The season of singleness is notorious for being taken for granted. Whether we treat our singleness recklessly or simply despise this season of life altogether, we rarely find ourselves making peace with our single statuses. Too often, we rely on the thought of a significant other to motivate us to become our best selves. This could manifest in the most ordinary ways, like wanting to get in shape to attract a mate to, more dangerously, changing the sweet eccentricities of our character to fit into someone else’s mold of what is desirable. When we are not careful about guarding our hearts, we can actually lose our grasp on who we are at our core, which is God’s Beloved.
When I experienced my first love as a budding adolescence, I thought I had a pretty firm grasp on my own character. Just because I had a vague idea of the person I wanted to be at that time, I didn’t think twice about giving such a significant portion of myself to another person. To please my young love, I would listen to music that I knew he liked. I began wearing makeup for the first time because he hinted that he wanted to see me with makeup on. I wore clothes that portrayed a certain image because I knew that he was attracted to girls who looked a certain way. This desire to please him escalated to the point where I gave up more than just my body, my image, and my interests; I ended up surrendering my values as well—all in the heavily misconceived name of Love.
Late one afternoon, he offered me half of what looked like a Tylenol. I immediately felt a rush of adrenaline because I knew what was coming. He was introducing me to drugs. I refused to take the pill again and again, but the more I refused, the angrier he became. In the end, I ingested the broken ecstasy.
Weeks flew by, and I slowly found myself growing more comfortable in the cocoon that I’d spun. I enjoyed applying makeup, wearing spaghetti straps and sweat pants, listening to his music, and reveling in our lustful relationship. I didn’t stop for even a second to think who I would be without him because I was so overwhelmingly and painfully in love and interested in us. Just as I grew snug in this new character that I created, my young love decided that he got bored with me and left. It was as simple and matter-of-fact as a slap in the face.
Overnight, I went from loving my direction in life to not having a clue as to who I am. I became self-destructive from feeling so incredibly lost and abandoned. Little did I know, however, God was actually planning to work through all of my sins and mistakes to bring me back into his loving embrace. I failed to guard my heart and this terrible foolishness led me astray, but God reached out to me at my darkest moment and reminded me that I am fearlessly and ferociously LOVED. With God as the one who determined my identity, there was no longer any need for me to find my identity in other people.
In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul records that the wisdom of the Lord advises us to be different from the world. The word of God doesn’t ask us to judge the world or point fingers at the world, but rather stay away from its filthy temptations and guard our spirits and bodies out of our respect for God, who created us in love (2 Cor 7:1).
What does it mean to guard your heart, spirit, or body, you might ask? In the framework of romantic relationships, guarding yourself means that you choose to surrender your desires and temptations to God’s will. It means that you will seek His wisdom and guidance first before you pursue any man or woman, and that you will obey the good things that He has to say even if it’s against what you want in the moment.
Giving up your identity, your calling, or the gifts that make you so unique in order to win over a significant other is dangerous and simply does not work. As demonstrated by my testimony and the testimonies of countless others, wanting to please people by exchanging our identities for their love will always end in turmoil. It is foolish to look for love and worth in places other than God because everything and everyone else will always falter. We will keep collapsing and breaking if we continue to build our foundation on the inconsistent and sinful heart of man.
The old saying is right: God is good, and He wants us to experience life to the abundance. He’s already proven to us that He is trustworthy by sending His only Son to die in place of us so that we could be won into a relationship with Him. If God loved us so much that He would trade the life of His own Son for us, what makes us think that He would suddenly hold out on us when it comes to our romantic lives?
Indeed, it is against His character to hold back good things from us. So, rather than throwing away our identities in exchange for the love and acceptance of mere people, let us remind ourselves that we are already loved and accepted by God. Because He loves us so relentlessly and unwaveringly, we don’t need to be bitter towards the people who have hurt us in the past. They’ve served their purpose in bringing us closer to God. Once we truly decide to let go of our desires, cravings, bitterness, and regret, we will be able to grab onto His hope, peace, love, acceptance, fellowship, and healing. In the end, we will finally get to hear the truth that has been nudging at us this whole time.
This is what the scriptures reveal about the divine fatherhood of God and who we are intrinsically. He proudly proclaims, “I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18).