“Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride” rang in my ears. Although I was thrilled to stand beside some of the best women I have ever known, I still felt the fear of being left behind. I wondered what was wrong with me; I wondered what I could do to make myself more desirable; I wondered if I would be lonely forever.
In two years, five of my roommates were married, not to mention countless other friends, and I was tired of being left behind. At times I hurt so badly I would fall on my knees and beg God through tears to take my pain away.
Me, me, me … it was all I thought about. I tried to repair my inadequacies by reading Christian self-help books — how to prepare for marriage and motherhood and how to understand men. It was all really good information, but it didn’t make me any less lonely.
What I didn’t know then was that God was using that pain to bring me to the sweetest love affair of my life, not by bringing me a man to fall in love with, but by making me more like the One who already loved me.
One night, I got down on my knees, asking God to would take my pain away. I was so tired of being unwanted and without love. As I lay there, crumpled on the floor, he reminded me of 1 John 4:8, that says, “God is love.” I knew in my heart that if I wanted to experience true love, I needed to concentrate on my relationship with him, not on a relationship of this world.
I turned to the Scriptures, as I wanted to know the very heart of the Lord. As John 1:1 says, “The Word was with God, and Word was God.” I started at Genesis and read my way through the entire Bible. As I did so, I found nothing but the love of God for his people and specifically for me. I knew I was imperfect, but I discovered through Psalm 139:13-16, that he created me, knew me, and loved me just as I was.
For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
It was that love that drew me closer to the heart of God. And the closer I got to him, the more his light revealed my selfishness. The Lord didn’t take my pain away — he used it to refine me just as fire purifies gold (Malachi 3:3).
Loneliness became a reminder of the cross, both Christ’s and mine. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus tells us, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
It wasn’t until I embraced this call that I finally realized that life wasn’t about fulfilling my desires; it was about showing the love of Christ to others. The pain I went through allowed me to identify with others’ pain and to counsel many women experiencing feelings of loneliness, rejection, and inadequacy or going through the pain of broken relationships.
Loneliness became a tool that encouraged me to make lunch appointments with other women who needed counsel, to start Bible studies, to memorize Scripture, to pray for long periods of time, and to read, read, read. Time alone was a luxury that is not afforded to those who are married or in serious relationships.
As Paul says, “The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34). I had been given a great gift, not a burden.
So many Christians forget the nature of God’s call. He calls us to be lowly (Psalm 138:6), to be humble (James 4:6), to be meek (Matthew 4:5 KJV). He even calls us to die to the flesh (Romans 6:3-5). None of this come easily, and it often requires pain. But we’ve been promised recognition, grace, an unfading inheritance, and everlasting life in return.
The popular Christian music group Caedmon’s Call sings a song, Valleys Fill First, that points out that when the rain falls, the water flows to the lowest places, filling the valleys first. The blood of Christ was meant to flow to those who are hurting and struggling. Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31).
I felt his healing touch. Even though I was lonely, in an earthly sense, the void was more than filled to overflowing with satisfaction and a sense of belonging to my Lord.
My time of hurting lasted about two years, and then God chose to change my circumstances. Just as I had become satisfied with my single status, God brought me the man that I would eventually marry.
I am grateful for the blessing of the man that God has provided — he truly is everything I had ever longed for. But there are days when I miss the blessing of loneliness. Those were days when I learned to seek intimacy in the Lord, and they were indeed sweet days.
I pray now that others who are in that place would have a life-changing experience as a result of the pain of loneliness. My advice to every lonely heart, single or not, is this: love the Lord, seek his face, read his word, and share his love with others. And you will experience the blessing of loneliness transformed by love into love.