“You’ve never been married?” Some have stammered with shock and disbelief over the years searching me with wannabe x-ray eyes and a mind riddled with assumptions and probing questions.
“Never been married, and I’ve never been divorced either,” I confidently retort.
Point being, I NEVER want to divorce.
Their reaction to my befitting response generally disarms and silences that quizzical mind that is about to hurl an almost accusatory tone of inquiries that borders on the edge of insulting all the way up to and including, “what’s wrong with you then that you are not marry-able?”
As if people are personally injured because I didn’t choose marriage such as they themselves have into their less than perfect matrimonial life, they feel I have been robbed of some level of bliss that all human beings should know about and experience. Quite frankly, I have not met anyone, even in the best of marriages, that hasn’t had to work through some tough issues in a lifelong commitment and myriads of people with a long list of divorces, intensely painful trials they could have avoided altogether by marrying the wrong type, infidelities, stresses from all kinds of life’s trials that strained their marriages, and so on. The other issue that is constantly overlooked is that I have ministries that I’ve thoroughly been committed to that would require a very free and available person to be able to complete the tasks required of them. That could all change one day and I am open to that, but for now, it’s been a serious happy place to dwell without being encumbered.
So the truth be told, the question should be, what is RIGHT with and for me?
What is right for me and what is right for others may have an ultra sharp contrast. I have waited – without searching. On purpose. For God’s best. In His timing. For His purpose. I have heard His glorious voice that told me “single, for now,” when I asked, and not because I was pining and preoccupied that I was single, but rather because I was asked to speak about business and the single woman for a women’s conference and was praying to prepare that talk with all perspectives in mind. I realized I was bit more happy than the average single and wanted to know if it were a permanent calling or a for now calling.
I don’t have the angst and worry that many singles do that have not married as marriage is not the center of the universe for me as it for so many that want it and find out that it’s got far more that comes tethered to those vows than they bargained for … and yes, I know some have blissfully happy unions, but that is hardly the rule rather than the exception.
Paul, in the New Testament, even wisely addressed this ideal of singleness and that it is highly beneficial to remain, even as he was … single, in order to fulfill the work of God, unencumbered. He points to the topic of singleness in I Corinthians 7:8 and carefully uses the word “good” that one remains in a free state of being, that carries with it a vast and surprising meaning in the original Greek text. That very meaning even tips over the line into a definition that could be mistaken as “better” and carries an exquisite and lengthy root word trail wrapped up in descriptions such as “praiseworthy, magnificent, precious, and honorable,” – notated from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
Praiseworthy? Magnificent? Precious? Honorable?
How’s that for the truth!? This is exactly why I don’t like to run toward a lifelong commitment. What better way to prove maturity in Christ than to choose Him as the primary focus, even though there is nothing wrong with marriage as he continues to discuss in that powerful set of verses in I Corinthians 7. Paul was not lonely and depressed, but simply, and overwhelmingly, and willingly available, to the Lord’s purpose and plan.
My challenge to anyone who questions an on-purpose-single such as I am, is to do a word study on these verses in the Word of God before they decide to turn and lecture by making assumptive comments or allowing the unsolicited advice to begin with and basing it on the desires of the average Joe or Josephine they have met. It may even challenge some to look into their own lives and see if they too are not called to singleness if given a moment of meditation and reflection. There is nothing more gratifying than understanding one’s call, so rather than fear singleness as if it’s a curse, find out if it might just be for you as a blessing.
I am vastly contented in my 47 years of freedom from the yoke of marriage, and have been quite fulfilled in my marriage to the Lord. Some cannot fathom this and one woman years ago even flat out called me something short of a liar when she began to inquire as to my having a beau or not. That’s when I knew I was talking to someone who couldn’t survive without a man herself – therefore the rest of the women in the world must be just like her – right? Poor lady. Even more ridiculous, sometimes one will reach over and pat my hand and look at me with a pseudo compassion – completely displaced I might add, affirming that God will bring “him” one day … just you wait honey, “it” will happen.
Nothing could grovel my bones harder than the misguided idea that I have been feeling dissed, hurt, lonely or any other misnomer to that cause because there is not a significant earthly other, and that all singles are panting and pining for a mate. It never quite hits them in the way of wisdom that maybe some singles really choose to be alone and that some of us have had some very interesting suitors that have turned our taste buds completely off to marriage for the present, crushing blows from men that appear Godly and do more harm than good, and truly do welcome the replacement of a vastly more fulfilling call in God’s work. Being single is not always easy, but marriage is also very hard work! And I am not so sure I want to add a line item of marriage with a number of work orders attached to it that will naturally float to the top in importance and attention in my life to please my mate, until I am good and ready for that life changing time.
God has given me an enormous amount energy, ridiculous ambition, and a fistful of diamonds of ministry that I serve with my whole heart, and it would take a very special man to share in that energy, joy, and calling, and not feel threatened, or become needy in the process. The Lord has equipped me for His work. In turn, if and when that elusive gentleman of mine presents himself, I want to go in with my eyes wide open, equipped with the understanding that we are a team and not in competition, and that we have all the “stuff” that is needed to be a success. There is nothing I would love more than to serve my husband in a way far better than he even prayed for … but the Lord can only create that cocktail mix for all the necessary elements to be in place. Namely – that we were made for one another. I have dreams and baggage and I imagine he will too, so it has to be the perfect fit and I will not settle for anything different nor will I get married just to be married to beat the clock only to end up in divorce or worse — marriage with infidelity present somewhere. Trapped in a disappointing marriage because I didn’t want to wait? NO WAY!!
Has God’s call cost me the opportunity for children? Possibly so, … but I could be the rare 50 something year old woman someday that married in God’s perfect timing and gave birth and beat the shocking snot out of everyone. Yet, never has it been burning in my bones to hear babies crying at 3 a.m. nor to deal with a possible dysfunctional teenager. I’m not really wired for that, just like it’s not been in me for the immediate drive to marry out of high school or college. If the Lord should so wish for me to have children, step or home grown, He will be faithful to give me the ticket before I climb on board.
So there it is, from the beginning of time … that simply dynamic complicated union … which has become the emotionally charged target for descriptives tethered to its side ranging from “the hardest thing one has ever done” to the “best move one has ever made,” that life engulfing entity that dreams or nightmares are made of, the life-altering experience that offers a variety of material that film akers can draw from … the source for fulfillment, emptiness, excitement, hard work, ministry, thrills, boredom, strength, sorrow, great love, bitter disappointment, happiness, faithfulness, depression, peace, infidelity, challenge, frustration, abuse, total and complete joy, electric chemistry, great-boring-or-no-sex, the source for so many thousands of dollars spent in counseling and legal fees, that fascinating union of two, that God-given gift and creation … called … marriage.
Marriage … couples blend together their lives, their individual character traits, interests, talents, skills, beliefs, cultures, family background, belief systems, approaches to parenting, and more, and the entire process is often found to be the very hammer that pounds out the strengths and weaknesses of the couple who dared to enter over into its threshold. And for those very reasons listed above, I have approached marriage with a painful caution even slipping over the edge into a viewpoint of cynicism.
I was birthed into my two immediate families – one of mom, one of dad, who have successfully created sixteen hefty complicated divorces and a host of remarriages and blended family unions, diversifying every holiday as children work to figure out how to juggle one family verses the other, or as well as the other, for a visit–not to mention, a number of divorces that exist throughout my non-immediate family with the greats, the cousins, and so on. Some of those people have actually managed to marry and divorce multiple times in a short record number of years, or have remained single since then, and some finally got it “right” or simply decided that one more scar on the heart was unwelcomed. Nothing like a little variety in life-mates right?
Yes, few, very few, marriages successfully survived the worst and remain intact, namely my grandparents who have been together for over 73 years. It has been tough and difficult, but they have also been a source of delight for one another not to mention that they love their children and grandchildren voraciously. Being the first born grandchild and only grand-daughter, I have grown old enough now to see things with my own eyes and have listened to the stories of old and new to learn the reality check of marriage. I am not sure I would want a marriage like theirs at all. In fact, I know I don’t for a variety of reasons I will refrain from unpacking.
There has been more than one opportunity for marriage for me, but deep in that women’s instinctive gut He gave us girls, there was no doubt, they were not “the one.” It was hard to walk away, many tears and heart ache involved, and often I have questioned God as to what the purpose of that set up was for, only to fall back on the original truth in my heart — that I never really enjoyed the dating process that I figured later was for this very reason … it’s not in the Bible. It’s an “American tradition” as Elisabeth Elliot pointed out personally to a group of us in a women’s conference years ago and at that point, I nearly stood and applauded her insight at the podium in that God could do a splendid job of matchmaking without our help. Help that usually turns things into a mess. We end up with people that the Lord never intended for us.
Yes, He can use dating, but often we yield to a wrong match making process that’s Plan B when our Father had a much better idea with Plan A. I choose Plan A. Still, I have yet to truly encounter the man, single and ready, with whom I have that natural chemistry and complimentary match up of the fundamental basics that one would not want to survive without in a lifelong commitment. Never settled, never will. God has created me as an Eve for a perfect fit for my earthly Adam husband, aside from the spiritual Husband I already have called Jesus Christ. After all, in the book of Isaiah, He is called our Husbandmen. That to me, is worth its weight in gold.
One close friend said it was exactly what she had prayed for when she married at 42, that her husband most certainly filled “the list” she had created for her praying friends to offer to the Lord after multiple years in ministry service which has yielded her a beautiful speaking ministry AND she got the marriage goods to go with that gift. Had she married younger, she would have missed one of the most incredible ventures in mission work that anyone could have ever imagined. No, it was not easy in ministry all the way, and unlike me, she truly did want to be married all along. But in God’s timing, He brought her – her imperfectly perfect man and no doubt she would not have it any other way.
Conversely, there is no way to summarize and count correctly the number of pain filled voices I have heard of women and men who wished they had never married him or her, or wished they had waited, or hurried into marriage because they were pregnant, or married for sex or money or loneliness, or simply, because they thought it was time. But the big one that REALLY rips me a new set of angries, are the stories of marriage that yielded to the pressure of parents, the church, friends or otherwise.
For the love of everyone, why would anyone pressure their children, a friend, or a minister, to marry someone that they may not deeply love, or have chemistry with, or could have massive issues with down the line? Is it pride, money, prestige that drives us to put someone into the hot seat? What are we doing when we try to live vicariously through our children or friends and miss the greatest satisfaction aside from our love of the Lord … the love from a man or woman that was divinely made to fit us in every way with a spiritual yoking that fits? Oh how vital that is for making a union peaceful and those complimentary gifts for one another that provide balance and a sense of relief as the other mate has got our back in those places we are weak.
My mother and father have never pressured me into marriage to any degree whatsoever and I am all the more blessed to have not made that mistake of yielding to the wrong situation. Probably they didn’t ride my heels for marriage or grandchildren because they have been married a time or two or three themselves and they know full well what it entails. Thank you mom and dad.
How about this one–physical desires and intimacy? Assumptions cannot be made here about how “it” will be. So, imagine if one will, openly discussing and expressing wants and fantasies even before marriage to a fiancé in a spirit of chaste respect, so that they are aware of expectations going in rather than bitter disappointment after the nuptials took place. Not being correctly balanced with the person the Lord has made as an Eve for an Adam, could almost guarantee a lack of fulfillment in this area, possibly leading to infidelity and a tearing asunder as one searches for that very basic need outside of their vows that our Creator Himself intended to be fulfilled by the right person inside of marriage. Oh the woes of being unfaithful, but oh the woes of why they did it and the numerous examples in history of those devastating consequences of a cheating spouse. Dissatisfaction in this precious part of marriage doesn’t just affect the couple alone, it affects everyone else too.
Married men or women may act the part of a seducer and not even be aware they are doing this, simply because they are hungry for stimulation mentally from someone else that is attractive, and then emotional and ultimate physical desires will soon follow. Think on that chain reaction a minute and see how that could be true and the path where that could lead. I will say though, I truly understand why some do wander. Since marriage is already filled with challenges, it’s even harder if it’s to the wrong person. The wrong person can make it supremely difficult and one will feel rejected, unloved, unsupported, and this can go on for years and years at a time. We can hardly blame a person for looking around and comparing when times are tough, but then when actions follow, it gets ultra-complicated. When one is not fulfilled in Christ first, they can make the unwise choice all the way down the line in who and why they marry to begin with, all the way to the trip outside of marriage if things are not going well. It boils down to our identity in Christ and our trust in Him for His choice for us. Do NOT settle.
Summing up, without a doubt I have with great certainty come to the conclusion that 99% of the reasons couples don’t survive marriage is because they did not marry their divinely created Eve or their Adam that was designed as a teammate to withstand what life can hurl at them, albeit we will still sin even with the right fit as happened in the Garden of Eden. But it’s so much better to be equally yoked. It’s a choice to marry right, and a choice to stay right within that boundary of commitment. Not being equally yoked can devastate and disable even the most well-meaning suitors and marital partners. Big woops is all I have to say if we settle for less. I have even seen blessed second or third marriages when the first one or two spelled mistake. Now the Baptists would have a field day with that comment, but I have indeed seen this to be true. God works with us despite our mistakes – even divorce, for He is a gracious and loving God and if we are made in His image with His gigantic heart of love. I want ALL of that love for you and for me when we choose a mate.
My greatest reservation to marriage for myself is the fact I dread the idea of divorce. Others reading this, dealing with heart break if you split due to a mismatch on this side of marriage before it happens is far less painful than marrying someone that you discover is all wrong … it even saves your life. Why be married to someone who is wrong for you? For when the time comes, dissatisfaction later on will set in when there comes the game-playing of hatred, withholding intimacy, using children as a weapon, messy money issues, and a lifetime tied to that person from then on even if you divorced, if even just for the memory of the experience.
Proceed with calculated caution and a mother load of prayer and WISE counsel. If that is not enough to read and digest, the Word of God is full of promises for us when we pray and lift our imperfect selves, broken marriages, scarred hearts, and even our joy-filled thanks to Him. But, if there is one caution I could give to someone who reads this … Men, WAIT on your EVE. Women WAIT on your ADAM. I don’t want to settle for good. I want to run toward great and I want the same for you. Take your time and pray for and against those things you desire in marriage and learn that you may need to surrender to God’s type of person He brings that is better than one could ever imagine. Ask anyone who has done it right. It’s well worth the wait.
Disclaimer: This blog is from the viewpoint of the author, and her opinion is not up for debate.