A Time for Lament {The Grove: Singleness}

singleness grove

If you are a woman completely content in your singleness, bless you, sister. Seriously, go with God and change the world right where you are, and teach us your ways.

But maybe that’s not you. Maybe your heart feels broken open a little with unfulfilled longing and buried dreams. You are serving Jesus and following Him to your next door neighbors and the far corners of the earth. But your little girl visions of a white dress and white picket fence still take up space in your soul. Maybe the biological clock is ticking and soon your body will no longer be able to grow and nourish a tiny human being. The revolving door of teammates creates a layer of loneliness and you want that one person who will always have your back. You wonder, “Will it ever be my turn?”

There’s a time for wild adventures and celebrations of the gifts of freedom and sanctification that come with singleness.  

But today, it’s okay to lament.

It’s okay to sit with the longing, that crazy bit of hope still left in your heart.

It’s okay to weep and pray and even to be angry.

After the horror of watching their Rabbi crucified and unsure of the reality of resurrection, two disciples walked along the road to Emmaus. We read their story in Luke 24:13-21. They don’t recognize the Savior who comes to join them as they remember all that has transpired and express deep disappointment. “We had hoped…” they say, and we can almost touch the longing in their words. They had hoped the Messiah was coming to rescue them, to make things better.

Jesus doesn’t rush in to stop them, to turn their mourning into joy with the flip of a switch. There’s no glib, spiritual phrases found here, no push to make the sorrow disappear. He lets them talk. He lets them express all their dashed hopes and confusion.

Only after His invitation to let them pour out their sorrow does He remind them of Truth, explaining the Scriptures to them and pointing out all their blinded eyes had missed.

When we lament, it doesn’t mean we are complaining, untrusting, or selfish. We have the same invitation, the same response from Jesus as the Emmaus road sojourners: to be honest about what hurts, the gifts but also the ache.

What had you hoped the Father would do for you, in your relationship status or your ministry or your family? Maybe your heart is full of questions, like these two disciples. You wonder, “What is this season? Why the ache that doesn’t go away? Why do You withhold these gifts from me?”

Allowing space for grief in our lives, no matter what is causing the pain, is not a quick process. It’s not a once-and-done kind of thing. No, lamenting is not to be rushed through, but instead we must slow down and linger there for awhile.

But the great thing? Lament is not the end. It pushes us forward to a place of hope and acceptance. We don’t have to rush there, but we do come to a place of healing and restoration. We are reminded that God has not forgotten us in our pain, but that He is faithful and overflowing with love.

My counselor is the one who has been encouraging me to lament. She gave me Psalm 13 as my primer, my lamenting template. If you need an example, that’s an excellent place to go. Actually, Scripture is full of examples of lament and this can free us to go and do likewise.

There’s room for both the celebrations and the sorrow of your singleness. It’s okay to admit the longing, the hurt and confusion, even while gratefully acknowledging the gifts. Sister, there’s no need to rush, this invitation is there for you.

As you think about the way Jesus met the two disciples on the Emmaus road, what does that stir up in your heart? I know it’s hard and vulnerable, but how would you finish the phrase, “I had hoped…”?

The Grove

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6 Comments

  1. Allysa May 25, 2019

    It’s good to know I can take time to lament. I am thankful I can pour out my heart honestly, vulnerably before my Maker. I can trust that He does indeed hear and He does care. I do still have lingering hopes…”I had hoped” moments. They are kind of like broken pieces lying on the floor, scattered around. I look at these dashed hopes and wonder if these broken pieces will ever come together into a nice, beautiful puzzle picture. For now, I don’t want to gaze on those pieces, so I see myself picking them up and putting them into my Father’s hands. I tell Him, “You know what to do with these pieces, I don’t.” He will indeed finish the puzzle in a glorious way. It may not come together the way I had “hoped,” however, I trust, it will be glorious. My hope lies in His promise to complete the good work that He began in me. Even now, I feel a bit of eager expectation rising within to see just what that will look like, that glorious finished puzzle, fashioned by His capable hands.

  2. Caitriana May 25, 2019

    Just wanted to say thanks for this series this week – to all the contributors. As someone who’s struggled with singleness for the last few years in particular, I’ve appreciated each of the articles. I feel that I’m growing in acceptance of what the Lord has given me, and beginning to see the positives of it, but still have some way to go, especially when I long for someone to do life with, through all the comings and goings, or when I long for children of my own and see the big 4-0 looming.
    I had hoped…. to thrive in cross-cultural living as a single, to be strong and pure and self-reliant, not to struggle with envy and bitterness and loneliness. I had hoped… to perhaps bump into Mr Right at a training event or conference, or when on Home Assignment 😉 I had hoped… but the Father had other plans, and I’m beginning to see that painful as it’s been, he’s been teaching and moulding me through this time. Because he loves me, and he is good. (Not because he’s a hard commander who just wants to toughen up his soldiers so they fight better!)
    I’m reading “7 Myths about Singleness” by Sam Allberry at the moment. Not finished yet, but finding it really helpful – just wanted to mention it in case anyone else finds it useful! Highly recommended! The 7 myths he highlights: Singleness… is Too Hard, …Requires a Special Calling, …Means No Intimacy, …Means No Family, …Hinders Ministry, …Wastes your Sexuality, …Is Easy.

    1. Abigail Zhao June 25, 2019

      Thanks for sharing, Caitriana. What you shared encourages me in areas other than singleness, since after serving 14 years in Asia, God finally brought me a husband! You have such a beautiful name! 🙂 I’m very curious what that book says about singleness not wasting your sexuality, if you’d be okay sharing.

      1. Caitriana June 25, 2019

        Hi Abigail,

        Thanks! Hmm, I read that book a few weeks ago, and found it so helpful I immediately passed it on to a friend, and now find I can’t remember exactly what he wrote about the myth that singleness wastes your sexuality! Doh! My vague memory of it is that our sexuality points to something bigger – to our relationship with Christ – so when we know Christ we already have that bigger thing. Also, Jesus was single and I’m sure he didn’t consider his sexuality wasted, etc. But he did talk about it in more depth than that, and I can’t remember the details now, sorry! But I do recommend the book, for married as well as single friends. I’d love to give a copy to my church pastor and M leaders as well…

        Thanks for sharing in your other comment too. I can’t imagine the pain you and your husband are going through. Asking for the Father’s comfort for you.

  3. Abigail Zhao June 25, 2019

    Sarah, thank you for this blog post. It encourages me in other areas than singleness even. As I’ve only been married a little over a year, and we’ve been hit with a lot in that short time, including 3 pregnancy losses. So for me it’s more facing that possibility that He might not ever give us our own sweet, “mixed”, baby. Thank you for acknowledging that the grieving and lamenting includes honest anger and disappointment with Him, and that that’s okay.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann June 25, 2019

      Thank you for sharing your story, Abigail! Bumping up face-to-face with the reality that a dream might have to die is incredibly painful, no matter what that dream might be. Praying for you in this really hard season.

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