Many women feel inadequate because they are still single. They sometimes wonder, “what is wrong with me?” But why? We were not born feeling this way, so how did we get to this point? Lovely lady, we are going to tackle the whys and hows so you no longer need to say, “I feel inadequate because I’m single.“
What does it mean I feel inadequate?
Feeling inadequate is a sense that we are not good enough, or that we are lacking in some way. It is a feeling of insecurity. Collins Dictionary puts it this way:
“If someone has feelings of inadequacy, they feel that they do not have the qualities and abilities necessary to do something or to cope with life in general.”
WebMD says that “It produces anxiety about your goals, relationships, and ability to handle certain situations. Everybody deals with insecurity from time to time. It can appear in all areas of life and come from a variety of causes.”
So do you feel like you don’t have the qualities and abilities necessary to attract someone to love you as Collins Dictionary talks about? Are you insecure about relationships or the goal of being married as suggested by WebMD? Then keep reading. This article is for you.
What causes feelings of inadequacy when single?
Feelings of inadequacy are related to our thoughts which often are rooted in our upbringing. If we grew up thinking and believing that in order to be fulfilled we need to be married, then when we are single we feel like something is wrong. If we grew up without the sense of being loved, we may seek it in romance.
Our culture values romantic relationships. It is pretty much expected. But romance is only a small part of life. We spend more time eating, sleeping, and working than we ever do in romantic settings. Yet, sometimes we act and feel like it is the totality of life.
Just to emphasize how much our culture values romantic relationships, I came across a satirical drawing of a single woman sitting in a theater. The couples around her were thinking:
- Why is she alone?
- She is nice looking. Must be her peronality.
- She’s probably too picky.
- I wonder what is wrong with her?
- Maybe she needs to loose a few pounds.
Is it any wonder that single women feel inadequate? Yet, We have been trained to think that way. But it is all fantasy. Life does not begin when we find a person to love.
Why do I feel inadequte? (and the lies that reinforce it)
Now that we have looked at our culture, let’s take a look at ourselves. Here are some thought patterns that can set us up for feeling inadequate when we are single. You will notice that there is some overlapping of these thoughts which are very much ingrained in our culture.
- God made one special partner for me
- I can not be fulfilled if I don’t find that one special person
- I long for “happily ever after” because I grew up watching fairy tale movies
- My family and friends expect me to be married
- Life is not complete without a romantic partner
- Because my marriage failed then I am a failure
- Because my husband died, I can no longer be fulfilled or happy
- My church values married couples over singles
So let’s talk about how each thought plays into our sense of feeling inadequate.
1. God made one special partner for me, I just need to find him
I suspect this thought originated in fairy tales, but I can’t prove it. However, it really doesn’t matter where it came from. The truth is that this is not a Biblical principle. We were not created for a relationship with one special person. Instead, we were created for a relationship with God.
Does God know who we will marry or if we will get married? Of course. God knows everything. But we are not promised in Scripture that we will get married.
2. I can not be fulfilled if I don’t find the one special person
Are human relationships important? Yes, but they are not to be our answer for feeling adequate, loved, complete, or fulfilled. If we place greater priority on finding the right person over getting to know God, we will never be completely satisfied. Furthermore, placing people above God is a sin. It is idolatry. Ouch. Have I been guilty of doing this? Absolutely. And it did not end well.
Many cultures have arranged marriages where dating and falling in love with someone is not part of the equation. Yet even in those marriages, God can be present and love can grow.
3. I long for “happily ever after” because I grew up watching fairly tale moveis
“Happily ever after” stories are not necessarily bad. But we are so inundated with them in our western culture that little girls fantasize about being those characters. As a teen, I almost made myself sick because I wanted to have the lead role in a musical that we were putting on at our school. You see, the lead female role fell in love with the lead male role. Oh, how I wanted to be her.
Before you think I was crazy, consider this. The fantasy begins early in life. Many of the storybooks we read to our children have “happily ever after” themes. Snow White. Prince Charming. Rapunzel. Cinderella. Then the fantasy continues on into adulthood where every other movie is a love story, especially at Christmas time.
4. My family and friends expect me to be married
This is a big one. So many families put pressure on their young women who are not married by the time they are 25 or 30. Right now I have four friends who are 30-ish and still single. I am thankful that they have each other because I know for sure that one of them gets a lot of flack from her parents. If only family and friends would realize that life does not begin when you get married.
5. Life is not complete without a romantic partner
This is a fantasy. It is impossible for any human to make us feel complete. In fact, the only one who can make us complete is Jesus. Until we get that fixed in our thoughts, we will always be trying to find someone to fill up our “empty cup” emotionally when our cup has a hole in it. That empty feeling is our need for Jesus.
6. Because my marriage failed then I am a failure
Being divorced causes many women to feel inadequate, not good enough, or downright inferior. They wonder what is wrong with them.
A failed marriage is an event in time, not our identity. The truth is that we all have failed in one way or another. For instance, we all have sinned so that is the first strike against us. Beyond the spiritual, each of us has things that have not turned out the way we had planned. That is part of life, but it doesn’t make us inadequate, not good enough, or inferior.
7. Because my husband died, I can not be fulfilled or happy
As hard as it is to lose a spouse to death, our happiness is not dependant on them. God is the source of lasting joy and fulfillment. Yes, being a widow hurts. There is no getting around that. But God calls us to give our hurt and our pain to Him because He is the only one who can fill that void that widows feel. In fact, it is ironic that many women who still have their husbands feel this emptiness inside. That feeling is our need for God.
8. My church values married couples over singles
It certainly can feel like churches cater to married couples because there are many more of them than single individuals. Furthermore, it is the Church’s responsibility to teach couples how to raise Godly children. So yes, there are a lot of resources that are budgeted for that responsibility. But singles can serve the church by supporting each other, as well as serving the families who are part of the church. The collective church, the body of Christ is not about ourselves anyway. It is about serving others and loving God. When we get that straight, we don’t have as much time to think about our own feelings of inadequacy.
What does the Bible say about feeling inadequate?
Moses was one Biblical character who felt extremely inadequate. While he was not lamenting the need for a partner, he is a good example of learning to be complete in the hands of God. You can read his story in Exodus chapters three and four.
Moses was called to do a job. Basically, his reply was, “I am inadequate”. God said, “I AM with you. I AM everything you need.” The capitalized “I AM” is stating that it was God speaking. He was telling Moses, “God is with you and He is everything you need to do this job.”
Then Moses told God, “I can’t speak.” God said, “who made your mouth?” I will help you speak.”
The next complaint was, “I can’t control the situation”. God said, “I am in control.”
Finally, Moses said, “nobody will believe me.” God replied that He would use what Moses had in his hands. Another way to say it is, “I will use you just the way you are and with whatever resources you have.”
We are God’s creation. Therefore, when we say we are inadequate we are accusing God of making something inferior. Yes, we have limitations but they are no challenge for our creator. Nothing is impossible with God. He specializes in using the unlikely. In fact, the Apostle Paul said that his limitation or “weakness” was made perfect through the strength he received from Jesus.
So if we feel like there isn’t a place in God’s plan for us because we are inadequate, that is a lie that Satan has fabricated and we have believed. If God’s plan is for us to be married, then it will happen in His time. The question is are we willing to trust that God has a good plan for us whether it is being married or being single?
How do you fix inadequacy?
Fixing the feeling of inadequacy is simple, but not easy. First, we have to change our thoughts.
When we think that something is not a big deal, we are likely to not have feelings about it. But if we think something is important or necessary for our survival, then we will have extreme feelings about it. That is why the Bible says that we must take our thoughts captive because they drive our feelings.
Elisabeth Elliot once said, “The secret of joy is Christ in me, not me in different circumstances.” Her first husband was murdered. Her second husband died of cancer. During the interim, she was not seeking a marriage partner. She waited on God who she said was her husband. In God’s time, He brought her a third husband who was with her until she went home to be with Jesus in 2015.
These Bible verses address our thoughts and our circumstances.
“Do not be conformed to this world (I feel inadequate because I’m single), but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (I am complete in Christ)” Romans 12:2 ESV (explanation added)
“In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abudance and need, (being single or being married). I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ” Philippians 4:12b-13 ESV (explanation added)
Final thoughts on “I feel inadequate”
This feeling of inadequacy is something that plagues many people, including those who are single. It is a sense of insecurity or of not being good enough.
In the case of singles, our culture and upbringing contribute to the way we think, which in turn drives our feelings of inadequacy.
Yet we can change the tide by changing our thoughts. And the best way to change our thoughts is to take them captive by challenging them with Scripture. With God’s help, we can prevent our thoughts from driving us to the pit of despair.
In Jesus we are complete. God said it. We can believe it and that will settle it.
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