No, I am not going to quote the Princess Bride.
This post is a little similar to the Children one I posted a while ago with one exception: I won't be so impertinent. Or I will attempt not to be. I realize that post was a little rude or perhaps abrasive. I hope you don't hold it against me, though, they were true thoughts and feelings, I just think I could have expressed them in a more loving manner.
Without further adieu: Marriage. Or, more appropriately: The Single Person and How They Should React to the Topic of Marriage.
OR, even better: The Myth that Marriage is the Most Important Goal in Your Life and Should be Sought After Over All Other Pursuits.
Interesting title, you may think. How did I arrive at such a controversial topic? It's simple: I'm single. The topic of marriage is sometimes unavoidable--especially at my age. It's usually accompanied by assurances that it will happen to me some day and that I just need to be patient.
A lot of the time people--mostly married ones--feel the need to offer this assurance, but why? Is there something we should be worried about? Is there an expiration date to marriage? Why should we be assured that it will happen to us one day? Most of us are aware of that. I can only speak for myself when I say that such assurances have the adverse effect. Why are these people saying these things to me? I wasn't worried until they started mentioning that I shouldn't be worried. Should I be on the look-out? Should I be concerned that I'm getting older and haven't found a spouse?
Before I go further, let me just venture to say: I've been through all sides of it. I've sat by content to be single. I've marched by dead-set on never getting married. I've strolled past being patient but expectant. I've also slouched in my room and gave way to the lonely feeling which accompanies the seemingly large, gaping mouth of my single future, as I stared into it I'd think, "it's never going to happen to me. I'm broken."
The funny part is, I've received assurances when I was usually strolling contentedly--which put marriage on my mind and threw me into the slouching bit. So now you can have my assurance: I've been through most of it. And I can honestly say that I am on a good path now. And I want to tell you about it.
Marriage is a very important and beautiful sacrament full of meaning and purpose. It's also very hard -- so I've constantly been told -- and shouldn't be entered into lightly. From early childhood a girl is planning her wedding and getting crushes on boys and looking forward to marriage. I honestly thought I would be married by 19 -- 23 was pushing it. But why are we raised with this urgency to marry? I don't think anyone pulls you aside and says, "listen, you need to get married as soon as you can. It's important." In fact, people say the opposite, they give the afore mentioned assurances that it will happen eventually. Lots of people mention marrying in their 30's and that those marriages are great and solid. So how is it that we grow up thinking this needs to happen and soon?
That's how I grew up. And then it didn't happen. I was usually on the look-out, though. Sometimes I'd think I found someone but nothing would come of it. Then you kind of just sick of looking and you finally find a nice spot between the desire to be married and contentment with single life. I found I was getting on with life and even making plans to live as a single woman for a very long time. It actually rocked. Then my BFF got married and a little piece of me kind of broke off and died when that happened. I don't hold anything against her now, I still love her and I... well I tolerate the man she married and his purple drapes. But there was still that little piece of me that felt empty.
This was because, for 10 years, I had constant companionship and fellowship in Christ. We lifted each other up all the time and when that was suddenly taken away, I didn't know what to do!
This is bad, I thought, I should be so filled up with Christ that it shouldn't affect me if I lose a little bit of Buddyship. I was then faced with a marriage proposal. This may surprise some of you, but I turned it down. I would have accepted for all the wrong reasons. So I didn't. One of the biggest reasons would have been, "you'll probably never get a chance like this again in your life."
And I thought to myself, "that is the dumbest reason to marry someone."
Since I was already going through this losing part of my buddy thing, I realized it could be a little bit of a cop-out to run off and get married, effectively re-filling that hole with something else.
Instead I decided that I needed to be able to stand in Christ on my own before I attached myself to someone else. I want to make something very clear at this point in my post: I believe Christian fellowship is important. I don't believe anyone should cut themselves off from the body of Christ. I think we all need to bear each others' burdens and build each other up any chance we get. It's important that we can go to someone and tell them our worries and help each other.
But I also believe that, if the opportunity ever arises where we find ourselves alone in a place full of darkness, we should be able to stand firm in Christ, unwavering. I do not think we should fully rely on the fellowship of others. We stand together, but we should be able to stand by ourselves with nothing but the help of Christ. For He is more than enough.
Anyway, just so we're all clear on that. I'd like to say I rode off, triumphantly, into the sunset, but I didn't. I hit a few speed bumps. First I was marching off into the sunset; I was, in my own opinion, a "cool, single woman who didn't care if she ever got married."
I won't bore you with details of the speed bumps, because this post is already long enough.
Just understand that I did go through that slouching, lonely phase that I mentioned in the beginning. Then I woke up. Finally, after more than 10 years, I woke up. People would often -- and I mean often -- tell me "enjoy this time of your life, you'll miss it when it's gone!" First of all: then why give it up? Secondly: I knew that very well and took the advice most of the time, but it didn't click when I was looking at it from the perspective of a young adult looking to have "fun."
When I looked at it from the perspective of a Christian looking to sow seeds I fully realized the opportunity single people have.
The world is getting darker and darker as the days go on. We need to be warning people about Christ's coming, about repenting for sins. Sometimes when I sit down and wonder if Christ will come in my time I think, "darn, I don't have time for marriage. There is way too much work to do." THAT, there! That's the thought that made it click. Marriage should be introduced when you can only do so much for Christ's kingdom and then allying yourself with this person will make you a stronger team for Christ. When you have learned all you can while being single, God will bring you a person who He can teach you more lessons through. That's the best part about marriage, that's the importance of it. No, not relying on your spouse to hold you up in Christ. But lifting each other up and fulfilling His purposes.
Stop and think about it: Why do you have the desire to be married?
Is it a selfish reason? And I don't mean that in necessarily a bad way. It's not bad to want to have a connection with someone, to not be lonely and to share a life with someone. But that is selfish in that it revolves around your desires and wants.
Marriage is right when you meet a person whom you want to make happy, whom you would lay down your life for, a person who points you to Christ, with whom you make a great team.
Marriage is right when your ministry -- whatever it may be -- will be strengthened through this connection.