Marriage Is Not the Ticket

On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray for men and women to be shaped uniquely by God into God’s image, and for marriages to be created for those who desire it. 

I’ve been recently considering what God might be calling me to in the next few years, and in some sense, I am surprised to find myself here.  By “here” I mean: 30, single, wonderful church, amazing friends, employed-but-feeling-directionless, dating-but-not-that-excited, and unsure of what adult life looks like in this unforeseen place.

Thinking about all this, I realize that I have long considered marriage the “ticket” out of young adulthood into “real” adulthood.  There are more layers here, but basically I’ve been waiting for marriage to define me as an adult.  A spouse and a family of my own had somehow become the stamp of really being an adult Christian woman.   Marriage was going to relieve my vocational ambivalence by giving me something more meaningful (ie: kids) than climbing the corporate ladder.  Marriage was going to clarify my ministry opportunities by knitting me into a family-centric church where service and leadership opportunities for married couples are clear.

I think that my singleness has unfortunately made marriage, simply by contrast, seem like the ticket out of many difficult life issues.  Have you (like me, truth be told) sometimes thought that marriage could or would…

  • End money worries by giving you a better financial situation?
  • End the fight with lust by meeting your needs for intimacy?
  • End frustration with your biological family because you’d have your own family?
  • End your loneliness by giving you a spouse and children?
  • End your sense of transience by giving you long-term roots?
  • End your sense of “stuckness” by leading you to a bigger horizon and adventures?
  • End your sense of uselessness by giving your life the culturally-valued purpose of raising a family?
  • End your isolation by giving you “couple status” to participate in social situations that currently feel very awkward?
  • End your body-image issues by giving you someone who thinks you look just lovely?
  • End your comparisons with female friends about relationship status?
  • End your ambivalence about attending another bridal or baby shower or wedding?
  • End your regrets and unanswered questions about “failed” dating relationships?
  • End the turmoil or frustration of making major decisions on your own?
  • End your complaining by giving the spouse for whom you’ve waited (patiently or not)?
  • End your spiritual stagnation by giving you a “spiritual leader” to point the way?

Whew.  I think we all “know” that marriage isn’t the ticket out of any of these issues.  All these thorny issues listed are real and deserve serious reflection with Scripture and godly friends. We have married friends who tell us their marriage experience, even when it is good, is the very opposite of “getting out of” anything.  (Paul pretty much told us the same thing hundreds of years ago!)  We have single friends whose free and contented spirits tell us that singleness doesn’t have to be a place of get away from. We know that God’s good gifts, even when are deeply grateful for them, don’t stop our core sin patterns by themselves.

Knowing the truth in our head and from our friends’ experience is helpful, but we’ve got to be told and to know at our core that there is only one ticket and His name is Emmanuel…God with us.  Neither we nor marriage can fix what’s broken about us: we need a Lord who knows us and has the power to save us.  Jesus is the only one who can do that.

We have a God who told us that He is the way.  He’s the ticket. He’s the map. He’s the guide. He’s the One waiting for us at the destination at the end of life’s journey.  No matter our marital status today or ever, our identity and future hope aren’t tied up in that fact. God is with us and that’s what matters most.

Praying with you,

Amy

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15 Responses to Marriage Is Not the Ticket

  1. SingleW says:

    Thanks Amy for sharing. This resonates with me at so many levels.

  2. buttons says:

    To be real here, I actually think marriage will solve some of those problems you mentioned. It won’t solve all of them and it will bring new problems of its own, but to say that marriage doesn’t alleviate some of the problems of being single is not being realistic.

    God is all we need but not all we WANT. If God were all you wanted and you didn’t need or want anything else as you describe, then why are you even contributing to a blog that prays and fasts for singles to get married.

    I find your post unrealistic and frustrating. Marriage, while not being perfect DOES solve some problems that singles face, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Thank you so much for keeping it real! I fully agree with you that marriage *is* good and that there are good and God-honoring reasons that we deeply desire it. I never want this blog to be a place where that desire is put down as somehow lesser in any way.

      I never want to be one of those obnoxious people who is like, “Just be content in Jesus and it’ll all get better.” I hate when people say that to me! The desire for marriage is good because God both created the institution and created the humans to inhabit it. By saying that both singleness and marriage are both hard and both good, I also don’t want to want to say that they’re equal experientially. They’re very different creatures.

      I guess what I was trying to say is that even when marriage changes our circumstances, it can’t change our heart…and I was trying to use the list to isolate heart issues that might continue no matter what our circumstances look like. Obviously the circumstance changes are often positive and good…but if my hearts is still greedy, lustful, envious and looking to human relationship to answer our questions about life purpose..well, it’ll be painful no matter which side of marital status I’m on.

      I value your honest feedback…very much! Let me know your thoughts.

      • buttons says:

        Thanks for your response. I think most people who STRUGGLE with “long term” singleness are well aware that marriage is not perfect and that its not going to solve all their problems – but they still desire it because and precisely because we don’t want the “problems” of being single – we would just rather have the “problems” of being married. Nobody has a problem free life – that’s for Heaven.

        I do agree with you that our heart and character will not be changed by marriage – maybe the trials that come with being married will shape us to be more Christlike, but there are difficulties that come with being single which are not of our own doing either and these difficulties would be alleviated if we were no longer single. For example, I have never been married before but I can say for sure that when I’m in a relationship I’m not lonely but when I’m single, the loneliness is harrowing.

    • Anna says:

      You’re so right about God giving us desires for things that aren’t strictly answered in a spiritual way and that marriage, by God’s design, is for our benefit and flourishing– providing company, support, and a whole host of other things. God gives us the desire for marriage and meets many of those through marriage.

      I think Amy’s main point is that sometimes people (in this case, singles) get in a mind-set/ rut thinking that if we are unhappy, lonely, poor, lacking direction that the thing (in this case, marriage) we desire with all our hearts will solve those issues and we’ll never deal with them again– almost as if whatever it is (marriage) that we desire is a magic, fairly land– and God doesn’t promise us that.

      He does promise to be with us and provide for us. We’re praying that His provision for community, companionship, and family will be through marriage, and we are expecting that God will surprise us with how plentiful and abundant His provision is.

      –Anna

  3. Joy H says:

    I fully recognize and confess that my “patiently” waiting heart to believes (and clings to) your list. I’ve been marriage-oriented all of my dating life and my dreams and expectations for life have been centered around God’s plan for Family. For heaven’s sake I was planning to be a home-ec major in college! At 39, I look back and feel I have wasted so much of my youth. While I still long and ache for marriage to a good man (and trust that God is a God of miracles!), I am at a place where I’m trying to figure out how push the reset button on my dreams and expectations for the future. I’m not sure what to hope for, what to dream of for life in my 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond without a life partner. It may seem that I’ve lost hope, but honestly I haven’t. My hope-er is simpley stuck in the dreams of my 20’s. But I feel I’m coming to terms with reality and that I cannot and do not want to waste the next 20 years of my life. I want an abundant life and fruitful life, but I look around and have trouble finding 50 and 60 year old SINGLE/NBM women in the Church (with no children) that are living joyful, abundant and full lives. If I found one, I certainly would want to sit down and interview her and likely beg her to mentor me. I turn 40 in May and I’m praying the Lord would bring new hopes and dreams and expectations appropriate to my single status and uniquely me.

    • karina says:

      I always feel so discouraged when I hear from Godly women in their late 30s who are still single but have desired their whole lives to be married.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Joy…thank you so much for your honest perspective on this…I realize that while writing about being 30 and examining purpose…it’s not a process that stops with any given birthday! I’m praying that the Lord shows up with a beautiful vision of full and rich life ahead…no matter what decade! Blessings 🙂

  4. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much Amy for this amazing and transparent post! You pulled the words right out of my heart. For so long I struggled with this idea that marriage would answer all my problems and propel me into a fantasy life of contentment. In a singles workshop a pastor told me ‘God would never entrust sinful man to complete you and be all that you need, only He can do that.’ Jesus is our portion and our reward in this life and the next! Thank you again for this awesome word that so honestly and compassionately breaks the myths we all tend to believe.

    Have a blessed week!
    Lillian

  5. Carrie says:

    This was great! I could totally relate because that same list was my “but when I get married…” list that I now realize is foolishness. God is with me and I can do ALL things. Wonderful perspective! Thanks for your vulnerability. Blessings to you!!

  6. smvernalis says:

    I’d like to say “Word.”, but even though it’s usually the last word, it’s still not enough. So, “Word”, in the “Amen, I couldn’t agree with you more” kind of way, but “Not Word” in that I could add many more questions to your list of so many good and painful ones. Good thoughts as always, dear friend. Thanks for your vulnerability as always… Love.

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