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Interview with Wendy Widder, Part 3
I’ve heard arguments both for and against dating sites like eHarmony. Does the Bible give any direction on this?
No, it doesn’t.
I know people who have met on eHarmony and gotten divorced. I know other people who have met the old fashioned way, and gotten divorced. And then I know people who have met both ways, and are happily married.
So, I don’t know that the medium necessarily has anything to do with how successful the relationship will be. It’s probably a matter of personal preference on how comfortable you are with meeting people that way.
I wouldn’t tell someone they shouldn’t do it. I would just suggest they put it into the larger perspective and ask questions like: Why do I want to do this? To what extent is it going to control my life? What am I going to do if I don’t find someone on it? (See more on this in the question on ‘applying for the job’ in part 2
Again, as with all attempts to meet people, it may be helpful to ask yourself: “At what point does this pursuit begin to fuel my discontentment?” That’s what I would want to guard myself against, in using a site like eHarmony.
Could God be punishing me for being such a wild child in college through prolonged singleness?
No, that’s not the way God is.
He doesn’t lay in wait for opportunities to punish us for past sins. He’s a forgiving God. Sure, there are consequences for choices that we make. There is suffering that occurs because of sin. But I would be reallyhesitant to say that you’re single because God is punishing you.
Singleness is a consequence that people face because the world is broken, not a consequence that you personally face.
I struggle with comparing myself to married friends, and wondering what they have, that I don’t. How can I combat that envy that creeps in?
We all compare ourselves to somebody, and we all envy what other people have that we don’t have.
One of the things the Bible lays out for combating envy is gratitude. On one hand you compare yourself to people who have what you want, but you could just as easily go the other way and look at all the things that you have that many people in the world don’t. That doesn’t make you any better than them, but it can at least help put things into perspective.
So much of our envy and comparison comes from a self-absorbed perspective. Especially when you live alone, your world can become very small. You think, “If I don’t get this, I won’t be whole!”
Something that helps me get perspective is to read about the rest of the world. Look at where I live, and what I have! What on earth am I complaining about?
And when I get out and spend time with married friends, I realize their life isn’t perfect either. When I tell them what I wish I had, they say, “Well I wish I had time alone. Or I wish I could go to the bathroom without people knocking on the door.”
And so, we each have our own context. We have to consciously work on perspective and gratitude. It’s a spiritual discipline. I don’t think we suddenly learn to be grateful, and then it’s fixed. It’s something we must do over and over and over.
What would you want people to know about the book, Living Whole Without a Better Half?
I wrote the book as a twenty-something with a broken heart. It was my way of working through the issues which, at that point, were directly related to being single. But as I revised it for the second edition, I found that these are the issues I’ve needed to learn over the years repeatedly. I encountered them as a twenty-something, but then as a forty-something, I’m encountering the same issues in different shapes and sizes.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m living whole without a better half. Honestly, I feel a little hypocritical, with this new release. I don’t really feel like some great example of singleness—that you should all want to be as happy as I am. Please don’t make that your goal! J
But I have this stubborn belief that God is good, and God does what is right, and even though my life might stink in some phases (and those phases might last for years), at the end of the day (by which I mean my life), there is blessing and reward and joy immeasurable.
This is really a book that deals with the questions: “What do you do when life doesn’t turn out like you hoped and dreamed and desired it to? And how do you move forward, believing and acting on what you know is true, even when you don’t feel like it?”
Yes, we may endure woes and sufferings. Some people endure them their whole lives. But this is not all there is. This is not how the story ends. And that is the hope that we cling to!
Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Wendy Widder has a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of the Free State (South Africa) and currently works for Logos Bible Software. In her spare time, she is writing two commentaries on Daniel, sort of blogging, and keeping up with friends & family.