How long do I have to wait? Why am I waiting? Did I wait too long? These are some of the questions that, when I was single, I would ask as I reflected on the future.
When you don’t have something you think you need, it creates a heightened sensitivity.
The question of “how long” came on the heels of divorce. I was given a calculation for waiting and was told three months for every year I was married. My response was, “that’s almost three years and way too long.” So, I started dating without waiting. Not waiting didn’t turn out too well, as you can read about it here, here, and here
As I remained single but dating, the question turned from how long to why? After countless dates, and nothing real, the declaration of “why” was easy. “What’s the point” was my mantra, as nothing fit into my expectations of a future date or mate. I would exclaim to those closest, “I’m never getting married, it’s not for me,” “I am too selfish.” It was toward the end of this waiting that I stopped.
The Waiting Fight
I spent nearly the first decade of my singleness fighting “how long” until I gave in to the “why” until finally settled into the “did I wait too long.”
During the last stage, I finally started to turn the corner on waiting to use my time wisely so that it would benefit the future me, regardless of a future relationship or marriage.
I started a trek of obedience to God’s word, daily prayer, service to others and changed my speech from “never” or “why” to whatever you see fit for me, Lord. I learned to wait with a purpose and expectancy rather than worry or negativity.
Sometimes, it felt fake as my feelings didn’t align with reality. Feelings should not be a governing factor of what is real and how you make life-changing decisions. I had to force myself to think and talk differently to get the most growth out of the waiting stage.
Here is what I learned from waiting nearly two decades;
1. When we wait, we are confronted with growth opportunities.
It is easy to blame the other person for our feelings, finances, or spiritual walk in marriage or a relationship. When it’s just you, there is no escaping the issues. However, many times, we initially ignore them. My pattern was filling it with things, people, or busyness. When things finally stopped, I was confronted with these patterns, and I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to change, and the problem was me. The sooner I realized that my personal development, i.e., becoming better, would benefit the future, I applied more pressure to change.
2. Waiting can either discourage or encourage you.
You get to choose. It can be discouraging if you focus on the time and compare yourself to others. You can be encouraged if you focus on your personal development and then compare this development to the old you. To foster the encouragement, I suggest a simple but effective task of journaling. Since I started journaling, I can see the progress over the decades. Whenever I have a bad day, I open it up, look back a few years, and see all God has done and how I have changed. It’s powerful and still drives me forward even today by giving me perspective through seeing things change over time rather than through the lens of instant gratification. Nothing happens instantly when we speak of lifelong changes.
3. Waiting renews our strength and clarifies our thoughts.
When you shift your waiting from a relationship or marriage to waiting on the Lord, he renews you. In Isaiah 40:27-31 (MSG), the passage reads:
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
As I journeyed through my final years of singleness without any future mate in sight, I was content, peaceful, and had added strength to live life to the fullest.
4. Waiting, once fulfilled, creates a great appreciation for the gift.
Can I be direct? If you force it, you will come to hate it. But, today, because I waited and submitted to God setting up things for my Good rather than me manipulating an outcome, there is so much joy around the gift. My wife, every day is a gift that I see God provided. The gift shows me I can trust him even more.
5. Waiting showed me I could trust the Lord and gave me confidence for whatever comes.
I am often reminded of something I have learned over the past two decades. We must have an attitude of “Even If” rather than fearing “What If.”
“What if” comes from fear of not getting what we think we need and want. “Even if,” says whatever comes my way, Lord, I will walk through it with confidence because you are with me.
I am reminded of two verses that speak to and frame this for me.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]
“Even If” is stamped on the inside of my wedding ring and reminds me not to fear the “what ifs” because the Lord is close when I walk through those times.
As you wait, I want to give you one final thought. Sometimes what we may want is Good, but God has the BEST for us as we wait on him. Good only meets today’s needs; BEST follows us for the rest of our lives. Wait on God’s best.