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,