On Mondays, we pray and fast for lunch or longer for women to be softened–trusting God to work in their lives, for men to be emboldened to walk in to relationships, and for God to give the gift of marriage to those who desire it.
I never really understood God’s love until I got married.
When I became a mom, I finally understood God’s fatherly love for us.
God is using your marriage especially to sanctify you.
If you’re eyes roll back in your head, when you hear quips like that. You’re not alone. I usually have one of a few different responses when I hear platitudes about marriage or kids like that: (1) Feel bad about myself that God didn’t choose me to understand his love through a married relationship. (2) Shrug my shoulders and say sarcastically, “You got it, dude.” (3) Quietly wonder if they’re right. Maybe, I’ll never fully understand God’s love if I never get married.
I may not be married. Friends (and sometimes me) may think I spend too much time thinking about marriage and singleness–that writing about it online brands me with a scarlet S. Even single girls who want to be married, don’t always want to admit it or think about it too much. It looks a little desparate. Maybe you’ve never been branded as the single adult who thinks about marriage too much, but I want to encourage you that even as I enter my fifth year of intentionally praying for marriage that the Lord is using marriage–even the just the desire–for as a tool for sanctification.
Here’s two things that have cropped up recently:
Dismantling marriage/family idolatry. Even though I can still find myself slipping back into my old patterns of thinking, the Lord has used my desire for marriage to dismantle my marriage/family idolatry. I used to believe–either absorbed from the culture around me or just welled up in my own heart–that getting married and having a family were the answer to all of my unmet longings. God could have used my own marriage to tear it down, but instead of allowing me to enter a marriage with a hugely out of control set of relational expectations, God quietly walked beside me and showed me how good marriage is and how unrealistic my ideals were.
Do I wish I could have been one of the many girls who went riding off into the marriage sunset at 22 with a newly minted college diploma in my hands? Some days I do, but in my more honest moments, I can see how kind the Lord was show me how stop carrying my burdensome anvil of a marriage/family god and see that he’s the one that is carrying me. (Isaiah 44-46)
Seeing God look for and love me. When I hear marrieds say things like, I now understand what God’s love for us is like. I have to resist running for the toilet or passing out from holding my breath. I know that what they say is true to an extent. God did design marriage to be a unique conduit of his creative love, but marriage doesn’t tell the whole picture of our experience of God’s love here on earth.
As Connally said in her Regent talk, Christ is looking for us. His eyes are on us. I’ll add to that. Jesus is expectantly watching and longing for us in a way that is much more analogous to a single believer’s life journey than a married couple’s. As an unmarried woman, I understand the complex nuances of waiting and looking for something I desperately want so much more than my sisters who got their diplomas and diamonds in one May weekend. It’s painful and bit snotty at times, but it allows me to more fully understand what Jesus feels when he’s searching for us.
So, as you pray and fast this week for the gift of marriage, be encouraged that the Lord is with you, that he’s looking for you, seeing you in the midst of your circumstances, loving you with a longsuffering and patient adoration, and is using your story to show the world a unique facet of his love.