Friday, October 28, 2005

Mrs. Right, Schmisses Right

by Beth Parent

I guess it was mid-college some time when I first encountered the concept of becoming Mrs. Right rather than spending all my single years looking for Mr. Right. It was revolutionary for me. Until then, I’d spent years upon years wondering or blatantly pointing out what was wrong with all the men I knew. I had never even considered the fact that maybe I needed some improvements. I set to work immediately.

My faith journey went on a roller coaster of a ride as I sought God for my own selfish reasons, trying to “get something out of Him” that I had predetermined was necessary. I finally came to a point where I realized that seeking God for a husband or a career or a pony is not only equally ridiculous, but none of it is seeking God at all.

For all my underlining and highlighting in Paul’s exhortations to the Ephesians about the roles of husbands and wives, I wasn’t any closer to God or a wedding. I wasn’t getting to know God at all and was therefore failing egregiously in my attempts to better myself because everything I’d learned was still only serving to make me more and more selfish. I gave it all up.

I started to really ask questions about God, leaving off any tempting addendums about husbands or boyfriends. I started looking for answers to questions about who He is. I talked about Him with my friends. We studied the Bible together. We learned about His character, His love, His pursuit of us and His Son. We challenged each other and held each other accountable for our actions (and our inaction). We reached out to others. We fell. We picked each other up. We sinned. We loved and prayed for each other. We grew.

College ended, a year passed, graduate school began, a year passed, I went on a spirited jaunt across Europe, months passed, graduate school ended, months have passed, and here I am. It has been years since I first started trying to become Mrs. Right, and I am still single. It recently occurred to me that there must be something terribly wrong with me that I remain alone whilst my strong and steady single friends are slowly becoming extinct. Did they achieve Mrs. Right status, leaving me drowning in their wake? How did they know what to do? And why didn’t they clue me in?

There is a horrendous problem with the suggestion that we should spend our time as singles becoming the right person for someone else; it makes us believe that until we find that someone, there is something wrong with us. If we spend our time, energy and emotions preparing for some unknowable, unforeseeable future mate who will be the indication that we’ve finally bettered ourselves enough to deserve the love that goes hand in hand with marriage, and that mate doesn’t come, we receive a message that we are unworthy of marriage, unworthy of love, unlovable. We are less of a man or less of a woman because of our singleness. And that message is a complete and utter lie.

Our femininity/masculinity is simply part of our humanity, and we are absolutely not less of a human being because we aren’t sharing our lives with another human being in matrimony. It is not our spouse’s job to make us fully ourselves. Nor is it for them that we become so. To make our time as singles all about our spouse is idolatry and lies. To make our marriage all about our spouse is no different. Nothing is about us, and nothing is about them; it’s all about Him.

A good friend of mine always says that marriage is not for our happiness but for our holiness. I say the same goes for singleness. God is constantly shaping us into the likeness of Christ. He is preparing us for an eternity with Him, not a lifetime with another person.

I operated for years under the false assumption that I wasn’t married because I wasn’t “ready.” What I thought that meant, I have no idea. I just figured that when I was “ready,” God would usher in Mr. Wonderful and we would live happily ever after. As existential as it may sound, I think now that the only real reason I’m not married is because I’m single.

As long as I’m following the will of God, then each phase of life is a purposeful part of that will. My life could have taken an infinite number of different routes, but the decisions I’ve made up to this point have led me here. There are a couple of men I probably could have married if I’d set my mind to it, but obviously I didn’t want to, so I shouldn’t complain about being single. It’s right where I’m supposed to be - not because I’m not “ready” yet, not because I haven’t fixed all of the annoying things I do, and certainly not because God is in some way holding out on me.

In an article I’ve kept for years, Paige Benton spells it out: “If he fluctuated one quark in his goodness, he would cease to be God....I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because that is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single.”

But just to be clear, I would like to be married some day. I haven’t given up on that yet. And I haven’t kissed dating goodbye. Shoot, I haven’t kissed anything since the late 90's. So bring it on.

I've been thinking lately about this idea of how, in longing for the future, we miss out on living fully in the present.

I want to experience life in the light of His presence to the fullest measure today...not when I get married, not when I finally figure what my gifts are, not when I get this or get that. You don't become happier because you've made it. No, now, in the present, in this moment...there is joy, there is fullness in His presence.

Yergh. So thankful for the right now.

5 comments:

  1. Here's the fastest, surest way to get married:

    Burn your list.

    Everyone has one. It's filled with every essential "must" we require in a mate. And 99% of the things on that list are throwaway. But more often than not, those 99% are keeping us from getting married.

    Being a growing Christian is a non-negotiable, and even in that category there are some subsets we need to be aware of, but beyond that, I'm not so sure God is totally interested in the rest of our list.

    What do our lists look like? Well, I know a lot of Christian guys who place "virgin" really high on that list, but I can tell you right now, there ain't too many of those left anymore, even in our churches (sadly.) Women want a guy with cash to burn, but let me tell you that with the vagaries of economics, "Mr. Money To Burn" today may very well be "Mr. Out of Work for a Year" tomorrow.

    I know all sorts of women in their 40s now who would not consider a man who had been married previously. But how many never married men are there at age 40? Precious few. Good luck connecting!

    Lists are stupid. Get rid of them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. benson!

    dan has some good points.. but i disagree with a lot of what he says... .. sure there aren't a lot of people who are "virgins" anymore.. esp in our culture... but if you are one.. i think it's totally acceptable to desire that as well.... i mean... how many freakin people are in this world? you only need one.... ..

    unfortunately.. as you live life.. it's so easy to get jaded.. and cynical.. and discouraged thinking that they're not out there... but the thing is... .. THEY ARE.. and God knows where they are... .. and our job is to just keep our eyes focused on Jesus.. until God brings them together in His time.. ..

    i think it's good to have a list.. .. i met a guy out here who had 42 things on his list.... and God gave him everything he asked for.. ... he's 24.. and his fiance is older than him... but everything he asked for he got.. ..

    i think throwing away your list is like losing faith in what and who our God can bring us.. .. "oh, what i want is impossible.. so i'll just throw away my list"..

    uh.. no... ..


    since being out here in korea.. i've met a lot of jaded people.. who yes.. love God.. and still chase after Him.. but they've slowed down.. and let the world really affect them... .. they still have faith, yes.. but that purity has been lost.. that purity that is required to really see God...

    i'm blabbling... i wanted to comment on the article because i really liked it.. lol, made me smile... and i agreed with the article... we must.. MUST live for today.. so we don't miss out on what God wants to show us... but then i saw the comment and pulled a crazy!

    anyway... this is going on my xanga!

    i hope you're doing well in cubicle land benson... and you know what... .. there are virgins out there... there aren't a lot... but they are most definitely out there.. ... and God knows.. and God sees that we haven't defiled ourselves with fornication... and there is a great reward for trusting in His ways rather than our ways... when our flesh pulls us a certain way... when the world pulls us a certain way... God sees it when we disregard the world.. and listen to the Word.. ..

    "but how many never married men are there at age 40? precious few"

    FEW... which means they're there.. and if those women genuinely want that... and have faith that God can bring someone like that to them.... i believe that God will do it.


    last thing...

    again.. i think it's totally godly for men to want to marry a virgin.. and i think it's totally wrong to compare this with women wanting to marry a man with money to burn....

    virginity is a godly desire... people stay virgins before they're married because it's written in the Word and God tells us to do so..... and God rewards those who listen to His words and obey...

    money is.. to be frank... not.

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow..lots of talk about virginity. haha. i agree that the money and virginity thing don't make for a good comparison. this is a tangent from the actual article..but whatever. :) i would also just like to add that i only kind of agree that it's godly for men to want to marry a virgin...but to me it seems godlier to not care about the person's virginity because that requires acknowledging and extending God's grace, forgiveness and redemption. i don't believe God is so much about rules as he is about love, and the reason he doesn't want us sleeping around with people is because it hurts our relationship with him and the goodness of the design he has for our lives.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ok, I PROMISE I wasn't egosurfing. I was looking for this article (which I wrote - Hi, I'm Beth) because I'm working on my freelancing resume, and I found your blog. And I just wanted to say to Dan:
    Don't burn the list entirely. Just don't hold on to it so tightly. Present your requests to God because He wants to hear from you, but don't feel that you are entitled to the things on the list.

    To Anonymous:
    Don't get jaded, dude! God is always going to be awesome even when people are total crap. Which is pretty much always. So just keep pressing into Him, and be amazed!

    To moomooaudrey:
    Yep. I concur.

    To anyone who's curious:
    Still single. Still a virgin. See? We DO exist even in the church.

    ReplyDelete
  5. benson!

    dan has some good points.. but i disagree with a lot of what he says... .. sure there aren't a lot of people who are "virgins" anymore.. esp in our culture... but if you are one.. i think it's totally acceptable to desire that as well.... i mean... how many freakin people are in this world? you only need one.... ..

    unfortunately.. as you live life.. it's so easy to get jaded.. and cynical.. and discouraged thinking that they're not out there... but the thing is... .. THEY ARE.. and God knows where they are... .. and our job is to just keep our eyes focused on Jesus.. until God brings them together in His time.. ..

    i think it's good to have a list.. .. i met a guy out here who had 42 things on his list.... and God gave him everything he asked for.. ... he's 24.. and his fiance is older than him... but everything he asked for he got.. ..

    i think throwing away your list is like losing faith in what and who our God can bring us.. .. "oh, what i want is impossible.. so i'll just throw away my list"..

    uh.. no... ..


    since being out here in korea.. i've met a lot of jaded people.. who yes.. love God.. and still chase after Him.. but they've slowed down.. and let the world really affect them... .. they still have faith, yes.. but that purity has been lost.. that purity that is required to really see God...

    i'm blabbling... i wanted to comment on the article because i really liked it.. lol, made me smile... and i agreed with the article... we must.. MUST live for today.. so we don't miss out on what God wants to show us... but then i saw the comment and pulled a crazy!

    anyway... this is going on my xanga!

    i hope you're doing well in cubicle land benson... and you know what... .. there are virgins out there... there aren't a lot... but they are most definitely out there.. ... and God knows.. and God sees that we haven't defiled ourselves with fornication... and there is a great reward for trusting in His ways rather than our ways... when our flesh pulls us a certain way... when the world pulls us a certain way... God sees it when we disregard the world.. and listen to the Word.. ..

    "but how many never married men are there at age 40? precious few"

    FEW... which means they're there.. and if those women genuinely want that... and have faith that God can bring someone like that to them.... i believe that God will do it.


    last thing...

    again.. i think it's totally godly for men to want to marry a virgin.. and i think it's totally wrong to compare this with women wanting to marry a man with money to burn....

    virginity is a godly desire... people stay virgins before they're married because it's written in the Word and God tells us to do so..... and God rewards those who listen to His words and obey...

    money is.. to be frank... not.

    ReplyDelete