I have a post-it note stuck to the side of my desk. I wrote it last year during a time of loneliness. It’s a list of qualities I am seeking in my future husband.
The Double Standard At Work
It’s not a bad list, now that I’m looking at it. It has everything that’s important to me – a man who values my opinion, is mature, and can cook, of course! It’s the same group of qualities that I’ve reminded myself of since I was a little girl. It’s crept into the letters I wrote to my future spouse and late night prayers that Rebecca St. James encouraged me to pray.
While I look fondly on those letters, there is something disturbing in the waiting culture I grew up surrounded by.
The men aren’t writing back!
Making Lists Not Plans
I know countless women who have written letters to their unknown future husband. They wear a purity ring, idolize the concept of “virginity”, and tell everyone they’re “dating Jesus” while waiting for a guy they haven’t met. They create lists of what they won’t settle for without knowing what being in a relationship is actually like. These women are making wedding-themed Pinterest boards while the young men they are waiting on are out making life plans.
While we have been sitting around discussing veil lengths, waiting for Mr. Right to pursue us, the boys have been living their lives. I don’t know a single one who has written a letter to their future wife. I have not spotted any with purity rings on their fingers. They seem to be too busy living to stop and wait for the perfect girl to come by.
Women & Men Need Focus On Growing In Faith EQUALLY
The harmful idea that once we reach the coveted height of marital bliss we will have husbands to lead up spiritually means young women are not told to grow their faith in the same way young men are. There is less pressure to study doctrine, hone leadership skills, and delve into deep questions about your beliefs if you assume you’re incapable of understanding such things to begin with.
The Christian obsession with women and the “season of singleness” as a holding pattern for something greater is nothing more than a (perhaps well-intentioned, but drastically overbearing) distraction from the holy work God has laid before us. We need to de-idolize marriage as the apostle Paul once did and focus on the development of our faith completely removed from the worldly concept of gender roles.
Righteous Goals not Gender Roles
My friends’ and my opinions growing up of what we thought we wanted from a relationship was theoretical. We knew that the boy loving Jesus was important and that waiting for marriage was important. Sadly, no one ever told us we didn’t have to put our lives on hold until we found it.
I have a friend who came to college assuming God would give her a husband by the end of her senior year. Now, the time is coming when she has to pick what direction she wants to go after college and there isn’t a boyfriend in the picture. She’s afraid that one path won’t lead to meeting a spouse, but that the other choice will be denying following her dreams. She is afraid to make the wrong move because she’s been told if she was faithful and waited, God would give her a husband.
Instead of being told to pursue her dreams, she was made to wait. Imagine the freedom women like her would inherit if churches taught them to lean into their passions instead of making themselves perfect and waiting for the perfect mate to come along.
Called to Go, Told to Wait
Human beings, regardless of sexuality, are image-bearers of God. We all have the ability to go and do all the things we set our minds to doing. Waiting on an idealized, perfect spouse not only sets women up for feeling lonely and unfulfilled but also causes us to feel disappointed with anything less than perfection. When in reality, we shouldn’t expect perfection from anyone but Christ.
IF we end up in a relationship, it won’t be because of the perfect list. A spouse is much more than attributes on a post-it note. We ourselves have way more to offer than sweet things we wrote in a letter. In the image of the Almighty God, we are whole. We have full lives to live before, during, after, and if we find someone to spend our lives with. To quote Superchick, “We have trophies to win instead of being one of yours.”
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