It's been almost three weeks since I became an engaged woman and I must admit it's still sinking in. I've spent many years praying, hoping, and dreaming about the person I would share the rest of my life with, so it's still hard to grasp that those dreams have come to fruition.
And as much as I'm still basking in the joy of it all and trying to simply inhale it all in, I'm very much aware of the heart that I have for young girls, specifically single women, as I have spent the majority of my life up until this point as one. Not to offer relationship advice, cause this is all very much new territory for me, but rather single advice and how to spend those years well.
While all of my friends were getting married 10 years ago and beginning to have babies not long after that, I knew God was calling me to singleness for a season. At times that season seemed way longer than I wanted it to be, and yet, I knew it was necessary to accomplish the things God laid on my heart to do. Often my married friends would remind me that the season I was in was a gift and I should use that time wisely because it wouldn't last. And I'm so thankful that I did. Not just because singleness afforded me the time and focus to accomplish a lot, (like putting out 4 albums), but I learned what it was for my Heavenly Father to be the main man in my life, my first love, and my everything.
And that season had the same benefit for Chris - to grow in the Lord as a man of God, learning how to seek Him first and make Him Lord of his life.
So, if anything, the new challenge for both of us during this time of preparing for marriage is to keep God in His rightful place as our first love.
Though I have a lot to say on the matter, I wanted to share a few things for those like me, who have been waiting for what feels like an eternity, and for those much younger, who absolutely dread the possibility of remaining single all the way through their 20's.
My overarching admonition is this: wait.
1. In every sense of the word, wait. Wait for the right person to come into your life. The one who makes you laugh, is your best friend, and who you "can't get enough of". Those are a few of the measures I used when dating, and those are the criterion that kept me single for a long time as I simply didn't find that with anyone.
2. Wait also for all things physical.
I cannot imagine treading through the tumultuous times of heartache after heartache and also having to carry the weight of tethering myself to someone physically and having to sever that tie over and over again. I think it is a tragedy that so many unmarried men and women believe the lie that physical intimacy is a normal part of dating when God designed it to be within the safe, confines of marriage. This is something I am still waiting for until I said "I do," and I would urge everyone who is single, whether they have failed in this area before or not, to make a commitment to wait until marriage.
3. The last thing I would urge any unmarried person to do is to wait for the one who prays. Not just someone who blesses a table or says a quick prayer for those in need, but someone who knows true intimacy with the Father through prayer. Recently I asked Chris when he knew I was "the one" he wanted to marry, and I have been pondering that question myself lately. For me, I don't know that it was a specific moment, but rather a series of cumulative moments. One in particular I remember is a time we spent in prayer together. We pray together often, but this specific time was one of the first where we were both vulnerable before the throne, and let each other witness that vulnerability. I've never experienced intimacy like that before and would argue that true intimacy in relationships begin and end with an intimate relationship with the Father.
But I couldn't just look for a man who prayed. I had to develop the discipline of prayer myself. And I would argue that is what led me to Chris. Not long before we met and began dating, my prayer life regarding my future spouse shifted. Instead of praying for a fairy tale, I prayed for a friend. I asked God for a helpmate. I had hit the point in my ministry where I realized I couldn't do it alone and needed someone to come alongside me in ministry as my partner. I even jokingly told God that I didn't need romance or any of that other "silly, unnecessary stuff," I just needed a friend and I needed a helper. Then Chris entered the scene.
As much of an answer to prayer as he is, Chris is not perfect. I am not perfect. But we know the Perfect One. I do not idolize Chris and it is my prayer that I will never put him before God. Chris may be the man I am marrying, but He is not "The One." God is "The One" and we both recognize the only way we will have success in our marriage is if we are always keenly aware of that.
Like I said, I don't have relationship advice to offer, because I haven't lived in that world long enough. But I was single long enough to know that marriage is not a Disney movie. Marriage will be the daily fight to love and respect my spouse like Christ loved the Church, laying His life down for Her. Not just in a single act, as Christ's triumphant victory on the cross, but a daily laying my life, my needs, my wants, my dreams down for him as one of my greatest acts of obedience to God in His command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
So wait. Pray. And commit whatever season of life you are in to the Lord, asking Him how you should spend it. Because, for everything, there is a season.