As a single thirty-something, I often find myself thinking about dating and marriage. In the forms of both daydreams and nightmares, these topics are clearly on my mind. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, merely looking ahead. Just like a two-year-old boy might dream of riding a bike, or a 15-year old girl might long for her Sweet Sixteen, I’m thinking about the next chapter in my life. Because, let’s get real, the current chapter seems longer than all seven Harry Potter books combined.
I’ve never been one of those girls that said things like, “I want to be married by 22 and have kids by 25.” Good thing, I suppose, since I’ve clearly missed those goals! I don’t believe you can put a timeline on love or marriage. But, I also don’t like flying by the seat of my pants in life and just “seeing what will happen.”
I’m a planner. I am organized. I keep my calendar up to date, my checkbook balanced, my closet tidy. If I had the option to live anywhere, it’d be a close call between Bali and the desk organization aisle at Staples. (In related news, I may need therapy. But that’s another article for another day.) Knowing these character traits, how am I to plan the next months or years of my life without knowing when I will get married? My relationship status can drastically alter what’s on my calendar.
The truth is, I can’t plan for marriage. Yes, I can pray and prepare my heart for that possibility, but the fact remains: I’m single. If I live my life expecting to get married in the future—especially when I’m not even dating—I set myself up for failure now.
Case in point: girls who spend their days just waiting to get married. In the meantime, they are not pushing themselves toward any personal goals, toward any notable achievements on their own. Why would they? Their Prince Charming will come along and everything will change anyway. We all know girls like this, don’t we? And it goes both ways, with lots of guys waiting to “grow up” or take responsibility, just expecting maturity to happen once their future wife cracks the whip. This mindset is more common than one might think.
Are you in a dead end job? Just deal with it. You’ll get married and be able to stay home soon enough.
Are you drowning in a pile of debt? Just charge it. Your bills will be your spouse’s problem once you get hitched.
Do you feel your friendships fading? Probably, but you’ll make lots of new “couple friends” once you tie the knot.
Haven’t been to church in a while? No problem. You’ll start going to church when you’re married and have kids to put in Sunday School.
And the list goes on. The bottom line is that singles can become lazy, waiting for marriage to “save” them… all the while forgetting to live today.
Here’s a news flash that might be hard to hear: You might never get married. (Blasphemy!)
Fine—you might not get married for many years. Why limit the opportunities you have now, simply waiting for something that may not come? And more importantly, who says marriage will be the saving grace of all your problems anyway? (I can hear the married readers laughing at the thought!)
Marriage is a wonderful gift, but it’s not easy. Even if you marry a Christian, even if you marry a millionaire, even if you marry a sweet, kind person, even if you marry Brad Pitt: You will still have problems.
So my encouragement to any singles reading, from my own experience, is to live your life right now. God knows your steps (Psalm 37:23). He ordered them long ago, while he was knitting you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). He will be faithful to complete the work he began in you (Philippians 1:6). Worrying about tomorrow (or about an elusive future relationship) will not change where you are right now (Matthew 6:34).
His promises are encouraging! Will you accept them? How will this reflect in your daily life as a single Christian?
Live now. Live well. Dream big. Pray long. Work hard. Save money. Cultivate friendships. Build community. Serve in your church. Exercise. Improve your health. Love your neighbor.
And revel in the joy and contentment that will follow—whether or not you ever get a ring on your finger.
*Photo credit: danielmoyle