To the sweet woman who tells me your wonderful Christ-centered love story to encourage me in my own currently husbandless life: stop it. Seriously, please stop. If you want to share with me the beautiful love story that Jesus has crafted for YOU, than by all means, I am all ears! And believe me if you want all the “oohs” and the “ahhhs” and enthusiasm throughout, then you should definitely tell me your story. But whatever you do, do not presume for one second that because you had to wait “x” amount of years before you met prince charming, that my turn is coming because it happened for you. You get my heartbreak, you understand the pain of loneliness, you even know what it means to seek Christ above all else in the season of waiting, and for that I am thankful for your kind encouragement, but you do not know that I will ever get married. If that is your main form of encouragement for me, please keep it to yourself. There are many promises for my life in scripture, but unfortunately “Thou Shalt Get Married” is not one of them.
As a 27 year old, unmarried woman, with a rocky history of dating relationships that has more than once ended in deep heartache, my concern regarding my future spouse certainly leaves me wondering, and often, asking Jesus to bring my husband quickly. Now while I don’t think there is any harm in praying for your future spouse, and even being raw and honest with Jesus about the state of your heart, there is a profound and significant difference between hoping for a spouse and hoping in a spouse. For much of my adult life, my hope was found in my future spouse. I would tell myself things like “I’ll figure that out when I get married” or “I want a husband who will do that for me” or even “I don’t need to save or budget because I’ll just get married and my husband will take care of me” (#realtalk). On an even simpler level, but with even more diagnostic understanding, there have been thoughts like “I’ll be happy when I get married”, “I won’t have to worry about anything when I get married” and finally “It will be all about me when I get married!” That last one I never really admitted until recently, but WOOF was that tough to swallow when I finally did realize it. If you read between the lines in all of those statements, I hope it is clear to you, as it has become to me, that my hope rested squarely on the shoulders of my future husband (poor guy), and not in my Savior, Redeemer, and King, Jesus Christ. Do you know what they call that in the Bible? Idolatry. Ouch.
Let’s go back to the encouragement I typically get from (usually) recently married women. Let me reiterate that it is not that I don’t want to hear your story or the way that you have been blessed by your wonderful husband. Let’s all rejoice that Jesus has brought you two together! But the second that you use your story as means to encourage my story, you have inadvertently encouraged my idolatry. The reality is, whether I feel it, believe it, like it, want it, or live it my only lasting hope is in Jesus Christ. Nothing else. The end. Seriously. As long as my hope is in my future spouse, I will always be discontent. Always. And so will you dear single friend. I don’t say this from a place of “the other side”, I say it as I walk through recent heartbreak, current confusion, deep longing, and profound loneliness. Honestly, it sucks. (Can I get an amen?!) It’s not the life I wanted or the life I imagined, but it is the life that Christ chose for me. And I have to ask myself every day whether that is enough. Even if you have heard a million times that “Christ is enough, find your hope in Jesus, you will only be fulfilled in Christ”, fight to believe it afresh today. Because it is the truth.
But ok, more real talk. I want to get married. I hope someday I will get married. I know marriage is a good thing, and a gift from God, and I really hope I get to experience that someday. But in the meantime, my today can’t simply be a longing for that someday. It must be a complete trust in Jesus’ love, goodness, and sovereignty, which is very simple but far from easy. I will rejoice with you my friend if you do get married, as I hope you will rejoice with me! But today, let’s rejoice together in the tender God we serve, and allow Him to root out all that idolatry, discontentment, resentment, self-pity or whatever else might be lurking in your heart. Marriage is good (so I hear) but Christ is far greater! I might not get married in this life and you might not either, it’s not one of Christ’s promises for us. Luckily for us, the promise of “I will never leave your or forsake you” and “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly” and “My grace is sufficient for you” are in the cards for us. And that is certainly more than enough.