Sarah wrestled with God. For five years she had served as a resident director at a small Bible college. Each day, young women would knock on the door of Sarah’s small dorm apartment. The petite, soft-spoken brunette would fix them tea and listen as they poured out their hearts.
“If I could just get my life on track,” a 19 year old would moan. “Then God would bring a godly man into my life.”
Sarah spoke encouraging words, but inside she felt annoyed. I’m in my late 20s and unmarried. What issue do you think I need to work on?
As Sarah wrestled with this contradiction, she discovered something: She and the women around her were succumbing to lies about their singleness. Some of these myths had been instilled in them as little girls growing up in Christian homes (e.g., if you follow God and keep yourself pure, someday He will bring you “the one”). Others seemed founded in a simplistic rewards system (e.g., when you’ve learned to fully trust in the Lord, then He will bless you with a spouse). Still others seemed to grow out of unrealistic expectations (e.g., when you are married, you will no longer be lonely).
Sarah noticed the enemy was using these myths to discourage women and leave them feeling spiritually defeated. The lies reinforced ungodly perspectives of their relationship with Christ (“I’m not deserving of a husband” or “God views me as a useful tool”) and taught them to believe things about marriage that simply were not true (“Marriage equals spiritual maturity”).
Here are seven of the most deadly myths:
1. God will give me a husband when I’m ready.
I recently spoke with a friend in her 30s who casually said the reason she was not yet married was because evidently the Lord had decided she was not “ready.” Whether they say it or not, many single women believe that procuring a spouse is somehow performance based. If I were just godly enough, the Lord would give me a husband.
Not true! There is a danger in equating marriage with spiritual maturity. God teaches us to depend on Him as singles, but these lessons are not reserved for the mate-less. All of us are sinners, which means we are all constantly striving to crucify the flesh and be more like Christ.
Being in a single state may or may not have anything to do with your readiness. It likely has more to do with God’s timing. If you are daily allowing the Lord to mold you into His image, you are probably ready to be in a Christ-centered relationship. Realizing this may allow you to be more alert to the godly men around you.
2. God views me more as a useful tool than a beloved child.
As a gifted resident assistant, Sarah sometimes felt like Psalm 37:4 didn’t apply to her: “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Instead of believing that God cared about her dreams, Sarah suspected He was withholding these things because she was more useful to Him in a single state.
People used to tell me, “God has allowed you to be single so you might do these things for Him!” While I know these people were seeking to encourage me, my gut reaction was, Why me? It’s true that God may set us apart for a season of singleness, but that doesn’t mean He is indifferent to our dreams.
Matthew 7:11 says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God views you a cherished child — never a utilitarian object. A loving Father will give you good gifts at just the right time.
3. When it’s the right guy, I’ll just know.
When I was in eighth grade I drew “the one” on a sheet of notebook paper. He had the post-mullet Steven Curtis Chapman haircut, wore hiking books and sported several oddly-placed muscles. Among his more critical characteristics were intelligence, godliness and good hygiene. I had specific ideas about who my husband would be, even what he would look like.
Christian culture has created a romanticized picture of what meeting your spouse will be like. In the classic I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris writes: “Too many couples overspiritualize the decision of whom they marry. Instead of realizing that God leads us by providing wisdom and allowing us to make our own choices, those couples wait for a ‘mystical experience’ that will tell them what to do.”
Just as my junior high mind projected who I would recognize as “the one,” my grown-up self entertains expectations of how I’ll feel when my “soul mate” arrives on the scene. The truth is, God knows best the kind of man who will inspire me to greater devotion to Him. As I seek the Lord, I can trust Him to reveal that person to me in whatever way He sees fit.
4. When I get married, then my life will begin.
This myth is particularly insidious. It has the potential to cause great frustration and hopelessness. A desire to be a wife and mother is good, but it does not let us off the hook from living fully right now.
Of the more than 500 references to life in the Bible, none puts marriage as a prerequisite. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). My life started when I believed in Jesus, and it does not hinge on my marital status.
Think about the acclaimed Proverbs 31 woman. She must have developed many of her skills long before she was married. In the quiet moments of her life as a young woman, she was learning how to be productive and godly. In today’s culture, marriage is often delayed longer than we had hoped. But the distinctive opportunities we have as singles are worth embracing.
5. Marriage will/will not meet my deepest needs.
There seem to be two prevalent and opposing views on the relationship between marriage and needs. The first sees marriage as the ultimate wish-fulfillment experience. The other says every need can and should be directly met through Christ, a type of “super-husband.”
Each view contains some truth. God created woman for man as a remedy for loneliness (Genesis 2:18). And God’s grace is sufficient for every circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9). But marriage alone cannot satisfy a woman’s deepest needs. Sarah says: “A very wise lady once told me that she has had her loneliest times since she has been married.” Neither can our relationship with Jesus meet the needs that He intended other humans to satisfy.
Reliance on Christ does not nullify the advantage of a human marriage relationship. And yet, He is the One who satisfies our deepest longings. As women, we must embrace a balanced understanding of the distinctive roles that Christ and a godly husband should play in our lives.
6. There must be something wrong with me. If I could just figure out what it is, I could fix it and guys would start showing interest.
For a long time I believed that if I were thinner, I would attract a husband. Magazines with images of women with flawless skin and model-thin bodies fuel that inner voice that says, You’re not thin enough. You’re not pretty enough. Or worse, I wonder if it’s my personality. I talk too much. Or I laugh at the wrong times. Or I’m too assertive. It’s easy to look at married women and wonder: Why them and not me?
The truth is, most of the things I suspect are lacking in me, fall under the category of charm and beauty. Scripture says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). The things I should be concerned about improving are spiritual in nature. Am I submitting to Christ? Am I manifesting the fruit of the Spirit? Do I have a gentle and quiet spirit? The right kind of man will be attracted to these qualities.
7. The older I get, the less likely it is that I will find someone.
“God is not bound by odds!” Sarah says. While Sarah was still working at the college, she attracted the attention of a godly man. He sought her out, even learning of her character by questioning her friends. Mark and Sarah married when she was 29. Today the couple serves together in Lithuania.
As you pass the average marrying age, it can be tempting to panic. It’s helpful to remember Paul’s words in Romans 11:36: “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” All things. As you cultivate godly attitudes and avoid damaging lies, you allow the Lord to pour out the things He has for you. That way, when the right guy comes along, you’ll be ready.
Copyright © 2007 Suzanne Hadley. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.