I’m a 34 years old and single. I’d like to get married, but after years of dating, it hasn’t happened yet. At first it didn’t bother me–I had things to do and was not in any hurry. But as the years flew by, and one relationship after another ended, I naturally started wondering: Why am I still single? Why is dating so hard? What’s wrong with me?
Maybe you’ve wondered the same.
Recently I’ve noticed friends asking similar questions of themselves and others around me: What’s wrong with him? What’s his deal? These questions are common for us single adults sizing up others as dating prospects or assessing our own date-ability. But I’ve also noticed that it’s bigger than just those trying to make sense of their perpetual single status. It seems commonplace for any human—anyone of us struggling with some concern or issue that won’t go away, no matter how hard you work, pray, learn, and think about it. What about the parents whose children’s choices have caused them to wonder about their ability to parent? What about the father struggling to provide for his family while fighting a battle with mental illness? Or the hopeful mother who is trying to make sense of the reality of her infertility? What’s wrong with them?
After such deep pain for such a long time, it’s only natural to wonder, or more likely, cry out despairingly: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? The problem is that this question hurts us more than it helps.
The Only Thing Wrong is the Question You’re Asking
For a few months, I got serious about finding the answer to my question: What’s wrong with me? I analyzed previous relationships searching for themes. I went to therapy. I read a book on marriage. I prayed. I asked countless people for advice. I even asked men I dated for feedback on what it was like to date me. After all this, I still had no clue.
Then I read an account in the New Testament about the woman who was accused of adultery. We know very few details. However, due to the accusations of the pharisees (they wanted her stoned), or her own guilt and shame (maybe this was worse), I believe the accused woman at some point MUST have asked herself: What’s wrong with me?
However, I noticed that the Savior never asks this question. He doesn’t agree with the accusation. He doesn’t even bring up the past. Instead, the Savior accepts the woman wholeheartedly saying “[I don’t] condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” He willingly gives her freedom from the label of her accusation.
The more I think about this question for myself and others, I’ve come up with only one answer that makes sense. What’s wrong with me? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with you. We are all mere mortals learning and growing and searching for wholeness.
In other New Testament accounts, individuals who felt broken or weary or afflicted reached out to touch even the hem of the Saviors clothes and “as many as touched were made perfectly whole”. Feeling whole does not happen by asking the question: What’s wrong with me? However, the closer I come to touching the Savior’s garment, the more I feel whole.
I have come to know that the only thing wrong was the question I was asking. These two questions have been far more helpful: 1) What’s right? 2) What does God want me to do?
Asking “what’s wrong” focuses on the past. Christ focuses on the future — where you are and what you can become through his healing power.
Dig in to your present life, wherever you are physically, emotionally, socially. Learn to love where you are and accept others for where they are along their life’s journey. Accept feelings of loneliness, frustration or grief – but do not dwell on them. Instead, focus on all the good and wonderful things in life. There are many.
In the parable of the talents, one of his servants was given one talent and buried it. I wonder if he was so focused on why he wasn’t given more or different talents that he didn’t take time to grow the talent he had been given. To those who were given talents and used them, he said “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” It doesn’t matter the number or type of talents we’ve been given, just that we use them well. Perhaps God wants to see what we can make of our lives with what he has given us before he gives us additional blessings we desire.
Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in my life, I’ve determined that my energy is better spent focusing on what’s right: what I do have and what God wants me to do with the life he has given me.
What does God want you to do?
With all that God has given you, what can you contribute to the world? Answering that question may be lifelong quest — start now! Find out how God wants to use your skills in this place, at this time, with these people. He needs you and has a purpose for you in being here right now. Find out what it is.
A word of caution: expect the unexpected. Remember the young man who asked the Savior “What lack I yet?” (Or In other words, what’s wrong?) Christ tells him to do something unexpected— sell everything he has. If you are ready to ask the question “what does God want me to do?”, be prepared to follow through.
It’s been said that there are two important days in your life, the day you were born and the day you find out way. Finding out what God wants you to do may be the most important question you could ever ask.
As I’ve asked myself these two questions, I have felt more direction, more happiness, and more freedom to live a life of meaning and love — regardless of my current circumstances.
Invitation: Next time you’re tempted to focus on what’s wrong in your life, instead, answer these two questions: What’s right? What does God want you to do?
This is from an excerpt of an essay I contributed to the ‘A Voice of Gladness’ blog. This is an amazing group of women who are seeking to rely on the Savior in every aspect of their life. Check out my full post and others at the ‘A Voice of Gladness’ blog.