“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is a phrase no single gal likes to hear, but has probably said to herself. My friends had all gotten married in waves. One set got married right after college, another set tied the knot about 7 years after college and then the waves of home buying and baby making proceeded. With each major life change, my friends planted their flags along the way toward adulthood. Me? I was running to catch up, but moving nowhere fast. No husband, no home, no baby. It took me a little longer to feel like an adult without these major markers to indicate my adulthood.
Soon the next wave of marriages happened; my youth group kids. That was fun. I had moved from being a bridesmaid to actually officiating weddings and while I was truly happy for the couple, it was sometimes difficult to walk them through vows I had yet to make myself. I have gone through what feels like ALL of the emotions and phases a single gal can go through. I have summed them up into three categories: Wasting Away, Waiting, and Wanting. Today we’re talking about Wasting Away.
In short I describe “Wasting Away” as when I gave up on God hearing me. I had prayed every prayer and said every word I could think to say. I had my team of prayer warriors praying with me and for me. I fasted. I journaled. I cried. I cried with friends and I cried alone. After a while I was tired of crying so I simply gave up. I knew I couldn’t force God’s timing or God’s will. I didn’t feel called to being single, but I also didn’t see my romantic life going anywhere either.
I had succumbed to singleness against my will and it wasn’t pretty. It showed in the way I dressed, in the way I took care of myself and in the way I carried myself. I focused all my energy in serving others and dismissed the need put myself in any sort of priority. While I could love others, I had no idea how to receive love back. I didn’t ask for help. I took the single narrative so far that it turned into “I don’t need anyone. I can do everything all by myself.” This narrative seeped into my theological understanding. Without realizing it, my independence became an independence from God. I stopped needing God’s movement in my life because God didn’t seem to be moving the way I wanted or as fast as I wanted.
For some of my friends, this distrust manifested in other ways. Some settled for the good-for-now guys. These are the guys who aren’t exactly who you’re ready to marry, but they are good for now. We can even convince ourselves that we love them at times, but in our deepest hearts we know we’re forcing the relationship because it seems better then being alone. Others became very controlling of their environments. Independence has an interesting way of making us feel in control and self righteous, but it can also be a way of masking the pain of disappointment.
I know, Wasting Away sounds harsh. But when we choose our will over God’s we truly are just wasting away what could otherwise be a life of adventure and abundance. When we take matters in our own hands because we don’t really trust that God will come through with what we want, we waste away our divine purpose. Maybe we decide to put off moving to another city or taking that job because we don’t want to make another major decision without a spouse to share it with. Maybe we have focused so much on waiting for a spouse or filling our own need for one that we have ceased to pursue any other purpose in life. Maybe we have avoided taking care of ourselves with the noble excuse of helping others (they don’t have to be mutually exclusive). I call it Wasting Away because as long as getting married is the only purpose we have in life, we miss out on life itself.
Here’s the harsh reality: marriage is not guaranteed.Does that shatter your understanding of God? If it does, we’ve got some work to do. I’m pretty sure there are more single Christian women then single Christian men. I don’t have any statistics on hand, but look around your church and tell me if I’m wrong. I’m going to take bets that I’m mostly right on this one. Silicon Valley, where I live, has one of the highest percentages of single men in the nation (along with Alaska) and the single women outweigh single men in every church I’ve visited. We all want to believe that we’re the exception, but what if we’re not?
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely believe God knows the desires of our hearts. I absolutely believe God is a Father that gives good gifts. I absolutely believe that if I stay in line with God’s will, God will answer my prayers. BUT I also believe that we can aim too low with our requests. What if we’ve been staring at a cup of water, when God’s got a whole ocean for us to explore?
So what if you don’t get married? Will you have still lived an abundant life in Christ? Will you have found your calling or purpose? Will you have lived out your calling? What if your husband is just a part of a greater calling? This may offend some of you, but I’m beginning to think that focusing all my prayers on a husband is aiming too low in the grand scheme of all that God has for us. A husband cannot be the answer to all of our needs. A husband cannot be the only thing we want out of life. Why? Because they will fail us. Because we are human and finite and sinners. Even the best husbands will fail us at some point. So whether we do get married or not, I encourage you to shift your focus a little further back and ask God if there’s more to your life then what you’ve been thinking. This doesn’t mean we have to give up our desires entirely, but it does allow us to shift our prayer requests for a moment and allow for the possibility that God may be trying to share a much bigger vision then we could have ever imagined for ourselves.
Exercise: Spend 10 minutes journaling and ask God “What do you want for my life?” Allow your hand to move and write the first things that come into your mind. Don’t try to analyze or control what you’re writing, just let it flow on the paper as it comes. After your done writing, take a moment to pray over what you wrote.