Who Said You Have To Wait?

October 22, 2015  - By Gretchen Saffles

July 5, 2006

“To the one God made for me,
I have spent so much time praying for you! Ever since I was a child I dreamed of my Prince and I know that you are more than I could have ever dreamed of! I have waited so long, and have kept every bit of myself for you!
I know that when you have read this letter, you and I will be completely in love. I have committed myself to you and studied God’s Word so that I can be a precious jewel to your name! I know that you will be a man of God that I will love with all my heart!
Until then…
I love you!
Love, Gretchen”

There is a box of letters underneath my bed that contains bits and pieces of my heart. In this box are ten years worth of letters I wrote to my future husband. Filled with longing, dreams, and unfulfilled desires, these letters became an act of surrender and trust to the Lord. Over the years the Lord transformed these letters from being about the man my heart longed for to being a love note to my Savior. In my moments of desperate longing where I cried buckets of tears (yes, I’ve cried a lot in my lifetime), the Lord has proven to me over and over that Jesus is the only Man who will ever satisfy my heart. Most of my middle and high school years could be described as a season of waiting. Even at a young age, I longed for marriage. I craved a God-sized love story. I ached for love from a man. These longings culminated in what ended up being a full box of letters hidden beneath my bed for safe keeping. 

I waited on my future husband and postponed goals. I fearfully wrote out “five year plans” hoping they would include marriage. I poured out my heart in the letters and I remember looking through them, still longing, still waiting, still hoping, and I heard a still small voice ask, who said you have to wait? I sat for a moment considering the answer to this question. Was I missing life waiting for my future husband when I could be living joyfully right now?  This question prompted my feet to start walking on a journey of living in the waiting, and I am here to encourage your heart that you weren’t just meant to wait, you were meant to live. 

What Is Waiting?

In the Christian world, the concept of waiting on your future husband is woven throughout girls ministry. We were created with a hole in our hearts and we seek to fill it through clothing, achievements, relationships, marriage, and so on. Without realizing it, I fear that we teach girls that through waiting on their future husband, they will both “earn” some kind of right to marriage through “true surrender” to the Lord, or they will some day be fulfilled through the love of a man. In many ways, we set girls up to hope for satisfaction in a man who is also a sinner and will fail to meet their expectations. They put off years of living for the “good stuff” that will come with marriage. 

Many years of my life were spent sifting through these deep desires my heart couldn’t shake. Why did I ache so badly for a man? Why would other girls date and get married before me? Were they more surrendered to the Lord than I was? Was I in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did I hang out with my Christian girlfriends too much? Did I need to put myself “out there” more to meet the right kind of guy? Was my stance on “waiting for my future husband” driving away any potential godly men? These were the real, honest questions my heart wrestled with as I wrote each letter and slipped them one-by-one into my box beneath my bed. 

That Ache In Your Heart

I went to the Word to search for answers. I looked through and through, asked for wise counsel, got on my knees, and journaled my longings. What I found through these years of searching shocked my romanticist heart—the Bible never tells us to “wait for our future husband.” Never are we instructed to put off living for the hope of marriage. Never are we told that a husband will fill the needs of our heart. Instead, what is seen is quite different and it is not about a husband at all, it is about Jesus. 

Psalm 27:14 contains words of hope I clung to with a fierce grip in my moments of longing. It says—

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Twice we are told to wait. For whom? The LORD. The Hebrew word for “wait” is qavah, meaning to “look for, hope, expect.” Qavah is a verb and it refers to an active waiting. It is not a wishful hoping that Yahweh God will show up and be near. This is a confident expectation that is rooted in the knowledge that God is faithful and He is the fulfiller of our deepest longings. To wait for Yahweh means to eagerly hope for and expect Him. The Word of God instructs our wandering hearts to wait for the Lord, because only He can meet our needs for love, salvation, deliverance, and joy. This kind of waiting is not referring to putting life on hold or sitting back and waiting for God to make the dreams and whims of our hearts come to life. It is a holy surrender and worshipful delight in the greatness of Who God is. 

In verse 8, the Psalmist describes how he waits—

“You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’”

We wait by actively seeking the Lord, delighting in His presence, and looking for His fingerprints in all things. Waiting is really living. All of creation is in a period of waiting. Romans 8:22 describes this kind of waiting—“ For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” We were made to wait for, to crave, and to long for redemption. Redemption is found in Jesus at the cross. The universe is wired to long for the Lord. As women, we misplace this desire when we long for a man more than we long Christ. 

The Right Kind of Expectation

Expectations will fail us when we place our hopes in things and people that were not meant to fulfill us. As women, if we expect a man, even a God-fearing man, to fulfill our hearts, we have both set up our own hearts and the heart of the man we love for failure. We cannot fulfill each other. We can love each other, we can encourage one another, we can pray for one another and point each other to Jesus, but ultimately we cannot meet every need of the other person. Only Christ can fill the longings in our hearts. 

Scripture instructs us to expect the Lord to do great things. He cannot be contrary to His perfect, loving, wonderful nature. He cannot deny His own faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13). Therefore, we can confidently expect God to be God. We can know that when we seek Him, He will be found (Matthew 7:7). When we hunger after Him, we will be filled (Matthew 5:6). When we come to Him, He will answer us (Isaiah 65:24). He catches our tears in a bottle and He loves us with an everlasting, never-ending, unfailing love (Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 56:8). We can expect God to do these things because He is God and He is faithful. This kind of expectation can be described as faith—a holy hunger and confident longing for God that is rooted in firm belief in the Word.

Expectations that God will give us a husband and that man will fulfill our longings will fail us. Even marriage was designed by God to point us to our need for Christ! It is a holy mystery created by God to illustrate our need for Christ’s love and sacrifice on the cross. We need Jesus. Marriage is just another picture of the gospel that has rescued our hearts from worthless pursuits and given us new life. Singleness is also a picture of God’s pursuit of our hearts through Jesus. Holy expectations are designed by God to point us to the cross where we find all hope, satisfaction, and life. The right kind of expectations are satisfied by looking to Jesus. Instead of putting life on hold and waiting for a future husband, we are to expect the love from Jesus that God painted on the cross to fill our hearts and meet our needs. 

Waiting: (verb) the active pursuit of God

What if we were to teach girls to actively pursue Christ with all of their hearts instead of simply “waiting for their future husband?” We would set them up for joy in the present, and ultimately, marriages that last and are rooted deeply in the gospel. Waiting does not mean sitting idly while life passes us by. It is the joyful pursuit of the Lord. Like a waiter or waitress serves their guests, so are we to serve and live right where we are. We are to trust our deepest longings with the Lord who planted them within our hearts and then go and live. We are to daily take up our crosses and follow Jesus, knowing that in following Him is life and joy abundant. We wait on the Lord, because only He can fill our hearts. I believe we would see a beautiful revolution happen if we taught both singles and married couples alike that life is about Christ. 

To my sister who is waiting on your future husband:

By all means, wait and trust the Lord with your deepest desires, but do not put your life on hold. Pursue Jesus with every fiber of your being. Wait by serving Him, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength! Wait by being faithful to Him this day, not wishing for the life that could be tomorrow. Fullness in Christ is now. Colossians 2:10 reminds us that in Him we have been made complete, meaning we lack nothing. You don’t have to do a single thing to convince God to give you a husband. You don’t have to manipulate circumstances to meet a man. All you have to do is be faithful and follow Jesus wherever He leads. If that be Africa, then go. If that be New York, then go. If that be a school, a job, your bedroom on your knees, then go. 

Don’t limit God to the realm of the “possible.” Hand Him the pen so He can write an incredible love story on the blank pages of your life. Let Him take care of the details of your life and trust Him that His ways are always best! You are loved more perfectly than any man could ever love you. Let me encourage you in this, the love story you will embark on with Jesus will be far greater than you could have ever imagined and far more different, because the Lord knows the greatest love story ever written is between Christ and His church. 

If you are dreaming of one day cooking for a husband, caring for a home, or even having children, live faithfully where you are this day. By all means, extend God’s grace to those around you! Welcome friends into your home. Cook those meals you’ve always wanted to. Make your home into a haven, even if you are the only one living there. Practice the art of hospitality, care for the little ones at your church or the babies who need love that are just waiting for a tender embrace in an orphanage overseas. Don’t put off living by waiting for “some day.” Be the woman God created you to be…right now. You don’t need a ring on your finger to be domestic, to care for others, or to love fiercely. All you need to do is to take a good long look at the love your Savior displayed for you on the cross and then go from there and love like He loves you. You are living a beautiful romance with Jesus this very day. You don’t have to “wait” to live this calling.

I am not saying to stop writing letters to your future husband. Write them! Pour your heart out and offer them to the Lord. But be sure to keep Christ as the object of your affection and your forever First Love. 

Your love story is right now. Proverbs 31:12 says “She brings him (her husband) good, not harm, all the days of her life.” First and foremost, the Lord your Maker is your husband who deserves your submission, your love, your time, your talents, and your affection! (Isaiah 54:5) Your life will never be the same the day your start trusting Him and realize that He is the giver of good gifts and that He is enough to satisfy your soul.

Who says you have to wait? Go, live fully right where you are. Love the Lord with all you’ve got and live this day for the eternity that will come after this life when all we will do is worship Jesus and enjoy Him forever. 

Let’s join together, sisters-in-Christ, and live life beautifully, right now, for the glory of God. Don’t put off living any longer. HE is the greatest love story every told, and you are living this love story with Him.

waiting on Him,

Gretchen

Wedding photos by Nancy Ray Photography | Photos of girls by Katherine McBroom


For more on my own story of waiting and learning what it means to live right now, check out my kindle book “A God-Sized Love Story.” I pray this story reminds you that the hole in your heart was meant to be filled by Jesus…today!

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  1. Stacey says:

    This is so great! Just what I needed, at this time in my life. Thank you! Only God has the perfect plan. In His timing alone will our love story be greater and more beautiful than we can ever imagine!

  2. jtpwarrior@yahoo.com says:

    It’s like you wrote my life story in this blog – thank you from the bottom of my ❤️ for the encouragement!!! 😘

  3. Sandy says:

    My heart is full! Thank you for the great encouragement!

  4. Mikaela Snooks says:

    yesssss!!! Love this!! thank you Gretchen!

  5. Elle says:

    There’s so many things and words and scripture that’s just on exactly point with what you said and what my heart so needed to hear. Grateful that the Spirit moved you to write those authentic words. I am going to re-read this goodness again as reminders! Thank you!

  6. fanciew@gmail.com says:

    Restore me Lord to you’re love….ive been chasing the wrong guy!!!

  7. Isabella Woods says:

    Hi, I’m a 42-year-old British woman and have been a Christian all my life. I have always tried to put God first in everything and never obsessed over marriage. Although some people pray for their future husbands as they grow up, I never did because I didn’t want to be obsessed with marriage and men. I believe that was the right thing to do as otherwise I’d have gone mad with frustration (read on)…

    I agree with everything Gretchen says. But waiting is harder the older you get. I don’t believe I’ve longed for a husband more than God but I’ve not been provided with one and am 42 (I think Gretchen was married and had a family by 35?). I may never be. I’m a romantic and a musician. I find life difficult and struggle with depression. I do not have my love language needs met. My main love language is touch and yet I can go weeks without a hug (regardless of Covid).

    What Gretchen writes is honest and godly but she writes quite simplistically. It seems that Gretchen married before 30, which is not even waiting that long for marriage as an adult – I am happy for her but I wonder if she’d write the same things were she older. The fact is, although Christ is our spouse, I don’t believe God takes away or fulfils bodily/sexual desires, for example. We have to continually surrender these to the Cross – as all Christians do with chronic and difficult things in their lives. It is really, really hard and often I’m in tears. Each period reminds me that I’m unlikely ever to have children – especially at a normal age – and that apparently my last months to conceive are here.

    ‘The right kind of expectations are satisfied by looking to Jesus.’ This is true but rather insensitive in that longing for companionship – of a spouse or close friend – is totally natural. As is the need for physical affection of any kind. I never ‘expected’ to marry – I just grew up imagining I would because men and women are designed for each other and most of God’s humans are married. It is also the only godly way to express sexuality.

    I am trying, humbly, to accept God’s will for my life. I do not have a successful career. I do not have daily hugs. I do not even have loving flatmates to live with – I have had to move in with random people for eight years now as all friends and cousins are married.

    So all our needs are simply not met by being spiritual and seeking God first (which I think Gretchen implies). Being focussed on Christ does not remove our pain, or provide for unmet needs necessarily, but He is our comfort in our sorrow because He experienced all our sorrows and worse – all the sorrows of the world. And one day, in Heaven, all our needs will be met.

    • Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing some of your story. Please know that I am praying for you today, and grieving these sorrows and unfulfilled longings with you as I write this. I am so encouraged to read of your trust in the Lord and how you are clinging to him and submitting yourself to his will. Some of my dearest friends are walking through long, unexpected seasons of singleness as well, and the ache is very real. Gretchen did write this post from her own experience of marrying relatively young. Her words were not intended to oversimplify the complexity of singleness, or to put a “Jesus band-aid” on a painful wound, but to share from her own experience and to remind women that marriage does not bring ultimate fulfillment. But I do understand how it could feel painful to read those words from someone who is already married. There are two other writers in particular who may be able to offer you godly encouragement from seasons of life more similar to yours. One is Lore Ferguson Wilbert. She didn’t marry until her late 30s and she blogs at sayable.net. She also wrote a book on touch recently, called Handle With Care. If you scroll to the bottom of her website, you can select the “singleness” category and read through some of the rich things she’s written. One post in particular that may resonate with you is “The Hidden Grief of Singleness.” Another writer I’d recommend is Sam Allberry. He is a single, celibate British pastor. He has several books, blogs, and videos about singleness and intimacy. I hope some of those resources offer you encouragement as you seek to walk faithfully in this difficult season. -Lindsay C.

  8. Kori says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. Thank you for reminding me that the love I want is the same love already possess in Jesus Christ.

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