Sticks and Stones…

We fast and pray for godly men to be leaders in the church and in marriages, for marriage for those who desire it, and for the Lord to soften and change our hearts to honor Him.

Any or all of these sound familiar:

  • “No wonder you aren’t married!”
  • “Why aren’t you married?”
  • “Do you not want to get married?”
  • “You’ll never get a boyfriend if you don’t/do…”

Just writing these comments brings rushes of anger, hurt, and shame. I wish I could say that I’ve responded graciously or with a witty remark to the speakers of these words, but it was more like:

“Don’t you ever again say that to someone who is single! You have no idea the hurt, the pressure, the aloneness we feel. If I knew what was “wrong” with me that was preventing me from getting married, I would surely fix it. Of course I want to get married!”

Since getting engaged, I’ve had a new set of nosey, tactless statements come my way:

  • “What? You don’t live together?!?”
  • “Has he waited [to have sex] for you like you’ve waited for him?” (from an older relative with whom I have never discussed my sex – or lack of sex – life)
  • “When are you going to start having kids?”

Questions and statements concerning my marital status trigger my defenses and replace my typically rational, composed self with something akin to a tornado. It’s not pretty.

Why? Because this is the most vulnerable part of me. Because my beliefs and actions around dating, engagement, marriage, and family go against most of those in mainstream culture, and that makes me feel even more vulnerable and “different.” Because it’s the part of me the devil knows he can attack and make it hard for me to respond in a Christ-like way.

While I can justify losing my temper to some of these insensitive comments by calling it “righteous anger,” reflecting on the situations in which these statements were made, the speakers were usually (albeit not always) coming from a place of (poorly) expressing their concern and interest in my life, sometimes honestly trying to understand why I didn’t have a significant other because they think I’m pretty great.

The books of Proverbs and James have much truth to speak about the power of the tongue. It takes hard work and much prayer to control that little part of me that reveals the thoughts and intents of my heart, whether I want it to or not. Psalm 141:3 has become an often-repeated prayer for me: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (NASB). Learning to respond graciously to others models the grace God gives me every day as I blunder my way through life.

Let’s pray this week for grace and strength to respond to insensitive comments and actions. Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment in the words we say to others, that we may speak truth and life into their lives (Proverbs 18:21).

Fasting and praying with you,

Emily

P.S. Lent begins this week. In addition to our Monday fasts, consider fasting from food or technology or something else in your life to prepare your heart to celebrate Easter and to draw closer to Him. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget that there are other areas of my life and issues for which I should fast besides my desire for moving towards marriage.

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10 Responses to Sticks and Stones…

  1. Carole says:

    Aren’t the years of lifelong singleness enough sacrifice? I will have sacrificed what I want most for my entire life…and I should sacrifice more?

    • fast. pray. says:

      Carole, I hear you on how hard it is to sacrifice what your heart desires. It certainly seems unfair and unjust that Jesus would call us to give up everything for Him, but He does.

      • Carole says:

        But there are plenty of people who don’t have to sacrifice their heart’s deepest desire…yes, spouses eventually die and there can be some incredible hardships in marriage. But lots of people get at least a little of the joy that they most want to offset the pain. They don’t have to wait for eternity…Please know that I really appreciate your blog, and all of the wonderful posts. It’s hard for me to be a good sport about this. I’m not 25 or 30 or 35…I’m in my mid-50’s and I have missed so much!

        • Carole says:

          Actually, more to my original point, what I mean is that I don’t feel that I should have to fast regularly or place some other self-imposed sacrifice on myself. I sacrifice multiple times a day. Although I’m able to share the joy of others’ good fortune, I feel multiple pangs of sadness daily as well when I see the things that can never be mine, even for this short earthly life. This is sacrifice. This is my “fasting.” The emptiness is there, multiple times a day, and I don’t need to “go without” in any artificial way to feel the void. Believe me, I feel it, it is always there. That said, please know that I greatly admire all of your wonderful writers and posters, and I admire you for both your writing skills and your faith! Best wishes.

  2. Neelam says:

    Hi Emily . . . thx for speaking for us and for your healing words. And thx also for encouraging us to respond like Christ when the attacks come. It is true there will always be naysayers and people who do not speak kindly or tactfully, but God encourages us to rise above. Is. 54:17.
    Very excited for your engagement as well. . . .Blessings.

  3. smvernalis says:

    Thanks, Emily. Great thoughts. Love to you this snow day!

  4. Virginia says:

    Hi Emily, congratulations on your engagement! And thank you for a wonderful article. Amen to every word.

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