As I approach my 30th birthday, it’s interesting to reflect on dating in my 20s. From my “first love” to final goodbyes – and all the fun (and flops) in between – I can at least say the past decade wasn’t dull! And I can say how wonderful it is, to have survived the highs and lows to reach this point: I stopped preparing for marriage.
Yes, I am the same Rebecca who took a whole year off from dating – partly as marriage preparation. Yes, I’d still love to get married some day, and I am still a wholehearted advocate of doing singleness, dating, courting, and marriage God’s way. And no, I haven’t stopped preparing because I’ve gotten married.
So how did I go from wanting to get married so badly (that I even repented of idolizing it a few years ago), to this point? God helped me see my misunderstanding. I misunderstood marriage preparation to be some path in a single girl’s life that diverges from our faith walk.
I misinterpreted my desire for marriage as God’s permission; permission to seek relationship with a guy more than I sought it with Him. I thought that since the desire for godly marriage is good, and going after the desire must be good, too. And it can be – to a point.
After all, we are not dogs, and God is not standing there with the “Frisbee” of marriage. He doesn’t taunt us with it, launch it into the distance, and stand back while we chase it down. I don’t believe God would send us away from Him like that, especially as some form of game or entertainment. (That’s right: your singleness is not a game to Him; your heart is not a toy.)
In my case, I thought a hankering to become a wife complemented my faith and growth. I even thought it somehow made me more of a Christian. Especially since supporting marriage today can automatically put you in the camp outside popular culture.
So in the “sea of plenty fish” we singles often hear about, didn’t desiring marriage mean I was righteously swimming against the worldly current? What happened instead was the desire to find my husband distracted me from simply following God. And following God – learning to live by His teaching and love like His Son – is already the best way to prepare for marriage.
You see? It’s not a separate path, it’s the same path, on which God will bring alongside the right man if or when the time is best. If I’m preparing for The Bridegroom, then that transformational process will simultaneously (but less stressfully, on my part) prepare me for an earthly groom.
But I was at a point where a man I haven’t even met yet was outranking the One who gave me life in the first place. It took me a long time to see this, because the idea of preparing for marriage is a good one, right? Yes, it is: it’s just not as complicated an idea as I made it to be sometimes.
I was frustrated that I couldn’t figure out what chess-like maneuver of my words or deeds would make God fork over a husband. And I was so much more preoccupied with my future that I wasn’t really enjoying my present!
I hope it encourages you to know that it’s still a process for me, too. I’m still mindful of the future that my present choices will impact. I still have days when my husband can’t get here soon enough! But in general, I’m so much happier walking this singular path, as a single woman who’s excited to see what else (and maybe even whom) God has in store.
Rebecca Halton is the author of Words from the Other Woman: The True Account of a Redeemed Adulteress. Currently, she also co-leads TeamRedeemed.org with fellow Author and Speaker Shelley Hendrix. In her spare time, Rebecca likes hiking, having coffee with close friends, or volunteering in her community. To learn more about Rebecca, visit www.RebeccaHalton.com.