I’ve enjoyed reading Boundless articles, and they’ve brought me encouragement. One of the articles I read talked about preparing for marriage even while you are still single. How do you do this?
Even though I’ve wanted to be married, preparing for it is not something I’ve given too much thought to since I thought it would just happen. My goal has mostly been to put myself out there so I could get a date and meet a potential husband, and work on my career goals since that seems easier and more tangible.
A couple months ago, I quit my job to go back to college to pursue a certificate in a different career field. Now that I’ve turned 31, my anxieties about whether I’ll ever marry have intensified. I’ve only ever had one boyfriend whom I dated for one month. In high school and college, my nose was mostly in the books to get good grades even while I participated in several extracurricular activities.
Since graduating college eight years ago, I’ve worked some intense business jobs that required a lot of overtime, keeping me late at work and exhausted during my free time. Nonetheless, I’ve always sought to maintain an active social life by putting myself out there and trying new things (i.e., language classes, dance classes, hosted game nights with friends, attended meet-up groups, etc.) and volunteering regularly in church (worship ministry, children’s ministry, welcoming ministry, missions).
I’ve been part of a few different young adult ministries, which most of the time have turned out to consist mostly of recent college grads or young marrieds. I’ve done my best to hold out hope that God can do the impossible, and I’ve prayed for such, but I’m losing faith that this will happen even while I try to hold on to it. Sometimes I think that I’ve missed out. I feel as though I wasted my 20s wondering if God’s plan was for me to even be married since I was always single.
I’ve seen guys I’ve been interested in go after my friends who aren’t interested in them initially, and I’ve had non-Christian or Christian guys for whom faith in Christ is more of a lifejacket than a compass pursue me instead. I’m still wondering what’s wrong with me that I’m still single, and my family and friends often wonder the same. I’m wondering if you can shed some light on how to prepare for marriage even when it seems impossible.
Single longer than you thought you’d be? There must be something wrong with you! That’s what I believed when I was single, and I know from your email and lots of other similar messages that lots of single women believe it’s true. I thought my extended singleness had something to do with the way I looked and how much I weighed, and I reasoned if I could just be thinner and more stylish, I would have a boyfriend. But I’m not sure believing that really was very reasonable. Later, when I lost weight and bought new clothes, I was still dateless. The things I assumed would transform my life, and my love life, didn’t. What’s worse, I spent a lot of time, money, attention and energy on those things. I was preoccupied with them when I should have been tending to far better things. Transformation did come, but not from the source I expected.
It was my perspective that needed transformation, not my love life. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). My efforts to reshape my body and my wardrobe were part of seeking first my culture-shaped idea of beauty. Stewarding our bodies and clothes is part of being feminine, but it’s not primary. It shouldn’t be first.
What do you seek first? What is your priority? For some women it’s their education. For others it’s home decorating or entertaining or any number of things. It sounds like at points, your job may have occupied the top spot. Lots of good things vie for that spot; we can make virtually anything into our first thing. But only One deserves that position of primacy: God. When we seek Him first above all else, we loosen our grip on all other lesser things. And the more we do, the more we are able to trust Him, even when things don’t go the way we want them to.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” I think I’ve quoted this verse to myself more than any other because I’m tempted daily to lean on my own understanding. But meditating on this and striving in the power of the Holy Spirit to obey it, calms my anxious heart.
Scripture shows us how to rightly understand God, the world He’s made and our place in it. We know from God’s Word that He is over all things (Psalm 29:10-11), that nothing comes to us apart from His hand (Romans 11:36), and that He is good and faithful and kind and trustworthy (Psalm 145). His unchanging character assures us we can rest in Him, knowing He works all things for our good if we are His own (Romans 8:28). This is key when you are a highly motivated person who is doing “all the right things” to get married, and still marriage eludes you. Did you blow your shot at marriage by focusing on your career in your 20s? Is there anything wrong with you? Based on what you’ve written, you’re doing a whole lot of things right! There’s not much else I’d encourage you to do. What’s left to do is to be.
Be content with your current portion.
Paul says, “[F]or I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11b-13, emphasis added). Notice that contentment isn’t something we conjure from within; it’s a grace that flows to us through Christ. It is Christ in us that makes it possible to be content, even as we continue to hope and pray and work for our unmet desires. Tweet This
Be willing to lay down your expectations.
Because we have a great high priest who was tempted as we are and yet was without sin, and because He is the One who is interceding for us even now, we can pray with Jesus, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus pleaded with God in prayer, and so can we. And He humbled himself in perfect submission, and so can we.
Be still and know He is God.
Rest in the Lord. Don’t fret about the time that has already passed. Even if there were things you did or didn’t do that contributed to your singleness, God knows all, and He is able to bring beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). It’s what He does every time He saves someone who is lost.
If there are things in your past that you wish were different, pray about them. If He convicts you of sin, repent. And then ask for wisdom going forward. It’s never too late. And where there are things you’ve done right, give thanks, knowing that most of what we’re called to do as disciples of Jesus overlaps with preparing for Christian marriage. Think of the skills you need in marriage: home management, financial stewardship, relational maturity, patience, long-suffering, etc. All of these are marks of Christian maturity and are not limited to husbands and wives. Continue to grow in these and to ask God to give you the ability to trust in His timing.
God is sovereign over everything: the number of hairs on your head, the number of days in your life, and if and when you’ll get married. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). And that means He knows every detail of what will happen in your life. Reminding yourself of this can help you “be anxious for nothing” (Matthew 6:25-34).
Jesus doesn’t want us to fritter away our lives, worrying about what may or may not happen. Worry doesn’t do any good to help us achieve our goals; it’s powerless to keep bad things at bay, and it has been shown to do harm by contributing to ill health. His ways really are higher than our ways. The more we practice trusting Him, looking to Him as our perfect Provider and giving up our ideas about how things should look, the more we will be able to obey Philippians 4:4-7,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is another verse I return to again and again. Paul doesn’t give us a conditional suggestion: Rejoice in the Lord when you feel like it. His charge is all-inclusive: Rejoice always. All the time. No matter your circumstance. This has many benefits when we obey: Rejoicing guards our hearts against bitterness that stems from disappointment; it orients our thoughts toward God’s goodness in the midst of unanswered prayers or prayers that are answered in ways we don’t like, and it displays the power of the Holy Spirit making possible what’s impossible in human strength and all of this to the glory of God.
Continue praying for a husband; make your requests known to God with thanksgiving. Continue to walk in submission to God and to seek first His kingdom. Love Him. Love the church, His bride. And do things that help you grow in Christian maturity and faithfulness. I pray that as you walk in obedience, He will hear and answer your prayers and bless you with a godly husband and that you will be able to say with him, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:3).
Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.