Have we got a treat for you this week, ladies! We’ve linked to some great posts on boundless.org over the past several months, and this week, we sat down with Lisa Anderson, head of the Boundless team and host of The Boundless Show podcast. She had some great insight to share with us on how young, single women today are sabotaging their paths to marriage.
4word: Can you explain what you mean when you say young women these days are “sabotaging their paths to marriage?”
Lisa: For a number of reasons, the path to marriage for Christians looks suspiciously similar to a non-Christian’s these days. We’ve lumped marriage into the category of “maybe – someday – if I get the rest of my life in order, have all the fun I want as a single, and meet someone who fits my ideal image of a future spouse, someone who ‘completes’ me and satisfies my long list of requirements.” We treat marriage as something we stumble into with little evidence of a biblical framework and even less intentionality. As a result we have an epidemic of protracted singleness in the church, plus a host of unhealthy ideas about both the purpose of marriage and the biblical path for getting there.
4word: Describe how our view of marriage is skewed.
Lisa: The fact is marriage is for most people; those Christians who have the gift of singleness are a very small percentage. And if you ask single Christian women if they want to get married, over 90% will say “yes,” and most actually expect to marry someday. Why then do we treat marriage as such an afterthought, a Plan B, if you will, when it comes to charting our futures?
4word: So have you had personal experience with this?
Lisa: I grew up in a Christian home that valued marriage. I attended church faithfully, studied the Bible – even went to a Christian college. You know what I was told in these settings? “Lisa, don’t worry about marriage. Concentrate on your education and career. Become successful. Focus on enjoying life, finding yourself and taking opportunities. When it’s time for you to get married, you’ll meet someone wonderful and it’ll just ‘happen’.”
So I did just that. I got my degree and began to climb the career ladder. I moved all over the country for various opportunities. I wrote, spoke and took on roles with increasing leadership. One day I woke up and discovered I was 30 and still single. I was shocked: “How did I get here? I thought I’d be married by now. This isn’t how my story was supposed to work out!"
I quickly realized that I’d unconsciously been sabotaging my marriage potential. I hadn’t been living like I was planning to marry. My desire for marriage had been on the back burner. I didn’t actively put myself in spheres where I would meet godly single men my age. When I did have an opportunity to mingle with eligible bachelors, I acted like “one of the guys.” I never spoke of my desire to marry – that would’ve been embarrassing and painful, like I wasn’t trusting God or wasn’t grateful for what I had.
I’m not saying that God isn’t in control of our stories; He is. And I’m not saying singleness can’t be wonderful; it can. I have a fruitful life and ministry, great family and friends, and an ironclad assurance that God knows what’s what and can accomplish whatever He’d like in my life – even marriage. But I’m now 40 and still single.
4word: What are some of the ways that single women can avoid sabotaging their paths to marriage?
Lisa: First, don’t be ashamed to admit you’d like to be married. It’s a natural, God-given desire, and letting others know invites them to pray for you, encourage you and keep you in mind when they meet potential mates.
Also, don’t tear down men. It’s ungodly, unhelpful and very unattractive. Men have been dealt a blow in our society. Everything from feminism to our divorce culture to fatherlessness to the entertainment industry has contributed to a generation of men who are unsure of how to be men. And this affects marriage. Pray for godly men to be raised up in our generation – guys who may eventually be fantastic husband and father material.
Third, get your priorities straight. If your heart’s desire is to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, you may want to rethink the $100K of graduate school debt you’re considering taking on, the promotion that will keep you in the office at all hours or the move that will take you away from your support system. This is a hard thing to hear, but I listen to women every day who wish they’d known this stuff sooner and adjusted their lifestyles accordingly.
Fourth, don’t buy into the myth of “The One.” Marriage is a covenant, a sacrament and a picture of Christ and the Church. Don’t reduce it to a Hollywood story that will solve all your problems and deliver you a prince who will never disappoint you. Get a biblical understanding of marriage and your role in it. You may be surprised what you find out.
Finally, don’t give up too much. Women nowadays are giving up everything from companionship to emotional intimacy to sex for virtually no commitment in return. Ladies, you deserve better. If you’ve been friends with a guy for five years hoping it’ll turn into something more – and it hasn’t – it’s time to move on. You’re holding yourself back from the opportunity to meet a great guy who actually wants to date you.
Got a question for Lisa? You can find her on Facebook or Twitter @LisaCAnderson. And of course, you can always tune into The Boundless Show or browse through the Boundless website or blog. If you’d like to read more specifically on this topic, head over to Tribmag, where Lisa was recently interviewed.