image credit: brides.com, taken by Laura Grier
One day my Prince will come.
It’s the dream of many a fairy-tale reading girl. Something that girls grow up hoping for, if not expecting. (Though apparently not as much as they used to, but I digress.) In junior high, we practice our signatures with the last name of our secret crush. I went so far as to pick out baby names for my over-a-decade-from-being-born children: Champagne and Chablis. (So embarrassing!!) We fantasize about the wedding day, the gorgeous dress, and the home we will share long before the identity of our knight in armor is even known.
As we mature, our longings go deeper than the perfect day and the perfect dress. We look forward to the companionship and intimacy that are supposed to characterize marriage. We may hope for someone to take care of us, to make us feel safe and secure. Or someone to make us feel needed, desired, and loved. For better or worse, our childhood experiences often impact our expectations of marriage. Some of us grew up in loving homes that we plan to duplicate with our own Prince Charmings. Others of us long to find the happy relationship that our parents didn’t have.
And that longing isn’t wrong, is it? After all, God created marriage. Throughout Scripture (including in Ephesians 5:22-32, Hosea, and Revelation), God’s relationship to his people is compared to covenant of marriage. An entire book of the Bible is devoted to the pleasures of marital love. Clearly, in the opinion that matters most (ie, God’s), marriage is a good thing.
So if you are a single woman you may be asking yourself, When will this good thing happen to me? Will it ever happen to me? I certainly asked. Even though I met my husband when I was 18, our ultimately getting married 7 years later was not always a certainty. So if it wasn’t going to be him, Who? I asked when we weren’t in a relationship. Where will I meet him? Maybe I should go on this missions trip because I’ll meet him there! What if he was on that missions trip that I didn’t go on and I missed him?? Does God even want me to get married???
Well, to my great delight, I did get married. 🙂 In November it will be 15 years, and I’m grateful for every single day of those 15 years, even the days I would not like to repeat. But sometimes I think about the single me, with her hopes and expectations of what marriage would be. She thought she knew everything (except maybe who her future husband would be), so she probably wouldn’t listen if I went back in time and told her what I know now. (When I get married, … she would say with authority.) But as it turns out, the things I would say to the single Susan are the same things I need to say to myself every day as a married woman:
1. Find your wholeness and identity in God.
The Bible says that a husband and wife are no longer two, but one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6). And Ephesians 5:23 says that the husband is the head of the wife. But married or not, you—Susan of the past and Susan of the present—are God’s precious daughter. Your last name may change, but you will still be you! I won’t pretend to understand exactly how it works. But I do know, when you stand before before God’s judgment seat, you will not be judged for your husband’s life, nor he for yours (Romans 2:6, Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10). And if you are waiting for someone to complete you, define you, or make you feel significant, you will be disappointed. No man was made for that job. Jesus has already defined you, and He says that you are:
He says that you belong to Him (1 Peter 2:9), whatever your last name. You can be secure in the knowledge that your position in Christ is independent of your marital status or how anyone else feels about you.
2. Depend on God as your provider.
I have to admit, during my engagement, I was looking forward to having a husband take care of me. After we got married, even though I had a job (and had supported myself as a single adult for years), I felt proud that my husband was the primary and very successful breadwinner. To the point that I took little interest in our financial situation. But God is the one who was taking care of both of us, as He had when we were single. And we both had a responsibility for stewardship, whoever was making more money.
When you see your husband (or your boss, or your parents, or even yourself) as your source, all of the pressure is on that person to meet your physical needs. Relying completely on a human being who can’t possibly meet all of your needs can be stressful, disappointing, and even embittering for both of you. But even if your husband is the only one in your family who earns an income, God is your source! God is the one who provides the opportunity and ability to work. Between the two of us, my husband and I have several testimonies of miraculous employments. 😀 In each of those stories, it’s so clear that God’s merciful hand, and not our strength or our brilliant choices, brought the jobs along (and kept them for us) at just the right times.
And God’s provision is not limited to paychecks. The Creator of the Universe is the one who keeps those tires going a few miles longer, gives the kids’ sneakers a few more weeks of tread, leaves the providential bag of groceries at your door, and does abundantly more than you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). It is true when you are single. And it’s true after you say, “I do.” So instead of burdening your (future or current) husband with all of your needs, take them to the Lord and trust Him to provide (Philippians 4:3-29, Hebrews 4:16)
3. Seek companionship in Him.
Marriage is not a cure for loneliness. Even if you marry your best friend, as I did. Even if, as I once bragged, you are his favorite person to spend time with. (Marriage has been a necessary and ongoing cure for my pride! 🙂 ) In the best relationship, you and your husband will probably be apart at times. For 8-10 hours every weekday, for an occasional overnight trip, or even for weeks or months at a time. Back in 2004, my husband’s job required him to travel cross-country as much as one week per month. We had a toddler and an infant, and I could hardly wait for Daddy’s Friday returns. I would wake up and cry, It’s only Tuesday!!
But very often, couples are separated by more than time zones. Your once intimate partner can come to feel more like a roommate; or worse, your enemy. Not feeling close to the person with whom you are supposed to be one flesh, can be harder to bear than being simply alone.
But God’s daughter is never really alone! Ever! Jesus is always with you (Matthew 28:20). You couldn’t get away from Him even if you wanted to (Psalm 139:7-12)!! Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Knowing this has been an incredible comfort during difficult times in my marriage. In fact, it’s during some of those trying times that I’ve felt the deepest awareness of and dependence on God’s presence. Of course, you don’t have to wait until you’re married or have marital problems to draw near to God (Psalm 73:28). Don’t wait. He longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18).
4. Never give up serving the Lord.
It is easier to serve when you feel appreciated. At least it is for me, someone who craves affirmation. And while I am grateful to have a very affirming husband, he can’t do it constantly. My children are old enough to say, Thank you, and they often do. But not when I mop the kitchen floor (which, granted doesn’t happen very often, but still). Not when I tell them to clean their rooms. Definitely not when I correct and discipline them. But I can’t live for anyone’s affirmation or thanks. Those are not enough to get me through yet another sink-full of dirty dishes. They will not give me the strength to keep praying the same prayers for my family. But when I do get tired, and wonder, What’s the point?, God reminds me that I’m washing the dishes for Him. I’m praying for my family, not so that our lives will be the way I want them to be, but that our lives would please Him.
One of my absolute FAVORITE verses is in 1 Corinthians 15. It is a reminder to focus on the One I am really serving.
~~Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). ~~
So if you feel neglected, unnoticed, unappreciated in your service—whether it’s to your job, church, community, or family—remember that God sees all of your work and does not forget it (Hebrews 6:10).
My point in all this? Marriage can be sweet, satisfying, exhilarating, and comforting. It can also be exhausting and heart-breaking. For every problem that you think marriage will solve, there are challenges that are hard to imagine or understand until you actually get married yourself (as married people tried to tell me when I was single 🙂 ). So, rather than looking to marriage as a solution to (or cause of) your problems, look to Jesus. Put your hope in Him. Beyond hoping that He will bring you a husband or change your marriage (which He can do, so ask!), you have hope because Christ’s life, death, and resurrection give us victory. So even though you are going to have trouble, whether you’re married or single, you can take heart. Because whether married or single, the greater One is in you. He is there before you walk down the aisle, and He will be there always.
Thanks for stopping by,
Married Susan 🙂