One thing that never ceases to amaze me about humanity is our propensity to forget things so quickly; I even amaze myself in this area. What is even more amazing is that I even forget my own personal thoughts and words quite often! Remember this post I made about community back in September? Well by the time November rolled around I had already forgotten what I said about community because I had to be reminded of my thoughts by an article in the student paper.
The article was entitled “Forgotten Flowers” and it compared single women with flowers in a field that grow and come into bloom so that they can be enjoyed by someone, but never are and die forgotten. Once I had finished reading I felt sorry for these Forgotten Flowers because their beauty was never enjoyed by anyone and they died unappreciated.
Disclaimer: I am not a woman and I am not looking at the article as I write this post. So if I am inaccurate in what I say following this feel free to correct me.
I also felt convicted that my attitude and outlook on marriage was not inline with God’s view. I am by no means opposed to marriage, but my attitude had shifted from desiring marriage (a few years ago) all the way over to the opposite extreme of desiring to be single because I didn’t want to be burdened with the demands of marriage in ministry. Now singleness is also not wrong by any means either, but what I felt convicted on was not that I wanted to be single, but my reasons for wanting to be single: it was motivated by a selfish desire rather than a God-given calling.
If, as the article seemed to state, that generally speaking marriage is something that women need in order to feel appreciated and part of a community (see disclaimer) then my attitude of wanting to be single because it would inconvenience me is most definitely wrong. If we never give up our desires and put others before ourselves (Philippians 2.3; Ephesians 4.2, 5.21; Romans 12.10) then we have absolutely no hope of achieving any type of community in the Body of Christ. My attitude was one of not willing to give up my own desires in order to benefit others in the Body of Christ and God rightly convicted me of this.
As of right now I do not have any clear direction from God concerning marriage or singleness. Neither has received a definite “yes” and neither has received a definite “no.” Whether God calls me to singleness or marriage I will accept it, but only on the basis that it is what God has called me to. For me cultivating this attitude has been a long and hard journey, but hopefully I am finally nearing the end of it.
I can relate. Its easier for me to be single right now with so many responsibilities and opportunities. But one purpose of marriage is to scrape away our selfishness and I’m starting to realize how much I need that and also how much I might actually enjoy that. But we’ll see what God brings along
I remember when someone first told me that marriage was part of God’s sanctification process. My first reaction was, “Really? How’s that work?”
I remained puzzled up until this semester in one of my theology classes when the professor was talking about how all humans are autonomous and don’t want to give up that autonomy. Then the light bulb went on and I finally made the connection: marriage will definitely help both people give up their autonomy and selfishness.
I was really struck by your blog article because I’ve often thought of the same analogy-the issue of being a flower in a field-and wonder if there is perhaps a root sermon or book with the idea that the original article writer and myself were exposed to; maybe it’s just the whole idea of good inspiration coming from the same source. From my perspective as a woman, I have found that analogy works also for having a set of talents that you have no venue to use or express. If we are created for God’s glory, it doesn’t matter if our fellow creatures appreciate us in any fashion if we consecrate our lives and actions to God. But along with that, how human and real is the desire for appreciation, be it acknowledgement of worth or gratitude. Even Jesus asked the one grateful leper who returned to thank him, where were the other nine. I think sometimes too we are tried in areas where we put something-and it can be anything-before God. Sometimes this happens subconsciously even with good, worthy, God-given desires and things. The desire or thing may even not be bad; maybe we just have to have an experience to learn we will still put God first before receiving it. Whether ultimately called to singleness or marriage, or any other calling in life, I guess at the end of the day there’s a greatness in being willing to submit to whatever it is that God’s will proves to be. Have you ever encountered the idea in seminary of having to face an Abraham-like trial in the sanctification process? That God will ask of you to give up/not have the most important thing to you? That idea has really resonated with me and I’ve encountered it powerfully in my life. Makes me think of the rich young man who asked Christ what he lacked. Maybe the issue was not him being wealthy as much as him being willing to give up that which was his stumbling block-his own wealth-to follow the savior. I often find that I need to do a reality check and search my heart to see if I’m really willing to devote my entire life to Christ. Often I don’t like the answer!
Thanks for the comment “T”. Actually thanks for all the comments that you’ve left. I’m glad to hear that my thoughts have in some fashion impacted you. I apologize for the delay in replying. I will get to your other comments later.
I have not specifically encountered the idea of facing an Abraham like trial during the sanctification process where you give up the most important thing to you. Certainly God does want us to be in complete obedience to his will and that will likely entail giving up things that are important to us, possibly even the thing that is most important to us. Like you said, it might not even be a bad desire, but if it is desired above obedience to God I think that giving it up will indeed be a part of the sanctification process.
In order for something to be the blessing that it was intended to be it has to first be able to be handled by the person receiving it. So if, say, the blessing of a spouse is going to lead someone astray from God it would not be a blessing but a curse! In order for a spouse to be the blessing that it is intended to be the person must be able to handle it, which means that it must not lead them away from God. This was one of the reasons why God did not drive all the inhabitants of the Promised Land out at once before the Israelites, because had he done so the beasts would have become too much for them and the land would be desolate and not flowing with milk and honey; it would have become a curse instead of a blessing (Exodus 23.29).
Great thoughts on blessings versus curses! I never thought about it like that. Wonderful blog; I look forward to reading your future entries. By the way, please don’t feel you have to respond to all the comments I left on your blog-just occurred to me, oh heck, I left quite a few of them! Me and the other readers know you’ve got your plate full with life and your studies. Thanks for sharing some of the light you learn along the way.