Sometimes we come across words that read like balm to our aching souls. Jessica is a gifted writer and encourager whose words do just that.
As I read through her advice and encouragement to others in difficult seasons, I knew it was important for her voice to be a part of this series. I wish I had found Jessica’s blog or inspiring Instagram feed a few years ago, during the times when I was most alone and so determined to define my worth through relationships. Today, no matter what season you are in, I hope you will be encouraged by Jessica’s story.
Here is Jessica’s Freedom Story.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of being a wife and mom. I’ve held this desire in my heart with hope for many years, looking forward to the day that I become Mrs. Somebody.
I’ve dreamed of making a home with someone, being a support and encouragement to him, and doing life together for God’s glory.
I’ve waited on God to bring us together. I’ve prayed for a godly man.
But at one month from my 27th birthday, I’m single, never even having had a boyfriend.
Still single. Still waiting. Still praying. Still hoping. Still dreaming.
I trusted in Jesus as my Savior at a young age, and all through my growing up years, I continued to follow Jesus.
But as I entered into my twenties, there were several years when I struggled with a deep discontentment and lack of joy. I felt unfulfilled and purposeless and insecure. I had this dream to be married, a dream I believed God placed in my heart, but it wasn’t happening, and that left me unhappy, and fearful that it would never happen.
Psalm 37:4 is a verse I’ve known for as long as I can remember: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.”
I loved the promise of this verse. It gave me hope. It assured me that God had indeed given me dreams, and given me permission to dream those dreams from Him.
But at times, my desires and dreams would become distorted and disfigured.
My dreams for marriage turned into if onlys: If only I had a boyfriend, than I would feel cherished. If only I were married, than I would feel happy. If only I had a husband, than I would feel loved.
In thinking these if onlys, I was basing my fulfillment, happiness, and worth on my dreams of being married coming true. I wouldn’t have said I was enslaved or trapped, but I wasn’t living in freedom during this season of singleness. I felt held back; held back from living my life with joy by the lies that my life wasn’t full right now, that I was missing out on something more beautiful, that my purpose only started once I got married, that maybe I wasn’t good enough for marriage or worthy of a husband’s love.
My dreams turned into if onlys, and then the if onlys started to form idols out of my dreams, attempting to shape them so they were no long the dreams God had placed in my heart, but the things I was serving with my heart.
In the midst of the discontentment, my heart yearned for freedom from the things that were holding me back from joy.
And I knew that freedom and joy wouldn’t be found in my dreams coming true. Freedom and joy and could only be found in Jesus.
I knew my life wasn’t about a relationship status, but about my relationship with Jesus. And I wasn’t about to walk away from the Savior I had met as a little girl. I surrendered my dreams to Jesus, even if that meant those dreams wouldn’t come true. I chose to be the Bride of Christ, even if that meant never getting married.
Looking back, I can’t put my finger on one single moment of choice, except for that prayer of decision made by a five-year-old girl to trust in Jesus.
But looking back, I do see daily choices that God used to bring me freedom and joy in my singleness:
Spending time in God’s Word: Lies about my worth and purpose as a single woman were what was feeding the discontentment. So I spent time in God’s Word, filling my heart and mind with the truth of Jesus’ love for me and my worth and purpose in Him, replacing the if onlys with God’s promises.
Praying about my dreams: God gave me this dream to be married, and He wanted me to give it back to Him. I found that the more I thought If only, the less I prayed for my future husband and marriage, and the less I trusted God with my dreams. The if onlys brought fearful urgency for marriage, because I wasn’t trusting God. Prayer brings hopeful expectancy for marriage, because I know I can trust God.
Starting a gratitude journal: I wanted to have joy in my singleness, and in the Bible I saw that joy was linked to thanksgiving. I started a gratitude journal to have an intentional way of daily giving thanks to God. Rejoicing in who God is, in what He has done, and in the abundant gifts He has given opens my eyes to the beauty and goodness and presence of Jesus in my life right now.
Having accountability: Being single can be lonely. And that’s what the enemy wanted me to be: alone as I battled the discontentment and fought the if onlys. But God gave me people who I could talk to about my struggles, who could give me godly wisdom, who could pray for me, who could speak truth and encouragement into my heart, and who could hold me accountable to living in obedience to Jesus. They helped me remove the shackles that chained my worth and fulfillment to my relationship status.
God used and is still using this season of singleness to teach me so much about finding my contentment in Jesus, and in Jesus alone. He is continually bringing me to a place of deeper surrender and commitment to Jesus. And in that depth there is deeper freedom and joy.
There is freedom in surrender, freedom in choosing Jesus as my joy, freedom to live fully, even with unfulfilled dreams, even if those dreams are never fulfilled.
But even now, it isn’t easy. Being single can be hard. I still have my dreams and I’m still praying for a husband. I know the struggles of the single woman: the waiting for an unknown someday, the comparisons and jealousies that creep in, the insecurities of not being good enough, the discouragement that it will never happen, the loneliness and longing for a partner, and the discontentment that comes with it all.
Maybe you’re struggling with some of this right now. Can I end with some encouragement for you, as one who is right there with you in the midst of these singleness struggles?
You are the Bride of Christ, set free to live a joyful life in love with Jesus, and it is THAT relationship that gives you your worth and your fulfillment.
Let’s choose Jesus.
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Jessica Faith Hagen is a writer, dreamer, and bookworm, who is learning to live content in Jesus every day, not just someday.
She writes at The Overflowing to encourage other young women to know their worth in Christ, grow their faith in God, and enjoy their life right now.
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Special thanks to Daiga Ellaby (via unsplash) for the beautiful image of the girl and flowers to accompany this post.