Why I Stopped Preparing for Marriage
Like most university aged young women I know, I've spent a lot of time thinking about marriage. I've listened to talks about it, read about it, and even watched wedding shows. Yes, that includes almost all 11 seasons of Say Yes to the Dress & its spin-off versions. I've spent hours online looking at wedding photography, and scoured Pinterest for the latest wedding tips and inspirations. It doesn't help that I work as a server for a catering company and work at an average of 6 weddings a year. During exams I'm a sucker for proposal & wedding videos on youtube. I've seen it all people.
About a year ago I took a step back and examined all of this. What was I doing? There seems to be an obsession among young girls towards marriage and weddings. This isn't a recent trend, and is understandable amidst our culture but its come with a few unhealthy social expectations. Statistically over 90% of people will get married at some point, so its not that unusual to think about something that will probably happen. But there's a pursuit of marriage as an ideal. As an absolute. Even among Christian girls to read on relationships and consume their time with thoughts of dating, weddings and marriages.
Almost every girl I know goes through one of those stages. Suddenly a cute boy comes on the scene and then all of a sudden its panic mode: I need to learn everything about relationships and marriage right now! I need to be prepared!
I definitely went through a few of those phases - although mine came at the end of a breakup. I realized that I had no clue what I was doing and needed some basic education on relationships, and how to honor God. I think that obtaining a healthy perspective and biblical understanding towards relationships in general (including marriage), is a good thing. But I'm witnessing a lot of people going way beyond that. An attitude of, "What? You haven't read The Meaning Of Marriage yet? You're not properly prepared for marriage - so God probably won't bring you a husband."
Hold on a minute. Why is there this social fear of needing to be 'prepared' in relation to actually getting married one day? I've seen young girls who are completely unprepared for marriage tie the knot, and single women in their 40's with the wisdom of an 80 yr old. Especially in the Bible - God rarely prepares people years ahead for something He wants them to do. He prepares them in the moment and season. For instance, in Exodus when Moses ran away from Pharaoh into Midian God didn't appear to Him and say, "Moses, I need you to start preparing for a task I have in store for you in 20 years. If you don't prepare correctly, I'll pass on and give the task to someone else." No. At the right time, God appeared to Moses, led him specifically and prepared him for his task in the moment.
I stopped preparing myself for marriage because its not the ultimate end result of my life here on Earth - and thank God that it's not!! The Bible also emphasizes that a person can live a long, fulfilled, God-glorifying life as a single. Marriage is just one of thousands of pictures of the Gospel in our lives. People who are married don't have a more complete understanding of the Gospel and the relationship between God and the Church. They just have a different understanding than someone who is single. And that's ok.
I stopped spending all my time preparing for marriage and started to prepare for the Kingdom of God.
Let's face reality: I'm no where close to getting married (I'm actually fine with this)! It's totally ok. I don't need to 'prepare' myself for a season that I'm not in. No, I haven't read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller - when/if I get engaged someone can buy me a copy and I promise I will read it then :) If marriage isn't the absolute end goal of my life, then what should I be preparing for? The Kingdom of God.
Preparing for the Kingdom involves pursing a deeper relationship with God. It involves an active faith that is challenged and perseveres in tough seasons. I have to choose to take my spiritual life seriously. I have to choose to actively pray and read my Bible. In preventing myself from becoming an obnoxious Bible-Head, I also need to actively look for ways to serve others and put my faith into practice. This is hard when I often desire to sit in my comfort zone. Taking steps of faith and trusting God is scary - but I've learned its in those scary moments where my dependance on God is greatest, and my joy is highest.
Preparing for the Kingdom is the best use of my time and resources, because as a follower of Jesus its where I will spend my eternity. Why not invest in something that will reap the best long term results? I want to spend eternity in God's Kingdom and see the fruit of my hard work here on Earth. I want to worship God with the people that came to know Jesus because of my spiritual legacy. I want to be faithful with what God has given me in the here and now.
Ladies, God is fully in control. Trust where He is leading you TODAY. Turn to Him and follow Him deeper. Don't feel stressed about dating relationships or the need to be prepared for marriage. When and if it comes your way, God won't leave you out to dry. He created the heavens and the earth and all of creation. He will prepare you for whatever relationships come your way - and even help you pick out the perfect dress I'm sure because He loves you that deeply.
Can we get an amen for that?
*This post was inspired upon conversations I had with my friend Mandy - so here's me giving her props for wise council and a blend of our quiet time awesome moments.