Outside of the church, everything I read about marriage is so depressing, so perverted. Everyone follows the same circular rabbit trail.
Society says: You MUST be an independent, strong woman with a career – and then, you must wait until you find your true soulmate who makes you breakfast in bed, surprises you with flowers after work and makes you swoon every time you see him. Because that’s, you know, how you can be sure a man loves you (note: if you ever lose any of these things it’s clearly a sign you need to get a separation/divorce).
But how selfish, how self-centered, how ‘Hollywood’ we’ve made marriage. It unnerves me.
It’s what I’ve been pondering recently. During my four years Chapel Hill, I definitely joined the camp of “Me Women. Me Must Be Strong. Me Must Find Career.” I really did. I never thought about weddings because they’re so girly and frivolous, because I wasn’t (and still am not) earning a salary, and because I wasn’t (and still am not) truly “independent.” And because Chapel Hill taught me I wasn’t ready for marriage, you know? I hadn’t “found myself.” I hadn’t dated around. I hadn’t “figured out my life.”
But, I did have Bryan who is always so good to me – and so encouraging and loving and supportive.
If I’m ignoring what society tells me – everything in the Bible tells me marriage is the opposite of this idea of independence; marriage is two becoming one – it is a union of unshakable commitment. It is love and humility and compromise. It is strength through losing your independence.
And that’s really hard.
Hard to change your perspective about. Hard to hold the magnifying glass up to your own flaws – to examine how sinful and hurtful and selfishly battered your heart is. And hard to admit that this “independent, strong” person I have created (because who are we kidding – I didn’t seek God’s will in deciding who I wanted to be) is so dirty and imperfect. And oh, it is so hard when you turn to share your approaching nuptials with your strong, independent non-dating, unmarried female friends.
I find myself confessing, “Yeah, I’ll have to compromise, but it’s okay. It’ll be good.” Instead of, “We’ll get to approach every problem together. It’ll be BETTER.”
But even that’s not true. An article titled ‘The End of Men,’ touts exactly what its title implies: the death of man with the rise of empowered females. Women have no need for a man. We are more likely than men to go to college and to get a job, and to hold a managerial position – in fact, couples are choosing girls 2 to 1 when having a baby. I firmly believe women can take over the world: Multi-taskers, driven, organized, compassionate, smart – it’d be too easy.
But what makes me angry, what truly upsets me, is how blind we are to the self-destructive “Me Independent. Me Woman.” mantra. This is particularly highlighted in relationships. Society empowers our hedonistic pursuit of “The Career,” but fails to consider the effect this can have on relationships – or on an individual’s heart. This is true for both men and women.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have plans for a career (whatever that means to you) – I’m paying for two years of graduate school and I’m thrilled for my CAREER as a Speech Pathologist. But I’m under no delusion that what I WANT for my life ends in “Speech Pathologist.” I’m certain God’s plan extends beyond that workspace. I’m currently pursuing something that fulfills me, that fills me with JOY. But I’m learning to let that die, realizing it’s not the most important thing about me. And if I ever “give it up,” that doesn’t mean I’m anti-feminist.
Or that I’m a “housewife,”
Or a mysogynist. Or whatever.
In fact, that would be a landmark for me (part of me still grips on to this career as defining me).
I’ll cautiously present the opposing perspective that some Christians believe: You must be married before you can truly live your life.
They forget Paul. Oh, how they forget Paul’s 1 Corinthians 7 (“An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”).
That’s something to heed. Marriage will be distracting. It can distract from either a “career” or a Christian ministry.
But I’m convinced that the close relationship of marriage will build a better person (at least in me) as part of an eternal lesson to humble prideful, self-centered lifestyles.
Consider it pure joy, my friends whenever you face trials of any kind … because perseverance leads to maturity…
Submitting in humility and opening ourselves to our wrongs is how we worship God. It rights the wrongs of our heart. It’s the accountability of being in relationship that makes us better people, chiseling our selfish cavities into beautiful places for others to fit.
And if our relationship is to reflect that of Christ’s, I know that humility must trump everything that I currently control. And, yes, that includes “my career.” I’m NO WHERE near to that, but I’m learning to anticipate the marriage society so disdains with loving JOY.
And those are just some thoughts I’m having.