Our church, spearheaded by my friend, Riva, challenged married couples to mentor singles through an intimate gathering called Truetorials. These are randomly scheduled, informal meetings where singles can connect with couples to ask them questions about life, love, work, and pretty much anything that a couple host is willing to answer.
We had one such event at our place this past weekend, where we had the privilege of getting to know 20 somethings and 30 somethings, men and women (mostly women), who were curious to know about things like…
“Does the guy have to be a spiritual leader before I commit to him in a relationship?”
“How do I tell a girl that I am interested in her and when should I tell her?
“What if the guy I like has a different perspective on certain convictions that are important to me?”
“What if it’s hard for me to be friendly to guys?”
As Edric and I listened to them, I realized how complicated being single can be at times because of societal pressures and expectations. There’s so much emphasis on the importance of being with someone, in a relationship, or headed towards marriage, that the amazing state of singleness and the options available to someone who is “free” are overshadowed by the idea that marriage is somehow a better status to be in.
So let me tell you, from the vantage point of a married woman that if you are single, you have God-given liberties and opportunities that I cannot have. And in this sense you are better off to maximize your time, talents, and treasures for the Lord. I am tied down. Being a wife and mother necessitate that I consider, at all times, my husband and children’s needs. I cannot, for example, go to China on a mission trip for an indefinite period of time, something I once thought I ought to do. Who will attend to my husband and kids if I go? I cannot up and leave with girlfriends to go on a spontaneous beach trip, either.
Similarly, I can’t invest as much time in relationships with people because this will sacrifice the time I have with my family. So there is often a ceiling to what I can offer and give to others as a married person because I need to focus on building relationships with my husband and children.
“…The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:34
The kinds of friendships I have with others always have to factor in how I am bound to my husband exclusively. As a single woman, I had many guys friends, and I could enjoy these friendships. I hung out with male buddies on a regular basis and that was perfectly fine. Having guy friends was a super fun part about being single. Since I am now a wife, I have to set boundaries in my dealings with guy friends, and some of these friendships I have let go off, too.
My pursuits are largely impacted by my roles as wife and mom. Instead of focusing on how I can make an impact outside of the home, I have to filter through what I will spend energy and effort developing in myself to better fulfill my roles. Will these contribute to my becoming a better wife and mom?
In the past I was part of the music ministry. I actually sang with the prompters on stage many many years ago. As much as I enjoyed the fellowship with the team and band, as well as learning from expert musicians, I had to stop because of my priorities.
Being a wife also means I am under my husband’s authority. I praise God that Edric is a wonderful husband who loves the Lord. Nevertheless, what he asks me to do, I am compelled to obey to honor his headship over me (even when I don’t like to.) It’s not easy to choose to obey Edric but I entered into marriage knowing that this was going to be the dynamic of our role. I can express myself and give my opinion, but at the end of the day, if we disagree on a matter, I can’t stage a coup to rebel against him. God tells me to obey and submit myself to his leadership.
Finally, I am in this marriage for better or for worse. There is no exit. Edric and I are bound together for life. “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.” (Romans 7:2) I can’t just leave him even when our differences seem irreconcilable. There must be a constant effort on both our parts to improve ourselves and make the marriage work. I praise God that Edric and I know Him so there is always a sense of hopefulness when we don’t like each other very much. But for those who are in very difficult and painful marriages, there is a sense of feeling trapped and suffocated.
I am not trying to discourage people from wanting to be married because it is, when lived out biblically, an amazing thing. However I think our culture and society have elevated it to a point of making those who aren’t married feel that they are somehow incomplete or inferior in status. For example, if a person is single for a long time or not dating then the usual assumption is something must be wrong. At the same time, there is the other extreme which says, “I don’t need to get married because it’s so overrated and I want my independence.”
Both of these make status the focus rather than giving preeminence to Christ and our relationship with Him. If you and I wholeheartedly seek after Christ and understand how loved and complete we are in him, both marriage and being single are equally beautiful states to be in, and both are right for us. Neither trumps the other. There is no need to compare or want what the other has (singles, the married life, and marrieds, the freedoms of single life).
Let’s want the life we have right now!
In Christ, the curse of sin which makes us a slave to wrong perspectives, desires, and behaviors has been broken! “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) We are free to enjoy the states we are in, single or married! God wants us to experience fullness of life just as he declared, “I came that you may have life to the full, a satisfying life!” (John 10:10 paraphrased)
I think we all need to do heart checks and ask ourselves, “If I feel unhappy and wanting now, why is this so? Is it my state in life as a married or single person dictating my happiness and feeling of wholeness, or is it my relationship with the Lord defining these for me?” It’s not about the status of being single or married. It’s about the direction my heart is pointing to. If it’s pointing in the right direction, seeking after Christ, then I will embrace the divine purpose of my status.
If you are interested in connecting with other singles, check out www.discovernewcircles.com for all kinds of events and activities that give you the opportunity to enjoy and maximize this season of your life.