I’m not sure whether this has happened to you before, maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t. If it hasn’t, I’m going to to set the scene for you:
Your friend invites you to a gathering and to your surprise it’s not completely boring – in fact, it’s becoming the best night you’ve had in a long time. Conversation is flowing, everyone is having a great time and then the person you’re talking to you suddenly says:
You’re so great – why are you still single?!
This startling (and arguably offensive) question reminds you of the not-so-subtle hints and questions you’ve been receiving in what were once safe environments.
It all began the year I graduated from university; I noticed that when the women from my church would pray for me, ‘a god-fearing husband’ was suddenly on the menu of blessings. From that point onwards, I began to notice a shift in other areas; young women I had known for years would drop sentences into our conversations such as ‘so when I get married’, wedding ideas were casually being thrown into discussions and my Facebook newsfeed became an array of engagement rings and relationship status updates.
What was going on? What had I missed?
Let it be known that I had no real problems with weddings (except that they were long and there was rarely enough food for everyone). Even though I wasn’t really sure why people were so excited about marriage (if it was so easy, why were there so many divorces?) my main concern was the assumption that because I was a woman and above the age of 21, I should be seeking a man to settle down with.
There is a deep-rooted cultural and religious belief that we are somehow completed when we meet our life partners and that this is when our lives truly begin but this simply cannot be true. As a Christian, our lives begin the moment we surrender to Christ and true completion can only be found in him. He is the One, our soul mate, our true love – and all those other mushy western concepts.
It is so easy to get sucked into that weird world of ‘waiting’ but before I jumped on the eager-to-be-married-bandwagon, I decided to ask myself a few questions:
Do I believe I have an individual purpose?
God created me with wants, needs, hopes, dreams and most importantly, a purpose. Now while I believe that some of our purposes can be linked in some way to other individuals, I also believe that if our purpose were completely dependent on another, we would have been born in twos. Since we were not, I am forced to conclude that… wait for it…there are things that we have to accomplish as individuals and certain parts of our journey that we have to walk alone.
Am I lonely?
Loneliness is an issue we don’t really like to talk about because it makes us seem weak, feeble and needy, but it is a state that a lot of us experience – some of us experience it every single day. Every time I am lonely, I begin to question how far I am standing from God. It says in the Bible that God will never leave me (Deuteronomy 31:8) so whenever I feel alone instead of reaching for my iPhone, I do my best to reach out for him because he is always there.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Real, real, real talk: if you are Christian who is constantly jumping from one relationship to another because you desire constant communication and validation, I urge you to look to God; the one that stays and never leaves (Joshua 1:5) and the one that does not forsake (Deuteronomy 31:6). I hope that you will also come to see the finished work of the cross (John 19:30) as your constant source of validation. Remember that there was a man that loved you enough to lay down his life for you in the hope that you would one day come to love and accept him. He loved you even before you could love him. If that doesn’t make you feel just a little bit special, I don’t know what will.
Am I seeking to be the perfect spouse or am I seeking to be like Jesus?
Okay, I get it; you wouldn’t try and sit an exam without revising (unless you’re me and it’s GCSE time) so yes, it is important to prepare yourself for marriage. However, the Bible speaks more on striving to be like Christ than it does about journeying to become the perfect spouse.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2:21
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Every time I feel like I am getting somewhere with God, I inevitably become complacent; a day will pass where I haven’t set time apart for him or a situation will arise where I respond inappropriately. There is internal work to be done and there should a constant movement towards the person God called me to be because that it my ultimate goal.
Have I forgotten that there is a time for everything?
There is no rush and there is no decree that I must be married by *insert arbitrary age here*
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
Doing things in my own strength and my own time usually has disastrous consequences. Sometimes I’ve got to shake myself and remember that I am worth having and that my spouse will be worth the wait.
This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
I know that my stance isn’t a popular one at the moment. I should be telling you to wait patiently in your bedroom praying, hoping that the One somehow finds your address and knocks on your front door but that would be poor advice. There are many other Christian blogs which will detail heavily ‘what to do while you wait’ and that’s great, it really is, I just feel that we have shifted our focus and have begun to idolise marriage. This is deadly because it will never live up to our expectations or withstand the burden we are placing upon this sacred union. There are many more important things (outside of marriage) to be achieved and seeking God about those things should not be neglected whilst you ‘wait’. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but life revolves around Jesus – he is the One.
Your Single Pringle,