Every human being is made by God with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy. And that need is real regardless of your relationship status. Being seen and known markedly increases your wellbeing and resilience, and even helps heal and integrate your brain pathways. Because of how God made us everyone should have close friends, especially friends in the family of God.
Marriage is important, but it’s not the solution to all your needs. If you’re married, you may have already come to this perhaps rude awakening and wonder if you married the wrong person. If you’re not married but want to be, you may be focused on trying to find the “one” who will “complete” you. And if you don’t want to be married or marriage is not an option, you may feel resigned to a life of loneliness.
When marriage is good, it’s good. But not all marriages are good, and not everyone will be married. The Christian church generally needs to do much better in helping people experience real connection in the family of God regardless of their relationship status!
Close friends fill a critically important role in our lives. You probably read that and feel, “Sure, friends would be nice to have.” But the kind of human connection I’m talking about is not casual; it’s necessary, deep, committed, honest, vulnerable – and transformative. You can only have a few of these kinds of friends, perhaps 2-5.
Let’s look deeper at why everyone needs close friends, regardless of their relationship status.
Marriage is Not Guaranteed
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that if you live “right” God will bless you with a happy marriage and family. Today’s Christian church has too often made marriage into a god, and that doesn’t work well at all. And practically speaking, this is our reality today; in the US and in many other developed countries many statistics show that there are more unmarried adults than married people.
But God created you with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy regardless of relationship status. Intimacy is not uniquely for married people. Jesus needed and sought intimacy with a few others, and He was never married.
If you are waiting to get married to find connection and intimacy, you may wait a very long time, and with no guarantee. Wanting marriage is wanting a good thing. But deep and authentic friendship is a true need. As hard as it may seem, do the work to cultivate those kinds of connections now.
Marriage is Temporary
That doesn’t mean you should get married as a “trial run.” Covenant marriage as God intended it is designed to last “until death do us part.” If you are married you may hope you die before your spouse, but that’s not the case about 50% of the time. In this world every marriage will end, through death (as mine did) or through divorce.
And marriage is also temporary in the eternal scheme of things. Jesus made clear that marriage as we know it will not be present in eternity (Matthew 22:30). You might feel relieved at that thought, or you might feel devastated. The point is that marriage as we know it is for a season.
But your need for intimacy is not for a season. That need is an expression of how you are made in the image of God. And that means you will need to do the work of deeply connecting both with God and with the family of God. Those things are not temporary.
Marriage is Hard
If you’re married, I hope your spouse is your friend, hopefully your best friend. But marriage presents unique challenges. Many marriages are unhappy and some marriages become downright toxic. Even the best marriages will go through significant challenges. Feeling lonely in marriage may be one of the loneliest experiences of all.
Marriage is hard. It’s not that singleness is not hard, but if you’re not married don’t think marriage would/will solve all your problems. And what do you do when marriage becomes really really hard?
You need a couple close friends who can provide perspective and support when you feel lonely as a single or lonely in your marriage. Nurturing those kinds of connections may be messy, but doing so keeps you strong.
One Human can Never Fill You Up
No single human being can complete you. Filling you up is too heavy a burden for any one person to carry. If you’re married, expecting your spouse to be your everything will leave you sorely disappointed and empty. And if you’re not married, focusing all your energy on finding one person to fill you up will also leave you sorely disappointed and empty.
If you’re married, a few close friends can provide some nourishment to your soul that allows you to have more to bring to your marriage. And if you’re not married, like Jesus with Peter, James, and John, your need to be seen and known can still be fulfilled.
All of this is imperfect as long as we are imperfect people. There are places in your soul that only God Himself can fill. But He created our human nature to be nourished and sustained through real connection with other humans, hard though it may be.
Find Your People
So do the hard work to find your people. Like Jesus with His friends, sometimes it will “work” better than other times. You’ll get disappointed or hurt. And you keep going anyway.
Everyone needs close friends, whether you’re married or single. I find this challenging myself. But as I’ve invested the effort to nurture a few key relationships my life and soul are so much better.
Just do it!
Your Turn: Have you expected marriage to fill you up? If you’re not married, are you hoping for marriage to “fix” you? Regardless of relationship status, how are you doing in nurturing connection with a few close friends? Leave a comment below.
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- With our need for intimacy, everyone needs a few close friends, whether you’re married or single. One person cannot complete you. Here are 4 reasons why. Tweet that.
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