“Wait on the Lord!”
“As soon as you forget about marriage GOD will send him,” or my favorite…
“Get so lost in the LORD that your husband has to seek GOD to find you!”
Dating advice I received from the church seemed reasonable in my twenties, but when 30 rolled around and there I was--unmarried, no boyfriend, frustrated with no prospect in sight, I started to question what I knew.
I prayed, fasted, paid tithes, served in ministries, attended seminars, read books, listened to sermons and went to bible studies. I did all of the things I was told to do--so where was my “Boaz?”
The problem is, the spiritual advice I received failed to prepare me for the dating process. It did not teach me about healthy relationships, in fact, it gave me a reason to disengage men, to hide myself, to remain in fear, to overlook my emotional wellbeing, to be shut off, to label my stoicism as “holy,” and to mistake immature decisions as God’s “perfect will” for my life.
God’s Perfect Will
I didn’t have to look too far to find an entire generation of single Christians who also shared my struggle. Many of us were generally confused about why it was so difficult to find a life partner.
Was this GOD’S desire for godly people? Was he raising up an entire generation of singles?
Then why did the Apostle Paul say marriage was a choice and encourage people to marry if they had the desire? Why did Jesus say that “few,” have the gift of singleness? Isn't marriage the reflection of Christ and the Church? Didn’t GOD create marriage in the beginning?
Meanwhile, birth rates are down, divorce rates among Christians are equal to non-christians, marriages rates are dropping and single parent households are becoming more common.
Could something be off in our theology?
Why the Wait
When my fiance proposed to me at the age of 31, it felt like a long awaited answered prayer.
Finally GOD had remembered me and repaid me for my faithfulness!
Finally, I would have my storybook romance and be repaid for remaining steadfast and pure before GOD!
Surely GOD would reward me, with the wedding of my dreams!
Or so I thought….
And then COVID happened, which put all of my “God owes me,” thinking to the test.
GOD definitely sustained and protected me from so much during my years of singleness. I learned a ton about GOD and myself and those years were invaluable. But, the truth is, it wasn’t GOD keeping me single all these years --it was me.
It was my own religiosity, trauma and relational immaturity. It was my inability to know how to recognize a good choice, or the fact that for years I did not feel comfortable engaging with the opposite sex.
There ARE times in our life when getting out of the dating game to heal is good and necessary, but for me this was not the case.
It took me getting real with myself before I realized that I was the reason for some of my struggles. GOD did not owe me a perfect relationship or a perfect wedding because I had “waited on Him.” Nor could I cloak my relationship immaturity in religious excuses.
I still had to battle challenges, communication issues, disappointment, frustration and life just like everyone else.
I think the misconception some Christians have is that waiting on GOD removes any obligation that they have to prepare.
Again--this is also false.
A person still needs to self reflect, be healthy, be humble and deal with their own baggage such as fear of commitment, lust, insecurity, financial debt, bad hygiene, poor health, etc.. A person also needs to available to meet people. If all a person does is attend bible studies and everybody in that group is married and twice their age -- it’s not a bad idea to expand options.
Go on dates, meet new people, make friends, but be intentional At least, this is what I did when I was ready to settle down. But make sure you maintain godly boundaries as you engage and don't put yourself in situations where you could become emotionally. spiritually and physically involved too soon. This is something you have to decide, what healthy boundaries look like, but it also helps to have accountability or to have godly friends, pastors or spiritual advisors in your life who can help be a sounding board.
If I’m speaking to you then the reality is this. GOD probably won’t send the perfect spouse on a holy cloud to your doorstep. But GOD will allow opportunity after opportunity to come your way. The question is, do you know how to recognize it?
Do you know how to engage with the opposite sex, do you have good communication skills, do you have self control, are you kind and courteous, do you look presentable, do you smile, or are you cold and unwelcoming? Do you have goals, are you the kind of person that you would be attracted to?
Again -- A GOD send does not remove the responsibility you or anyone has to self-reflect and deal with personal baggage.
A GOD send does not mean we sit around, do nothing as if “waiting on GOD,” presumes GOD will overnight our perfect spouse to our front porch.
No--a GOD send means you have become the kind of person you yourself want to marry, and it means you are willing to be honest with yourself, with GOD, with others, and prepare yourself for what you want and make the choice to engage in relationships.
Is it God’s Will that I Get Married?
Getting married is a choice.
Just like all decisions in life, what we choose is based upon free will. That is the gift GOD has given to every individual.
The important question isn’t if it’s GOD’S will for a person to get married, but rather, what intentions are driving your decisions?
Is it something you want to do? Great! Desiring to be in a relationship is human, natural, healthy, God-given and necessary for human survival-- literally ( Genesis 2:18). So we don’t need to dig too deeply there.
But Is this something you need to do to measure up to someone else, to live up to a certain image, to check a box, to secure yourself financially or to prove something to other people? Those aren't godly intentions and they might drive you towards a relationship that could blow up in your face down the road.
When our intentions are pure and are motivated by the Holy Spirit, we'll find ourselves walking in wisdom and manifesting the peaceful path GOD intended for us. But, when our decisions are fear-based it leads us to a ton of confusion, stagnation, hopelessness and hurt.
Instead of being passive in our relational life and thinking that inactivity is “waiting on GOD,” we should get real with ourselves, get real with GOD and get real with others. We should be honest about our desires, wants, fears, intentions and see what is really motivating our actions or inactions. Psalms 139: 23 - 24
Allowing GOD to deal with our insecurities, church hurt, fears and misconceptions, narcissism, or greed is the best way to be inspired towards the better path.
It also makes us more open in relationships, which frees us to date and choose a person as we like -- all while being motivated by faith instead of being blinded to godly prospects because of religious dogma ( or unrealistic expectations).
So should we the church really be celebrating 30, 40 and 50 year old virgins -- telling them to wait, wait and wait longer?
Or should we teach people how date and empower individuals to choose good spouses that will prepare them to raise god-fearing families?
What do you think? Leave your comments below! And if you haven't already, be sure to give me a follow on Instagram!