I have heard it a couple times lately.
"I am single. And God is silent."
Loneliness is very real-- we cannot ignore it especially the feelings that get jumbled around inside, mixing up our personal doubts with our beliefs of God.
I wanted to write this post to explain a little of what God taught me through my own journey. I will give one caveat--my singleness wasn't an extended period of time. My appeal is that this is what I wished I had known from where I stand now.
Loneliness peaked during the last few months of college for me. Everyone is preparing to move on. Now, at thirty, I have seen this cycle over and over. I can sense the shift and I, myself, am tempted to start moving away, distancing myself from those friends and people who will drift out of my life. When you are in college you see it clearly for the first time as people start marrying and making plans for their futures. And it hurts worst the first time.
Especially for a conservative Christian woman, loneliness can feel like rejection. Even more deeply, it can feel like a profound distance between you and God. In college, you create your first circle of community that is all yours. When you see that first circle change or collapse, it can feel like your world is over (well, not really-- in highschool you would have thought that, but in college, you pretend like you are more mature than that.)
What people fail to tell you is that those college years are the first chapter. In a woman's life, you practice making your own circle of society from a pre-fabricated one in highschool. Then, from eighteen to early twenties, you are building your first, independent circle. Highschool is more about relationships; college becomes more about first choices. College is the age or time frame where you really learn about becoming who are you going to be and identifying your passions and dreams.
I fulfilled my own dreams during those years-- I had figured out what I wanted to be and became it. I went to college, finished my degree and got my dietetics internship. had a boyfriend during the last year or so of my post-graduate internship, so I assumed it was all going according to plan. But as I rounded that corner towards the last few months, it all fell apart. Everything was ending. My plans were finished-- my internship was over. I was moving home. I had no job. My boyfriend and I broke up. Everything was ending.
Where was the next part? I assumed what God wanted me to do next was get married. This is a common, and reasonable assumption as a Christian woman. But if it doesn't happen like that, you feel rejected. I did. In fact, that was the worst summer of my Christian life. I even jumped to the conclusion that the gospel couldn't help me because I didn't get what I thought I deserved.
Instead of assuming, like I did, that God didn't have a good plan for me, I should have assumed that He had a good plan. We assume wrongly that God has the same plan for every woman. When, in fact, He has a uniquely good plan for each individual woman. It has to be unique or He wouldn't be a good Creator.
I should have asked, "What's next, Lord?" instead of "Why?" I am not saying that we shouldn't ask why. I am saying that we should see that God has a plan for us for our whole life, not just the first chapter leading to the second chapter. The next chapter after college is worth just as much to him as marriage. It is all a part of his perfect plan. It is not because you are not worthy of marriage, but because God has seen to make you uniquely fitted for the next chapter. He put some natural gifts/skills/talents in you that He wants to use and He wants you to use, too.
Don't be a drop out. Don't drop out of the story, as Paul Miller says in The Praying Life.
You've only finished one chapter. Don't assume there isn't a developing plot. The story He is fulfilling in you is uniquely yours. Just because you don't follow the college --> marriage --> baby track back to back does not mean that God isn't happy with you. Don't take his silence as a sign of his displeasure.