Searching for Someone: Should Singles “Just Go To Sleep”?

2016 Dino Reichmuth

2016 Dino Reichmuth

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.

Numbers 6:24-26

“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.”

14 thoughts on “Searching for Someone: Should Singles “Just Go To Sleep”?

  1. I wish I had some advice for you…but I don’t. I have been single for a long time, but recently (for reasons that are not particularly evident to me) I have broken out of my shell and started pursuing some people. Several attempts were busts… but they didn’t shake my confidence like they used to. I let some opportunities go because I over thought them, and recently decided that I would just see what will happen.
    As for you…again, I have no advice, but I do hope you get what you are looking for.

    • We can’t speed things up with relationships. But by pursuing them, we enter a learning process. We learn about others and ourselves. There isn’t one golden piece of advice that will solve all things.

  2. In the story of Adam and Eve, Adam didn’t put himself to sleep, God did. The story never says that Adam stopped searching for Eve either. It sounds more to me like God made Adam sleep while he was actively naming animals and wondering which might be his helper. Could it be that the sleep wasn’t so much the act of Adam’s trust that God would create a wife for him, but simply God’s unwillingness to slice out a rib while Adam was conscious? In other words it doesn’t seem to me that Adam had any idea that sleep was imminent. He was just merrily exploring the garden and naming animals (read, doing the work God put before him all while searching for his partner) when God put him to sleep to make Eve. Does our searching and God’s matchmaking have to be mutually exclusive? Could it be that our desire for a partner is God’s way of keeping us in the search while He does a work that we are unconscious of?

  3. Sometimes what I observe among any of us singles is an obsession of sorts to be with someone. Sometimes our singleness informs us of our value. Sometimes it informs our mood or attitude. Sometimes it feels like we’re not winning. Sometimes it distracts us from what God has put in front of us to do or distracts us from God… we may still go through the motions, but our minds and hearts are really wrapped up in the pursuit of happiness somewhere else.

    Sometimes when I’ve received advice to stop trying so hard or wait or let God, it’s more friendly advice for me to pause for a moment, breathe, and ask myself if this pursuit has become more important than it should be. Maybe the pursuit of a relationship and the craving that goes along with it has replaced the craving I once had for God. Maybe God just wants my heart back so I can have a heart like His to give to someone else.

    • Hello Maybe, I agree with you to some extent-). It is indeed true that we ought to seek God and make Him first in our lives. I have one challenge with this kind of thinking though – it can easily lead people to think that they don’t have a partner because they have not yet attained a certain level of holiness (righteousness by works). More like the people who asked Jesus whose sin caused the man who had been blind from birth to be blind…Yet God is everyday showering us with many, many other blessings. Pursuing God in my view is for both the single and the unmarrieds but while we wait, we remain busy pursuing Him and all that He has in store for us!

  4. Maybe it’s more like this:

    A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. – {1SM 121.1}

    There is something standing between myself and revival oftentimes. It’s myself. God wants to give me many blessings, but He can’t right now. I wouldn’t be able to handle them, like the disciples in John 16:12.

    This is a problem. I want those blessings. What do I have to do to get them, since I’m in my own way? I have to go after God with a vengeance. I have to recognize that this experience is going to take time.

    Oh God, help me to grow to be more like You.

  5. I enjoyed reading this article, infact I was laughing because it sounds a lot like the advice that I’ve also been given by well-meaning people. My conclusion (up to this point), is that this issue is not so straight-forward and for the most part people don’t know what to say to single people. They simply cannot explain why a seemingly “good brother/sister” can’t seem to be getting a partner. Most of the time, people’s stories with regards to how they met “their significant others” are so varied that it is difficult to give the formula. But what is the principle? Perhaps it is the same principle we apply (or are supposed to) in every other area of our lives (careers, where to stay etc) – we seek God, trust God, we follow providence. Having said that I still find it easier to pursue anything else that I might be interested in, whether it be in a career, a random adventure or even in mission but not quite the same when I see someone whom I think might be a potential partner. Perhaps my reluctance emanates from that belief that I must be passive until I’m “presented” to someone. I’m still learning…!

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