Profiles in the Gap
Esther Rich is studying Psychology at Oxford. She blogs at For Such a Time as This.
Did you expect this time of singleness?
Having had two long term relationships – one 18 months, which unexpectedly quickly led into the other of 2 years – for a long time I thought I’d never be faced with singleness again. I was convinced that was my life sorted. And yet here I am. Writing about my life as a single woman! But don’t be misled by my sudden change of circumstance. I haven’t encountered the Hollywood-film-heartache of sitting in bed late at night with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a soppy movie. My heartache has stemmed from having to sacrifice the earthly love I depended on in order to learn to rely on God’s love.
I chose to end my relationship when there was no worldly reason to do so. I chose to end it simply because I knew deep down that it wasn’t what God wanted for me. To everyone else I seemed to have the perfect life, but relatively suddenly I felt God urging me into a time of singleness to learn about myself through His eyes and grow in faith. He gave me the strength to get out of a relationship when every worldly factor would have pulled me back.
It was a terrifying step, but one which at last taught me to rely totally and utterly on my Father in Heaven rather than on my own strengths or desires. It showed me that sometimes God’s plan requires you to take enormous risks rather than resting on the safety of your current situation, but that He will ALWAYS provide for you.
As a teenager I was hospitalised for nine months for anorexia. I left hospital and within a few months entered into my first relationship, followed almost immediately by my second. I never had a chance to grow up independently or fully discover my true identity in Christ. So, rather counterintuitively to most women of today, I am single through choice. I see my current singleness as a blessing which allows me to become the woman God intended me to be, and gives me the freedom to follow His call wherever it might lead me.
Since you have this time in the gap, what are some challenges you’ve set for yourself?
That doesn’t mean it’s instantly easy! I’m still occasionally struck by the ‘Christian girl affliction’ of sitting in church wondering ‘is HE here God?’. One of the challenges I’ve set myself for this year is not to look for a husband! To confront those questions when they arise and focus instead on how I can live in the present for the glory of God.
Having faced the recent revelation that my career-minded plans for my life were just that: MY plans, I am now excited (if admittedly a little terrified) to discover what God has in store for me. I’m in my final year of university, and currently discerning a call to ministry training next year. Yet the fear of failure and rejection means I’m desperate for God to reveal His plans right now in order to reaffirm that the sacrifices I’ve made both in my relationship and my career plans were right. Having grown up in a society that demands instant-gratification, one of my biggest prayers right now is for the patience to trust in Him and wait for His guidance in His time.
How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?
In this time of uncertainty my faith is EVERYTHING. It is the thing that settles my worries, gives me the confidence to speak out, and gives me hope for the future. Sometimes God’s answer to prayer is ‘wait’, but He NEVER disappoints in the long run! I rest in the knowledge He has plans for me, and therefore I don’t need to concern myself with what my next step should be.