“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
This is how that verse reads in the New International Version. However, I think that sometimes people read it like this.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future *and for you ladies that definitely means a husband so wait patiently for my plans to unfold*”
Several of my close friends and family members have made the big leap into marriage in the past several years (quite a few got hitched only last year!). With the invasive social media, it’s very easy to congratulate a happy couple and of course stalk all the photos from that joyous day. However, I have noticed a trend in the congratulation messages a couple receives. Or more specifically, the congratulation messages a bride receives. Immediately before, the day of, and immediately after I see people writing things on a bride’s wall that congratulate her on her patience and assure her that the best part of her life has just started. They repeatedly use the term “the Lord’s plan” in their congratulations.
“You patiently waited on the Lord and he provided.”
“Congratulations, the Lord has truly blessed you.”
“We are so happy to see the amazing things God is going to do in your marriage.”
I am not debating the truth of these statements. I believe that God blesses us in many ways and that he does use marriage to enrich our lives and, if we are following Him, to better the lives of those around us. My issue with statement like those above is that I only read them on the bride’s wall. Oh sure, people congratulate the groom. But those comments are mostly jokes about how lucky he is and how he is never going to be “right” again in his life (a topic all on its own).
There seems to be a trend within the Christian community that associates marriage with the start of a woman’s life. Her life is only blessed because she waited and finally found a husband. God can finally use her because she is married. She’s doing the Lord’s work and fulfilling his plans by becoming a “Mrs”. What happened to all of her accomplishments while she was single?
What about the degree she got while also holding a full time job? What about those loans she paid off on her own? What about the job she secured for herself and became successful in? What about the small group she led? What about the volunteer projects she dedicated her time to?
Those accomplishments are seen as things that women complete while they are “waiting” on the Lord to supply them a husband. Those jobs, tasks, and accomplishments are just used to keep us occupied so we don’t spiral into desperate loneliness, right? Instead, we should see them for what they truly are. Accomplishments that the Lord has also blessed. Pieces of His plan that we are already actively taking part in, man or no man. What bothers me so much about those statements is that it seems to invalidate all other parts of God’s plan that took place before the marriage. I remember reading a comment that said, “Enjoy your first birthday as a Mrs!” As if somehow this birthday was better than the rest. As if all other birthdays before this one were inadequate. Like this girl has been waiting for the day that she could celebrate HER birthday as a Mrs. I’m sorry, but it’s HER birthday. It really has nothing to do with whether or not she’s married, unless she shares a birthday with her husband and then it might require her sharing her cake.
I realize I’m going to lose some people in this argument because sometimes I wave my feminist flag too high. But. A girl does not become a woman when she is married. A young woman is not validated by a ring on her finger. Her successes and accomplishments should not be measured by whether or not she has changed her last name. A woman can be patiently waiting on the Lord’s plan and not be waiting on a husband. A woman can be following His desire, will, and plan for her life and accomplish great things through Him, without being engaged or married, and those successes still matter. She is still working towards the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 19: 11-12- The Message
But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”
Marriage is not guaranteed to us, and we don’t need it to be. Many single women and single men are living in the many blessings of God, and are blessing others in return. God knows the plan he has for each woman and each man, and it is a plan to give each one hope and a future. Who knows if that plan includes marriage? Let’s sit in awe of and celebrate what God is doing in the lives of those single men and those single women, now. God isn’t waiting to use them, so let’s not wait to celebrate His work.
*Previously posted on Debunking Debacles on 4/3/2014