“So…is there a guy in your life?”
I’ve heard it a million times, in half a million different ways:
From the little girls in church. “When are you going to get married, Miss Charity? We want to come to your wedding!”
From the well-meaning relatives. “Your younger sisters are married. When is it going to be your turn?”
From the people I haven’t seen in a while. “So tell me…are you seeing anyone?”
From my married friends. “Marriage is wonderful. You DO want to be married, right?”
From my single friends. “You’re so cute, girl. When is a man going to snatch you up and sweep you off your feet?”
From little people to old people, from good friends to new coworkers, from relatives to random strangers – they all want to know the who/what/when/where/why of my current relationship status and future wedding/marriage.
Whenever I get questions like this, I imagine the askers wondering, “What’s wrong with her? Maybe she just doesn’t want to be married. She could clearly get a boyfriend if she tried. Isn’t it time she started a family – she’s not getting any younger, after all.”
Perhaps because I’m asking the same questions they are, and perhaps because I read between those particular lines too much, my responses usually fall into two categories:
“I’m sorry, I’m still waiting for the right guy.”
“So sorry, honey, I’ll let you know as soon as I do about my wedding.”
“No <sigh>, I wish I had news on that front. I’m sorry.”
“Well, I’ve been rather busy. I’ve lived abroad, traveled the country, established a career, and started mentoring other women.”
“It’s not my CHOICE to be single; my CIRCUMSTANCES made me this way.”
“I am a strong, independent woman. I do NOT need to apologize for being single.”
But what I have only begun to realize is that my reactions of “so sorry” or “not my fault” have one underlying assumption: someone or something is to blame.
I’m not to blame. My future husband isn’t to blame. That leaves circumstances or God. And since God orchestrates circumstances, God must be to blame.
And so I fall into the trap of apologizing for Him: “I’m so sorry that God is doing what He is doing in my life; I know you’re disappointed by that. I am too, you know. I really wish I had a different answer for you. God is just, well – doing His own thing, and I’m sorry He’s letting you/me/us down.”
Or into the trap of defending my circumstances: “Well, it’s not like I’ve been wasting my life; I’ve had some great opportunities because I’m single. I mean, if I had a husband and kids, I would have missed out on [travel/skydiving/whatever]. So back off, okay? I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.”
Which are both wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
When I assume that God’s plan needs to be defended or apologized for, the message I send to people is that God doesn’t know what He’s doing and doesn’t care about me or my future or my future husband.
I shouldn’t be saying. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t choose this life.” I should be saying, “I didn’t choose this life for myself, but God did. And He gives good gifts” (Matthew 7:11).
I shouldn’t be defending my circumstances from people who (might but probably won’t) judge me, because Jesus has already defended me from God’s ultimate judgment (hell – John 3:16).
In fact, without God, my circumstances would be pretty bleak. I was born a sinner into a sinful world with sinful desires and no way of pleasing Him on my own (Isaiah 59:2). Instead of bemoaning my fate or writing me off, though, God sent His Son to suffer and die in my place (I John 4:9-10).
Without God, my circumstances (man or no man, children or no children) would doom me to hell forever (Matthew 13:50). But with God, the circumstance of Jesus’ resurrection secures me a place in heaven forever (John 11:25-26).
What I’ve been losing out on all these years is the opportunity to use my “nope, still single” answers to point people to the goodness of the grace of God. What I should have been acknowledging was:
- Not my lack of a wedding to a man on earth; rather, my future wedding to my Savior (Jesus) (Revelation 19:6-9).
- Not my disappointment at not being known by a man; rather, my excitement at being known by Jesus (John 10:14).
- Not my excuses of traveling and independence, powered by hard work and scholarships; rather, my faith journey, powered by the Gospel and my relationship with Jesus.
I know, I know. That all sounds cheesy. And maybe I wouldn’t phrase my answers quite like that in an actual conversation.
But I do want the askers of “So when’s it going to happen for you?” to come away knowing that I’m more in love with Jesus than with the idea of being married (in a Valentine’s Day wedding at a resort in San Diego) someday. I want my circumstances to point to Jesus’ life/death/resurrection more than to my own marital status.
And I want my apologies to be for something I actually did wrong, not for something God is doing right.