If you spent the holidays watching your friends get engaged, you might be having some mixed feelings about being the only one without a new shiny ring. You’re happy for your friends, but when you are not dating or your relationship is not moving to the next step, it can be hard not to feel some jealousy. Maybe you’ve been asked to be in a wedding and for some reason, a part of you is dreading it. Feeling like everyone else is moving to the next stage of life and you’re stuck?
It’s ok to have conflicting feelings: one of happiness for the joy your friends are experiencing, and one of jealousy that you don’t have that same joy for yourself. A lot of people would deny feelings of jealousy because any negative feeling is “wrong.” While acting on your feelings or becoming envious would be sinful and ultimately harmful for both you and your relationships, simply admitting that you are struggling is a step towards maturity and healing.
You wanted to be the girl squealing with delight at the sight of an engagement ring. You wanted to be the girl planning the spring wedding. So, what can you do? Start by giving yourself the grace to grieve the fact that you have not found someone yet, or that your relationship is not ready for that next step. It’s ok to let yourself feel the sadness. Talking with a trusted friend or mentor can help. Most importantly, bring this longing into your prayer life. Christ knows the desires of your heart; He put them there. The desire to be married and start your own family is one of the most natural drives we are given.
We can’t always control our emotions; but it’s what we do with those feelings that counts. The danger of jealousy is allowing yourself to move into envy, where you covet or desire harm towards your friends. If this is happening, it may be time to look at your own sense of pride. Do you believe you deserve to find a spouse more than your friends? Are you struggling with a sense of self-righteousness? Are you having trouble trusting that God does have a partner for you?
I don’t know why God asks us to wait, but I do know that His ways are more sovereign than ours. Paul tells us that God allows us to struggle in order to build our perseverance, character, and hope in Him. So this might be that time for you. Allow yourself to believe that God is preparing you, and your future spouse, at this very moment. A masterpiece would be ruined if it were rushed into completion too soon. If your heart desires a healthy, blessed, and peaceful marriage, then allow God to do His work in you. If you simply want to be married, then it is likely you will not end up happy with the result.
Right after graduation, my best friend from college, my sister, and my roommate all got engaged within six months. I was in each of their weddings. Not only was I a bridesmaid, but I was a bridesmaid without a date (and maid of honor for two of them). I struggled with being jealous, and with my own sadness. It was a few years later when I finally met my husband. I can assure you that if you commit yourself to spiritual and emotional growth, God saves the best for last. I am grateful I didn’t marry sooner because at the time I was not fully prepared for being a wife. I needed to grow in humility and charity. I needed to mature emotionally and strengthen my relationship with the Lord. I don’t know where you or your future spouse may need to grow, but be assured that if you let the Light of Christ into your heart, He will enlighten those areas for you.
As a side note, years later, two of those marriages have ended in divorce. I was busy projecting my own hopes and dreams onto those relationships, while the reality was they were not the lifelong commitment I so desperately desired. I learned there is always enough time to wait for the right person.
Michele Fleming is a national speaker and writer on Christian relationships. She holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University, and she will complete her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology this August. Michele presented her research on sexual behavior and dating relationships at the Christian Association for the Psychology Sciences International Convention in 2013. She currently sees clients at the Biola Counseling Center where she holds the position of Doctoral Intern, and her specialty is in relationships and sexuality.