Saturday, June 17, 2017

Called to Singleness? Is That a Thing?

"So what are your plans?" The peering, leering adult tilts her chin up and her nose down, poising attention stance, ready to pounce in judgement upon whatever answer I can sputter out.

I freeze up. I race through the data bank of career choices in the back of my mind, but the only legible card is Taxi Driver and I'm not quite sure that dream should be shared with the general public. I catch a coughing fit, hoping to buy myself enough time to come up with an acceptable "plan" speech for this nice—albeit strangely curious—cashier lady.

Just in case you are alienated—by years, circumstances, or maybe monastery rules—I will translate for you that any questions to those about 16-20ish years of age about their [*throat clear*] "plans" is a secret code for: "I would ask you what you want to be when you grow up, but you are technically fully grown, at least physically, so what are you going to do with yourself, you oaf?".

Suffice it to say the little game was absolutely 100% more fun when we were all just eight-year-olds and we could decide on big careers without the slightest taste of the sacrifice any of our choices would normally cost. Today if I say "maybe I'll be a doctor", I'm plagued with everything from scholarship applications to science quizzing and enough horror stories on student loans to give any young adult nightmares.

"I... uh... I want to be a wife and homeschool mother. Lord willing. Someday." I finish the last part in a feverish rush, hoping the mumble was intelligible and breathing a silent prayer the stun and shock from such an answer will give me enough time to run before more questions hit.

And it's true! That's my dream job. My lifelong career of choice. And no matter how many arguments they pose at me cynically and skeptically, it will continue to be.

"Poor kid," they mutter to one another under their breaths, "brainwashed homeschooler doesn't know what the world has to offer."

Yeah, I hear you over there. My ears work even if my reasoning process doesn't, I suppose.

One argument to my dreams that actually does uproot my sureness in my calling (sometimes) is this whole idea of "what if you are called to singleness?"

But—but, didn't I kind of just tell you I'm not?? If I had told you I was called to be a doctor so I was in med school, would you have questioned me like "what if you are called to be something besides a doctor?" No? Why would you not question that, but question the call I'm telling you I have? Just because I cannot pursue it actively right now?

"What if God would rather you didn't marry?"

Oh, but kind sir, what if God would rather you not finish your PhD?

Called to singleness... is that even a thing??

I've been chewing on that for a while. Because, for some people, it is a thing. Some people had these same "plans" as I and they were never fulfilled. So were they called to something else, then?

And, maybe, even though society is very feminist and "equal" (except not), and push big careers on women as desirable goals, maybe it would be okay for me to be a wife and a mother if I could take steps towards that right now. Because even beyond our feminist shell, we are a get-rich-quick/see-results-tomorrow/fast-food society looking for immediate actions producing immediate results.

In this kind of world, it looks like I'm loafing, mooching off my parents, leeching society, loitering through my prime years. But they're missing the point.

This is exactly where God's put me. These are the jobs God has put under my stewardship. Maybe they aren't massively prestigious and maybe I'm not on the fast-track to wealth, but it's what my God, in all His glory and perfect timing, has guided me towards, as I've surrendered every little bit of myself and path to Him (over and over and over).

"Are you called to singleness, though?! If you are, you have to be prepared to do something great other than raising kids! You have to be prepared for the other plans God might have for you!!"

I admit it, their urgency sometimes rattles me.

"Preparing", though? You know what? Maybe I can't prepare myself for my future. Maybe I believe only God can really do that. And furthermore, maybe God has me right here today just for the cause of preparing me for tomorrow. Maybe if I live to the hilt every opportunity God gives me today, I will be prepared for tomorrow, whatever that brings. Maybe the only way to really prepare for my future life is to give myself wholeheartedly to the life I have today.

Ecclesiastes 9:10. Jeremiah 10:23.

I'm not sure the perfect will of God always just happens, either. I don't believe in predestination; I believe in free will. I believe everything is for the greater glory of God, but not necessarily in the way that all of our lives are ordered and we can't side-step His will or "calling" for us. Amy Carmichael, in all her matriarchal missionary glory, had to work through pangs of regret for refusing multiple marriage proposals. I wonder if she recognized, in her later years, that even her work might have been more prosperous with a partner.

Technically speaking... I am called to singleness. Today. Forever? Now, that's really just yet to be seen.

Sure, I hope it's all fulfilled someday. I'll look back on this blog post and chuckle at myself and roll my eyes at my own immaturity. But even if it's not... praise the Lord.

And this is why I'm penning this article:

I firmly believe motherhood (and being a wife, obviously) is the highest calling God has given to women. I believe this is more noble than any CEO chair any Fortune 500 company.

Besides my personal beliefs, I'm sick of society belittling motherhood. I'm tired of girls growing up with plans cooked up in pressure they can actively peruse right out of high school because "what if they aren't called to marry?".  If you're called to be a wife and mother, why does there have to be a back-up plan? Why are you getting that degree "just in case"? Just in case of... what? God doesn't show Himself faithful?? What amazing things could He be using to prepare you for your future right now, if you'd look up from your fidgeting hands, trying to prepare yourself for a life He sees but you don't?

Marriage is still a good thing.

Women were originally created to be help to men! Genesis! I'm not saying slaves, but I am saying that's the natural order. (Fact not opinion.)

Motherhood is still a good thing.

It can still be what you want to do with your life. It doesn't have to be a "oh, I'm going to be a teacher, and if marriage comes my way I'll raise kids on the side".

And for you New Testament people who don't want to follow any order God set up in the Old Testament (except that marriage is between one man and one woman), I give you 1 Timothy 5:14.

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house..."

And—shocker—yes, the Apostle Paul wrote this, the same man who wrote that it's sometimes better for a person in ministry work to give himself fully to the work, not to be dividing his attentions between a house/family and his work (which, if you read that in context, 1 Corinthians 7, you'll note he said that as a personal side-note, and tagged that it wasn't from the Lord nor a commandment).

If you are not called to marry, don't! For goodness sakes, don't get married, go to college, kill yourself, nothing (!), just because some people tell you to.

But if you are, if you know, way deep down, that this is God's calling for your life, even if you don't see it immediately coming before you in your life, I want to encourage you, as someone who is standing in that line of duty right next to you, that it's still okay. It's still a noble calling. We just have to trust God for the future and give ourselves to Him continually, right now.

If, in the end, we never marry, for whatever reasons, God will still work His greater glory through that unfilled desire in ways we might never see in our lifetimes. Further, the hope of marriage can never be ill-placed in Christ, because we, as the church, will forever be His bride.

Maybe sometimes it’s all in the plan people desire that PhD and work towards it, so God can work in their life in a special way He wouldn’t be able to do without that deep-seated desire to be a doctor. Even if the actual dream isn’t fulfilled but something better… it's still a blessing that they had that goal, right?! We don’t have to suppress the deep, God-given, good, Scriptural desires of our heart just because there’s a vague fear it might not be a dream God will fulfill, but a dream to lead to an even better plan only God can see.

Keep dreaming, sisters. Embrace the call. Don't fear potential unfulfillment, because the most important thing—God's glory—will be fulfilled no matter what. ❤

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  1. Oh my word...this is SOOOO ACCURATE!!! 😱 I laughed at the first few perfectly captured the exact feelings of panic while being ruthlessly interrogated about your career that you should absolutely be pursuing right now because that's just what you are supposed to do and what kind of moron albino mole rat are you if you don't?!?! XD Very applicable post though. I really appreciate the honesty. I may have to talk to you about guest posting this on MMFTM. ;)

    1. Hahaha! And the sequel: "Moron Albino Mole Rats? Is That a Thing?"

      But yes. I know! The struggle is real. :D

      Have your people call my people. ;)

      I love reading your comments, so thank youuuu!! <3

  2. Hit the nail on the spot!! (even from someone currently going to college for nursing). I feel that the pressure is so increased to have a plan B in case I don't get married. And by that I mean: "Oh you need a job, a degree!!!!" And then I'm like why couldn't have I been born 150 years ago.

    Something a saw a few days ago really helped me to not overly desire to be married and to be content with the "Gift of Singleness". The person said that maybe the problem is that we tend to idolize marriage. Meaning we think we can only do great things for God if we're married. I know I tend to think this way. But "the end goal is not do you have a family [or do you have a career] but is do you look more like Jesus". That really helped me. "A Few Thoughts On Singleness" by Jefferson Bethke. I highly recommend watching it!!

    1. Thank you, Laura!!

      Don't get me wrong... degrees can totally be tools! Nursing can open a lot of doors for missions work, too! I tried to get into the 2-year nursing program at the community college right after high school and then I figured out I don't handle blood super well, so it didn't happen. Haha!

      Yep, exactly, life 150 years ago wasn't easier, but it was definitely more simple, and it's that simpleness that so appeals. We've got such a rat race going on here in North America.

      Wow, that sounds really good! I'll have to look it up. Thanks for sharing! I don't think I tend to idolize marriage because I really love my life how it is right now, but I can see the temptation. I love thinking that the end goal in anything is to look more like Jesus. Really brings Galatians 2:20 into a beautiful light, I think!

      Anyways, thanks for commenting! Have a lovely week!


  3. I've enjoyed this time each time I have read it! (This makes the fourth time, I believe, and the only opportunity I've had to comment. ;) I am ALWAYS caught off guard when someone asks me about my plans for the future. They're coming much more frequently now that I've graduated high school, and sometimes I'll get away with a simple "I would like to be become a teacher.", whereas other times I feel like I'm being grilled, interrogated about my every motive. If a person asks whether I'm planning on going to college or not, (since that is the norm after high school) I'll respond that it's rather necessary for a teaching degree with a little laugh (attempting humor :) but sure enough, thy won't be satisfied. They continue with a "And where do you plan on going to college?", which is a question I don't have an answer for. Even if I did have a particular college in mind, the well-meaning interrogators would inquire further, no doubt. It can be very awkward, because right now I'm honestly just focused on doing my best at work for the summer, and I'm not anxious to leave my new homoe of Stehekin. I don't have plans for marriage, which I realize is a wee bit unusual for young ladies like me, but neither do I wish to become that feminist CEO you spoke of. I would just like to live a quiet life for the Lord, teaching young children and perhaps impacting a few lives for the better. :)

    Anyway! Just wanted to say a belated thanks for the post and to tell you I enjoyed it a lot! Perhaps I am one who is called to singleness.. If so, I'm okay with that! If not, the Lord will let me know!

    1. Well, you *are* called to singleness today, and that's all that matters for today, right?!

      I get it. I really, really get it. Seek God and you'll learn to know Him better and better, and He'll guide your paths in ways you never would have dreamed and it will be amazing! God is not a God of mediocrity, but He IS a still, small voice. Quiet the storms within your heart as you focus on hearing Him and mountains will move. God is just THAT good! Praying for you, Jenny! <3


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