Ok, it’s on all of our minds (the single ones of us at least). And, being spring, and us being another year older than last spring, probably more so now than ever. Marriage.
Before I came to Korea, I was naively full of marriage hopes. I was a girl in a bright ballon fueled by airy dreams, floating higher and higher in a sapphire sky. I didn’t know when marriage would come (or, ahem, when the guy would come), or where, but I trusted that it would come – that God had this written into my story, and that I could anticipate romance like an anticipated gift on Christmas morning.
I was a blushing school girl back then … And now I’m a blushing school teacher. Not much has changed, but some things have.
Truthfully, the atmosphere among Korean Christian women is kind of dismal, when the topic of marriage comes up.
It was about a year ago when I sat down with my Korean friend and we discussed the dating situation in Korea. The good news: there are a lot of single guys in Korea. The bad news: there are very few single Christian guys in Korea (at least compared to the percentage of Christian women searching for a husband). My friend suggested something that I had never considered before: “People are saying that we shouldn’t be so picky about our husband being a Christian. If we wait around for that, we may never get married.” I was shocked that she was saying this, but as other women around me repeated it, it began to infiltrate into my thinking. Here are some things I’ve heard:
“Character is the most important. If a man isn’t a Christian yet, but his character is good, you’ll be fine.”
“The Christian guys I met are either know-it-all or awkward to talk with. It’s better to find a guy with good character – even if he’s not Christian.”
I’ve been blessed to have many friends here, many of them in their late 20’s or early 30’s. And most of these ladies are unmarried. Sometimes, they’ve unmasked their concerns. They’re getting too old. There are not enough good men. They’ll have to wait until they’re 40. Look at all the other single women around us!
Suddenly, the air seems thinner, and my own hot air balloon of marriage dreams begins to falter.
I felt like I was being bombarded by something very unpleasant. All my life, marriage has been a beautiful, hopeful prospect for me. Suddenly, this treasured gift is being torn apart, compromised, and people are trying to tell me that it’s ok to settle for less, that it’s the reality of our situation.
Excuse me! I’m not going for this.
I decided to ask God for some wisdom, to know how to process my thoughts. One thing became very clear: the presence of fear.
It’s amazing what the atmosphere can do to a person. What changed, since I came to Korea, that caused me to start worrying about finding a spouse? It wasn’t me, and it wasn’t the number of single guys in the world. It was just one thing. Atmosphere. I started listening to the worries of single ladies, and hearing statistics that squelch hope. Boil it all down, I walked into an atmosphere familiar with fear. All that fine-sounding reasoning about character over beliefs is whispered by fear in a pretty disguise. This pretty fear says, “Honey, I just want to help you get married. Let’s think reasonably about a spouse. ” But under its breath it growls, “You’d better listen to me, or you’ll never get married.”
Check your thought processes, ladies, and make sure that they’re not being dictated by a pretty fear. God does not threaten or bring panic. When we are in line with His thoughts, our hopes for the future are liberating and sky-high. There is no room for fear when our minds are filled with the hope of God’s glory. It’s time to expose and face this fear before it controls our decisions and leads us to a compromised future!
The only way to get rid of fear is to replace it with faith. Marriage, as any other issue of life, requires faith. I laughed at myself when I realized that I would trust God enough trek through the jungles of Africa, or smuggle Bibles to the persecuted church in China, or (gulp) minister in the terrorized Middle East if He wanted me to…but I wouldn’t trust Him enough to give me a Christian man for a husband? Let’s have some faith, ladies! God is the God of all our future – including marriage.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
And let’s not have little faith (dear God, if the man will just come to church with me on Sunday, I’ll be happy). Get out the big faith! Our future husband will love God passionately, he will have vision, and he will be able to hear God for himself. He will be a spiritual leader, and we will encourage each other in our walk with God. We will be a team, a dynamic force, that will reach the world with the love and light of Christ. We will be better together than apart. He’ll be tall, dark, and handsome! (editors note: I’m not sure about the Biblical accuracy of that statement, but the standards are already pretty high – why not ask?)
Don’t let anyone tell you that this is asking too much for a husband. God wants all people to have this kind of intimate, personal relationship with Himself, your husband included. If that familiar fear whispers, “These guys don’t exist,” well, then, it’s time to agree with God’s will and pray for men to rise up and get on board. Let’s not concede to the enemy by compromising. Let’s agree with God and have faith to see His kingdom advance.
Think back, remember those moments when you feared nothing because you knew God held your future. God still holds your future, so stop imagining it through the eyes of fear, and see it through God’s eyes again.
Can you see it, the picture forming? Ahead, there lies much maturing (you’re not perfect, and your husband won’t be either), growing, struggles to overcome, adventures to trek, joys to experience, love to share. And it’s all from God, through God, and to God.
Ladies, we are not marrying just so we can feel loved and happy. Happily-ever-after comes from Jesus alone. We can already live there, day by day, in His Presence. God has a glorious purpose for our marriage: love and so much more. Before they happen, even before we meet the guy, let’s dedicate our marriages to God. And let’s recognize that such a marriage is something only He can bring about.
No matter how many blind dates we go on, or how attractive we look, we’re not going to “catch” the man God has for us.
Take that burden off your shoulders, girlfriend! God is going to bring you and “he” together like an author plots the meeting of the leading characters. It’s something He delights to do, and has ordained since Adam met Eve.
But until that day, our hope is high. Not just in marriage, but in our God.
I encourage you, whatever fears you may be facing, to confront them with God’s word. The world would like to fill us with fear in every area of life – health, jobs, family, marriage – but we’re not to live by the world’s thoughts. Let’s rise up together, and walk by faith, speaking in faith. Let’s get excited again about our future, because, with The Author of Life, and the definition of Love, Himself, it’s going to be thrilling!
Thanks to Fiona Pyszka for sharing her own marriage testimony. It really encouraged me and helped me to write this blog. You can listen for yourself – I highly recommend it: http://vcfpa.org/audio-downloads/ (WOVEN May 2014 – What is your hope in?)
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength
They will rise up with wings as eagles
They will run and not be weary
They will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40: 30-31
Photo credit: Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)