It’s not a secret that I have always wanted to be married and have children. The time for this is getting short, and I plead with God about it. He knows the desires of my heart, and I try to leave it all in His, more capable hands. For the past fifteen years or so, I have tried to have an attitude which focuses on the family I have, rather than the one I want to have. The book of Ruth has been a great source of encouragement to me as I seek to honor God as a single woman. Ruth chose to make Naomi permanent family, instead of returning to the family that she had been born into. She chose this because of her devotion to God. Ruth must have loved the family that she came from, but she did not desire to abandon Naomi in favor of the pagan home from which she had come. For me, I am blessed to have come from a home the worships the One True God. I pray that honoring my family brings glory to Him. I do not seek to serve and honor my family in the hope that God will reward me with a “Boaz,” I do it out of love and obedience.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
I remember clearly a young man who I met at a Bible Study several years ago. I quickly ascertained that he wasn’t interested in me, but he was spending all of his time and effort trying to find a wife. Because this consumed his life, he thought that other single people should be equally obsessed with pursuing a spouse. I’ll never forget him scolding me that I needed to go to every possible social gathering to meet people. You see, Labor Day was coming up, and someone from church was having a party. But, I planned to go to my sister and brother-in-law’s place for a little family barbecue. I can still remember the times we spent in that little apartment backyard around the old picnic table, my two sisters, my brother-in-law, my nephews, and me. They were times of sweet family fellowship. I thank God for sending that marriage-obsessed man across my path, briefly. It helped me to see clearly that I didn’t want to live my life in the pursuit of a spouse. I wanted to leave that to God while I lived to honor Him. I don’t know how much glory there is for God when a small family gathers in a backyard to share a meal. What I do know is that a few years later, my sister’s family moved twelve hundred miles and three states away. I’m glad I made them a priority while they were next door.
God knows where our hearts are. He knows that my heart is often judgmental and begrudging. How I pray that I can learn to love others as He would have me to! But what good would it be if I gave myself to loving and serving others and neglected the needs of my family? I would be like the Pharisees who pledged their resources to the temple in order that they would not have to use them to care for their aged parents. Jesus rebuked them. (Matthew 15:3-6) Let me begin, then, with the family I was born into. As I learn to love them more, it actually builds in me compassion for others. As always, I need to make a disclaimer: I am not the perfect daughter, granddaughter, sister, or aunt. I know that I fall short. I know that I covet my time and resources, when it is God who has blessed me with them in the first place. But this is where I stand, determined to learn to honor my parents, and all my family, as God leads me.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8
I must remember that not having a husband to answer to, or children to care for, puts me in a unique position to give more time and resources to my family. It has also put me in a position to have a rare kind of relationship with one of my sisters. We share the ups-and-downs of life, care for each other during sickness, and help each other carry the burdens of life. Often, I think we are too much alike to be well suited for sharing life. Other times, our differences result in annoyance with one another. But as much as I think the world must find us strange, I see the great blessing of God. We are single, but we aren’t alone. This is what family is all about. We make sacrifices, and we receive blessings.
I know that not everyone is like me. Some do not have parents or siblings that they can serve and care for. As believers, our next priority is the body of Christ. Our instruction is, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10) I am certain that this is an area where I fall short. But I pray that God will help me find opportunities to serve my church family, also. What is important is that I don’t spend my life trying to fill my longing for husband and children, rather than serving God through my devotion to the family He has given to me. Trusting God means not dwelling on the negatives, but rejoicing in all that He has done for me. My life is so much happier when I spend it loving the people God has put in my life, instead of lamenting the relationships I don’t have.