There was a time when my singleness was stealing my joy.

In my early 20’s, I did NOT want to be single anymore. I was ready to get married, to start really living my purpose, to find meaning and significance, to have all my dreams come true. Or so I thought.

But as I turned 21, then 22, then 23 and then 24, I was still single, and the dream of getting married and starting a family didn’t seem to be getting any closer. If anything, it felt farther away.

As my 25th birthday approached, I felt discouraged, disappointed and directionless, and my discontentment in singleness reached an all-time high.

In that discontentment, I found myself thinking “if only” thoughts:

If only I had a boyfriend, then I wouldn’t feel alone.

If only I had a husband, then I wouldn’t have anxiety or insecurities.

If only I were married, then I would have purpose and meaning.

If only these dreams would come true, then I would truly be happy.

These thoughts revealed lies I was believing about where my joy and fulfillment were found.

Where Joy is Found

Do you ever find yourself thinking “if only” thoughts?

The “if only” mentality looks to a future event, a longed for dream, a change in circumstances as the catalyst that will bring us joy.

But with this mentality, we’ll keep being robbed of joy in our singleness.  And even if we do get married, discontentment will follow us and cause a new batch of “if only” thoughts to steal our joy.

Because true joy isn’t found in our relationship status.

In John 15:11, Jesus says, “I have told you this that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (NIV)

Jesus doesn’t say, “I’ll make your dreams come true; I’ll turn those ‘if onlys’ into reality; I’ll make sure you’re no longer single that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

No. He says, “I have told you this…”

The “this” is the instructions and promises Jesus gives in the previous verses of John 15 about abiding in Him.

Where Are You Abiding?

Our joy is linked to where we abide.

In John 15, Jesus calls us to abide in Him as branches abiding in the vine:

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5, NIV)

The word “remain” used in this passage comes from the Greek word “meno”, which means “to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy.” It can also be translated as “abide”, “dwell” and “continue”.*

Jesus is the Vine, the life-giving source. And we are the branches, the ones who need that source. We need to remain in Jesus – abiding in relationship with Him, dwelling in the truth of who He is and who we are in Him, continuing to grow in faith and godliness.

And one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is, yep, you guessed it, joy!

It’s not the singleness that was stealing my joy. It’s not singleness that’s stealing your joy either.

When we find ourselves discontent in our singleness, rather than thinking, If only I weren’t single, we need to ask, “Where am I abiding? What “vine” have I attached myself to?”

Because whatever the vine, that will determine the fruit.

A vine of my dreams coming true exactly as I want, of approval and acceptance and achievement, of my life looking like those perfect Instagram squares, of an abstract idea of “the one” will cause me to bear fruit of envy, discontentment, perfectionism, low self-worth, anxiety, selfishness and self-righteousness.

But when Jesus is our Vine, He promises joy. Complete joy. Joy that abides because we are in Him, and He is in us.

And not only joy, but the fruit of love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as well. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Ways to Abide in Jesus

Here are actions we can take to abide in Jesus and look to Him as the source of our joy rather than thinking “if only” thoughts:


One of the things I started doing in my early 20s to uproot the discontentment was keeping a gratitude journal. Intentionally giving thanks helps us see the goodness in our right-now lives.


Taking time to praise and worship Jesus focuses our hearts and minds on Him, reminding us that He is enough even in our longings.


What we think on has a big impact on our attitude and beliefs. Meditating on God’s Word fills our hearts and minds with the truth of who Jesus is and who we are in Him.


This is a vulnerable, intimate, and personal way of engaging in our relationship with Jesus. Through prayer, we pour out our hearts to Him, and we hear Him respond to us. And if you struggle to know where to begin with prayer, give this guide to prayer journaling a try. 


Attending a retreat or creating your own Silent Retreat enables us to intentionally listen and focus our attention on God.  It may be challenging to set aside the time, but it is always beneficial.  


In John 15:10, Jesus says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.” Obedience is trusting Jesus’ love for us; that whatever He calls us to do, wherever He calls us to go, whoever He calls us to serve, it is for our good and His glory.

Growing Joy

Even as you abide in Jesus, there will probably still be times in your singleness when you feel discontent; when no matter what, your joy seems to be slipping through the cracks of heartbreak and empty dreams; when you are just plain NOT happy being single anymore.

But like a branch attached to the vine grows and blossoms and bears fruit, you will grow. You will bear fruit. You will grow some more. And you will bear even more fruit.

Joy will take deeper root in your heart as you remain rooted in Christ.