I’m pretty sure if you’ve been unintentionally single for any period of time, you’ve formulated a list of the qualities you expect from “The One”. You’ve charted and categorized, and if you’re like me, planned your whole life with “The One.” The only problem with this is, you have no clue who “The One” is.
I don’t know where the idea for this all-powerful, life-perfecting, knight-in-shining armor, gossamer curtain princess, fix-everything-fill-every-hole-in-my-life-give-me-meaning-and-purpose-and-joy concept came from (maybe Song of Solomon 3:4 was taken out of context?), but let me be clear: being in a relationship, even with “The One”, will not perfect your life. It will not instantly make everything easy and wonderful, and no, it will not make life a bowl full of cherries. You will not suddenly transport to 1945, wearing a polka-dotted dress, Alice-in-Wonderland style. You will not be instantaneously beamed into the passenger’s seat of his Packard and drive off into the sunset.
We place all of this value on a relationship, like it’s a cure all for the humdrum of single life. Three things I’ve heard this past week have sparked a renewed comfort in singleness for me, and shocked me back into the reality that a boyfriend will not fix my life. Those statements alone have sent me into a mental Cirque De Soleil routine, re-examining my entire desire for male companionship.
1. “For some of us, God gave the gift of singleness.”
First off, I have never heard of singleness being a gift. I always knew that there were certain benefits to being single, (more time with God, selfish ice cream binges on the couch Saturday afternoons, watching whatever you want on TV, going extended periods of time without shaving…) but I never thought of singleness as a gift. It was always a waiting room to this great life that I thought I needed a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband to start. And my great wonderful life that I had planned would NEVER start until I got that person…until I found “The One”. Read more about that below…
2. “Do you want a wedding, or do you want a marriage?”
This second comment hit me straight to my core, just like I got slapped in the face with the gorgeous Vera Wang bridal gown I had already picked out and bookmarked.. A marriage is an entirely different deal than a wedding. A wedding is a party. You can have a party without lifelong commitment, steadfastness, support, sacrifice, and trouble. But you can’t have a marriage without those things. A marriage is a God-run major LIFETIME commitment to another person, and to God. The purpose of marriage, other than to provide companionship (which God was so gracious to consider in his plan) is to mirror God’s relationship with the church.
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Ladies: Submit, trust, obey, reverence your husband.
Men: Wash your wife with the Word, follow Christ so she can be led by you, love her the same as yourself, cherish her, and nourish her.
Notice how God picked the hardest tasks in marriage; the ones that are completely opposite of each sex’s nature. A woman’s nature is to love and cherish, but God asks the man to do that. The man’s nature is to serve and work, and reverence, but the woman is asked to do that.
This is a huge task. Reflecting God’s love for his people in your every day life with your spouse, even when you really want to make him sleep on the couch because he accidently insulted your thighs and the children are screaming for a juice cup and you have a stack of dishes to the ceiling…
Protecting, serving, sacrificing, building your husband up in the Word of God and giving him the reassurance he needs to lead your family, allowing him to love you and cherish you without trying to rule over him, trusting in God and rejoicing in the simple victories of life, sharing your lives together freely without worry of rejection…That is marriage.
Where is the cute proposal and the perfect engagement pictures? Where is the excitement of picking out wedding bands and calling each other “Mrs.”/”Mr.”? Where are the perfectly organized centerpieces? The handwritten place cards? The cute chalkboard wall in the home-made photo booth? The 150+1 guests? The dance floor lit up till 2 AM and the laughter of friends and family? That was a wedding. The luster of that has faded. Now it’s marriage.
If you have any doubt you’re ready for such a huge commitment, I’d say throw yourself a party, cause you’re not ready for marriage. You’re ready for a wedding.
I don’t say this to scare you, because marriage is a beautiful and sacred thing, and its amazing…when you’re spiritually and emotionally prepared for it. We single people get so caught up in finding “The One”, the missing half, the completion to all things good and right in the world, the smile that will turn our frown upside down, the macaroni to our cheese, the sunshine for our rainy days — that we miss the point. It’s not about some perfect life that will start with the perfect person at the perfect time, it’s about being in love with Jesus at every stage, single or not. Putting him first above all else and abandoning everything in search of him. “The One” is mythical. But The One exists. His name is Jesus.
Singleness is a gift. It means that God has granted you a pre-determined allotted amount of time to share with him and only him, until he decides to send a person to share that time with you two. And who God allows to share his time with you is a sacred, holy, and all together beautiful decision he makes. HE makes. Not you. But he doesn’t bring this person into your life to steal away a portion of your time, but rather to enhance your time with him. The product of your marriage should be unity in worship. Not cute little Pinterest projects, not perfectly mannered children, not a perfect church attendance record, but a true, heartfelt, God centered life that is a perfume of praise to God daily. You’re not “waiting on the perfect man to cut in on your dance with God”. You’re holding out for the one man/woman God chooses to join the dance with him. The right “one” won’t cut in on your time with God, but will melt into your time with him and take the worship/praise/prayer/study higher. Then you will jointly, as one person, worship and fellowship with God.
3. “Because if you know who he is, you’ll give him your heart before he has earned it.”
Usually I have a conversation with God every other week that goes like this:
Me: God, I know you want me to be single right now for a reason. I’m cool with that. But I’m lonely. And impatient.
God: You can’t be married yet because you aren’t ready. I’m only protecting you.
Me: I know, I know, I’m totally not ready. But can you just tell me the guy’s name? Something about him? A detail so I’ll know him when I see him?
He’s never answered me before, until a few days ago.
Me: God, who is he?
God: I can’t tell you.
God: Because if you know who he is, you’ll give him your heart before he has earned it.
Phew… God is so cool, guys. That answer blew my mind. I got to thinking on it and realized God was totally right. If God told me my husband’s name alone, I would begin a ravenous hunt for him including an in-depth facebook search & stalk session. I would totally try to develop relationships with men simply based on a name and my flawed human judgment. If he told me the guy is a plumber, I’d be creating leaks everywhere hoping to find the right one. If he told me the guy goes to my church…well you could imagine the chaos that would ensue.
If God told me who he is I would automatically trust that guy. I would automatically begin to view him as my husband and let him lead me. He may not even be ready to be a husband yet, but I would already let him have authority over me, I would lower my guard and probably try to begin a relationship with him — all prematurely. Knowing he’s my husband, I may even cross purity standards I’ve set for myself, and practically wash away all courtship rules and standards I had planned. I wouldn’t allow him to pursue me or capture my heart because I’d already have my mind made up he was mine, and I’m his. And guess what? Just like God said, he wouldn’t have any room to earn my heart. I would take all of the work (and pleasure) out of his part of the relationship. He wouldn’t have to prove himself to me. He wouldn’t have to earn my trust or demonstrate his leadership abilities. He wouldn’t have to honor my purity standards or build my confidence in him. He would already have my heart on a silver platter without doing anything to earn it.
You know what that tells me? God loves me. He cares about my heart and who it goes to. And he wants the guy, whoever he is, to earn it. Which also tells me God wants my future spouse to prove to him he’s worthy of my heart. And that tells me another thing — God thinks my heart is pretty special. It’s important enough to be earned.
And this guy – whoever he is – God expects him to work for it. To win me. To woo me. To earn my love. And you know what? It’s my job as a woman to ALLOW this guy to earn it. It’s my privilege as a woman to be pursued, not the pursuer. To be spoiled, pampered, adored, cherished, supported, to be loved. We often forget this as women. We see twinkle lights and broach bouquets and want the fairy tale now. But God wants you to expect to be pursued. Expect to be loved. Expect to be cherished. Expect the guy, whoever yours may be, to earn your love. Don’t just give it away. He’s got something to prove to you, God, and himself – and that’s a part of him developing self-confidence as a man. Don’t take that away from God. Don’t take that away from him. Don’t take it away from yourself.
To sum it up, “The One” is a product of fiction. It’s a fantasy we’ve created based on years of personal expectation, romantic disappointment and Hollywood-Disneyland-classic-romance-novel-Social-Media propaganda. There is a right person out there for you, God designed you two to be together, yes. God wants you two to be happy together, yes. God wants you guys to have a wonderful life, yes. But not at God’s expense. And not as the fulfillment of some impossible standard we’ve created. Disappointment is imminent as long as you hold your future spouse to an impossible, unachievable image (which is idolatry, btw). It’s no wonder divorce rates are so high, it’s also no wonder that 80% of divorces are filed by women. Could that be because we are so easily dissatisfied once we find out that marriage is not the princess-love-swirling-fairy-dust-Disney-movie we thought it would be? God did intent for love to be a story, but not a fantasy. He intended for it to be his story. The most beautiful story he could think of, written expressly for you! Don’t settle for the world’s version of romance. Don’t sit around waiting for “The One”.
Enjoy The One — Jesus Christ, your one true love, and allow him to choose who earns your heart. Then, sit back and prepare to be woo’d.
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NIV)