A Marriage Legalist in Recovery

This is your weekly reminder that we fast and pray on Mondays during lunch for 1) men to come to know the Lord and to lead relationships, 2) for women to see where they need to change and to change, and 3) for the gift of marriage to be given to those who desire it.

During tonight’s sermon at church, the guest pastor nonchalantly asked, “Are you following Christ because you want to serve God or because you want God to serve you?”

Such a simple question with such an obvious answer, right?  Except that I know my heart reflects the truth better than my rote answers.  So much of my frustration around being single really has nothing to do with a husband (or the lack thereof).  It’s more with feeling like God somehow didn’t come through on this one.  Like I’ve waited for years and gone on bad dates and helped every roommate I’ve ever had plan a wedding and read all the singleness books and did online dating…and now it’s my turn.  My turn, God.  Did you hear me?  You seem a bit deaf to me on this one.  I’m not kidding.  I did my part – where’s my spouse?

I act as if I’ve somehow “earned” a husband by, I don’t know, following all most a select few of the True Love Waits rules from youth group, and “guarding my heart” (or, in my case, acting aloof and unapproachable), and learning to cook (sort of) and not incurring large amounts of debt (well, until I decided to go to grad school) and smiling at lots of boys (until I realize they are wearing wedding rings…gah).  Ok, so let’s be honest – I didn’t live up to the very ridiculous standards I had made for myself, much less touch God’s standard of fearless trust in Him and wholehearted submission to His word – husband or no husband.

So.  I’m never going to be fully over my control issues and idolatry while on this side of heaven, but I can say that Jesus loves sinners.  Even marriage legalists.  And Jesus was tempted in every way as I am (including idealizing marriage and being tempted to put his identity in something other than his relationship with God) and was yet without sin.  His perfect life, including His suffering, is accepted by God as full payment for the punishment that should be mine (Hebrews 4:14-16).  And beyond that, He lavishes ridiculous amounts of grace on me as His child and is persistently tracking down my heart and changing me into Christ’s image (Philippians 1:3-11).

So what does all that mean when I stand at the front of a church this coming Saturday as a bridesmaid in yet another roommate’s wedding?  What does all this mean as I start friendships with my new roommates and try to find the rhythm of life in a new neighborhood?  What does this mean as I pray, sometimes against hope, for the unbelieving guys I’ve dated?  What does all this mean as I go home for Thanksgiving in a few weeks to meet all three of my younger siblings’ serious significant others?

I think it means that I don’t need the answers to those questions.  If Jesus is both good and all-powerful, I don’t have to try to control my future.  If Jesus definitely loves me, I don’t have to question if my current circumstances are a mistake.  And if Jesus redeems sinners and also empowers them to live for His glory, I don’t have to try to follow all my silly marriage rules any longer.  (Thank goodness because they were pretty annoying rules!)

Praying with you this week that we are found in Christ, trusting His righteousness and not our own (Philippians 3:7-11)…and praying boldly because He loves us (Luke 11:9-13)!

By His grace,

Amy

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19 Responses to A Marriage Legalist in Recovery

  1. Sister Amy says:

    I felt as if this was speaking directly to me. I am learning through being still….waiting on the lord….to pray and be patient. It’s his timing, not mine.

  2. Amy, thank you very much for your inspiring post. I agree that if “Jesus is both good and all-powerful, people do not have to try to control their future. I truly believe that Jesus loves us all, and nothing we do can be that big of a mistake. As long as we are full of regret and beg for forgiveness. He understands we are just human. “The Lord WILL sustain us, even in our deepest longings and cravings!” I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Lynn2 says:

    I needed this article. Thank you! I sometimes feel like God uses my ‘singleness’ to draw me closer to him because he knows it’s my greatest struggle right now. Everything else seems to fall in place for me except a husband. While I look at someone who is married and figured, they have a husband but God must be using something else to draw them near. I’m sure God doesn’t operated this way and but this is what I often feel. I know my feelings come from my lack of an intimate relationship with Him so that’s what I’m working on now. God bless.

  4. Jen says:

    Amy,

    Thank you so much for this post! I absolutely feel the same way: wondering why God hasn’t “come through” in the area that I so desperately need and want him to. It’s honestly very difficult for me to imagine that God is good when He is seemingly inflicting unwanted singleness on me and so many of my friends who desire marriage. I’m just hopeful that He knows our desires and longings and that He wouldn’t short change us…I don’t know. The book of Job has actually been quite helpful to me lately :/.

    • amy says:

      I hear you – and glad you are on this journey, even if it hasn’t quite taken the path we imagined in terms of marriage…good to know God is absolutely faithful, no matter what it looks like to us 🙂

  5. Daniela says:

    Thank you Amy, for this insightful post. Indeed, if “Jesus is both good and all-powerful, I don’t have to try to control my future. If Jesus definitely loves me, I don’t have to question if my current circumstances are a mistake.” These days, it has been particularly tough for me to deal with my longings for a spouse – and I mean especially the physical part of being by myself: of having to go to bed without a husband, if I may be that honest. I’m sure others can relate :-). But the Holy Spirit reminded my of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for thee”. Indeed it is – the Lord will sustain us, even in our deepest longings and cravings!

    • amy says:

      So true! And we don’t find out that He is *really* enough until we are in the places of those really deep longings…which is usually not fun….but good reminder of His sufficiency

      • Daniela says:

        And once the Lord fulfills our desire, I guess we will still have to learn that He is sufficient in everything – because there is absolutely no earthly being (not even the most spiritual, gorgious, unselfish man) that can really completely meet our deepest longings and desires!

  6. Lynn says:

    This post really resonated with me — particularly this part “So much of my frustration around being single really has nothing to do with a husband (or the lack thereof). It’s more with feeling like God somehow didn’t come through on this one.”

    I believe that God loves me and has taken care of me throughout my life — and remains with me now, but sometimes I don’t really “feel” or “know” this truth through and through. I struggle with the very thoughts you articulated here. At the very least, it is encouraging to have a (virtual) community of people who truly understand the heart issues associated with this life path of (unintended) extended singleness.

    • amy says:

      glad you are also part of that community! knowing we aren’t alone is sometimes half the battle 🙂

      • Eve says:

        Yes, I’m with you there, Lynn. May He give us His grace to really know the height, breadth and depth of His love for us. Hang in there. Our hope in the Lord is not in vain and we will not be ashamed (Psalms 25:3, 27:13,14).

  7. Jennifer Erickson says:

    Thank you again for raw honesty and real desire to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and your roommates, siblings, etc. as yourself. i so pray He meets you in the deepest empty places of your heart and fills them up to overflowing with His rivers of living waters…..the well that Never runs dry…..spouse or not. Of course I pray that one day He may bring a good man to share life with according to His will. You are Precious!!

  8. Andrea says:

    Love this one Amy!!! Thank you! It’s like you read my mind sometimes, and so I know that I am not alone in the fight to believe God and know His love regardless of my circumstances. Praise God for you!

    Andrea

  9. Whitney says:

    So encouraging. Thank you, thank you for being so transparent and voicing both the fears we feel and TRUTH of the Gospel and freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. Really needed this!

  10. Lauren says:

    Amy this was amazing!!! It feels like you are writing directly from my own heart; I definitely struggle with being a impatient and a marriage legalist. But praise God that we can lay our sins and struggles at the feet of Christ who loves us with an extravagance and depth that we can’t even fathom. Thank God for your honesty and praying that we all grow in Christ and submit ourselves to His holy will for our lives.

    Thank you,

    Lillian

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