The Single’s FOMO…

I was talking with a couple other girls not long ago, and we were discussing the difficulty in being single in Christian circles…

In many instances, and in many churches, getting married quickly becomes the goal or at least the thing that girls (and guys I suppose) should aim towards. Getting married young is common, and in some cases being married is seen as automatically having more maturity than single counterparts.

Quick side note before I plunge deeper into this thought; I am still firmly in the I think it would be great to find someone one day, but this post is not at all a reflection of feeling lonely or jealous of my married friends.

I know from personal experience, it is pretty frustrating to have someone who got married much younger than I am currently, try to offer encouragement in the form of “just be patient”. And, not so much because what they are saying is not true, but because they have not experienced the additional years of patience, and it can feel like they are entirely missing the feelings of desiring to find someone and being unable.

However, while we were talking the other night, we stumbled upon what I believe is the real (ok, maybe just a huge portion of the) struggle for girls (and maybe guys) as they get older and find themselves still single: The fear of missing out (fomo).

“What if I don’t get married until my mid-thirties and miss so many of the things my friends are getting to do now?”
“What if I am too old to have kids when I get married?”
“… I don’t want to miss the possible ten or more years that we could’ve spent together!”

It can definitely be hard at times to watch so many people get married young and have amazing love stories, being so happy and thankful for the person God has brought into their life… While you are still single, and in some cases single for many more years to come. Watching others have these experiences of building lives together, someone to adventure with, someone to support and encourage, families, children.. and of course someone to help you through difficult times… all while being told to be patient just feels like an insult at times. There is a very real fear of missing out on years of love, laughter, and support…

“IF I end up getting married, will I regret the years we didn’t have together?”
“IF I get married, will we be young enough to also have years and energy to enjoy each other’s company?”
“IF I do get married, will we be young enough to have the number of children I’ve always wanted?”

But, the fear goes deeper than just fear of missing out on being a 20-something with a spouse.. What if, by the time you do end up getting married, you still regret and mourn the lost years that you were single?

I do not know of many pastors or churches that even touch on these fears.

But, the reality is, both faith and hope in not just who God is, but how much He loves us, and how much our singleness (for however long we have it) bring Him glory.

I am by nature a more adventurous person, I enjoy seeing what could happen, traveling to far away places, or just sitting and talking with friends laughing until way too late into the night. And while one day, I would love to find a man, fall in love, and get married, that time is not now, and I do not regret my life so far. There have certainly been difficult seasons, and they would have been easier for sure with a partner, at the same time, I realize there are elements of things that I likely would not have learned… and would not be able to use to help someone else later.

So, in my experience, if you have a “young but older young single” person in your life, be gentle and wise in the way you encourage. For the love, do not quote Jeremiah 29:11 to them, instead take time to wade through the complicated maze that is their heart. Understand where the fears come from, and instead of offering trite quick bits of advice, take the time to share their journey with them… I have discovered that my struggle to traverse my singleness (alone) is much more satisfying when I feel like my situation is understood by someone else, I feel less alone when I am not given a quick “you just need to..” and instead, my heartaches, thoughts, fears, wondering, and desires are listened to and responded to with wisdom and insight.

Being single and fearing the potential loss of years of building a life together are real, but put in the right perspective that our God is a good God, He tenderly loves us, and looking back we will have the satisfaction that even Job experienced at the end of his (much more traumatic) journey.

Single v. Married…

I have been watching an interesting debate discussion lately about the benefits of being Single or being Married.. Or getting married young.. Or staying single longer.. whatever.

It has felt recently as though there are two teams and they are at odds with each other. I think it is a little odd that we seem to be “fighting” or trying to convince others that our current state is the best or correct one.

Here are a few of the articles in the discussion so you can follow along with why I am writing this post:
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23
The Results of a Closed-Minded 23 Year Old
I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?
Marriage Isn’t For You
Why I Did I Get Married so Young

(There are more, and you possibly have read different ones)

The “conversation” as a whole really just interests me quite a bit. Obviously some of the blog posts are in direct response to one another, whereas others seem to be oblivious to the conversation at large, and are merely adding their thoughts to the world.

I also think it’s interesting that 23 is the number that keeps getting brought up.

Let me start out by saying, I am not loving on or hating on one side of this conversation or the other, merely responding to the conversation as a whole. I think it would be helpful to highlight some things.

Some background on myself so you can be more aware of where I am coming from:
I am a turning 29 years old, still single, never married or engaged woman.
I am not at all against marriage, and not only did I think early on in my life that I would be married by this point in life, I still would like to get married to the right man someday… But, I am content single, actually love aspects of it, and I am willing to wait for the right man because I have seen the destruction of divorce in too many people (of all ages).
I also have done quite a bit of reading of research on Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) because I find people and culture fascinating (especially my own).

Now that my vantage point is known, here is my personal perspective and thoughts on the Single v. Married conversation:

Not everyone who is single loves it.
Not everyone who is married loves it.

Not everyone who is single thinks they have made a better choice than getting married.
Not everyone who is married thinks they have made a better choice than to stay single.

Being single has some major pros and cons.
Being married has some major pros and cons.

Singleness can be hard.
Marriage can be hard.

Selfishness is pervasive among single people.
Selfishness is pervasive among married people.

Some people “do” single better than being married.
Some people “do” married better than being single.

In some cases staying single was the wise choice.
In some cases getting married was the wise choice.

Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of single people I know.
Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of married people I know.

Life is an adventure when you are single.
Life is an adventure when you are married.

Staying single is better/healthier than getting divorced.
Getting married is better/healthier than sleeping with someone you’re not married to.

Remaining single “late” into your adult life does not automatically mean you are wiser than a young married couple.
Getting married young does not automatically mean you are unwise or pathetic.

Being single “late” into your adult life does not mean you are against those married young (or older).
Being married young (or older) does not mean you are against those still single “late” into adult life.

Being single does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so to “get your life together”.
Being married does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so because you’ve “gotten you life together”.

Etc..etc.. See?

For me, there are days that singleness is just straight up hard, and other times I love the advantages of flying solo. But, from my plethora of friends (married at all ages), there are days that they remind me that being married is just hard too or they love every little bit of the married life…

From where I sit, both have the same qualities, it just depends on the person or couple.

My perspective is that regardless of if you are married or single, you should have goals.. Good goals ones, fun ones, hard ones, solid ones, frivolous ones, and seemingly impossible ones, I think that is how you help yourself grow, and a way to help measure success as a single or married person/couple.

So, please, let’s stop justifying why one is better than the other as if our choice was the right one for everyone… or the perfect decision forever.

If you are single and loving it or wish to be married, that is awesome and good things can and will happen during this season.
If you are married and loving it or wish you had waited, good things can and will happen during this stage of life.

Leadership, Obey, and Marriage…

Spend about .03 seconds around me and you figure out I am a leader, I have a dominant personality, and I am not afraid to step up and try, even if that means I might fail. You also will realize that while these are definitely defining characteristics of me, I am also just as happy to follow someone else’s lead as long as I have no moral objections… With that being said, one of the biggest challenges with being a natural born leader is following someone who makes poor decisions or makes decisions that you do not understand the reasoning behind.There is a vastly different approach taken by great leaders and poor leaders (which really tend to just be managers). You see, great leaders inspire us, they teach us, encourage us, educate us, and in doing these things, they also motivate us to action. To simply obey someone because of their position is not effective nor do I think it is what we are supposed to do (**please note I realize there are certain situations such as war/military that require obeying, but since I am not in these situations I am referring merely to my own life/situation).

Except for my Lord or told to by Him, I see no reason to obey someone, let alone obey them blindly. To obey someone takes away the choice because it is understood that you were commanded, were informed of what your actions will be; much like a child is told to go brush their teeth and get into bed. While being commanded is not something I respond to kindly, I will gladly choose to follow someone, there are even times that I choose to follow without having all of the details, namely because I trust the person and their judgement.

Now that I have established in possibly the broadest sense my view on leadership and obeying in general, I think leadership, obeying, and marriage are an entirely different ballgame than any other type of leading/following. I also realize that I am about to launch myself into a conversation of sorts that I have no experience in due to my status as “single, never married,” however, while my thoughts may change at some point in the future (near or far), this is where I currently stand on the idea of marriage as it pertains to leading, following, obeying, submitting and God…

I firmly believe that regardless of the natural ability for a wife to lead (i.e. my natural tendency), it is the God designed role of the husband to lead their marriage, which is not to be confused for making all the decisions. I think the type of leadership required in a marriage more resembles a couple dancing than anything else. In order for the leadership of the husband to work well and effectively, it requires the husband to ask the wife to “dance,” move, and follow his plan and guidance, but in no way can he accomplish it without truly asking and her choosing to accept each and every move he purposes. When a couple is dancing, the man has no hope of effectively or gracefully completing the dance if his approach is to lead with force or abrupt decisions, instead the most graceful and successful dances require the guy to know what he wants to do, and gently yet clearly asking his partner if she will follow. The success is contingent upon the signal from the guy being clear, and then the girl choosing to follow or not. Once she has chosen to follow, she has the freedom to add flair, additional footwork or change up the speed at which she completes the moves (sometimes, not always is there this opportunity to change footwork and speed..). But, her freedom to change the small things as she follows the guy creates a dance which is both more graceful and more beautiful than he alone could have ever hoped for, and it could never have taken place had he tried forcing her to move. However, the effectiveness, grace, possible style and speed that the whole dance takes on is completely dependent on the guy to know where he’s going and how, as well as the trust he has cultivated with his partner. The more familiar she is with him and his style, the more likely she is to follow without knowing where she will end up. Sometimes, she will recognize the pattern and other times she will be completely lost in the love and joy of the dance.

So, back to my view of what it means to lead and follow in a marriage. While I think it is the role of the husband to lead, I do not think that equates making all the decisions, nor do I think it means deciding on his own, I think it has much more to do with spiritual leadership, which is also not to be confused with him taking the place of God for the wife. I think she is still just as responsible for pursuing and putting God first in her life as he is. However, men and women have dramatically different views of the world, and I think that fact is not only interesting, but essential and on purpose. Viewing the world differently with varying approaches allows couples to not only make the “correct choice” but also to use the best possible tactic in the situation. I think the best marriages are when everything is tackled as a team… Which does not mean everything is equal or fair, but that the expectation is that each person is in it with the other person’s (or entire family’s) best interest at heart. I think to lead AND to follow is hard, but hard for different reasons. Once married if the wife suddenly just starts “obeying” her husband, she stops being the woman he fell in love with because while they were dating she is not commanded to submit, that only takes effect once she becomes his wife. Sure there are steps and processes towards “two becoming one,” and I have no doubt part of this process includes the girlfriend learning to be a fiance, learning to be a wife… but she cannot merely switch to obeying him, nor should that be what he wants, and if that is, then there is either a lot of fighting in his future or a mere shadow of the marriage he could have had.

So, I 100% agree with the Bible that husbands should “love their wives” and wives should “submit to their husbands”… but, let’s not forget we are also told to ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)…

 And, in order for a husband to lead his wife, he is told to love her:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13

I think it is important to point out, it is not the job of the wife to make her husband love her, and it is not the job of the husband to make his wife submit. Both commands are between the person and God alone. I do however think it looks slightly different for every couple due to the different strengths, abilities, skills, weaknesses, etc.. No two marriages will look the same, which means the leadership/teamwork styles cannot look identical either. Leading me will look dramatically different than leading any other woman because of my strengths and weaknesses, as well as my (possibly) future husband’s.

From my entirely naive of personal experience view of marriage, I think it is one of the most difficult, challenging, frustrating, but entirely worth it choices two people can make. And, I challenge you to re-evaluate your view of leadership, obeying, and marriage once more after viewing this video about Ian and Larissa‘s marriage.

Talk about a true authentic loving marriage.

3 Years Ago..

My beautiful cousin and I went to where she got married in La Jolla, CA. Since he is currently deployed but coming home in a few weeks, we took a few anniversary shots. She is so stunning to me!

Happy anniversary my dear cousin!

The Mix…

So, I’m at home this weekend for one of my roomie’s from college’s wedding. She and her now husband are perfect for each other, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for the two of them. She is so happy, and knowing her heart and the conversations we have had over and over for months upon months before he was even in the picture… it’s just so nice to see those all come through, but only better then either of us had imagined. She is one of several girls I’ve prayed pretty seriously to find “the one,” and either know for sure he’s the one or get married before me… I’m thrilled she now is :)… 3 more to go 🙂

But, in the mix of all of the happiness and the laughter there is always the twinge of “when will it be my turn?” No worries, nothing big, and nothing like I used to feel.. but you see it and it makes you wonder about your own story… When will you find him? How will it play out? How long will it take? When will I get to be the most beautiful to someone?… And then, almost on cue you begin doubting it all.. as though some how you are less than every single other girl who has ever gotten married… That somehow it will escape you. Stupid, we all know it, but the thought is still there.

I was talking with someone last week… or the week before, and we were talking on this topic. When she brought up the idea that we sorta just assume God will bring us what we’re “ok with” like we won’t get the best… but we will learn to “deal with” whatever he brings us. As though we’re the forgotten child who lives under the stairs… How sad, and how limiting of my God.

That idea got me thinking… Do I do this? Sadly the answer is yes, all the time. I see something and my attitude is “I can make this work..” or “I can work with this..” which right away should be a clue that it’s not the best, but I begin taking things into my own hands and I start trying to plan, plot, and execute my own idea of how something will or will not work. But, I don’t even just do this when it comes to guys, I do this all over the place. I assume for whatever reason that God’s plan is for me to have second rate.. How sad. Especially when I look back on the pages of my story so far, every single thing has been exponentially better than I’d planned for it all to be.. So, why do I assume second rate is not just ok, but the plan?.. I have no idea. I’m an idiot I guess.

So, in the mix of being so completely happy and thrilled for my dear Ash, who is now on a new adventure… I’m dealing with a mix of how do I rely on the idea that I’m not going to get second rate?.. I dunno, but I’m gonna have to work on this for sure.