Tonight I was having a conversation with my mom, and we somehow got on the topic of marriage and children. The words “I don’t know if I’ll get married or have kids” left my mouth and I immediately knew that I had said the wrong thing. Actually, a better way to put that is I had said something my mom didn’t want to hear. But it’s not just her: a lot of people in my community don’t want to hear that out of the mouth of a 20-something year old woman. It’s just not natural. Or something like that.
I can think of two women in my immediate community who are in their thirties and are still single, and most people assume that they deserve our pity because they are single. As a young girl I assumed that this was a fair judgment, but only because that’s the way my community thought. As an adult, though, I’ve realized that my quality of life is not contingent upon my relationship status. My future is not incomplete if it doesn’t feature a backyard wedding and gag-inducing “we’re pregnant” photos plastered all over Facebook (not that I don’t love my friends that are posting such lovely photos of their expanding abdomens).
Now before you start drawing your own conclusions and get ready to tell me I’m either crazy or that I’ll “find the right guy eventually”, I want to be clear about something: I am not saying that I do not want to get married. I’m not saying I don’t ever want to have children. In all honesty, I’ve thought about these things and what they might look like for my future. But I am not saying that a life of being single is out of the question, either.
All I know is that if my success and happiness are built on romantic relationships, then it will be a life that is lacking. I think that it can be too easy to see marriage and children as an end goal, an elevated state of being or accomplishment, and that is the thing I do not want. I don’t want to give one element of my life higher recognition than it calls for. I want to be more than just a wife or a mother because who I am is so much more than just this one possible piece of my identity.
So what do I want, then? Ultimately, I want to learn to place God at the center of my life. I want to be able to find joy and peace in him rather than solely in my job, my family, my friends, or my education. All of these things are good things, and in their proper place can be sources of great blessings. But I know that I have a tendency to make them more important than they are in relation to Christ.
To find joy and to feel fulfilled I do not need a wedding ring. And conversely, my single status should not be understood as a status praising my independence or empowerment, but instead should allow me to focus on depending on God and learning over and again how broken I am without him. So for now I am choosing to be single. I’m learning to depend on him. Everything else that follows is just an added bonus.