I’m a single in my early 30s. If you had told me I’d be single this long half my life time ago, that would have certainly have put the angst into the teenage years. Or if I’d have known 10 years ago, it would have been just as confusing. Fortunately, most of my friends, and even non-Christian coworkers think that things will work out for me, and sooner rather than later. I appreciate these votes of confidence. But over the years there are people in my life who have given me what I consider to be the most confusing advice: ‘just go to sleep’.
These people are well-meaning Christians, and the thought behind it is based on Adam’s story during the creation week. In Genesis 2, Adam was working through the process of naming the animals. It became clear that the animals had partners, but he did not.
Genesis 2: 18 – And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
So God put him to sleep, took a rib, and made Eve. When he woke up, there she was.
He didn’t have to try. It was there in front of him.
Ergo, Tom, what you need to do is stop trying to find someone. Take it easy, don’t worry about it. God will bring someone to you when you least expect it. Your stressing about things and trying to find someone is part of the problem, not the solution. Things will be better for you if you just let it go.
This advice has always bothered me.
Firstly, what does it even mean? What does it mean to be asleep, to wake up, to find Eve in front of me? Does this mean I shouldn’t put myself in places to meet people? Does it mean that I shouldn’t ask anyone out if the opportunity arises? Am I supposed to wait for someone to so clearly communicate their interest in me that it will just be like, ‘Oh yeah, uh, I guess we should try this thing out.’ Should I become so passive as to not have any forward momentum? How am I supposed to know if I’ve crossed the mystical line from awake to asleep for when I should be looking?
No one seems to be able to define what any of this means. But it sure sounds spiritual. And it gets added to the pile of things that appear spiritual, but aren’t true.
Undoubtedly there are people that benefit from taking a breather in their romantic life. There are personal growth areas to be explored, and it is often seen that this growth work fixes unknown personal social problems. Also, some people are too intense in their search for a relationship, and do more to scare people off than to attract people. When these individuals relax, they become approachable, and seemingly unsuspectingly find their Eve (or Adam). I’ve heard a number of people relate their stories in such a way.
However, I have seen more often that when people are passive (both male and female) that they stagnate relationally and tend to blame the outside world or God. I know 30-somethings that don’t put themselves in places to meet people. They don’t go places where they might meet people or do things that might be a key to discovering mutual interests. Then they convey in conversations a semi-martyrdom where ‘God just hasn’t brought the right person yet’. Or they are less subtle, and are plainly angry at God for their single-hood. For the vast majority of people, God can’t help them meet someone if they’re not trying to meet anyone. They become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
True religion is a combination of faith and works, a faith that works.
Hebrews 11:8 – By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
By faith Abraham … went. By faith the people in Hebrews 11 did lots of things. Ultimately, we do have to trust God, that his plan for our lives is best.
“But as I looked back, God was saying, “Son, when a child of mine makes a request, I always give that person what she or he would have asked for if they knew everything I know.” Do you believe that? To the degree you believe that, you are going to have peace. And if you don’t believe it, you won’t have the peace you could otherwise have.” Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
I believe God wants us to be content and at peace with where we are in life. However, it is ok to want for something more. Adam knew he needed a partner. Abraham knew he needed to find a wife for his son Isaac. We can be content and have peace even as we long for better things.
I’m not saying that’s easy. I can’t claim to have found the balance. But I think the best part of what my friends wish for me when they tell me to “just go to sleep” is that I would have peace. I think the methodology they have in mind is flawed, but moving forward in trust is the better way. Abraham left his homeland and went out, even though he didn’t know where he was going. It was his faith that gave him peace through the years of his searching. It can be the same way for us singles.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”