In part seven, I talked about my aunt who told me her strong identity came from knowing she was loved. What she meant was that her father loved her. Yes, her mother too, my grandparents were wonderful people, but very distinctly my aunt clarified it was the leadership of her father that gave her a sense of security.
Grandpa was an honourable man, as imperfect as the rest of us, but a generous and loving man. He modeled helping others outside his own family so that they knew people were important. Honesty was key; he was a man of integrity. He showed his children he was going to take care of them, not give them everything they wanted but all they needed. He was so proud of his children. My mother said he taught them, “You are an important part of our family.” Her parents let their children stand on their shoulders, go after goals, to shoot the moon.
My dad is wonderful. When I was forced to leave a job last year he identified the things that were important to me in work, things I didn’t even know about myself and I certainly didn’t know he knew about me! It was so hard to walk away from that job and so important to share that moment with him. My dad was adopted and didn’t meet his biological father until he was in his 30s. Many people do not know and will never know their father. You can still know you were loved, are loved, but the lasting pain of a broken or unstable childhood is a place I find so many singles need healing.
So let’s talk about it.
Some of you have had hard, even terrible childhoods. You’ve had to scrape all the love you could out of what you were given. Your parents left you starving, so hungry for familial love you can’t think straight when it comes to the opposite sex. In your desperation you have sought out relationships that would fill the void, bridge the chasm in your heart — you are seeking the love you never had.
So you look to another human being for this love. The world tells us we can find fulfillment there. What a terrible mistake. I tell you now, in this state, you will hurt someone far more than you could ever love them. Without security in your identity or a healthy relationship with God you will look to this other person to be those things to you. And they cannot. They cannot be your identity. They cannot give you the things of God. They will fail, and when they do, it will shake your security even more. You’ll say, “This was supposed to be the answer” when in reality, the answer is that while love is the cure for loneliness — it is God’s love, not man’s. Not a man. Not a woman.
You will hurt them so badly. In their failure to you, they will be broken and you will be responsible to God for this. You are responsible to recognize your malnourished sense of love and ask God to help you. To not be so starved for love, that you rationalize your broken behaviours. But wait, you say, wanting marriage and children can’t be bad, right? Wrong. The end never justifies the means here, the process is as important as the results. As equally as what we do, God cares how we do things. Until you come to terms with your hurtful, broken, negligent, or incomplete understanding of love and ask God to show you how to mend these wounds, you should not be dating.
Your past has already happened and there’s nothing you can do about that but you can roll up your sleeves and get to work now. First and foremost, stop turning every relationship into intimacy. Just stop it. Seriously. Not everyone is a potential mate. If you’re fixated on finding “the one” you’re going to miss out on a lot of cool friendships. God puts people into your life for a variety of reasons.
This year I agreed to host a monthly meet-up for screenwriters. I was interested in getting out, talking shop, meeting cool people. I went to the event hoping to give. What I’ve found is a lack of substance. No one wants to stand on their own feet conversationally. Sadly, the meetings are fizzling out. What I’ve realized is most everyone attended to get. And if you’re all showing up to get, of course your needs will not be met.
In order to have healthy relationships, we have to give without the desperation of need. It is incredibly important to stop channeling your relationships through the broken filter of personal fulfillment. Chances are your filter is very broken indeed. One woman I know compared her hasty marriage to that of Charlotte Lucas and insisted she did not want anyone to take away her last chance at happiness. As if that was a possibility in the realm of God!
Selfishness is the enemy of love. It is vital to relinquish your desperate, stubborn, lustful hunger to make the family you didn’t have, the security and love you didn’t receive. No man or woman can satisfy this craving, is going to fulfill your desire to be loved with any permanence. Feelings change, circumstances change. Only God is forever and ever amen. He is your Heavenly Father and wants to be the one to provide for you. Regardless of circumstance and sometimes even despite circumstances. Not just that you would grow, that you would thrive.
The lie is that you cannot be single or secure on your own. Ultimately, the hatred of being alone, of singleness, is the hatred of self. If this is you — have you examined why you’re single, dating, or getting married? Have you asked God? Are you willing to hear the answer? I hope so. Because there are truly far worse things than being single.