Wednesday, December 02, 2009

(Part 2) Why am I Waiting?

"If you don’t believe love is best when it’s pure and new, you won’t wait patiently for it." - Come What May
Waiting isn't a word we like very much. It's not something we have to practice much either. Food comes in "instant" packages, there are express checkout lanes, internet is high-speed, your cell phone is within easy reach wherever you need to make a call, and highways make commutes quicker. None of these things are necessarily bad (except perhaps the "instant" food for health reasons!) but they have contributed to our impatient society. We complain if our food doesn't come promptly in a fast-food restaurant or if the checkout line moves too slowly. We drum our fingers if a web page doesn't load immediately, and fret if our phone gets a bad signal. We get angry in traffic jams, especially if it throws off our carefully planned schedule.

But often, if we wait, things are better in the end. A meal made from scratch may take a lot longer to prepare, but it will be more nourishing and delicious. A handwritten letter will be treasured much more than a message in cyberspace that is easily deleted. A phone call made when you have the time to listen and talk is more meaningful than an occasional, distracted "mm-hmm" as you multi-task. And if you take the time to enjoy the scenery when the cars are moving slowly, you'll be put in a much better mood!

I'm certainly not against time-saving measures, and I do strive to as efficient as I can, but there is value in waiting.

So, why am I still waiting if I believe that marriage is something I am called to someday? I'm waiting for God's timing. He'll bring a relationship about when it's right. Also, I wait for a young man to express interest in me - for I believe it's his place to do so.

But if I know a Godly young man who would make a good husband, shouldn't I secure him before he gets away? No. Like most women, I want to be pursued. If I lead the relationship in the beginning, it will get off to the wrong start. I believe that the man is to be the head of the home, the leader. It is his place to initiate - not mine.

Oh, there are feminine ways to show availability and encourage expressed interest - but we don't want to come across as desperate women! ;) For good ideas, read Candice Watters' book Get Married, for it is subtitled "what women can do to help it happen." And no, it doesn't involve chasing after guys and placing yourself right where they are at every turn! :)

Is it hard to wait? Most definitely! We wonder if we'll ever be noticed, if a man will ever be interested enough to ask. We see a friend's status change from "single" to "in a relationship" and sigh over the sweet couple pictures that appear. We wonder when our turn will come.

It is hard to wait for a man to express interest, but it can also be hard for the men to know who to ask and how and when! They can be terrified at the thought of putting their hopes on the line when they ask a girl (or, preferably, her father first!) if they can begin a relationship. It may be hard for you to consider trusting a man to lead you, but it can be a huge burden for them to even feel ready or responsible enough to lead and provide for a family.

I'm an advocate for younger marriages than the national average of 27 and 28. Yes, there are some people who wait that long as part of God's plan (my own sister Miriam didn't marry until she was 28, but her wait was definitely worth it!), but as a whole, I think our society delays it too much. Part of it is the expectations we hold; our parents took years to arrive at the economic status and character development they're at now - we can't expect a young man to be as mature and established as our own father! Carolyn McCulley's article Faith for the Man He'll Become talks more about that fact. Of course, we should still have high standards for the one we'll marry. we should also prepare ourselves for marriage while in our youth instead of wasting the time. After all, we mustn't allow the low expectations of this culture to shape us!

Waiting is a Biblical principle. One year I studied all the different places it's mentioned in the Bible and was amazed at the number of places that talked about it! However, waiting isn't a passive verb; it's active - you're to do things while waiting, not just sit around! Verses that talk about waiting also tell you to "delight yourself in the LORD" (Psalm 37:4), "keep His way," (Psalm 37:34), put your hope in God's Word (Psalm 130:5-6), "be strong and take heart" (Psalm 27:14), follow God's commands (Psalm 119:166), "hope for what we do not yet have," (Romans 8:25) and "watch in hope" (Micah 7:7). Patience is closely tied to waiting, with many verses exhorting us to "wait patiently." This season of waiting is a good one for teaching us patience, which is an important character quality!

You won't be done with waiting once you find your special someone either. There will be waiting for engagement, for the wedding, for children, for a permanant house, for direction for the family... Waiting is a part of all of life, so you'll be well prepared if you learn to do it now with joy.

Though this is a hard season at times, it can also be a very fruitful one. With the time such a close and intimate relationship involves, you have more time to spend with the Lord, with family, with close friends, and in serving others. The longings and desires can be very strong, but they can also push you into Your heavenly Father's arms, into a deeper reliance on Him.

This is definitely an interesting time, being ready for marriage, yet not sure when it will happen. Will I be waiting for another year? Or will it be three, or five, or ten years? Even more? I don't know. And though I am tempted to doubt or complain, I am learning to trust in the Lord and wait for God's time. He won't keep me waiting longer than necessary. Though I can't always explain the wait, I know that His time will be much better than my own.

"Times of waiting take us to deeper levels of trust, strengthen our faith, remind us to abide in Christ and teach us to delight in the Lord. There will be periods of waiting all through life, but for us as single young ladies, this season of life provides an ideal opportunity to learn the secret of being content in any situation (Phil. 4:11-13) If we can learn now how to patiently rest in the Lord, think how invaluable this 'skill' will be throughout our entire lives." - from Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Malley

9 comments:

Marlana said...

I see what you are saying, but my only comment on this is about 1 and 4 conservative homeschool daughters are never getting married, and perhaps another 20% are waiting until they are near thirty. Your sister Miriam is not rare.

I think this is because guys marry both homeschool girls and public school girls (probably because women are attracted to the conservative movement) where most homeschool girls (preferring courtship) marry only conservative homeschool guys. If a 4th of the homeschool guys don't marry someone from the conservative movement, we have a guy shortage.

There's probably other reasons. The girls who are not from the conservative movement often come out more attractive. Additionally, if a guy has ever stumbled in sexual sin (like pornography), he feels unworthy to pursue a girl. (<--I have known more than one guy who failed to meet the "fathers" expectation and came to the conclusion that public school girls are better because they don't have fathers.)

I know Doug Phillips is telling guys to pursue these girls, but this has yet to happen.

So as I was saying to this girl who is 30, from a fairly nationally-known homeschool family, and still single, is our courtship method worth it? This is a question I am raising.

Ella said...

The thing I cling to, Anna, is the knowledge that waiting will bring something better than if I take a more "instant" guy. =) Besides, I have watched the Lord shape and refine the desires/qualities that matter most to me.....

I loved this part too, friend,

John said...

In addition to a girl or a guy of interest being a born-again believer in our Saviour Jesus, (1) it is important to observe what family that person is from. Is the person I am interested in from a Godly family. This is really important, since you will marry into a family as well. Marrying into a family that you like and respect is very important to having an enjoyable marriage. "But Christians are sometime first generation Christians, so if their parents are not Christians, does this mean I cannot marry this person of interest?" This is not the defining issue, however it is important to consider. (2) The other important general question is then, what kind of friends does this person of interest have. This is very important to evaluate too. The kind of friends a person is attracted to says a lot about the type of person they really are. If a person's closest friends love to go drinking and partying, that is a good indication that person's values. When I visited Miriam for the first time, she took me to see three families from her church to have a look at me. The fact that Miriam had chosen close friends that were of a Godly nature brought me much comfort that Miriam was a solid person inside. It is especially important that the person of interest is diligent about seeking a personal friendship with an older person such as a pastor or and elder, in order to have someone in your life to encourage you in the Faith as well as be an accountability partner. (3) A person of interest should attend a church were God's word is taught in truth. So many churches do not teach from the Bible much. The Bible is not even the topic for most of the sermon. Other churches do not proclaim God’s word correctly. It is important that the person of interest be able to be a Christian that is a balanced thinker who values what is actually written in the Bible. Attending a church that teaches the fundamentals as taught in the Bible will increase the likelihood that you will find someone you would like to marry. Attending a church that doesn't stay in line with the Bible's teaching will increase the chances that you will marry someone who is not the right person.

If the three things that I mentioned about a person of interest are there, you may have a person that you should be interested in. Certainly, the hard part for a girl who finds such a guy is waiting for the guy to be interested and initiate the relationship. However, I do not think it is wrong for a girl to give some gentle hints that she is interested if she finds a guy of interest. Giving some gentle hints of interest in my mind is not initiating a relationship. I did find a few girls that were of interest to me before I met Miriam. I didn't want to just corner them and frighten them away. If girl showed a disinterest in talking to me after several attempts to have a friendly conversation (about everyday life or personal interests), I did take it to mean that the girl was not interested in me. I think many girls who are conservative and want a guy to initiate confuse friendliness with initiating. They are hesitant to show any friendliness at all, and this can actually signal to a guy that she is not interested. So if you find a guy that you think is a quality Christian guy, I personally think it is okay to give a hint of friendliness, whenever you happen to talk to that person. A good guy (like me) does not want to be forceful or pushy. If the guy never shows an interest in developing a relationship, then you know he is not the one. If a guy is not interested in your faith, family, your friends, or your church, and your life interests, he is probably not interested in you!

Don't be frustrated by the "guy shortage." I think there is actually a "girl shortage" too.
In the meantime, enjoy your singleness too. You can do whatever you want whenever you want. At the same time, pray hard. God does not mind knowing what your requests are. I am confident that God will lead you through life in sure way!

John

kate said...

"But if I know a Godly young man who would make a good husband, shouldn't I secure him before he gets away? No. Like most women, I want to be pursued. If I lead the relationship in the beginning, it will get off to the wrong start. I believe that the man is to be the head of the home, the leader. It is his place to initiate - not mine."

There is nothing wrong with letting a young man know how you feel about him if you are interested. This does not make you a pursuer - this just opens lines of communication. Many young men at your age may not be aware of how to communicate their feelings - sometimes a little opening and encouragement may actually guide the process... surely, there's nothing wrong with that.

Anna Naomi said...

Marlana: What makes you say that 1 in 4 probably won't marry? That seems like a high number!

I do see your reasoning, but what would propose instead of courtship? Courtship certainly isn't perfect (and there's probably as many ways of doing it as there is for dating!), but it does have good principles.

Ella: Glad you're enjoying it!

John: Thanks for your thoughts! I agree with the things you said to look for in a mate; those are all good considerations and things to evaluate.

As to showing a guy interest, I do agree that we should be friendly to young men - whether interested in them or not. We're certainly not supposed to avoid them! It's a delicate balance to have, between being pushy and showing friendliness and "availability," but it's one I'm trying to figure out. All-in-all, I've learned that it's important to just be yourself!

Yes, I've heard other young men say that there's a girl shortage. Most girls think there's a guy shortage. So, I guess whichever you are, it's easy to look around and see your good friends (usually the majority of whom are the same gender!) and not see many of the opposite gender. But, God can lead people together in His time.

It is important to be friends with guys and girls - but my friendships with girls will naturally be on a deeper level than those with the guys I know.

Kate: I don't feel right about talking to a guy and telling him I'm interested in him. Like John said, there's ways to be friendly, but to still let him be the leader in the relationship.

Maureen said...

Anna,
I agree with everything you've said so far. Thank you for doing a series on this topic; you're such a great writer!

Marlana said...

Anna,

Perhaps a bit off, but those are the numbers configured in my head. I went down the entire role of girls I graduated from college with verses the girls I graduated from homeschool with. The former was about 95% married (and %50 have children, which just shows that all colleges are not producing feminists), the latter about 20%. (I graduated from high school in 2004 and college in 2007.) Out of the 20% of HS girls who are married, half of those did not do courtship and/or married a public schooler.


I am suggesting a less parent-directed approach to relationships. As one of my homeschool guy friends said recently, "Never again will I ask a father for permission to court his daughter. I will ask for his blessing." Very subtle distinction, but it can make a guy far less intimidated.

Anna Naomi said...

Marlana: Wow - your statistics from your friends and acquaintances does show a huge number of unmarried homeschool graduates. I don't know if it's actually worldwide, but perhaps it is.

Some parents do take it to the extreme in trying to control a relationship, but there are dads (mine included) who aren't as controlling, but who are a valuable asset to being involved in the relationship.

Marlana said...

It may not be world wide. Still the large number of single girls has alerted Homeschool Digest to write a series on why are so many older homeschool graduates still single. I know two of the writers from HSA; both girls are older than myself and both girls have fathers heavily involved in the homeschool movement...if any girls were in the position to have a parent-directed courtship, it would be them!

All that said, I am not married today by personal choice.