Can we just dive in?
You know when you’re chatting with a friend and out of nowhere apparent a question is tossed out by one of you and w-h-o-o-s-h you’re off on a life giving talk about something significant. I think we’re there. We’re the kind of friends that talk about everything under the sun. So let’s dive in to expectations when it comes to singleness and marriage.
I have shared before I expected to get married at 27. I didn’t expect (or really want) to be a go-to person on singleness or the cautionary tale. While I said from a young age I’d be okay not being a mom, deep in the recesses of my being I assumed I would be … because that’s how many stories play out.
Turns out, not mine.
If you’ve signed up for the retreat this weekend (and if you haven’t there’s still time. Go do it now while you’re thinking of it) you’ll watch a recording made from the Velvet Ashes Live event in early February. It’s on the topic of expectations and release. In the feedback, it was clear that, of course, what single ladies struggle with is the expectation to have a husband.
One of the tender, complicated areas for singles on the field is this tension between wanting to be faithful to the call, yet wondering if / how it conflicts with the potential to be married.
We will return to that in a moment, but as conversations go, you know how something pops into your mind? As I’ve been thinking of how our expectations around marriage are formed when it comes to
- who gets married and
- what it says about you if you’re not married and
- when is a good time in life to get married and
- how do you decide what to look for in a mate and
- red flags to watch for
I’ve been thinking about my nieces who are in their formative years. Unbeknownst to them and very age appropriate, expectations are being laid in their tender young hearts about marriage. They are 13, 11, 9, and 7 so “boys” are not yet part of daily conversations, but “when they get married” or “when they are a mom” is.
I think back to how my own expectations in this area and what formed and informed when it came to the expectations around marriage.
I see the fingerprints that come from a relatively stable, supportive, fun family. We had chaos, but most of it was from outside factors. (For instance, my dad got a rare blood disease in the early 80s and nearly died. It was a long road to health.) I wasn’t raised in fantasyland, but I was raised in safety, security, and privilege.
So, when a young woman leans in and says, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” I don’t mind and I know where we are going: being single on the field for the long haul.
I do not want to be caviler or all stiff-upper-lip with you, as I’ve shared before, we all have limits. Whether you are single or married or have loads of children. None of us has everything. Each path comes with freedoms and limitations. In our chat today I’m filtering “limits” and “freedoms” through the lens of “expectation.”
The deepest expectation I’ve brought with me from childhood wasn’t to be married.
I expected to lead a significant life.
The path to significance, for me, could have gone through marriage and motherhood. But it didn’t depend on it. So, as life has played out differently than I expected in my early 20’s, I have (so far) no deep regrets. I am leading a significant and meaningful life. I am in relationships. I am loved and valued by children. I am helping people. I am having fun. I am a supportive family member and friend.
You might say, “That’s all rosy for you. But I want to be married. I expect to be married.” I affirm those are good desires! Cry out to God about them. Share with him. Let him know! Marriage is good and honorable and fun and meaningful. Go for it.
But I also might gently ask you if marriage is an idol. What if you don’t get married? Can you find an expectation behind your expectation that leads to life for you? Can you live with a limp? Can you take that ache with you as you still engage life?
We’re the kind of friends who talk. We’re also the kind of friends who sit together. This week, let’s sit together before God and ask which of our expectations lead to life and which lead to death through the slow burn of resentment. And if you’d like, let’s also talk about this at the Velvet Ashes Live Chat during the retreat.
For now, what are your thoughts as you read this?