Dear Mary Beth,
How can I remain patient when it seems like others who are around my age are married and making babies and I don’t even know where I am in the mix? I struggle with jealousy and envy a lot from it, although at the same time I reflect on my blessings (part-time job, health, blooming relationship). I go to confession about that but feel forgotten with God’s plan when I am still waiting.
Oh, Mia, I think most singles feel the way you do at some point or another. It’s built into us, especially women, to desire a partner and children. So when we see others moving ahead with what we ourselves want, it can hurt sometimes. And it’s easy to start to wonder if perhaps God has forgotten about us.
I believe times like this present a good opportunity to prayerfully examine who God is and how He operates in our lives. Is God primarily the Great Giver of Spouses who dutifully pairs us all off (or at least His favorites) while we’re in our mid 20s? Does He guarantee each of us a spouse by a certain age – or even at all?
I don’t believe that’s the case. Certainly God has a role in bringing people together for marriage, just as He has a role in every aspect of our lives. But matchmaking is not His only job, or even His primary job. He is much bigger than that. He is about your salvation, the salvation of the whole world, and the role you will play in that.
You say you feel forgotten with God’s plan. But how do you know that’s God’s plan for you? Apparently God’s plan for your friends right now includes marriage and children. (Although that isn’t necessarily true either. Plenty of people marry at times or in circumstances that aren’t what God desires for them.) But that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to do that right now.
God’s plan is not one-size-fits-all. You are absolutely unique and unrepeatable. And so, the God who loves you has a plan for you that is, likewise, unique and unrepeatable.
So my primary advice to you would be to stop comparing yourself to your friends and using God’s action in their lives as the standard for how He “should” act in yours. Delve into your own relationship with God. Keep your focus there. Ask Him to help you to trust that He has a customized plan for you. Ask Him for help with understanding it – to the extent He is willing to reveal it to you. (He doesn’t always do that – He also likes it when we walk trusting in Him even when we don’t fully understand what He’s up to.)
Maybe He has a marriage partner just around the corner for you. Maybe He doesn’t. Maybe He wants you to be single right now because there’s something else He wants you to be doing. Maybe there’s something He wants you to be learning in this time. Maybe He wants you to practice trusting in Him. Maybe you’re doing something that needs to change before your marry. Maybe there’s some woundedness in you that is standing in the way of marriage, something that He needs to heal.
Whatever is going on, you will only find peace through Him. Spend a lot of time in honest prayer. Tell Him your struggles. Bring Him your feelings of envy and jealousy. And then ask Him, over and over, to help you to trust in His plan for you.
Because, whatever that plan is, it is where your greatest happiness lies. After all, it comes from the God who loves you!
Got a question for Mary Beth?
Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer it in her next “Dear Mary Beth” post.