heart is the source from which all things go out. So imagine having one that’s mangled – one that’s been mistreated time and time again. Sometimes a damaged heart can cause a person to enter into relationships desperately longing to be loved. Other times it can cause a person to place unrealistic expectations on their friends and/or partner in order to compensate for the ways others have mistreated them.
In both cases, this person is seeking a solution from people instead of God.
When we point our hearts towards people instead of pointing it towards God, we unknowingly prevent healing from taking place. We devote ourselves to people who either use our desperation to their advantage, or, willingly engage in unhealthy behaviors because their heart is just as damaged. And in other cases, we just drain the other person to the point that they have to walk away in order to preserve their sanity.
But if you find yourself standing alone, that’s a beautiful time to draw nigh to God (James 4:8). James also tells us to count it all joy (1:2). Be grateful for the good and the bad. When we aren’t, roots of bitterness entangle us. Longings overpower us. Missed goals toss us into a state of depression. And we enter or remain in unhealthy relationships that cause us to spiral down into darkness.
This doesn’t have to be the case. We don’t need to be fixed. We need to fix our hearts on the one who sacrificed for us so that we can live an abundant life.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
If you find yourself standing alone, know that you are not being punished. Look at it instead, as an invitation. It’s an invitation to learn how to love God more deeply. It’s an invitation to allow God’s hands to hold your heart, to heal it, to make it new.
I have a complex trauma history, so trust was not part of my vocabulary. It has taken (is taking) time for me to allow God in. But as a woman shared with me recently, God’s touch is unlike that of any person who inappropriately touched me. And I’m learning that God’s word is unlike all of the negative and inappropriate words spoken to and about me.
How do you do that? Spend time in the Word. Talk to God through prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to comfort your heart. Get to the point where you have an answer for the question Jesus posed in Mark 8:29, “But what about you? … Who do you say I am?”
Who do you say God is? Is God really your provider? Is he really the one who mends broken hearts? Who is God to you? Although the answer to this question is ever evolving, it is in the process of answering this question that we nurture a heart of gratitude. And when we nurture a heart of gratitude we begin to lead a life of gratitude. And when we lead a life of gratitude, we refrain from looking to others to fill holes within us that only God can fill.
And that, that, is when we are more prepared to enter into relationships with friends and partners. Because once we know that it is only Christ who fills us, our contentment in Him allows us to be in a healthy relationship with ourselves. When we’re content in Christ and content with self, we can stand alone, or be surrounded by others and know that we’re okay either way.
About the Author:
Annette Brown is a designer and blogger committed to helping women embrace their position in Christ and understand that they are loved, period. Through her shop and blog, Loved-Period.com, Annette shares her spiritual journey towards trusting God more fully beyond past traumas and redefining identity based on Biblical truths. As an artist, she enjoys watercolor painting, hand lettering, and drawing illustrations inspired by architecture and nature.
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