I attended a women’s event for a popular Christian author last month. At this event, there were women of all walks of life from young girls to grandmothers who have all read the words of this author and have been moved by her many stories. At the beginning of the event, the author’s daughter and son-in-law shared about a recent project they had released which was a book that they co-wrote all about Christian dating. The book was geared towards teens and young women. The gist of the book was to chase after God and He will lead you to your future spouse and give you your “happy ever after”.
I sat there, a newly married woman of two years with no children, listening to excerpts from the book about how both the guy and girl had been encouraged by their parents and church leaders for years to pray for their future spouse and to write them letters to which they gave one another on their wedding day. I grew more and more annoyed as everyone else was soaking it in.That’s when it hit me. This is what is wrong in our culture today.
I don’t think this is something we need to encourage in our young women. It’s just not healthy. What happens to the woman who never gets married? Our culture doesn’t know how to handle single-hood, older generations make comments about how their standards are too high and that’s why they will never get married. They spend countless nights thinking that something is wrong with them and doubting God. They think to themselves, “but God, your word tells me that if I seek you, you will give me the desires of my heart; that you have a plan for my future and it’s full of hope yet here I am – lonely and still waiting for you to give me these things I deeply desire and have been praying for since I was a little girl.”
And it doesn’t stop with marriage. What about the young women who have been planning, not only their weddings for their entire lives but also their baby showers, and child dedications, and soccer games and family vacations with their children that they have already named in their heart? We have wives who cry themselves to sleep because they can’t get pregnant or have had countless miscarriages and they are whispering the same prayers as the single woman and it is because we have cultivated a culture where we map out every detail of our picture perfect lives, stick our favorite hope filled scripture to it and wait for God to give us our desires.
We can’t raise our children this way. When Jesus tells his followers in the book of John that He will give us a life more abundant, it was not because He intended for all of our dreams to come true – it was because of Him alone. And because of that, I can’t encourage my sons and daughters to pray for a spouse who may never come or to pick out names for their babies they may never hold. Maybe you are reading this and calling me cynical but in reality, I want to teach my children that Jesus is enough. I want them to cling to that truth so that if they are 45 and single, they will cling to Jesus instead of their keyboard as they login to their online dating site for the 50th time that day. And if they are married and find themselves staring at another negative pregnancy test, they will know that Jesus is enough and seek Him and His righteousness instead of another blog post on overcoming infertility. And when they feel like their world is falling apart as they bury their loved ones or they lose their job, they will know in their hearts that Jesus is enough and that this world is temporary, it is not our happy ever after.
There’s a balance that must be set in place that prepares our daughters AND our sons for life ahead without filling their hearts with plans for a life that might never come – and that is ok! There are people around the world living FULL lives without a spouse or without children despite how much they once longed for those things and it’s because they have found peace in knowing that Jesus is enough.
I want you to know that as a married woman of two years, I love my husband and I am so grateful for the life that we have together and maybe that makes me unfit to write on such a topic when so many are hurting for the life I have. I’m here to say this, my life was not complete on November 1, 2014 when I said “I do.” God never intended for my husband to make me complete, He intended for me to be made NEW IN HIM! And I promise you, that truth means so much more to me than my marriage.
We have to put a stop to this fairy tale mentality, especially in the church. We have to stop teaching our kids that if they keep their eyes on the Lord, they will have a perfect life because I don’t kow about you but the only perfect life I’m looking forward to is the eternal life that awaits me in the presence of Jesus and I’m pretty sure it will be so much more than the barn weddings and smash cakes that flood our pinterest boards. We have to stop painting false hopes of happily ever after and start preparing our sons and daughters for the battle – that this life is hard and whether you find yourself single or barren or orphaned, Jesus is enough and this is not our home.
So let’s do this thing together. Let’s stop posting, pinning and sharing #goals and let’s be real with one another and with our girls. Let’s raise up strong, independent women who will seek God’s best for their life rather than seeking fairy tales that will never come true. Let’s let them in on our secret of “hey, you will never have it all together – none of us do.” Let’s channel their energy and encourage their individual gifts toward how they can best serve God and His people. Let’s teach them that God’s plan is perfect and that we must trust Him even when His ways are not our ways.
It all starts with us. Let’s love our daughters so much that we raise them and prepare them for a life without worldly expectations and full of eternal blessings. Let’s set the example of seeking more than the American dream for our own lives and to spark an eternal flame in their hearts to seek hard after all that God has planned for their lives.