In the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, we heave a big sigh of relief. Otherwise know as V-Day, this special occasion reminds me more of a venereal disease or the final phew to mark the day of surrender at the end of a world war rather than a unique day where lovers squeeze into overpacked and overpriced restaurants and lose their consumer minds with oversized plush toys and a dozen floppy red roses.
When Valentine’s Day is finally over, I feel like I can get back to normal life. Life: mostly happily, sometimes not so happily unmarried-in-my-30’s life. I kind of like it.
When most of my friends are mortgaged up to the eyeballs, spooning gunge into little Jimmy’s mouth, love even to the friends supposedly “in love” can still feel a distant reality.
Just because friends have had a ring put on their finger, doesn’t mean that love is actually practiced by these couples on a daily basis. I get to be the annoying friend instead who hashtags the irritating #ilivewhereyouvacation – I actually don’t. But I’m sure that’s what my life can look like to some of my friends.
Yet, I accept that people’s lives look different to each other. If I had met the man of my dreams at 25, maybe I would have got married then. But I don’t pine after this, because I didn’t. I choose adventure rather than waiting around for love to happen for me.
So what does love look like when you’re truly embracing living a life of love with everyone you meet rather than waiting for Mr or Mrs Charming and three mini Charming-ettes to arrive?
This year, instead of giving something up for Lent, I wanted to continue in my theme of pressing into God with prayer. Each day of Lent, I’m praying for a different friend who’s asked for me to pray for them over the 40 days, regardless of their faith or religion.
I probably should have anticipated that the number one request was to pray for their future husband. All serious requests, they ranged from “he must be hot” and it “must be this year”. I’d better start saving for the serious air miles I’ll need to get to all these weddings! But it also broke my heart to hear how many of my friends were hurting from their singleness and lack of romantic love.
Don’t get me wrong, we all have desires in our hearts that God puts there, and I think actually praying for God to build up and bless your future partner is an awesome idea. But does our view of human love and how it is a destination to get to (i.e a wedding day) really mean that our life would be unfulfilled if we didn’t ever make it to that?
Because all these perfect “hot” husbands or wives that are just around the riverbend don’t actually embody what love is. Finding our earthly partner isn’t actually the reason we love, and it isn’t why we are put on this earth. For sure, marriage is a reflection of God’s love for us, but it is still inadequate, messy, and can involve school runs, a lot of snot and reading the same book 20 times over.
Family is good. But we can’t interchange it for having a true love with Jesus. We can’t be waiting for ‘the one’ when we can’t find relationship and intimacy with The One.
This whole area is something God has been speaking to me about. I’m either hopeful about my future partner and growing in God. Or the other option is that I’m hopeless. I either inspire, or shockingly, I discourage. Believe me, I had an amazing amount of negative older women around me when I first became a Christian in my early 20s, who were so distressed they weren’t married that I vowed at that point not to even bother trying to date a Christian guy. I don’t say this to be unkind, and I’m not saying it’s easy, but I do wonder if they could have chosen a different attitude about their dating future.
Shawn Bolz’s hilarious book The Nonreligious Guide to Dating & Being Single talks about being outrageously single and I’d agree with much of it. None of this: “I’m sorry I’m single and I’m not yet following the path you (society) would have me be part of.” I picked up Shawn’s relationships book for a laugh just for the incredible pick-up lines at the back (think: “If you were a library book, I would check you out,” or: “If you were a laser, you’d be set on stunning.” Trust me, there’s more). But there are some gems in it other than some cheesy pick up lines.
I love when he writes: “For those who don’t have Christ, marriage is the highest place of relational fulfillment they can achieve because of God’s blessing on marriage… We can have true relationship with the Trinity and the friendship of the body, letting those relationships meet our primary needs for unity. Marriage is an additional opportunity, blessing or choice.”
Many people can be on different ends of that spectrum in waiting for their partner to come along. Many can find it a painful process, and are quite happy for the big V-Day to be over. Some are quite happy to keep on not thinking about it or will just see what happens.
But what I’m suggesting is that when we choose to believe in God, we enter into a different relationship. Salvation is just the start and seeking intimacy with the Trinity is the journey. We know that God has ordained marriage, but if we are not there yet, do we inspire or discourage others around us? Can we 100 per cent go after God? Or just sit on the sidelines waiting to be picked? I know which one I’d rather do.
Note: Amanda also recommends: 10 ways to not hate being single