“I am not married yet, but I am not really a child in the family anymore… At least I know I am me, myself.”
As singles we focus on our own lives a lot, trying to figure ourselves out. We play with ideas for what we want in life, forge our own paths, break off from family time to a degree, see how many cool things we can do before we have more responsibilities to tie us down.
It’s only natural. It’s not wrong. In fact, it is good to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities placed before us while we are single, to travel, engage in social groups, explore career and life goals. To value our semi-independence. It is part of the process of growing at a healthy pace instead of growing up and moving out all at once.
I have to be honest: One of my favorite parts of dorm life and one of the things I most look forward to about moving out is the ability to create my own schedule. I pick my class schedule (hopefully), I can eat whenever I want (even downing a bowl of Ramen at 8pm while working at my laptop), and friends and night functions are all within walking distance (no need to borrow Mom’s car keys). I don’t have to think about what the rest of my family is doing before I plan my time. I have no one’s dishes and laundry to do but my own. My sleeping schedule is completely up to me.
It is kind of nice having responsibilities to no one but myself.
Don’t get used to it.
I don’t mean that in a negative, “This bliss will end, and you can’t do anything about it,” way. Which is true. Your first baby isn’t going to let you sleep through the night and make your own schedule. But actually, I want you to end it yourself.
I think that there is a strong temptation to become islands as singles and hold onto our independence a bit too dearly. To not want to commit to anything that could inconvenience us. And maybe that is why a lot more people are choosing to remain single all their lives or just cohabitate with their significant other.
Yet independence was never meant to be our natural human state. Islands don’t work, and especially when they are living in the same house together, islands collide and create conflict. Being an island is especially bad practice for marriage and family life. I want you to do something even more extraordinary (and painful)– which is to rid yourself of your own will. I know. It sounds gross. But I am doing it with you.
I have a “to-do” list for before I get married related to this topic. On it, it says:
- Emancipate myself from my selfish (island) singlehood
- Become empty of my own plans so I can serve
- Desire to serve as a primary reason for marriage
- Live primarily in and for the Spirit, not “my own life” with a little God thrown in here and there
The key to this list is that my goal is to be “poor in spirit” as the Beatitude says–to rid myself of my own will to have everything my way, and to replace it with God’s will for my life, which can only be one of self-giving. This is essential if you are preparing for marriage.
How does a spouse choose to put their beloved first when they are already having a bad day? How does a mom choose to cut back on her work hours, or even (horror!) choose to be a stay-at-home mom, to take care of her young kids? How does a dad choose to put aside his own weekend plans to go to his daughter’s ballet recital?
By being poor in spirit. By emptying themselves of their own will so they can be completely open to serving, however God wants them to serve at that moment.
How do we know what parts of our lives we need to empty, and what God’s will is for us to replace the emptiness with? Open communication with God. We cannot be obedient to God’s will for our lives if we are not listening to what He wants specifically for us right now. It is going to be different for everyone.
Take time every day for the next week to sit quietly with the Lord for a few minutes. Ask Him where He wants you to give up your own will and what His will might be for you in your single life.