Marriage Isn’t Everything

Marriage Isn’t Everything

I’ve got marriage on my mind again. No, I don’t have anyone in mind for myself and I’m not interested in getting married right now. I’m not even interested in dating. I’ve just been thinking about marriage recently because of things going on in the lives of those around me.

I think I’ve mentioned before that there’s an unspoken expectation in the Christian community that young people should be at least seriously considering marriage. I think it stems from a genuine sentiment that marriage is a wonderful thing. It is. Don’t get me wrong in this post, I’m sure marriage is great. So those who are married and especially those who have been married for a long time feel like it’s been such a good thing in their lives that they can’t imagine anyone NOT wanting to experience that. They begin to lack the perspective of a single person because they can no longer fathom a life apart from their spouse.

The expectation also comes from celebrating marriage. It should be celebrated. Bridal showers, bachelor parties, the wedding itself, and then if the couple has children then it’s a whole new set of celebration about the couple and their new family. Then there’s the anniversary every year when it’s mentioned in the bulletin at church or at least if you know the couple then you’ll hear about it verbally or if it’s a ‘big’ anniversary then you might be asked to participate in a celebration. So every year you’re reminded that these two people are committed to each other.

It’s great, I think they should be celebrated.

But then there are the single people. They don’t get celebrated. I mean, there’s our birthdays but couples have birthdays too. There’s nothing to really celebrate for single people. We can celebrate being single but then that’s not really something we always like to draw attention to. Sometimes it feels like the church doesn’t want to celebrate single people too much because, I don’t know, maybe it would make them think there’s an option to live your life without being attached to another person.

Okay, I don’t think that. I don’t know why it feels like that in the church because there are plenty of churches with singles classes AND couples classes. And while people will ask about your dating status, it’s often just an interest in knowing you as a person rather than a judgement. I think it’s really just that married people really push marriage, sometimes without realizing it, because they see so many benefits. So us singles get a lot of, “Just wait until you meet the right person!” or “God has someone out there for everyone!”

Oh, does He? Would you have said that to Paul? You know, the UNMARRIED apostle who wrote down almost half the New Testament? He even said it was good to remain single because you could focus ALL your attention on spreading the Gospel: “The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34). When you’re married you have to think about caring for your spouse, supporting them, focusing time and energy on them that could be focused on the Lord instead.

I’m not opposed to one day getting married myself. But I’m not ready for that. And I don’t have to be. I’ll repeat that, I. Don’t. Have. To. Be. Ready. For. Marriage. Right. Now. Surprisingly enough, God made me an entire person all on my own. He designed me to be who I am and I AM WHOLE IN CHRIST. I don’t need anyone else to ‘complete’ my personhood. God has already completed me. I wasn’t born missing any essential part of my personality that needs to be filled in by a man in my life. I don’t need a man to support me or hold doors or smash spiders. I don’t need a man to serve God. God didn’t make me a man so I think it’s safe to say He didn’t think I needed one for my basic survival.

I think it’s easy to fall into the ‘marriage is the only option for me’ camp. Even outside the church it’s still really pushed hard on young people. If you’re a 20-something-year-old who feels that pressure, know that I am on your side. If you have a significant other then that’s wonderful and I’m happy for you! If you don’t or if you just got off a bad relationship, are thinking of delving into a relationship, or are taking a break, remember you are a whole person. God made you exactly you to bring Him glory. You don’t NEED anyone to complete you because you’re NOT incomplete.

If God has someone out there for you then being discontent and whining about your singleness won’t make His timing move any faster or slower. Singleness is not a curse. Be content with being you. All on your own.

The One About Modesty

The One About Modesty

Modest

With hot weather fast approaching, there are bound to be many bloggers, especially Christian bloggers, who will write about being modest. These articles will be specifically geared toward women and girls. I figured at some point I would hop on the bandwagon. I haven’t seen any articles come across my newsfeed yet but I’m sure they will once June hits.

I believe the Bible and I believe if you claim Christianity then you better be following it. Before we get to the definition from the dictionary, let’s take a quick look at a little of what the Bible says about modesty.

1 Timothy 2:9 – “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,”

1 Peter 3:3-4 – “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”

(Also, here is a helpful list of more verses)

So, these verses talk about modesty and something I notice is that in no place does it say that my skirt has to reach below my knees. Also doesn’t say that I should think about men’s reactions to me when I put my outfit together. If you grew up in the Christian community then you might find that odd. “You mean to tell me that God DIDN’T ban two piece swimsuits from summer camp?!” Crazy, right? It’s almost like modesty isn’t a legalistic matter but a matter of the heart.

Here’s where the definition comes in: moderate, humble, free of vanity, no showy extravagance, decent, etc. I don’t know how this can be any more clear. Your clothing is a way you express yourself to those around you. If you’re dressing to show off then you’re not dressing modestly. That doesn’t mean you have to dress down all the time or that you should feel like garbage about your appearance. It simply means that when you dress, you think about honoring God instead of trying to honor yourself. You can look nice and not be showing off extravagance. I try to put together cute outfits for myself and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

I think it’s pretty obvious when someone is dressing for showing off. Whether trying to show off wealth or trying to show off bodies, you know who you are. God says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and dressing with modesty is part of honoring Him, with that gentle and quiet spirit.

A quick few words about the inevitable modesty dialogue that comes up: “If girls don’t dress modestly then they’ll cause their Christian brothers to stumble into sin!”

Here’s a verse for you, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

Wow, look, God really blamed that woman for someone lusting after her. She was obviously in the wrong. WAIT A SECOND. THAT’S NOT WHAT IT SAYS AT ALL! Yeah, it’s not, because God isn’t unreasonable. It’s not my fault if someone sins. Me dressing modestly is between me and God. Your sin is between you and God. The end.

My parents played a role in teaching me modesty by setting legalistic boundaries when I was young but now that I’m an adult I set boundaries for myself. I think legalistic boundaries can have a place in the conversation regarding young children. My modesty boundaries may be different than another Christian’s boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with that. It always bothered me at youth group events growing up when us girls were held to different standards than the boys. We couldn’t wear two piece swimsuits but the boys could wear their swim-shorts below their hip bones. Like yeah, THAT wasn’t distracting at all for the girls. But I digress.

Modesty is a matter of the heart. With warmer weather coming I’d say the most applicable thing right now for Christian girls is to remember that we are in the world but not of it. God has placed your true beauty in your heart and the value He places on you is worth infinitely more than any validation the world can offer. Dress accordingly.

IT’S BEEN A YEAR

This week marks the one year anniversary of this blog! Crazy, right? Well, I think it’s crazy.

Whether you’ve been with me for 11 months or 6 months or this is only the first or second post you’re reading, I value you. I started this blog thinking everything was going to fall into place easily. I thought that I would have five-thousand followers in a week and I’d break into the publishing world in a heartbeat. I thought I would write all my posts well in advance, days or weeks before needed so I could carefully polish each one so they were each perfect. So none of what I thought would happen actually happened.

As of writing this, I have 33 followers. Which, to me a year ago, is almost none. But to me now, it’s a lot. I can’t believe that 33 human beings actively decided to keep track of my writing. 33!! That’s more people than I have in my immediate family so I must be doing something right! It amazes me that anyone but my very close friends are even vaguely interested in my thoughts. It’s probably going to continue amazing me for a long time.

It’s been a long and short year. I published an ebook. I finished redoing the front porch with my dad. My family saved and re-homed three kittens. I ranted. And I ranted some more. Okay, I ranted a lot. I made goals for the new year (which I need to revisit but I think I’m doing okay). I got a couple jobs. I quit one of those jobs. I got promoted at the job I kept.

Even though I’m not exactly where I had envisioned I would be by now, I feel like I’m in a good place. I’ve accomplished some stuff this year which includes writing this blog consistently every week. I think I missed one week in there at some point but even writing 51 posts in a year I’m pretty impressed since I tried and failed to write a blog in the past. This has been a real commitment for me. It’s really the only fully consistent writing I’ve done for the year and I’ve loved doing it.

There’s always a nervousness to publishing each week. My brain goes straight to worst case scenario. Like, maybe it’ll be weirdly controversial and I’ll go viral for all the wrong reasons. Or maybe someone I respect will call me out and I’ll realize I had everything all wrong. So far, that hasn’t happened. I do wish I got more tangible feedback sometimes with comments but really, I’m just happy to see people reading.

I appreciate you, reader. Each of you. And I will continue to appreciate you. Whether this time next year I have 500 followers or still just 33, I’m happy. It’s like being a small part of someone else’s life and that’s fabulous. Keep being awesome and I’ll keep writing this blog and hopefully we’ll hear from each other plenty this year!

Teenagers Are People Too

When I was but a wee baby teenager I had a realization that adults have no idea what it’s like to be a teen. Even at the time I didn’t think it was their fault, they had just forgotten. It’s not like they were actively trying to make my life terrible, they were just doing what they thought was best for me and themselves. In all honesty, it probably was the best thing for me at the time. But it was still frustrating.

I said to myself at 16 that I would never let myself forget what it was like to be a teenager. No matter what happened, I would refuse to treat teens like children.

Now that I’m 23 I’ve realized something:

TEENS ARE STILL TOTALLY CHILDREN.

They make stupid decisions and they’re all wrapped up in their own little worlds. They lack perspective more than anything else.

BUT

I still refuse to treat them like children. Because someone has to help them into adulthood and I can tell that plenty of adults are not doing that. When a teenager walks up to my register at work I give them all the same information I would give an adult. I treat them with the same courtesy and have the same expectations of decorum for them as I do for an adult.

Not to say I advocate throwing teens into full on adulthood or that they should be left with no supervision all the time. I just think if you’re telling someone they should be as responsible as an adult then maybe you should also give them opportunity to exercise that responsibility. There are plenty of responsible teens and also plenty of irresponsible teens. But there are plenty of teens who just want a chance to prove themselves.

Teens lack the perspective of adults and that’s pretty much fine. But it doesn’t make their perspective necessarily wrong. A child is not wrong because they don’t understand how to file taxes or because they haven’t struggled to pay medical bills. When they pitch a fit over their favorite shirt being in the wash it’s because they’re still learning how to experience life. This may be just a blip on your radar but to them it’s a life changing event.

So it is also that teens are still learning how to experience life. They’re still gaining understanding and having to work through plenty of problems on their own. Don’t just discount them as unproductive because they’re not as knowledgeable of the world as you are. You have a few years on them.

Sometimes it blows my mind how different people are. My siblings and I grew up in the same house, raised by the same parents, yet we are each very different individuals. Every person you ever meet, regardless of age, is experiencing life differently than you are. Sure there are some similarities across the board and we share the same feelings with others at times. But we are each human and each deserve respect.

I suppose that’s what all this comes down to: respecting others, regardless of age. If you respect someone, you don’t laugh at their feelings even if you think they’re overreacting. Instead of being obnoxious about it you gently correct or offer your own thoughts on the situation. If you’re like me, you’re pretty straightforward about the whole thing but still respectful.

In general, I try to extend respect to everyone and only take it away if they don’t deserve it. Teens may be children but they’re not necessarily stupid or inherently obnoxious just for being young. And neither is any young adult either. Age does not define how much respect should be extended to a person. Even if you don’t remember what it was like to be 16, you probably remember that no one seemed to take you seriously. Even if you don’t remember what it was like to be 23, you probably remember at least one time where you were seen as less competent because you were young.

As a rule, don’t judge a teenager for being a teenager. They have a lot to contribute to the world and it would be a shame for us to lose the next Nobel Prize winner because someone refused to listen to a person just because they were young.