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.