What not to think when you're in your thirties and still single

Published 27 August 2019  |  
(Photo: Unsplash/Element5 Digital)

So the perfect plan for life is to finish tertiary study, find a full time job, find a partner, have kids, retire.

But what happens when there is a spanner in the works, when this perfect plan is interrupted? Is it time to panic? What happens when you don't see a future with anyone you see? And to add to the trouble, you're not exactly getting any younger.

Is it time to write some Psalms? 'Why O God have you forsaken me? O my downcast soul!'

Not to deprive the world of some great poetry, but maybe we should take a breath before we rush into teenage angst.

Before I make my point, it's probably good to say that I am in no shape or manner a relationship expert. I only write this because I feel that it might help alleviate some stress for some people.

It seems that from young adolescence all the way stretching to a mid-life crisis we can have this type of relationship anxiety. By this I mean there is always this underlying tension when it comes to the prospect of finding a future partner.

It can leave us feeling unvalued and unlovable.

Something must be wrong if you are not married by your mid-thirties, right? That's what everyone seems to allude to. That's what our culture says. That's what all my friends are doing.

It's so easy to internalise the world's standards without even noticing it. But not being married could be exactly what you need for God to prepare you. Our value doesn't rest on our relationship status.

It sucks to see so many people go through so much stress over relationships, both disciples of Jesus and those who aren't.

Beneath the stress and the relationship anxiety lies an unhealthy pursuit.

Two Prayers

Spot the difference between these prayers:

"God, why am I single? What's wrong with me? I mean, I trust you, I do. But I'm getting on in age, and I feel like it should have happened by now. I just want to settle down. Is that so bad? Please help me be patient God. I trust you. I do."

"Father, I know that you know my every need. I know you will provide everything to grow me. I know that you have a family prepared for me and I can't wait to be a great parent. I know that you will guide me to the friendship that will develop into love."

Who really trusts God here?

Contrived feelings

I think that if we are to approach our life with the undercover motive of finding a spouse, then everybody becomes a potential partner. When everybody is a potential partner, we live in a constant stress of performing.

We start interpreting social cues differently. A lingering gaze becomes something more.

I believe that crushes are an attempt at curing this tension.

Living in a constant relationship anxiety is exhausting. It's only natural to want to get rid of this. How do we solve it? By manufacturing feelings.

Thus, crushes and infatuation are born. Infatuation is a manufactured bond. True love grows like a plant, nourished by time and friendship.

The healthy pursuit

As naïve as it sounds, what if every day were spent cultivating friendships? What if this were paired with the zeal to live out our calling, venturing out to different social circles? What if the meditation of God's fatherhood and his desire to provide for us were to be heavy on our mind?

I believe that the only healthy pursuit of relationship is this: to declare the Lord's perfect fatherhood; to surrender the future; to live out your life calling zealously; inherent in this, to develop friendships. And when we do this faithfully, for years and years, we prove and we build the readiness for life in a relationship.

Courtesy of Press Service International

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