My Five Years of Singleness #EgalitarianMarriageSeries (Pt. 3)

colesum

At the Coliseum in Rome, Italy at 22-years-old

At 18 years old, my high school sweetheart and I called it quits. Well, actually we still talked on and off my first year of college. We were extremely emotionally attached and struggled to let go, but the truth is that our “teenage dream” had become toxic and our lives were heading in different directions.

Up until that point in my life, I had never experienced anything so emotionally painful as our breaking up. I “puppy-loved” him and he was truly a great guy, but God spoke to my heart and told me that he was not “the one.”

Some Christians don’t believe in the concept of “the one,” but I do. Perhaps this has less to do with my theological education and more to do with me being a hopeless romantic.

When I was 16 years old, my father bought me a car. It was an old Chrysler convertible. The car was only worth about $1500, but to me, it was a treasure. My dad obsessed over keeping me safe in that car. He made sure the oil was changed in due time. He made sure my gas never got too low. Inspections were always up to date. I knew nothing about cars (and still don’t really), so I let my father take care of me in that way.

From 18-23, I remained single. My heart was broken a bit from having to leave my highschool boyfriend behind, so I made a deal with God. I said, “God, I don’t think I am very good at this whole relationship thing, and I don’t want to get emotionally attached to another man until it is the right man.”

My sensitive heart could not handle another breakup.

God reminded me about my earthly father’s ability to pick out the right car for me when I first started driving and implanted this verse in my heart:

You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT). 

I desired to get married with all my heart, but I wanted my “soulmate” and was unwilling to settle for less just to have a boyfriend. Truthfully, I think it is better to remain single than to marry someone you are not in love with (or someone that is not really in love with you).

God showed me that when the time was right, He, as my good Father, would escort me to the “car lot” and help me pick out the right “car” for me.

Poor guys, I know you are more than a car, but bear with me for this analogy. I humbled myself and admitted, I know nothing about “cars” (A.K.A men) and I don’t even really know how to take care of one, but my Father can see “under the engine” –  into the heart of every prospect.

So, I laid down romance at the feet of Father God.

I gave it to Him. There were a couple of opportunities for love within those five years, but I listened intently to the voice of the Holy Spirit. She would whisper, “No, it’s not him, he will not take good care of your sensitive heart,” or “no, it’s not him, you will have to fight too much for his attention,” or “no, it’s not him, he is a great friend, but not your lover.”

No matter how much the loneliness stung, I refused to compromise.

Sometimes the pain of waiting would be overwhelming. Every few months or so, I had a good cry in the bathtub or the shower. I highly recommend it. But, other than those painful moments, my single years were some of the best years of my life.

I graduated from college. I traveled the world. I spent all my money on cute clothes and good food. I ate at some of the best restaurants. I visited my friends all over the United States. I began my career. I spoiled my first nephew. I networked with people who would later help me in my future endeavors. I went dancing with my friends. I began graduate school. I got to know Jesus more. I made mistakes. I lost friends. I gained friends. I found myself more.

Essentially, I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and it was awesome!

My advice is to be picky, but to throw your lists away. I ended up marrying someone who I truly believe was God’s pick for me, but he is nothing like “my list.” I also recommend getting real about what “love” actually is and what it is not.

Love is not butterflies. Sometimes love starts that way, but love is ultimately a choice, as the butterflies will fade pretty quickly. Love is not addiction to on-again-and-off-again relationships. Love is not sex. Sex is an aspect of love, but again, love is not sex. Love is not emotional highs and lows. No, my friends, love is patient, kind, sacrificial, and never-ending.

We over-complicate finding love because we want it too badly and too soon – the grass is always greener on the other side sort of thing.

In my opinion, finding love boils down to these simple questions:

  1. Would you give up all your money and comforts to be married to him?
  2. Would this guy give up all his money and comforts to be married to you?
  3. Does he love God and want to live a Christian life as you do?
  4. Is his character reflective of Jesus?
  5. Can you create a real life with him? The life you want? The life you both want?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then I would advise you to move on and stop wasting your precious time. Life is short, my friends, and we have dreams to achieve. Why would you want to be with someone who is going to hold you back in any way?

Women, we do not need a man to complete us. We do not need some sort of “male covering” to do ministry. We do not need a man’s permission to take care of whatever business we are in.

We need God. Period. That is it. Yes, some of us want a man and children more than anything else, but it is not until we realize that we don’t need a man and children, that we will find the security and empowerment we have always been searching for.

Men and women both, you deserve to be married to someone who wants to help you move towards your personal goals and family ideals, not someone who wants to help you move towards their personal goals and family ideals.

Love is equal sacrifice and equal compromise. It’s a slow dance of both giving and taking, comfort and discomfort, passion and pain.

You are worth the very best!

God is a good Father and will give you your heart’s desire if you let go of toxic relationships, toxic thinking, toxic behaviors, wait for God’s timing, and trust in Him alone.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Psalm 37:4)

(This post is part 3 of an #EgalitarianMarriageSeries. Egalitarians are Christians who believe that the Bible teaches husbands/men and wives/women are equal in both worth & authority in the home & church. We oppose “complementarianism” which teaches that Christian husbands/men and wives/women are equal in worth, but husbands/men inherently have greater authority in the home & church).

Find Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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14 Comments

  • Good stuff! Just read the series. It’s hard to learn these things at the ripe old age of 38, but it’s so much better than repeating old, toxic patterns.
    I’ve taken romance into my own hands too many times and, like yours, my tender heart cannot take another painful breakup.
    I’m getting healing for old wounds that have led to poor choices in men and from that healing is coming a different kind of desire. The desire to protect my own heart instead of looking for a man to protect it. The desire for God’s choice for me instead of not trusting Him with this most important decision.
    I admit to being surprised that you tried to implement traditional gender roles w/ Luke until just a year ago! Gosh, they just don’t work do they? Unless of course you’re two people who naturally fit them.
    I’ll tell you what, God’s gonna have to match me with a loving, supportive man who desires mutual submission, it won’t be of my doing, because deep in the heart of Texas are a lot of men who’ve been told forever that they have authority over women. And…blech. No thank you!

    • Thank you for sharing Erin. Luke and I never fit into traditional gender roles in marriage, but we both wanted to do things “God’s way” so we tried. It never worked. We then realized that this was not, “God’s way” but a human way – a wrong interpretation of God’s Word.

  • I think your five questions very helpful, Jory. I think the concept of “the one” is very, very new. It would be interesting to research how recent it is. Certainly not biblical. The Biblical period is certainly with the majority human tradition of trying to love (make this one “the one”) the person one marries, rather than marrying the person one loves (“the one”).

    Blessings

    Bosco
    http://www.liturgy.co.nz

  • I found this article inspiring at first, then you almost lost me with the Holy Spirit being a she, then I finally found it demeaning to men that women dont need them. I believe men and women do need each other. I would hate to think my wife doesnt need me. In fact, if they truly are Gods plan for you. You dont find a man that helps you achieve your goals, pretty selfish. You find a man…or women that God places in your life and you learn to become one with them.

    • Why would you have a problem with me calling the Holy Spirit a “she?” You did not have a problem with me calling God as “He.”

      The truth is that the godhead is genderless as we only use male/female pronouns to describe God more personally. The Bible uses metaphors in which God is compared to a father and a mother. I would truly ask your heart why it is offended with the Holy Spirit being called a “she.” In Hebrew the word for Spirit (רוה) (ruach) is feminine.

      Secondly, women do not need men and men do not need women in the sense of “romantic relationships.” The Apostle Paul even states that he wishes we would all be single. We need community, of course, but we do not need marriage to complete us. Only Jesus can complete us. We may desire romance, but we don’t need it to have a fulfilling life.

      Thirdly, if you are going to get married, a man or a woman should choose a person who is going to help them move forward. This is not selfish. This is wise. Why would you want to become one with someone who is not invested in your calling? I should be invested in helping my husband move towards his goals and he should be invested in helping me move towards my goals. This is simply common sense.

    • Michael, I hate to butt in on your conversation with Jory, but she is referencing the huge tendency that people, men and women, but especially women, have toward feeling that they will only be completed if they have a partner, and that without a partner, they have less value. Which, I’m sure you will agree, is dysfunctional and unhealthy for relationships.

      As to she… it’s really no more presumptuous than ‘he’ … because God is Spirit and we who are made in ‘His’ (and I say His because it’s our usual way of referring to ‘Him’) image, are mankind, which is made up of male and female. He is not a gender any more than He is a black or white or asian. So… we just have to use our poor vocabulary to try to express Him in His fullness.

  • Well said! Couldn’t agree more.

    I love my husband, have done for 48 years, BUT, I do not need him in order to feel better about myself. Yes, I need him and his love as he needs me, but my sense of self is not increased or decreased by the man I am married to. If a person can’t understand that, they run the serious risk of co-dependence, and that’s not healthy in a marriage or anywhere else.

    • Thanks…yes..I love my husband, but I don’t need him. I would be OK without him, even though I would be devastated if I lost him for some reason…I would soldier on because I have Jesus. 🙂

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