Someone treaded on a pet peeve of mine this week and stoked the flames of my true passion, which is to encourage others to live a life of undivided devotion to God. This blog exists because I feel called to exhort single women of all ages to live seeking God and not a spouse. Whatever topic I blog about, I endeavor to reflect the truth of God’s word in my writing. I am more comfortable with my posts when I feel I have written from ‘on my knees’ rather than from ‘atop my soapbox.’ This week, I have been so worked up that I’ve had to pray for God to kick the soapbox out from under me, and land me on my knees.
What I encountered was an example of a disturbing trend among Christians: as soon as a baby girl is born, talk of her wedding begins. Mothers and grandmothers point out which baby pictures will be perfect for the photo montage at her wedding. Fathers get teary-eyed talking about walking her down the aisle. It seems innocent, but I can’t help but wonder what the future holds if this is the conversation when the child’s life is just beginning. We all know what happens ‘when you assume.’ My own assumption that I would marry in my early twenties led me to make quite a [fool] out of myself. At forty, I am still coming to terms with the reality that God’s will was so different from my assumptions. So, I have to ask these parents, where is God in all of this wedding talk?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
I don’t think God intended James 4:13-16 to discourage us from planning, but rather to keep us from presuming. To look at an infant and talk about her wedding is more than simple presumption. It also makes it seem as if a wedding will be the pinnacle of her life. Are people raising their daughters to see life as a fairytale, the climax of which will be a storybook wedding, followed by living happily ever after? When I was young, I thought my life was a love story that would culminate in marriage. Had I married, as I planned, I don’t know if this misperception would have been corrected. Surely, I would have been disappointed when the experience did not satisfy my soul. I want to note that when I was growing up, my parents didn’t talk to me about my wedding or some future husband. Only God knows how I would have behaved if there had been this outside influence, in addition to my own desires.
This is why I am so concerned for these daughters. If parents talk this way to their peers, what will they be saying to the girl as she grows up? Will they be teaching her to seek God’s will for her life, or will they be giving her false expectations. I am not trying to scold people for being sentimental, but I can’t help but think that this talk will only escalate as the girl grows. Children soak up not only words, but also actions and attitudes. What is life really about? A young girl needs to know that the true crux of life is the decision whether or not to follow Christ. If you want “to secure [her] undivided devotion to the Lord,” you must not only example it in your own life, but make it central to your conversations with her about life.
I want you to be free from anxieties. . .the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:32a, 34-35
I’m not a parent, just an aunt. My nephews are grown, and I rejoice that both of them have chosen to commit their lives to Christ. They are probably tired of my various reminders for them “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling.” But I know that this Christian life is a learning process, and there is nothing I can do for them that is more important than encouraging their faith. I want them to be happy, and I know that happiness does not come from being married. Happiness comes from being in relationship with God. He gives us the strength to find contentment in any circumstance (Phil. 4:11-13). I pray that I can help others to learn this lesson more easily than I did. My hope is that Christian parents seek to instill this in their children’s hearts.
A Christian parent’s goal should be to introduce his or her child to her Savior. James wrote, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” It isn’t just the parent’s life that is a mist, but the child’s life also. Parents do not know the number of days that they will have with their daughter. Imagining weddings that may or may not happen is a waste of time when you could be praying that her heart will be drawn to God. Pray that God will help you to raise a daughter who seeks His will for her life and finds her happiness in Him alone.
Well said. I would like to add the “Princess” concept so many parents endow upon their young daughters. This is also a hindrance to faithfully and humbly following Christ.
Oh, Leah! You have struck on my BIGGEST pet peeve, too!!
These presumptions and relatively new “Disney” influenced cultural expectations also hurt the Christian young men in the same generation. They are having a difficult time finding young women who are devoted to the Lord first and serving Him, instead of BEING served because they are “princesses.” If a girl raised in a Christian family (but is she herself a Christian?) is focused on marriage and being American human royalty within her family, she is not going to focus on ministry, nor is she going to focus on finding a Godly man. Godly men put Christ first, put serving God first; this is a true disappointment for a young woman who is self-focused and believes marriage is her key to happiness. Chances are, she will not choose a Godly husband
This whole scenario is a disaster for the Christian community, for the church in America, because it is now marrying couples who are not seeking God’s will together–they are selfish–and these attitudes are destructive within marriages, resulting, I’m sure, in marriages dissolving or just being flat out unsuccessful. How can haughty princesses, linked with men who cannot, will not, put God first, raise children focused on Christ? They will not, except by the grace of God Himself lifting those children out, as He can. But, someday, these parents who planted these non-Biblical ideals within their daughters will be held to account.
As Christians, we need to consider how our parenting (and mentoring for those who are not parents) is bringing up a generation to serve Christ. We are not bringing up children; childhood is temporary and a teaching period. We are teaching the next generation of ADULTS. It is serious work, DAILY work, exhausting work requiring God’s mercy, to be examples of how to live out an adult Christian life–the average of 60 or more years after the childhood period is over. And, today’s children will be the adults who bring up the next generation of Christians–or not. The Christian parents’ work begins even before their child is born, and more earnestly after she is born.
We need to get serious. We need to get into God’s Word. We need to be prayerful. And, when we are, we will discover there is no place for frilly, over-the-top wedding plans and princesses. Her Prince should be Jesus, her Messiah, her Lord, whom she serves, even if no human man marries her. Forget Cinderella, Belle, and Ariel-the Little Mermaid.
Think of Amy Carmichael. Think of Elisabeth and Jim Elliot. Think of Ruth and Billy Graham. There are billions of souls at stake.
Thank you for sharing and adding your two cents. I realize that I only focused on one particular area – I try not to go too long. Your point about parenting made me think of my visits to Kosovo. The church there is so young, and the parents are very aware that they are raising the second generation of believers. It isn’t taken lightly. It is not only about the souls of their children, but the very survival of the church in their country and beyond. Sometimes, it seems that life is so easy for us in America that we think we can be followers of Christ without actually ‘taking up [our] cross.’ Of course, I love that you brought up Jim Elliot. Every young man should read “Shadow Of The Almighty,” and at least think over what it means to chose to serve God first and foremost.