As women in the workplace, we are very accomplished and love accomplishing our goals. We are often assertive fixers who go after what we want and make it happen. This trait is a positive one in our work environment, and often in life, as well. But sometimes, we are not supposed to be the fixers.
How often do we want something that we don’t have? I’m not talking about a new sweater or the latest gadget. I’m talking about a promotion, a husband, a new house, another degree, etc. … big life changing things. Now how often do we proactively try to get that something? And how has it worked out? And more importantly, did we seek God’s guidance beforehand?
When we see something that we want and have the means to make it happen on our own, we often step out, take risks, and find ways to achieve things on our terms. We care about our timing and our desires, and we fall into the pit of self-sufficiency. Have you ever taken matters into your own hands and ended up with something you really didn’t want? We think we know what’s best, but only God truly knows what’s best. He might give us the thing we are pursuing on our own, but it often ends in the harsh reality of a lesson learned.
One of the most visible examples this self-sufficiency is young single women, especially those in private Christian colleges, who are faced with the “ring by spring” mentality. Jokes are still thrown around today that women are only there to get their MRS degrees. There is a real pressure to at least be engaged by the time graduation rolls around, because that’s what just what you do. That’s what’s expected of a nice Christian women. There’s an invisible ticking clock lurking over her shoulder. Has anyone ever heard that clock?
Unfortunately, when faced with this sort of pressure and expectation, we might compromise to conform. We could become so overwhelmed by this necessity to get married soon that our standards can slip. We may sacrifice on our desired character qualities and ignore red flags in relationships because our sights are focused on the end goal. Instead of waiting for the right man, we might settle for the man we can get right now. Although we end up with a ring and a husband, he might be a man of questionable character, and our marriage may suffer as a result. Of course, not all young marriages are like this, but couldn’t we avoid a lot of heartache and turmoil if we didn’t take matters into our own hands and instead trusted God’s timing?
Believe me. I grew up in a conservative Christian home where many young women married right after high school, left college to marry, etc. I was a big time black sheep because I went away to college and created my own life. And it still took me over a decade to overcome that insecure feeling of failure because I was single. And only THEN did God bring my husband into my life … just when I stopped trying to force it.
Now from my experience, we really need to consider WHY we shame and look down on women who wait until later in life to get married. For example, I was either looked down upon by people in the church as if something was wrong with me OR everyone wanted to fix me up. I appreciated neither. In fact, as I look back on my spiritual journey, the years between 24 and 34 were my most challenging because I was single and didn’t fit into a nice easy box at church. I started going to services late and leaving early to avoid the looks of pity, the fix ups, and the scowls from the married women who thought I might want their men. UGH!
I think the most extreme example of the self-sufficiency path in my own life lies in how I handled my fertility struggles. Instead of waiting on God, I went to one of the best fertility doctors in town. After already having one miscarriage, the fertility treatments led to three more. I was told that it was not possible to have more children. But when I left the fertility doctor, threw away the little vials of drugs that had made me nutty and chubby, I changed my entire prayer life. Rather than praying for a baby, I prayed for contentment with the life God had given me already. And THAT is when God blessed me with my two baby boys … when I was 42 and 44 years old. My sin of self-sufficiency gave me lots of medical bills, heartache, and physical trauma. But when I waited on the Lord, trusting in Him and His timing, things were so much easier and He blessed me so.
We need to make a conscious effort to fight this sin of self-sufficiency. We cannot do everything ourselves. We can’t make everything happen one the schedule we want. We need to wait on God to direct us. All throughout Scripture, God tells us to be still and wait. The Israelites waited for 40 years in the desert for God’s direction. Now, I don’t think God will make you wait for 40 years for guidance. But we need to trust that God’s plan and timing are sovereign. I like the saying that if we want to make God laugh, just tell Him our plans. God’s will is always better than our plans.
I think you will agree with me that: Wanting something we don’t have is a LOT better than having something we don’t want or that is not good for us.
Recently, I met with a woman who had decided to get her Master’s degree but not get licensed as a therapist. When I asked her why she felt like she had to make that decision right now, it came down to a pride issue, because she needed to know what her future plan was. We often feel pressured to have the answers RIGHT NOW. After all, our future plans are our life. We think we have to know and decide things as soon as possible. There is an unspoken rush and early deadline that we put on ourselves. But there really is no need to make a decision before it’s required. Instead, if we wait to make a decision until the last possible moment, we will have additional experience, wisdom, and input from the Lord on what is the best decision.
This week leading up to Valentine’s Day can be difficult when it comes to self-sufficiency versus waiting on God. I remember the years of being single on this holiday. The pressure to have a valentine. Have a date. Have the florist visit us at our office. The sadness and impatience of the waiting. It’s important to wait and listen to the Lord. He knows what is best for us. He doesn’t want us to end up with a man who is not the best for us when we take matters into our own hands. So when Valentine’s Day rolls around this weekend, take heart. Wait on the Lord. Listen to Him. Gather some friends. Watch a ridiculous action flick. Pamper yourself. And love yourself!
It truly is better to want what you don’t have than to have what you don’t want.