Maybe Singleness Isn’t about Waiting for Marriage

So many young adults today endure singleness as a "season of waiting" for the good stuff: marriage. But what if marriage isn't really better than being single? Read more here!

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of “marriage vs. singleness” discussions among Christian young adults.

The debate looks something like this: many young adults are still single, and some are married. The married people are on the “WOO marriage is so great and if you’re not married you’re missing out big time” side, while all the singles are either trying to deny their emotions (“I’m single and I will enjoy it/pretend I do”) or just open about their desperate desire to get married.

Disclaimer:

Maybe I have no right to even have an opinion on the matter, since I’m a married, twenty-one year old Christian woman who hasn’t experienced a real “season of singleness.”

I might not understand how hard it is to wait for God to bring someone into your life, or wonder if He ever will.

Maybe I can’t understand how hard it is to trust God, when being a wife and mother is the greatest desire of your heart.

What I have to say actually has nothing to do about the singleness versus marriage discussion. It’s more to do with how God’s will affects the quality of either season of life—whether that’s singleness or marriage.

Maybe it’s not about whether or not you’re married.

Why do so many singles feel that they are missing out if they’re not married? I think it’s a matter of understanding why marriage can be a blessing…and how it can also be quite the opposite.

My marriage is a wonderful blessing to me. My husband is a pretty amazing man. I have more respect and admiration for him than anyone else. But here’s the thing: my marriage isn’t a blessing because my husband and I have forever committed our lives to each other, or even because he’s such a great guy. It’s a blessing because it’s where God wants me.

There are also many unhappy marriages in the world, folks. I know couples who would probably say their marriage is not a blessing to them. Marriage itself isn’t the blessing here.

Likewise, singleness is a blessing for some and not for others. If you are single and you believe that’s where God has placed you for now (which has nothing to do with how you feel about the situation and all about God’s will for your life), you will be—and are—blessed.

We don’t miss out on the blessing because we’re either married or not. We miss out on the blessing when we refuse to stay where God has placed us.

When we look at marriage and singleness and say one is better than the other, we stand dangerously close to the edge. We tempt ourselves because when we believe one is better than the other, we often pursue it relentlessly, regardless of where God is guiding us. It’s so easy to just charge ahead with what we want and ignore the Lord’s leading.

The blessing happens when we choose to be where God wants us. Every step of my relationship with my husband was guided by God. I didn’t push for it. But what if I had believed that no matter what, being single would make me more “blessed”? If I hadn’t married, I wouldn’t be in God’s will and would be worse off.

For those who are married, marriage is a blessing not because it’s a marriage, but because God put those two people there. And for others, singleness is not a blessing because they’re single, but because they are walking in God’s path for them.

Next time you’re wondering which is better—marriage or singleness?—remember that it’s not the circumstance, but the reason you’re there.

It’s not about where you are, but whether you are willing to surrender here & now.

Continue Reading

The “Perfect Guy” List: Why You Should Tear It Up

We've all created the "Perfect Guy" list at some point. But does it really do us any good? Click here to find out why I got rid of my list and how I allowed God to work in my life!

A couple weeks ago, I was talking with two of my friends about “the list”. You know, the list almost every teenage/young adult girl makes about things her future husband needs to be—tall, a solid Christian, loves kids, nice teeth, humorous, will take her out for ice cream.

My one unmarried friend asked me and my other somewhat-recently-married friend about our lists—what they were like, if we married someone with those qualities, and if we thought they were a good idea.

My answer was simple. “If I can be honest here, I think you should take your list and literally tear it up.”

Did I have a list? Yep. I made it when I was fifteen, and guess what? It was completely useless in my relationship and eventual marriage.

Are lists all bad? No, but they can have several not-so-great effects on future relationships, our future husbands, and on our own hearts.

Reason to ditch the list no. 1: You set unrealistic expectations for your future spouse.

Say you have the idea of the “perfect spouse” in your head, on your list, wherever. You have all these amazing qualities you would love to have in a guy, whether that’s “loves to cook”, “spiritually on fire”, or “has blue eyes”. You’ve now said to your future boyfriend or spouse, “This is what I expect of you, and if you can’t keep up, I see you as a failure.” Of course, you’d never actually say that, but you’re saying that he’s not good enough as he is; that you have a high standard he needs to reach in order to have your respect.

What if a guy had a list of criteria you had to meet in order for you to be marriage material? What if a guy turned you down based on the fact that you didn’t cook as good as his mom did? We’d probably call him a jerk and drop him like a hot potato. So why is it as girls we think it’s okay to do this to guys?

Even if he never finds out what you put on your list, or better yet, that you even had one, you’ve still set expectations in your own mind for what you think he should be, rather than respecting and loving him for the amazing, God-honouring guy he already is.

Reason no. 2: You limit yourself.

If you have a list, you run a very large risk of turning down a great guy because he doesn’t meet 3/17 items on your list. If you’re basing your decision on very physical attributes, you’re focusing on the wrong things. Just because a guy says that he’s not into kids now doesn’t mean that he’ll never want to start a family. And just because a guy doesn’t cook his family supper now doesn’t mean that he won’t learn and cook for you on occasion.

People grow and change. You shouldn’t drop a guy because of something he hasn’t accomplished yet or because of a skill he hasn’t become great at.

Reason no. 3: Your list actually represents your own insecurities.

If you’ve made a list, take a look at it. How many of those things are characteristics you wish you had, but don’t? I found that my list was actually a projection of what I saw lacking in my life. I had all these things I needed to fix in my own life and wanted them to be perfect in the guy I would marry.

While there isn’t anything wrong with wanting a guy to have strong character, we can come to a point where God is saying, “Hey, you need to deal with this,” and we instead turn it around and say “I need to find someone who has this figured out for the both of us.”

Go over your list and see if any of the things you’ve written down are things God is calling you to work out in your own life.

Reason no. 4: You limit God.

A little while after I wrote my first list, “What I Want in a Husband”, I wrote another list: “What God Wants for Me in a Husband.” They were a bit different. For one, God couldn’t care less if my husband had blonde hair, but He wanted to make sure he was forgiving. Another thing is that God didn’t care whether or not he was spiritually mature now, but He did want him to be growing. God’s and my opinions on my life differ from time to time…and I’ve learned that His are always right.

And to be truthful, there were so many things that God gave me in my husband that I didn’t even have a clue I needed. And, if you would have asked me, I probably would have said that I didn’t want some of those qualities—and yet, God knew I needed them, even if I didn’t want them. I am not a physically affectionate person by nature; in fact, no one in my family is. William’s love language is physical touch. Oh, boy. Turns out I’ve come to love that about him. Now, we’ll be walking to the car and it’s like, “Um, excuse me; why are you not holding my hand?” (Except I say it nicer.)

One last thing.

When I gave up my list, I was really giving my will over to God. He knows me better than I know myself; after all, He’s God. I got to a point where I didn’t want to pick my own husband—I’d probably really mess it up. When I stepped back and let God take the reins, He was able to work in my life and find a guy who’s not perfect, but who pushes me toward God and loving others.

When you trust God, He won’t fail you. He’s as interested in your love life as He is in your every-day life, work life, school life, home life. Will you trust Him in this area too?

Continue Reading

Is Love a Good Enough Reason to Get Married?

I’m back, folks! I’m sorry for sadly abandoning my blog-posting…I had a crazy-busy summer that concluded with me getting married to my favourite person at the end of September. And now that the wedding, honeymoon, and work craziness is over…ROUTINE. Finally.

Most of us look for our "one true love" to marry. But have you ever thought that maybe finding someone you respect is just as important, if not more so? Click here to read more!

Great. So now that she’s married, she thinks she can give marriage advice. But this is actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot throughout my 3-year relationship with William. In the months and days leading up to the wedding, I asked myself (a lot), how do I know if I really love him? My love for William hadn’t really been tested a whole lot before the wedding. We hadn’t gone through any tragedies. He had never broken my trust. What if I just thought I loved him and we couldn’t make it when stuff really did happen?

I agonized—and by that I mean that I let worry ruin my whole week on more than one occasion—over this. I finally came to this conclusion: I wasn’t 100% sure that I loved him.

But I did know this: there was (and is) no other guy in the world that I respect more than William.

Respect or Love?

Ask someone who is getting married why they’re getting married, and you’ll probably hear, “Because I love him.” But is that really a good enough reason to marry someone?

A lot of us have heard the marriage mantra “Women need love and men need respect”. And it makes sense. Most guys want to be looked up to, while most women have a deep need to be cherished. But have you ever looked at this from a Biblical view?

The passage of Ephesians 5 is a popular one for marriage. You can check out the whole chapter here, but I’m going to just reference the last verse of the chapter:

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

(Eph. 5:33)

God created men and women, and He created marriage. So He knows what it takes for a marriage to work. And yet, God doesn’t actually say that I need to love William. Of course, we all are to show each other the love of God—but in the marriage context, Paul points out that men need to make it a priority to love their wives sacrificially, and women are to respect their husbands unconditionally.

As a woman, I need to feel loved first. If William provided for me and respected me consistently but I didn’t feel love, nothing else would matter to me. As a woman, I naturally tend to stay in that “love first” line of thinking, since that’s what my needs look like.

But the reality is that in regard to my husband, I need to be thinking “respect first”. When I respect him, everything else flows. When I respect William, I want to please him. I want to check with him before making a decision because I value his wisdom and input. If I have a problem, I go to him first because I look up to him.

The S-word: submission.

Respecting our husbands is especially important because in a Christian marriage, we as wives are commanded to submit to our husbands. I know, some of us don’t like that word. But submission is necessary in a healthy, God-honouring relationship.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

(Eph. 5:22 – 24)

Submission doesn’t mean not having a brain and letting your husband make all the decisions. God gave you a brain—use it! Give your opinion to your husband. Help him to make the decisions. But at the end of the day, you need to support him in whatever decision he makes. Don’t complain about the decision for the next five weeks and refuse to let the matter rest.

When we submit to our husbands, good things come out of it. They feel respected. They know that we’re looking up to them and trusting them to make the right decision. They also feel empowered to do what’s best. When I submit to William, I’m saying “I trust you”, and his response is appreciation and then love towards me.

It’s a cycle that I have the power to start or stop. When I respect William, his natural response is to love me more. When I feel loved, I want to respect him.

Finding someone you respect.

Often we confuse love with infatuation. We think whoever we have the strongest emotions towards is the one we should be with. But the problem is, sometimes those emotions are born out of pity or solely physical attraction. We feel bad for the guy who can’t keep a girlfriend, so we go out with them. Or we chase after the guy who has the best looks without looking at his character.

When I told my dad that I liked William, the very first question he asked me was, “Do you admire this guy?” At first I was like, “Uh, yeah…I like him, so…” But as I thought about it, I realized there was a lot about him that I respected. My dad followed that question up with the comment, “You’ll never be able to respect a guy you don’t admire.” And that has proven to be so true in our relationship.

So look around you. Who do you look up to? Who do you respect or admire? Is there someone in your life who has an incredible servant’s heart? Does he love others unconditionally? Is he the hands and feet of Jesus to the people in his life?

Find someone who you can respect, and the other factors will fall into place.

Is respect important in your relationship with your husband?

What are some ways you show respect to your husband?

Continue Reading

Is It Wrong to Date or Marry Someone who Isn’t a Christian?

"Do not be unequally yoked"--what does that really mean? Is it actually wrong or even a sin to date or marry someone who isn't a Christian? The answer might not be what you think. Click here to read more!

Ah, youth group. I went to youth group all throughout high school, and it was pretty great. I looked forward to Tuesday nights, where I got to play cool games (i.e. playing football but actually just trying not to get killed by all the guys who took it way too seriously), eating yummy snacks (except for Fear Factor night…still trying to suppress that memory), and having great worship (always unforeseen; sloppy wet wasn’t even an option). Heck, we even had some great Bible studies.

At youth, things like character, dating and our relationships with God were all among the topics discussed. It’s not much of a surprise that when we were talking about dating, we were warned against dating a non-Christian—or being “unequally yoked”. As a matter of fact, I think most Christians will advise you not to date someone who isn’t a believer…myself included.

But what does the Bible say about dating/marrying a non-believer? Since the Bible doesn’t really discuss dating (it wasn’t really a thing back then) but it discusses marriage, I’ll look at this issue from a marriage perspective. This applies to dating as well, since dating is usually done with an intention of marriage.

When you hear “don’t marry someone who isn’t a Christian”, this verse is usually brought in for back-up:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14)

Although this verse seems to be condemning the practice of a believer marrying a non-believer, there is no mention of marriage in this whole chapter. This verse is usually used out of context. The heading of this section in my Bible says, “The Temple of the Living God”. Paul goes on to remind the Corinthians that God wants us to be holy and separate for Him. This verse could be interpreted as forbidding any type of close relationship with those outside the church. Why is it that so many people use it only in the context of marriage?

Well, because people take things out of context to prove their own point. (It happens. Context is important when understanding God’s Word.)

So: is marrying someone who isn’t a Christian a sin? What does the Bible say?

The Bible gives many different instructions about marriage, some of which are not negotiable. Divorce is a sin in God’s eyes (with the exception of some circumstances, such as abuse). 1 Corinthians 7:10 – 11 says this:

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

That’s pretty clear. If you continue reading in 1 Cor. 7:12 – 16, Paul says that he is of the opinion that if a believer is married to an unbeliever, the unbeliever can make the choice to stay or be separated.

So what about a believer marrying an unbeliever? The answer is simply this: God does not say that we as Christians are required to marry believers. However, He does give us many other guidelines for marriage that we are to follow, whether or not we are married to a believer. A choice like who we marry can have a big effect on us from an eternal perspective.

The first thing God ever says about marriage is this:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:24)

Whoever you marry, you will become one flesh. You are no longer two, but one under God. That doesn’t change because you don’t marry someone who isn’t a Christian.

Paul also gives this instruction as he concludes his principles for marriage:

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. (1 Cor. 7:17)

We are required to still follow Christ and fulfill our calling in him—no matter who we marry. Click To Tweet

We will not be justified based on who we marry, or anything we do in this life. We cannot do anything to earn God’s favour. When we stand before God on Judgment Day, He will not give us brownie points for marrying a Christian. That being said, we can’t go to God and say, “I know I didn’t live my life fully for You, but the person I married prevented me—it’s not my fault.” We are will be accountable for ourselves, no matter who we chose to spend our lives with.

Personally, I have chosen to marry a Christian someday. I have several reasons for choosing this, and none of them are because the Bible says to.

My relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship in my life.

Christ comes first—even though I’ll be the first to tell you that I fail at this daily. He is my One & Only, and my relationship with Him comes first. Since He is the most important thing in my life, I want someone who can share in that with me. I don’t want to marry someone who is going to distract me from my relationship with Christ, but encourage me in it. I want someone who won’t be jealous of my relationship with him and who won’t pull me away from my relationship with God.

Marriage is the closest relationship I will ever have with someone on Earth.

On this side of heaven, my marriage will be the closest relationship I have with another human being. That’s a lot to invest your life in. I want someone who has the same foundation as I do. On my own, I can be as strong as I want, and I can marry a really strong person. But if our strength comes from different places, how strong will we be as a couple?

I want to marry for reasons other than my happiness.

I’m not getting married just to be happy. I’ll marry someone I want to raise my kids. What if I get married and have kids and then I’m not around to raise them? I want to marry someone I can trust my kids’ spiritual education with. I might not always be around to bring them to Sunday school or youth group. Even if both parents are involved, will kids grow up following Christ if they don’t see both parents setting this example? Sadly, the answer is usually no.

I want my marriage to glorify God.

When I get married, I want my relationship to be a tool God can use to build His kingdom. That’s not to say that you can’t honor God if your spouse isn’t a Christian, but I want to be married to someone who can share in that mission with me. I want my marriage to point to the relationship Christ has with his Church. It won’t be able to do that if my future spouse and I aren’t on the same page spiritually.

All this being said, I don’t think it’s a wise idea to marry someone who isn’t a Christian. Having the same morals or values as you isn’t enough. Is that person actively pursuing God, with or without you?

When your eyes are set on Christ and your heart is in the right place, you won’t even want to look at anyone who isn’t also focused on him.

Although God doesn’t demand that we marry a Christian, I do firmly believe that it is the best thing to marry someone who can share in the grace and love and mission of Christ and his Church. When marriage is focused on Christ, it is beautiful. It points back to God and His love for us. There are so many blessings available for us when we marry someone who loves Christ and is dedicated to following him.

Continue Reading

Things I Wish I Knew before I Started Dating

Dating can be fun, but there can be tough things too. There's lots to learn and grow from. Click here to read seven things I learned while dating!

I started dating when I was in the last semester of high school. I’ve only dated one guy and I’ve been with him now for just over two and a half years. Since I was pretty naïve when we started dating, I’ve learned a lot about relationships in the last couple years. This isn’t going to be a list of things I completely messed up on, though I have certainly made a lot of mistakes. Rather, these are things that I was surprised to find and thought I was the only one dealing with these issues. I thought I’d take the time to discuss some of the things I wish someone had told me before I started dating.

Christian girls have to deal with temptation too.

Chances are that if you really like a guy, you’re attracted to him, whether that’s physically or not. When I started dating William, I had this preconceived notion that since I was a Christian, I would be kind of “protected” from any temptation. We were a Christian couple focused on Jesus, so temptation wouldn’t touch us.

Ha.

I think that Satan will try even harder to tempt Christians—especially young ones who have lots of hormones. He tempted Jesus, too (Luke 4:1 – 13). Everyone is different, but don’t think that just because you’re both Christians you will be sheltered from temptations. Be prepared that you will face temptation, and be armed with prayer.

Your boyfriend is not your emotional outlet.

So many girls use their boyfriend as their emotional vent. It’s okay to relieve some stress and talk about your day, but sometimes we go overboard. Instead of sharing the facts and directly explaining how we feel, we end up inflating the story as we go along to the point where we’re just “venting”.

Ladies, your man wants to support you. Guys know girls are emotional and they want to help. They’re fixers. But at some point, they shut down. If we are just a landslide of feelings, they can’t understand it all. They aren’t wired the same as us and they can’t sort through all those emotions the same way we can. It’s how God made them. It’s good to talk to our men about how we’re feeling about different things, but we need to do it in guy language. We need to filter it down a bit to be straightforward—share the facts and then how you felt. Guys are great, but save the venting for your girlfriends.

Sexual purity gets harder, not easier.

Real talk here. This was—and is—a huge one for me. It’s one thing to stay pure when you’ve been dating for two months and you’re not a super-affectionate person to begin with. But when you’ve been dating for two years, keeping those boundaries gets really tough.

It’s important to set boundaries before you break them. Whether your parents gave you a curfew or not, set one and stick to it. If you let your rules slide once, it will happen again and again. Just because you’re a Christian couple does not mean you don’t need rules. The sooner you have an honest discussion about your boundaries, the better. Yes, it might be awkward, but that’s so much better than waiting until you’ve already crossed your personal boundaries.

He appreciates it when you take the time to look good.

I am a very no-fuss person when it comes to my appearance. I like to look nice, but I’m all for practicality. Before William and I started dating, I didn’t wear makeup because I couldn’t be bothered. I started wearing more makeup after we started dating but I still mostly only wear it to church or other outings. It’s so tempting to just wear sweats and be comfortable once you’ve been with your guy for a while, but he really does appreciate it when you put in that extra effort for him.

Sometimes my youngest brother will ask me, “Why do you care how you look? You already have a boyfriend.” He has a point in that I’m not trying to attract other guys, but I think William is worth taking the extra time to look good. At the same time, there’s a big difference between feminine and sexy. We want to be valued for our true worth.

He might “get” you, but he can’t read your mind.

You might be with a guy who just “gets” you. He understands you and he can always tell when something’s wrong. Guys who are sensitive to us are real blessings. They are easy to talk to and you don’t always have to explain yourself. They just know.

However, this does not make them mind-readers. There have been times when William knows something’s wrong and asks me about it, and there have been other times when he has no idea. This means I have to tell him. And I need to be honest and straightforward and loving in the way I’m telling him, not manipulative and demanding.

Having a boyfriend does not mean you will never notice another guy.

If you think having a boyfriend is going to protect you from ever being attracted to another guy, I have bad news for you. You don’t just shut off physical attraction like that. You will never be completely protected from seeing other guys—even after marriage. Being in a dating relationship means committing to one person above others. It’s not wrong to notice other guys. We are, after all, wired to be attracted to guys. It becomes wrong when we are lusting after guys—your boyfriend included.

When I had been dating William for a while, sometimes I would notice other guys and then think, Emily! What’s wrong with you? You have a boyfriend. But I realized that I can’t simply stop myself from noticing guys. What I can control is what I do with those thoughts when I have them. Do I encourage them or take them captive? Our response is what makes the difference.

Infatuation doesn’t last, but love does.

There will be times when your feelings come and go. One day you might just be giddy with love for your significant other, and then the next day you might just be meh. This doesn’t mean you love him any less, it just means that some days we feel it more than others. We’re girls. Emotions change.

It’s like your relationship with God. Sometimes you feel so on fire and passionate about sharing God’s love, yet other times you feel more distant and quiet. It doesn’t mean you love God any less, it just means that we go through different seasons of life and we go through different seasons of emotions, too.

The reality is that true love is a choice—a choice to love even when the feelings aren’t there to motivate you. It’s okay to not have butterflies all the time. Love means choosing the other person over yourself when it’s less than convenient.

Those are some of the things I’ve learned since I started dating! I hope this list has been helpful to you if you are in a relationship or are considering dating. What do you wish you knew before you were in a relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Continue Reading