The four of us women sat on the dock in the warm October sunlight; one of us married, her arms around her almost-two-year-old, the other three of us single. And in our quiet conversation, us single ladies were attempting to put into words what we wanted our married friend to know. She so kindly wanted to know more about what singleness was like for us and what would be helpful to say and not say.
Many married women want us single ones to make sure our expectations aren’t too high for marriage. They want to remind us that marriage is work and there will still be times of loneliness and a spouse can’t satisfy you completely.
And we should know these things. We shouldn’t be looking for a savior in a husband or idolizing marriage as our future greatest joy. We should realize that a husband is still a sinner and that doing life together won’t always be easy.
But then my friend, Hannah, said this, and I thought it summed up our feelings perfectly:
“A husband won’t satisfy our souls. But he will satisfy that specific longing to be married.”
I was relieved to hear her say that because in the past I felt inept at describing my longing for marriage. I’ve struggled with wanting to be so satisfied in Christ that it wouldn’t matter if I was married or not but not achieving that goal. I’ve questioned whether I was actually satisfied in Christ if I still had unmet desires.
And hearing Hannah express our feelings as she did helped so much. We can have both truths at the same time: a husband won’t be our ultimate fulfillment in life and at the same time, he will fulfill a God-given desire in a good way.
God saw that man was alone before the fall, and he said it wasn’t good. And he didn’t fill that need with himself. He filled it with a wife – a soul companion that satisfied that longing.
Yes, everyone should be longing to be satisfied in Christ alone, whether married or single. And as long as we’re broken, sinful people, we never will be completely. But longing for a husband or wife is not sinful and doesn’t mean you’re not satisfied in Christ.
We are not incomplete people when single, waiting for a spouse to complete us. And there is deep joy to be found in the community of the church and intimate friendships with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yet for most of us, we will always have a desire to share life with one person who treasures us, loves us, serves us, is committed to us, and reflects Christ to us in daily ways. We long to have someone with whom we can dream and pray as we serve the Lord together, someone with whom we can build a family, someone who challenges us to grow and who cares for our souls in the process, someone with whom we can share the joys and sorrows of life.
This was God’s perfect design before sin ruined the relationship. And ultimately that marriage relationship reflects a greater picture of intimacy between Christ and his bride the church. When we long for marriage of earth and the communion of souls between husband and wife, we are ultimately longing for the marriage of eternity and the communion of Jesus with his saints.
We long for that because that’s how God designed us. It was not a mistake. If God gives us a husband or wife someday, that longing will at last be hushed and soothed. And if he does not give us a spouse, that longing will be fulfilled when we reach the shores of eternity.
That doesn’t mean life will be perfect if we get married. There will be new challenges that come with everyday life-on-life with a fellow sinner. But it does mean that life will be sweeter, richer, and deeper because we got to understand the love that God says is a reflection of Christ and the church. It will be hard to lay down your life to love someone else more than yourself. But oh, it will be a thousand times worth it.
In the meantime, those of us who are single with unmet longings must practice the daily surrender of those longings to our Father. Every day that we wake up and wish there was a spouse to greet us we must bow in prayer before the Lord and make an offering of our aching desires. We must choose to trust his sovereignty that says, “Not now.” We must be patient and lean into this season where God has something to teach us if we’re willing. We must be eager to be on mission for him in the tasks he’s called us to do. We must learn, in quiet solitude, even more clearly, what the face of Christ looks like and how to walk in greater holiness.
And as we do, our Lord is gracious to grant peace. He makes himself dearer to us. He grows a love within us for the jobs in front of us. He teaches us faithfulness and obedience and wisdom—so that if the day comes when the longing for a spouse is fulfilled, we will accept it with the deepest gratitude and not self-serving entitlement.
He is so gentle with our desires and kind in his understanding. May we learn to trust him more every day until we see him face to face.
Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash