Why I Became a Runner

Reminder for Monday’s lunch: We’re fasting and praying for godly marriages for those who desire to be married and for those who are married; for courage for men and women to walk toward marriage; and for humble, obedient hearts towards the Lord.

The year I graduated from college, having failed to find a husband, much less date, I moved to the D.C. area where I had a teaching job. The closest friend I had was about an hour away, so needless to say, there were more lonely nights/weekends than I care to remember.

That’s when I decided to become a runner:

  1. I don’t need other people to run.
  2. I will get in shape and look good if I run.
  3. Cute boys who also run will see me running and want to run [life] with me.

Things I neglected to factor in:

  1. Running by myself is lonely.
  2. Running makes my face turn red and the rest of me hot and sweaty, not attractive.
  3. Cute boys run much faster than me and won’t stop to talk in a middle of a race.

This is one instance of the many large and small life choices I’ve made that were, in part, motivated by my desire to find a husband. While not the only factor considered in my decision-making process (i.e. would this action hurt my relationship with the Lord?), it was certainly on the positive side of the pro/con list.

  1. Work at a Christian school – Find a single male teacher to marry.
  2. Go to grad school – Gets me around a new circle of people.
  3. Join the alumni board of my alma mater – A 2nd chance to meet someone from my Christian college.
  4. Go to church this Sunday – Most likely place to meet a boy who loves Jesus!

For all of my scheming and literally running around, none of my best-laid plans resulted in a husband.

  1. Work at a Christian school – Do you know the ratio of single female teachers to single male teachers at Christian schools?
  2. Go to grad school – At orientation, the faculty joked about how we happened to be an all-female cohort (and all single too!).
  3. Join the alumni board of my alma mater – All married or single girls.
  4. Go to church this Sunday – Again, a problem with ratios and lack of guys asking me out.

As a I reflect on the many times I’ve ridden the roller coaster of hope deferred, I realize that while I was allowing my desire for marriage to be a bigger factor in my decision-making than it should have been, my desire gave me that little push I needed to try something new and usually good for me.

And, in His graciousness toward me, God used my “foolishness” – the emphasis I placed on my desire for a husband, not the desire itself – for my good. He put me in situations where I learned to rely heavily on Him. He brought people alongside of me to do life together. Friends who’ve taught me the meaning of “closer than a brother.” Maybe not the direct outcome I was looking for at the time, but oh-so-necessary.

I’m reminded of Psalm 46:10 which admonishes “Be still, and know that I am God” (NIV). Other versions say “Cease striving” (NASB). My well-intended plans and asserting what I think should happen is sometimes in direct contradiction of God’s desire for me to be still and let Him have control of my life. Sometimes He wants me to quietly sit at His feet instead of trying to find something I feel is productive to do and moving me toward the goals I have for myself.

As you fast and pray this week, spend time reflecting on how you’ve seen the Lord working in unexpected ways – where you asked God for one thing, and He gave you something you now see you needed more. Be still and meditate on the fact that He is God and in control. Know and claim the truth that He can work through any situation and circumstance and foolishness on our part.

Sending you love,

Emily

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19 Responses to Why I Became a Runner

  1. Karis says:

    I really appreciate this blog, and the emphasis on praying and submitting our lives/desires/hearts to the Lord. Thank you so much to all of you who thoughtfully post things to encourage and speak godly truth.

    Not targeting this post speficially, but in general, I would like to present another side to this conversation: that it’s completely normal, good, and biblical to want to marry, and we don’t need to continue trying to “figure out” what the Lord has for us INSTEAD of marriage. Above, Emily mentions the “foolishness” of the “emphasis” she placed on her desires for marriage. I would like to contest that it is NOT foolish; it was the basic command of God in the first chapters of Genesis, and in fact the REASON he created woman, even in man’s pre-sin-stained condition!

    We have the opportunity here to pray hard into this “broken” state of dating/marriage, especially for believers. I have heard many times (and my spirit somehow believes it to be true) that pornography is a HUGE reason for men not stepping up to marriage. (I recently heard of a young newlywed couple who were not physically intimate due to the man’s pornography addiction.) All or most of us on this site are women–likely lovely, wonderful, godly ones–who bemoan not meeting men (at least interesting ones who seem to be interested in us). It is certainly good for us to lean into the Lord, to let HIM be our true hope, to be obedient and moldable in HIS hands. But it is also desperately important that we come against our enemy’s vicious plans to stop godly marriages through divorce or preventing them in the first place. Sexual permissiveness, perversions, and pornography play a HUGE role in our current, desolate situation. I would love to see us praying and acting against these things for the glory of God and for the establishment of healthy, strong marriages and families!

    Many blessings and HOPE to all of you in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Karis, You make a very good point. We should be faithfully praying against the enemy’s perversion of something that God created to be good and holy. We writers agree that our culture’s view/treatment of sex is a huge issue and a reason why more lasting, godly marriages aren’t in place.

      Just to clarify – I certainly don’t think the desire to be married is foolish (it is God-given), but I do think that we take it to extremes in letting it run our lives (as I tried to illustrate in this post) is foolish and not how God intended as it does prevent us from seeing the big picture of what God has for our lives.

      Thanks for being a part of our community and contributing to this important conversation.

      • Karis says:

        fast.pray, thank you for your response. I agree that we should not let an over-focus on any one goal take over our focus on the Lord’s plans for our lives. However, I really do believe that godly marriage IS the plan for most of us, and NOT delayed marriage; that what we are experiencing is a brokenness, even a curse, perhaps. For years I sat back, prayed, waited, wondered if God’s real purpose for me was a lifetime of singleness/celibacy… thinking that if I was to marry, He would just “make it happen,” and so I’d better just keep my eyes on Him and go about my business. But now I think differently. In light of the temptations in our culture, “each man should have his own wife” (and vice versa). I understand the so-called “gift of singleness” to be an intentional decision (or a physical reality). I want to spur my brothers and sisters to action, because I think we’re too much on the side of “waiting for” and not enough on the side of “fighting for” or “pursuing” godly marriage/families. So I think it would take quite a lot to cross that line into an unreasonable, even foolish, pursuit of it. Perhaps some are guilty of that, and need a gut-check; my sense is that most of us could step up our actions to match the prayers of our hearts, which I believe are 100% in line with God’s will.

    • Stephen says:

      Karis,
      I can say that there is some truth in what you’ve said, and your brothers would appreciate prayers for their struggles with sexual immorality. I seriously doubt most of y’all have any idea how hard it is to be sexually pure as a guy in this culture, and we could use all the prayer we could get.

      I just wanted to add that sexual immorality is by no means the only thing, and sometimes not a major thing, making marriage difficult. In fact, there’s something else that I’ve experienced that I’ve never seen written about.

      I’m pretty sure, based on personal experience, that there actually are just as many godly single guys as there are godly single girls. But somehow we’re all in different different places geographically, vocationally, socially, chronologically, and ecclesiastically.

      Some of us guys aren’t getting married in a timely fashion because we’re competing with four or five other guys for, literally, every single woman we know. In a lot of cases those women aren’t actually all that interested in dating or getting married at all until after they’ve had a good long while to enjoy their careers. When they are ready to date, one of those four or five guys we’re competing with always has a better personality, better sense of humor, etc. than us.

      Until very recently I’ve never been a part of any workplace team, social circle, or church where marriage-ready single guys didn’t outnumber marriage-ready single girls by a factor of something like four to one at minimum. I’ve recently changed churches and there are probably more single women at my current church than single men…but almost all the single women are in their thirties, several years older than me and all the single guy friends I have. All the women my age at that church are already married.

      I’m curious as to why this division exists and am interested in some demographic feedback from y’all. My theory is that it has to do with the sorts of jobs we work.

      See, I’m an engineer. Most of my godly guy friends are engineers. In my experience lots of engineering or technical jobs are available in medium-sized cities, not necessarily huge metropolises. Further, most of the single females I’ve known are engineers who are not actually particularly interested in dating or getting married until some undefined point in the future.

      Am I right in suspecting that a lot y’all who do want to get married are working more people-oriented jobs rather than technical jobs in big industry? That, because of that, you tend to be living either in tiny towns with no industrial presence to attract guys, or in huge metropolises that may have an industrial presence but not that you ever interact with?

      If you’re working in a big city that has an industrial presence, do you know where the engineers who work for that presence are going to church and where they’re socializing? Do you meet any of them or are their social and ecclesiastical circles separate from yours for some reason? Any idea as to the reason?

      • Gina says:

        I think I need to move to wherever you are. Where I live, there are four or five women for every guy, and a lot of the guys just aren’t interested! No lie.

        Also, I appreciate what you said about the struggle for purity. I will pray for you.

        • Stephen says:

          Exactly! There’s this weird dynamic where we’re all…missing each other somehow, and I’m really curious as to why. That’s why I asked about work/social circle demographics – I’m really curious as to whether there some noticeable difference in the way that works out for Christian single guys and Christian single girls.

          Thanks for the prayers – your brothers appreciate it, and could use all the prayers you send our way.

          Many thanks!

        • Gina says:

          You’re welcome. Please pray for us women too. We’ve got struggles as well (biological clock, etc.).

          I’ve long been curious about the same thing! If you find any answers, let me know, will you? 🙂

        • Karis says:

          Stephen, thanks for your comment. I actually live in a larger city with a HUGE draw for tech/engineer men. The churches I visit, the parties attended by Christians, the concert at the zoo I went to last night–basically single women and married couples. And the few single men don’t seem to be making any effort to date all the single women that appear to be striving to get their attention (for example, at the aforementioned single Christian parties/gatherings). I am at an utter loss. And it baffles me to hear from Christian men like you who also feel that there are no single women in their vicinity. It makes me sad, and is extremely confusing. What is this great divide, and how do we bridge it?

        • Stephen says:

          Karis – interesting. I’m at a loss as well. It seems like somehow even when we’re in the general locales, we all end up in different social circles, which is really baffling. I can’t even begin to take a guess as to what’s going on.

          Sounds like we’ve all got plenty of praying to do for each other. 🙂

  2. Samantha says:

    Thanks for your honest sharing Emily…I appreciate the humor and the truth in it! Your post also reminds me of a line from a Rich Mullins’ song, Hold Me Jesus—
    “I’d rather fight you for something
    I don’t really want
    Than to take what you give that I need”

  3. Maria says:

    Thank you for your openness and honesty. I have to admit that for a large part of my life my decision making process looked exactly like that and it all amounted to nothing. I always ended up on the sidelines watching everyone else mingle, meet, connect and mate up. I am not sure when my thought process stopped functioning that way but it is a relief to just be.

  4. Maria says:

    Thanks for sharing honestly, Emily! I’m happily married now (we met online), but this perfectly describes my approach and my thought process during my single years, which lasted well into my 30s. I often tried to remind myself that volunteering, attending church events, etc. were all worthy uses of my time in and of themselves, but underneath, I was also always hoping they would also be the place that I finally met someone – and I often found myself disappointed when I did not. I love Rebekah’s suggestion above about prayerfully looking for specific ways to minister to others; while probably not a perfect antidote, I think that doing so could have eased the hopeful buildup to an event (and the resulting disappointment when those hopes were not met).

    • fast. pray. says:

      Maria, thanks for being open about your similar struggles. Very glad to hear you are now happily married and continuing to be involved in our weekly prayer time. 🙂 I (Emily) met my husband online too!

  5. Rebekah says:

    One thing I started to do when I would attend various events was to pray before I went that God would help me look out for someone to connect with or reach out to. This took the emphasis off of how I felt people responded (or not) to me and put it more on me trying to help someone else feel seen or heard. So many single people feel overlooked. Even though I came home from the events still without a prospective date, my attitude was different. It’s hard, though. I get it!
    I do think that ultimately some of those skills and approach helped later on when I did have a blind date with the excellent man who is now my husband. All of the “noise” I used to have in my head regarding fears about how I would be received and what my date thought about me which used to be a major hindrance had quieted down. I was actually able to focus on getting acquainted with him and being fully present. Hang in there, dear sisters!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Rebekah, this is such a great, practical idea to re-focus on others and the Lord rather than yourself and worrying about what others are thinking of you. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Charmaine says:

    Thank you for your honest here. I can totally relate about how I try to make decisions based on whether it may create opportunities for me to meet a Christian man. However its all amounted to nothing so far. And when I don’t “do” anything, I feel more comfortable (introvert speaking here) but I start to worry that if I’m in my room 24/7 there’s definitely going to be no way for me to find a spouse.

    Trust God? I’m trying to do that, but its hard and its scary as I get deeper into my 30s. But its also very disappointing to make all that effort to try something new or attend an event only to come back feeling as lonely as I was before I went.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Charmaine, as an introvert myself, I hear you – it is discouraging to put yourself out there and not see any immediate rewards. It is important to continue to take steps out of your comfort zone, but I think there has to be a balance when doing so. If your introvert’s battery is drained, you won’t be as available when the Lord does bring someone in your life. Trusting God is scary, especially with something so close to your heart.

      Praying for courage and strength for you today!

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