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.