Choices, I have a few

On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray – for men to become godly leaders at church and at home; for soft hearts that are responsive to the Lord; and for strong, Christ-centered marriages for those who desire them.

Ever go to the grocery store for a simple purchase and get lost in a sea of choices? I mean how many different kinds of toilet paper options does one need to choose from? Don’t get me wrong I’m thankful for 100 various flavors of ice cream to choose from and don’t even get me started on the bread options. Yum! I’m just struck lately with the myriad of choices available to me in ‘Merica.

You see to distract myself from my recent milestone birthday and more importantly, do something to impact the clean water crisis in the world, a friend and I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for a well for a community in Tanzania without access to clean water. This trip was over a year in the making and involved a leap of faith on my part and God doing what He does best… making it all come together! It hasn’t even been a week since I’ve returned from this grand adventure and I’m still trying to wrap my head around all that we saw, tasted, and did. What an amazing team of people I got to experience this journey with, truly God orchestrated!

After the whole mountain climbing thing, we went to visit several of the communities with Compassion International centers and the site of the well project. It was considered an honor for several of the families from each of the centers we visited to invite us into their homes and share their life stories with us. For me, these visits were not only an honor, but humbling and eye-opening to the unique situation I find myself living as a single woman in the western world.

In all of my travels to the developing world, I have yet to meet a never-married woman over 30 years old. Widows – yes, never married – no. I’m sure there might be one or two that exist, as I haven’t talked with everyone in those countries, I’ve just never met anyone. What struck me as I’ve been reflecting on this… Choices!

I didn’t have to marry someone to leave my father’s house, because I had options. I can choose to remain single and still provide shelter, food, and clothing for myself. I also have the choice to be selective with whom I marry, again because I don’t need to be dependent on a man to survive outside of my father’s house. I would venture a guess that a woman from one of the Tanzanian communities I visited is not evaluating a relationship with a man with the same checklist I’m using, if she even has a checklist at all.

On one side of the world, we have more choices than we know what to do with, while on the other side, choices appear to be quite limited. Yet, if we believe Psalms 37:23, our steps are ordered by God no matter how many choices are available for us to make. So today I’m going to choose to be thankful…

– For being single and not living in my father’s house!

– For the ability be earn a living as a single female which affords me the opportunity to have food, shelter, clothing, and travel.

– For clean water.

– For choices.

– For ice cream, and all its many flavors!

– For knowing God, experiencing His grace, and for hope that the road ahead is in His hands and not mine!

So much to be grateful for these days!

Michelle

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16 Responses to Choices, I have a few

  1. Jean says:

    Hello from Alberta, Canada!

    Thank you for this fast.pray ministry! I love that this exists to keep women encouraged and uplifted during their times of waiting as a single.

    I was in a relationship for a few years and was engaged. Everything for our wedding was planned, booked, bought, and set up. And then the wedding never happened.. we had decided to postpone because I wasn’t 100% sure and felt like we had rushed into engagement really soon. This made him feel really rejected (a wound I think he had from his previous relationships) and he ended the relationship entirely.

    He now wants to date other girls because he said, “It’s just easier to start fresh with someone new.”
    I still love him and I still had hoped to have worked on things because I (still) feel like he is the only man I could see myself doing life with. It’s been extremely difficult being in the same church, being involved with the same ministries, having a bit of a split between our community of friends because of this. It felt like a divorce. I felt crushed. I felt so hopeless.

    We lost a lot of money from the wedding that was set up but never happened, but I have faith God can restore the money we lost. I’m choosing to believe God is still faithful, and that He is still good. And I am wrestling my mind and soul into thankfulness.

    I am joining this fast.pray community and I am believing for breakthrough. I believe God can redeem any situation – so if God wants to use my brokenness, then I’m allowing him full permission – even if that means He wants me to give up my dream of marrying the man I was engaged to.

    God only has the best for us !

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Jean from Canada! Welcome to the FastPray community! Thanks for sharing your story, we’ll be praying for you. Good to know we have a loving God looking out for us!

      Michelle

    • JT says:

      Thanks for sharing. I too recently experienced something very similar as you. Its been a year since he broke up with me and I still miss him and think about him even though I’ve tried to be been open to meeting new people during this time if God has such alternative plans for me. I haven’t been a date in the past year and there have been no prospects in sight at work, church or anywhere else.

      Its been hard because I’m in my mid-thirties and I really hope I didn’t miss out in such a big way. I feel a lot of regrets and pain about this but am learning how to truly trust God and I believe this has strengthened my faith. I struggle deeply with loneliness as a result of the breakup but I hope that God will redeem my circumstances soon.

  2. Adeline says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for sharing this post. And reminding us once again that there is much to be grateful for in this single state. My name is Adeline and I live in a developing country specifically Kenya and I am way over the age of 30 chuckle….and I am still serving God the best way I know how and waiting to meet my husband. Oh and by the way – now you know one!

    God bless..

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Adeline! Great to virtually meet you! I love that you are single and over 30 and living in Kenya, because it’s so REVOLUTIONARY! You can be a light of God’s provision and love in an area that typically doesn’t hold singleness as being valuable. Tim Keller had an excellent message on how radical Paul’s call to remain single was in that day and age (and ours too)! I will pray your singleness isn’t lifelong but until then LIVE singleness loudly!

      Michelle

  3. Karis Pratt says:

    I know that your post was meant to encourage by reminding us that we don’t have to marry a jerk or a deadbeat just to be considered “normal” or to have food and shelter. And, at that level, YES, I am absolutely thankful for the choices and freedoms I have as a western woman! And yet, I must confess (am I the only one?) that it really stings me to the core to realize I do have one CHOICE that has evaded me: That of being a wife and a mom. Your statement that you’ve never met a never-married woman over 30, while partly a result of a LACK of choices, it also makes me wonder what’s going on here in in the US, where we DO have lots of choices, but apparently NOT the choice to get married.

    As I come up on 6 years or so with this group, I am much reflecting on what is at the root of this problem. I do not take my freedoms for granted, to be sure. But I do continue to ponder what it is that has been broken, and how it can be repaired, in order for marriage (for those who want it) to be the norm for us, too!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Karis! Answering the “why?” question is a tough one, because I don’t think there is just one answer. In the developing world marriage is a necessity for survival. When procuring water and food are day-long tasks living alone is not an option. Also in many of these cultures family is valued above the individual, making marriage an almost mandatory pursuit. In Ethiopia, for example, the average life expectancy is 50 so there is not much time to wait to pursue a family. On this trip to Africa we met many widows, I’m not sure singleness on the other side of marriage is any better/easier than never being married. So they may get married, but that’s no guarantee for a life-long marriage. Heck, my own grandmother was married for 38 yrs and has now been single for 30yrs. Are there things in the western world that influence delayed or no marriage? Yes. But is that all wrong? Not sure. What if God is trying to get more people like Paul with a single focus on serving Him? What if “it” isn’t broken and God is just working things out in His timing? I don’t know, but hopefully our prayer and fasting will give us perspective to hold out hope while we continue to serve Him.

      Would love to hear from others on this too!

      Michelle

      • Karis Pratt says:

        Michelle, I appreciate your reply and your thoughts! You are so right that there is no guarantee on either side of marriage, as you put it. And the thought of “what if ‘it’ isn’t broken?” I confess I have been stirred by the posts on justincampbell.net, which challenge some of these notions like “using your singleness to focus on him.” Both his thoughts and other teachings I’ve heard warn against over-generalizing the call to celibacy that Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 7. That it refers to people who made a conscious choice to do that; everyone else is mostly likely meant for marriage, and are going to be distracted until they are…thus the encouragement to marry. back to Campbell, he then states how so many of us can’t figure out HOW to “just get married.”

        I have been pondering these thoughts and curious about what it is that we could do better to “just get married.”

        I’ve had people tell me, “Maybe you’re not SUPPOSED to get married,” or “It’s not God’s time for you yet.”

        I think about these kinds of statements before buying into them. I consider the fact that just about any other desire can be met through BOTH prayer AND our efforts. Need a job? Pray AND apply for jobs. Interested in missions? Pray AND go on a mission trip. Want to be a mommy? Pray AND adopt a child. Need friends? Pray AND invite some new acquaintances over for game night. You get the idea.

        It just seems strange to me that ONLY in the area of marriage there would be no “AND” for me to do.

        Love to hear thoughts!

        • fast. pray. says:

          You’ve definitely been thinking about this stuff! I read a few of Jason’s posts.

          As far as the comments from others about your singleness, I believe people are just looking for an explanation to solve the “Why are you still single?” question. The problem is there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but they try anyway to find the best one to somehow “solve” the question.

          I think the question of “what to do to JUST get married?” is equally as complicated, involved, and different for everyone. While Jason mentions the danger of holding out for “the one,” I would venture a guess that most of us don’t just want “anyone” either. Thus the challenge! I believe you’re right it starts with prayer, and then being open to doing things out of our normal routine – expanding our world, if you will. I’ve prayed and applied for jobs before and it’s taken way longer than I wanted or expected for something to work out, it’s not always as simple as “pray AND wham-o!” for any aspect of life. For the job, I still kept applying for them hoping one would work out, in the end I got a job which I never applied for, they sought me out. Ya just never know how life will go. So here is my suggestion on the “do” part of wanting to be married:

          Pray
          Be attractive (character counts)
          Try new things and places
          Be open
          Have fun
          Pray some more

          I said a prayer for you today!
          Michelle

    • Maria says:

      I grew up in what one would consider a 3rd world country. I however because of my parents sacrifice had the opportunity to leave and study in the US and have a career. I was humbled by this post because I so often forget to be truly thankful for where I am in life and what I have. I have bought into the myth that as a Christian woman marriage would be guaranteed and life without a husband and children was not a life worth living. Oh how ashamed I now feel of the thoughts of I have had and the times I have cried out to God of why her why not me too? Instead of raising my hands up to him in thankfulness that I have a roof over my head, I am highly educated and highly paid, I have travelled, I can travel, clean water, access to better modern health care, etc etc and best of all the choice to say no. See had I stayed at home and never got an education I would have been married I would have been forced to in some ways and I would have been miserable because I had a heart that always longed to see the world and knew there was more to life than a little house, poverty, too many children and a husband bitter overworked who could or would turn abusive, turn to drink or die.

      So why did Michelle not see any women over 30 that were single? It’s because their survival and identity depends on getting out of parents house and into husbands house.

      Do you know my parents esp my mother feel embarrassed that I am 38 and single and childless? When others that I grew up with have kids and and or spouses? She doesn’t see the divorce, the bitterness, the regret, the anger, their pain

      When you live in a society where there is no shame to be 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and be single and there is no need of a husband to provide then it takes away (Or it should take away) that clawing desperation to be married and leave you with the ability to make a smart informed choice…..well most of the time 🙂

      Although if you are like me and you want to be pursued or at least asked out to dinner or coffee and no one asks and you never get the chance or choice to say yes or no there is not much we can do in those situations but hold on tight and trust God.

      But I think if Christian men are coming our way, showing interest we should pray about it and give someone a chance even if they seem like they are a long way from what we would choose.

      • fast. pray. says:

        Beautifully said Maria!

        Thank you for sharing!
        Michelle

      • Karis Pratt says:

        Thanks for this, Maria. I agree, I also have to keep focused on thanksgiving–the Lord has given us so much, but we can just focus on our wants! And your experience gives good support to the original post above.
        I’m sorry that your mom is embarrassed! I pray that you will have enough confidence to overcome her feelings, but also that her feelings would change and that she’d be filled with joy over you!

        I *am* like you and hardly ever go on a date. I am very open, smile at people, will converse with anyone, and am GREAT wife material (if I may say so–as I’m sure you are, too!). And yet, I still feel that we don’t have to just throw up our arms and do nothing but wait. Trust God completely, YES! But that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do. It’s just that I don’t know exactly what that is yet, even after reading some books that sort of transformed my attitude about this.

        I am not embarrassed of my singleness; I don’t think I’m not a whole person without a man; I’d rather be alone than “settle,” while simultaneously recognizing that a good man might look different than how I picture him in my mind; I don’t think I’ve made marriage an idol. It just seems that it’s God’s design for MOST people (It is not good for man to be alone; two are better than one; etc. etc.), and so I think there must be a path for those of us who want to get there.

        Lord, let us pursue your calling in hope and trust, recognizing that you might have certain pieces of it for US to do. When we are discouraged, help us to remember that we have a band of sisters who care and are praying. Help us to keep the focus off of our own desires when a friend gets engaged, married, or has a baby, that we might fully celebrate with them. Give us experiences that move us closer to being ready to meet potential life partners. And thank you so much for the freedoms and the gifts you give us constantly!

  4. austriagom says:

    Thanks for this excellent post, which gives a broader perspective to the whole issue. I’m also amazed and overwhelmed by the choices in the US, when I return from Austria. And also thankful to have been spared divorce or widowhood (perhaps with children), or persecution. It is helpful to realize all the positive gifts for which we can be thankful, and not to focus only on what we don’t have, which can get us down. Fast/pray posts helps broaden perspective, lifting our eyes to our sovereign Lord and Father.

  5. Rebekah says:

    Thanks, Michelle! I think it helps us to step back and reflect on the good things about our situation as singles. Often times, that comes through exposure to a picture outside of our average local family-oriented church.
    Over the years, there have been moments where I’ve had to remind myself if marriage in and of itself was a top priority for me, I could probably make that happen (granted the quality of that marriage wouldn’t have been great). But, I chose to wait for a relationship that I know is from the Lord and along the way, that season of singleness opens doors for how to use my time, talents, and financial resources.
    I can identify with pain, frustration, and disillusionment about singleness; however, it’s also true that God has blessed me with a wonderful family and network of friends and many opportunities to do things I’d like to get involved with. (There’s always more things I’d like to do than there is time available to fit them in!) Praying today for ladies who are wrestling with the tension of all of this!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Rebekah! You are correct that there is a tension with which we must hold between contentment and longing. I venture to guess the tensions of life transcend marital status, so I best learn to hold them in place now!

      Thanks for sharing!
      Michelle

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