You are more intimidating than you realize.
As a single Christian female, I’ve heard this comment more than once. That statement most often comes from older, Christian brothers in my life; the words are said with the kindness of intentions. They are attempting to offer encouragement as I walk through singleness longer than anyone anticipated, myself included. But still, those words cast shadows of doubt and confusion. Why? Because of the unintended implications.
You are too much for a guy to handle
—that’s the first fear that enters my mind after these conversations. It’s as if to say that, because I unashamedly (although not perfectly) pursue Christ, I somehow overwhelm Christian men because they couldn’t lead someone like me. But if men are impressed by anything, shouldn’t it be a women’s walk with Jesus and not just her beauty or fun personality? Maybe it’s a good thing for men to be somewhat intimidated by women’s pursuit of Christ? As a complementarian, I desire to follow the lead of a God-fearing man, but isn’t Christ-like leadership more about humility and serving than about being stronger? (Phil 2). In her article on daughters and dating, Jen Wilkin’s states, “Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, not with weak ones.”
You can handle singleness better than most.
After some years, certain friends started to assume I no longer struggled with singleness since my outward demeanor appeared confident and content (which apparently can come across as intimidating too). The truth is, I genuinely regard this season as a gift; my walk with the Lord is personal and dear because of my single years. But it’s still hard. A strong walk with Christ doesn’t mean singleness is without heartache. Sometimes people think women who cherish their relationship with the Lord aren’t bothered by these things.
In the local church, I believe all of us (both single and married) can improve our communication as we do life together. Here are some conversations I believe would be more helpful.
Singleness is good and hard at the same time.
Single women can be grateful and sorrowful, investing their time well while still asking the Lord for a gospel-centered relationship. Praying hopeful prayers for both singleness and marriage creates a better balance because we are both casting our cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7) and actively trusting God will make the path clear for our lives (Proverbs 3:5-8). Instead of only asking “So who are you dating? ask your single friends questions like: “How’s work going?” or “How are you doing?” That frees your friend to talk about what’s really on her heart.
Singleness isn’t solely dependent on our decisions.
God is still sovereign, and single women can trust His timing. When the initial questions are “Have you tried this dating app?” or “Have you considered moving to a big city?” in essence people are saying, “Have you tried hard enough?” Could God use a dating site or a big city? Absolutely. At the same time, He could bring the right person into someone’s life who lives in a country town and has never once created an online profile. The better question is, “Are we investing our God-given gifts?” Paul exhorts Timothy to fan into flame God’s gifts, without living in fear (2 Tim 1:6-7). Whatever it is— studying art therapy, earning a seminary degree, or starting a business—mature believers should be encouraging and admonishing women to follow God’s call on their lives. If God can shut the mouths of lions and feed the 5,000, He can certainly bring the right man and woman together when He deems best.
You don’t have to slow down for men to catch up.
Once women start to get into their late 20s and 30s, they hear less of “Wait for God’s timing” and more of “Are you being too picky?” However, just because some women have to wait longer does not mean they are doing something wrong. Yet, that is exactly how it feels when bombarded with unhealthy questions. On occasion, when I sit down to talk with my mom after a particularly trying day, she often looks at me and says, “Honey, you know you aren’t doing anything wrong, don’t you?” My mother is not saying I am sinless, but she is reminding me that God’s good gifts are dependent on His character, not my performance (James 1:17). Walking boldly with Christ alone is far better than “settling.”
Single women can rest assured they are never “too much” for the Lord, nor are they ever forgotten. He is always at work in our lives (Phil. 1:6) and Paul again gives Timothy a beautiful challenge with this phrase: “But godliness with contentment is great gain…”(I Tim. 6:6 ). The more single women walk with Christ, the better leaders and servants they will be to those around them, whether that’s in the local church, in the business world, with the lost, or with a future husband. God has good works for His daughters to walk in (Eph. 2:10) and, through singleness or marriage, He will do far beyond what we can imagine (Eph. 3:20).