At a weekend retreat with 40-something teenage girls, you hear a lot about their aspirations, their dreams, and their desires.
We are created to desire this; it is a part of our biological makeup, but hearing so much about it on the weekend made me think about singleness.
What a special season this is, to be single and not tied down by the distractions and expectations that a romantic relationship and caring for and about someone else brings.
Don't get me wrong: I am 100% the girl who has had her wedding planned since I first saw my parents' wedding photos, and I still find lists from when I was 12 and named all of my 8 children. I am the girl who, when I picture myself in my mind, is a 30-something with a wonderful husband and being trailed by my (beautiful and well-dressed, might I add) offspring. I am the girl who, when leaving Wal-Mart or the grocery store, looks back to see if I’ve forgotten anyone, when I came in alone. I am 100% the girl who desires to be married and a mom. But that doesn't define my dreams and aspirations and that doesn't dictate my next steps in my present reality. I very much look forward to those days but since that is not something I am facing in this moment, I am going to make the most of where I am right now. I have come to realize in the past few months just what a blessing it is to be single. What a blessing it is to be single right now.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes, "Don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life." (v.7, The Message)
Not only does this verse strike me about the topic of marriage and singleness but in every area of life. Right here, right now, is where I need to be. Whether that is at a mundane job, babysitting your siblings for free, sitting in a boring classroom or awkwardly alone at lunchtime; or perhaps something "more exciting" like fundraising for a mission trip, a weekend retreat with your youth group, or planning a wedding. The fact is, your ministry is wherever you are and each step of your life is shaping you more and more into who God wants you to be.
And you need to be shaped. Think back on the last five years of your life. Heck, consider who you were two years ago! You have changed significantly - that change is totally necessary and inevitable and constant. Every step and lesson along the way is going to help make you into a better wife and mother. Some of these steps will include painful relationships, conflict, heartache, joy, betrayal, excitement, pursuit, discipline, and wisdom. But these things are important.
Maybe you're at a place where you see yourself in these words. If someone asked you right now what you want to be when you grow up, would the honest answer be "a wife and a mom"? And there's nothing wrong with that! But I challenge you, in this time when you're neither a wife nor a mom, to make the most of it.
"I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you're unmarried, you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions."
- 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (The Message with bold added for emphasis)
This is a special time to build your relationship with God, and with others. It is a time to figure out who you are in God's eyes, and what He desires for you.
There’s the saying, "you reap what you sow," but I am a firm believer in "you catch high-quality fish with high-quality bait."
The best advice you will receive on this subject is to be everything you are looking for in someone else. If it’s important to you that he has faith, your faith should be important to you. If it’s important that he goes to church, you should go to church. If it’s important to you that he lives a healthy lifestyle, you should like a healthy lifestyle. If it’s important to you that he’s the spiritual leader, then you should let him spiritually lead. You reap what you sow, and you reel in what you cast out.
I am so thankful for a season of life where I can focus on my Heavenly relationship and not be distracted by earthly ones. I’m thankful for this time that God uses to glean and teach and mold me, without being influenced or swayed by my relationship status.
Dating is awesome and fun and exciting, and marriage is also awesome and fun and exciting. But you only get 20something years of sweet singleness, and then you promise 70something to loving and being committed to someone else.
Girl, Lord willing, you're going to have a long life. Don’t wallow about how you wish to be married and “pumping out babies” in your young age - focus on honing your God-given talents and passions, deepening your relationship with Him, and honestly becoming what you seek in another through purposely sought heart-change and spiritual growth!
"I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, and joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with Him at your side.
- 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, 24 (The Message)
You're in the best season of your life for right now. Grab hold of all it has to offer!
Find more of Allie's articles at www.alliespencerblog.com