I used to feel so guilty when I was single. I felt guilty for longing for a husband and for not letting Jesus fill the void in my heart. I felt guilty that Jesus was not enough for me, because deep down I longed to be in a relationship, to find true love, to hurry up and get married. As much as I loved Jesus with all of my heart, there still seemed to be room for someone else, a place in my heart that had not yet been filled. Jesus was my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Love, but I never was able to make him my boyfriend.
But there’s something I’ve discovered about this dilemma that I wish someone had told me when I was single:
Jesus can’t be your boyfriend or girlfriend.
I know that’s probably not what you were expecting to hear. Trust me, I’ve been around the block when it comes to reading dating books. They always seem to conclude with a statement that appears to dismiss our struggles and fears and leaves us feeling far more invalidated and frustrated than encouraged: “During this time of singleness, let Jesus be your significant other.” Really? Talk about easier said than done, if it can be done at all. In my opinion, that phrase has done far more harm than good.
I think Christians are too hard on themselves. We place expectations on our shoulders that are not only unrealistic but inhuman. Take heart; even God is on your side on this one! God himself saw that it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so He fashioned for Adam a wife. The desire to be intimately connected with another human being has been part of human nature since the beginning of time.
Your longing for an intimate relationship with another person is something you were created to feel.
It doesn’t mean that you are unholy or that you haven’t let Jesus fill your heart the way He should. It means you’re human, created in the image of God, a God who loves, who connects, and who longs for relationship Himself.
Jesus can never be your boyfriend or girlfriend because He was never intended to be. A significant part of your heart was designed specifically for just Him, but there is a part of your heart that was designed specifically for others.
Jesus can never be your boyfriend or girlfriend because He was intended to be so much more than that. He was intended to be your Master, your Savior, and your Healer. He was intended to be your Counselor, your Peace, and the Love of your life. He longs for you to be in relationship with Him, but God has made you also to be in relationship with others, because He knows how you function and He knows what’s good for you.
It’s Not Good to Be Alone: Connecting with Others
Whether we are single or married, we are called to do this life with others. More than thirty verses in the Bible talk about the importance of community — of meeting together, praying together, eating together, and living interconnected with other human beings.
I took a trip to the Middle East during which I had the opportunity to speak to a large group of young adults at one of the church meetings. To my surprise, I noticed that the youth there were not as obsessed with relationships with the opposite sex as the youth back home were. Don’t get me wrong, they were typical young adults who desired one day to be married, but they did not share our fear of singleness.
I realized something profound. The youth there were living a completely different way than back home in the US. They lived in full-blown community. Their culture fostered togetherness, family, and friendship as the center of their lives. They worshiped and prayed together, ate and played together, visited each other and shared their lives. The fear of being alone was constantly trumped by togetherness. They fulfilled each other’s need for love and connection.
I wonder if we in the West have missed something. What if we struggle with loneliness because we were never meant to be alone? What if our loneliness is the result not simply of needing a partner but of needing people? We are made in the image of a relational God; it makes sense that we possess the desire to be together.
Rather than telling singles to “love Jesus more” during their singleness, what if we were to offer them more love?
Rather than obsessing about being alone, what if singles pursued community? If we were never meant to be alone, then why do we continue to live that way? Community doesn’t just come to you; you have to seek it. Reach out and connect with those around you. Join with the body of believers and say no to discouragement and isolation.
It’s Not Good to Be Alone: Connecting with God
It’s no coincidence that the greatest commandment in the Bible has three components: love God, love others, love yourself. As much as we need community, and as important as it is to get to know and love ourselves, what connects these things is our relationship with God. We were not made to be alone because ultimately we were made to love and connect with Him.
One benefit of singleness is that I learned how to experience God in the most relational way. He went from being theoretically part of my life, to legitimately and practically part of my life. I learned to talk to Him, to hang out with Him, and to interact with Him like never before. I needed to connect, and some days, He was the only one I had to connect with. I learned that He was always up for hanging out, and He proved to be real good company.
But maybe deep down you are wondering whether God really cares that you are alone. Maybe you are questioning His love for you, asking why He has left you to struggle through your singleness. Why has He left your prayers unanswered? Why doesn’t He fill the void when you’re feeling alone? What do you do when you’re simply in need of love?
While Jesus may never become your significant other, He can become your significance, your serenity, and even your satisfaction.
Four Kinds of Love
Have you ever noticed that in our society, the word love is used for so many different things? We say we love our family, and in the next breath declare our love for ice cream. Love loses its value when we use it in so many different contexts — from sports teams to romance to friendship to faith. The Greeks understood this, and instead of using a broad term for love, they used several terms to distinguish different kinds of love.
Scripture uses four Greek words for love. The first word is storge. This is the love of natural affection, as in the deep love of a parent for a child. It’s a love that desires to give more than it desires to receive.
The second word for love in Scripture is phileo. I remember this word because it reminds me of the home of my favorite sports teams: Philadelphia, also known as the City of Brotherly Love. While there might not be any such love in this city during a heated football game, the Bible uses this word to refer to just that concept — brotherly love. It’s the love of one friend for another, the love of one family member for another. It includes a sense of loyalty, camaraderie, and commitment.
The third kind of love is eros, from which we get the modern-day word erotic. This is romantic love and passion, a sensual love made up of desire. It is a deep attraction to the body, soul, and spirit of another. It may or may not include sexual desire, but it is a longing for a person as the object of one’s affections.
The fourth love is agape. It is by far the greatest and deepest of all loves. It is in fact the very definition of true love in that it is unrelenting and unconditional. It is deeper than all of the other loves because it knows no limits. It is a divine love that gives because it wants to. It is a love that goes to the very ends of the earth in order to give, even giving its very self. The Bible uses this term to describe God’s ferocious love toward mankind, a love that surpasses all understanding because it absolutely makes no sense. It is a love that is healing, full, and complete.
So many single young men and women are searching for a love to fill a void inside. And eros seems ready-made to fill it. It immediately seems to fulfill your longing and leaves you feeling intoxicated. But what if this void was never meant to be filled by a soul mate? What if it is just a sign to lead us toward something greater, a love even truer? Perhaps our ambiguous use of the word love has left us unaware of what we really need. What if we have been living to fill this void with eros, when the only thing that can suffice is agape?
There is something glorious about finding a soul mate. But there is a longing inside of us that can be satisfied only by the embrace of a True Lover: the God who loves us in the truest sense of the word. You cannot even begin to understand your need for love, much less learn to love others, until you have experienced the heart of this Lover. He longs to wrap you in His deep agape love. He desires to lavish it upon you unconditionally. He wants to give you this love because that’s what He does, because loving you is what He wants to do.
Excerpted with permission from True Love Dates by Debra K. Fileta, copyright Debra K. Fileta.
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We were built for relationship! We were created for friendship, for a love relationship, but most of all… we were created to love and be loved by our God who loved us first! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about the embrace of Jesus! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full