I’ve reached that age. The age when all your friends are either getting married or posting their engagement photos on Facebook. When your heart starts to hurt when you realise how single you are and you wallet starts to hurt from all the hongbao you’ve had to give at wedding dinners.

The struggles of singlehood have slowly become a reality for me, made starker by the recent marathon of weddings I’ve been attending.

At first I enjoyed the process: Rejoicing with the marriage couple, at the same time thinking of the day it will be my bride and I at the altar, hands tightly locked, getting ready to face married life ahead together.

But with each wedding I attend, that feeling has slowly turned to desperation, jealousy and longing.

There’s a certain frustration bubbling beneath the congratulations to the couple, and hope begins to fade that the promised day will come for me. When will my bride come? Is she around the corner, or a million miles away? When will she walk through those doors in the church, and in that moment lay to rest all this expectant hope?

It’s been comforting to know that I don’t struggle with this alone – the articles on Thir.st about singlehood and loneliness have given me much encouragement and hope. But if marriage is ordained by God – designed to reveal the mysteries of Christ and the Church – why would this good thing be kept from me?

In this season of singleness, could I experience and understand this wondrous mystery, or will I continue to be on the outside looking in? Or does that mystery take on a different form? Can the emotions and thoughts of a single person possibly still grasp and reflect the marriage of Christ and His Church?

One of the strongest emotions I experience is the longing and the restlessness of heart.

Longing to meet “The One” for the first time, to fall head over heels in love (excuse my hopeless romanticism). But I also wonder if this longing for my wedding day echoes the type of longing I think we should have for Christ’s return.

In the drudgery and hopelessness of life, we wait in expectant hope of the day the True Groom will come and sweep us off our feet, into his blissful and eternal rest.

And I wonder if the frustration I am feeling might echo the same kind of restlessness and wandering that the Church will experience till that day comes – the frustration with this life that can not satisfy, knowing that the life redeemed and complete only comes when Christ comes again.

Can the emotions and thoughts of a single person still reflect the marriage of Christ and His Church?

Or as the romantic apostle Peter wrote: 

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV)

I could only imagine what kind of joy will fill our hearts when we finally meet Jesus on our wedding day and see Him as He is, and be like Him (1 John 3:2).

If it’s anything like then joy I know I’ll have when I meet my bride, then please hasten that day, for it will be so much more!

Perhaps as a Church, if we had the same kind of restlessness and longing, we would be, so much more, living out the gospel expectant of His return.

Beneath all the hot-pink, bubblegum, cotton-candy romance, marriage is pretty much… a painful process.

It’s essentially a man and woman dying to their old lives and their own will, and taking up this new life together as one – to love and hold each other’s lives more than their own, to prefer each other’s needs above their own, to care and to share with the other, even when it is painful and requires much sacrifice.

It’s interesting that the vows are said at the altar – where the married couple die to themselves, the sacrifice of love.

Perhaps our love for the Christ and His Church should be a reflection, a purer form, of this self-denying love. Just as Christ laid down his life for the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33), we follow in his footsteps to build each other up, as Paul mentions in Ephesians. 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV)

Maybe my search to love and to be loved is so that I first learn to love the Church, and I could essentially experience “married life” in the life of the Church, minus all the mushy romance bits.

Maybe my learning to loving the Church as Christ does could even prepare me to love my future bride in a Christ-like manner. Either way, my waiting in my singleness is meant to be spent on building up the Church in love.

It’s interesting that the vows are said at the altar – where the married couple die to themselves, the sacrifice of love.

I still struggle with loneliness and the desire to get married. But I also understand that God is using this season for my good, that I may find my sufficiency in being loved by Jesus as part of the Church.

These are all but noble thoughts, and while they give me hope and respite, I don’t deny that there is something magical and beautiful in being in love.

Perhaps one day, I will find “The One”, and perhaps on that day, our relationship will further help me understand Christ’s love for the Church.

But till that day, I pray my heart will learn to find rest not in the foolish things of the earth that promise me love, but the love that already has been given to me: The love of Christ and the love of the Church.