Friday, December 04, 2009

(Part 4) While I'm Waiting

Okay, so I'm waiting on the Lord's will and timing for marriage. What do I do in the meantime? Do I sit at home reading books (good ones on marriage, of course!), waiting for my Dearest to ride up and sweep me away?

Um, no. Far from it.

Life is now. It doesn't start when you get married.

As painful as the loneliness is at times, wanting to know and be known, to be deeply loved and to love, these unmarried years are a gift. Too many waste these years feeling unfulfilled as they wait. However, there are many fulfilling things we can be doing with this time. If more singles used their "free" years to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, we could change the world together.

I don't like to refer to a husband and children as distractions, but it is true that we have a lot more time to spend on other things when we don't have them to care for. 1 Corinthians 7:34-35 is one of few in Scripture that speaks directly to us in this season: "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord" (emphasis mine). It's a noble goal, but how do we practically live it out?

Each one will have a different way of filling this time. It's a testament to God's wisdom in the way He's equipped us all with different gifts. By working together, we can strengthen the Body of Christ.

Below are some suggestions on ways we could use these time. Feel free to add your own!

Though we should be life-long learners, the single years give us a wonderful opportunity to focus on continuing our education - and this doesn't just mean going to college for 4 years, though it could. There is a wealth of information available to us if we will seek it out. Whether at an institution or on your own, it will require diligence. But learning to be disciplined and self-motivated now will give you a huge advantage in whatever you do.

If you're not sure what you should do or can't afford classes, just go to the library and see what catches your eye! I have learned and continue to learn so much from books on many and varying topics.

This is also a great time to pursue hobbies and learn new skills. Baking, sewing, embroidering, music, art, dance, decorating, writing - the opportunities are endless!

In continuing to learn and grow in character, seek out people you would like to emulate. Family members, friends, and those in your church all have different backgrounds and experiences. It's amazing how willing people are to help and share if we just ask. Asking someone you particularly respect to be a mentor can also be a great way to learn and grow.

You shouldn't just seek out those older than you, however. Spending time with children and teens can be of great value, both to you and them. You will enjoy their enthusiasm and the fresh way they look at life. They will be thrilled to be noticed by someone they look up to. Being a friend to those younger than you does come with a lot of responsibility, though. They are watching you closely, so it should cause you to think carefully about the example you set. What you do can have an impact on shaping their lives - for good or bad.

Friends your age shouldn't be neglected either! By sharing the same struggles, you have the opportunity to bless and encourage each other. Most of the friends I see often are either older or younger, though there are a few friends my age in the area that I try to get together with periodically. I am also blessed to have long-distance friendships with many sisters in Christ my age. They inspire me to continue walking God's path, for I know that, although they are miles away, they're walking it with me.

Nor should our friends only be girls! We can learn a lot from our brothers in Christ and mutually encourage each other. These friendships will be different and not as deep, however, as we're careful to honor our future husbands in what we do and share with other men.

Our single years should be ones of service to others, for we do have more time to serve without a family to care for. We shouldn't neglect the family we are currently in, however. An older daughter can be a great blessing to parents and siblings alike. Though there are times and places to do things on your own, a family working together can often be of great influence. You can help this happen, by cleaning or cooking when having people over, helping organize schedules or ministry opportunities, and just being there to meet needs - great or small.

Whether out of necessity to support yourself or as a means of earning money to save (which these years give us a great opportunity to do!), you may hold a job or do things on a self-employed basis. If you're blessed with musical ability, you could teach lessons. If you can sew, often people need things mended or custom made. If you enjoy children, you can make it known that you'll babysit. The list is endless, and different for each one's abilities and available time.

My parents graciously support me at this time, giving me a place to live and food to eat. I do contribute to the family, cooking most of the meals, cleaning certain rooms, and helping extend hospitality to others. Dad says that the cost of having an extra person living at home is minimal, and that I more than make up for it. :)

However, I do earn some money through teaching The King's Praise Ballet. I don't look at it as much of a "job" - more as a ministry, since most of the money goes to further its work and fund productions. Teaching classes, directing productions, and working out all of the details does take quite a bit of time, though! I do "pay" myself some of what I take in, and I've also babysat when asked since I was 12. I've been paying self-employment taxes since I started teaching at age 16, which takes out a chunk. There are personal expenses for me to cover as well. I pay for my own clothes now, as well as things I get for personal use or to give as gifts. Whenever I drive my dad's car for pleasure (such as going out with a friend or personal shopping trips) or as a means to earn money (such as driving to the church building to teach, running business errands, or driving to and from someone's house to babysit), I my dad 20 cents/mile. That makes me think twice about what I want to do, and wisely makes me try to combine trips. Ways to handle money and live frugally are good lessons to learn in the single years.

There's so much to do with this time, that you shouldn't ever be bored! =) Above all, glorify the Lord with thistime that He's given.

Candice Watters cautions against overdoing independence, however, saying that this is one reason women stay single - they work so hard on "plan B" (in case marriage never happens) that it becomes "plan A." It can be hard for us women, to have to prepare for three things: (1) what to do before marriage, (2) married life, and (3) what to do if you never marry. The book Get Married has some advice: "Even as you pursue your interests and develop your talents, it's important to keep in mind that the drive for independence on the one hand can undermine the longing for interdependence of an intimate partnership on the other" (page 140). Ultimately, it takes a reliance on God and asking Him to guide you in what you should do for this season.

I really enjoy what I currently do. I can't think of a better way to spend my unmarried adult years. I love teaching children and teens (and even their parents at times) to glorify God using the arts. Yet, it's also hard to plan when I don't know how long I'll be doing this. Making investments in equipment and doing long-term planning for teaching and directing is hard, because I don't know if I'll be doing this for another year or for ten more years. I trust God to guide me in what I do while I'm waiting, and He has faithfully done so thus far.

Obviously, this time should also be spent preparing for marraige, as I've written about previously. You want to adequately prepare for the relationship and role you'll probably be in most of your life. For us women, that means learning how to run a household and practicing the aspects it involves.

Is this waiting a hardship? At times, if I dwell on my longings, it can feel like it. But it shouldn't be. If I focus on learning to be content in whatever state I'm in, this time is very rewarding. When I'm married, I want to look back on the time I spent waiting and have no regrets.

"I'm waiting,
I'm waiting on You, Lord.
And I am hopeful;
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful;
But patiently, I will wait.

I will move ahead, bold and confident,
Taking every step in obedience.
While I'm waiting,
I will serve You.

While I'm waiting,
I will worship.

While I'm waiting,
I will not faint.

I'll be running the race,
Even while I wait."

- lyrics from "While I am Waiting" by John Waller


Ella said...

Wow! Mrs. Gorecki just mailed me the lyrics to that song this week. I think God is trying to reaffirm to me that people are praying for me as I wait (and that there are others who are waiting as well)

But you are right--the single years should be times in which we make the most of our opportunities. If I do get to do culinary school (and I hope I do) I would be more unlikely to do it after marriage and children.

Miss Emily said...

Awesome post, and that song is amazing! I love it so much!

God bless!
Emily <3

Oh and alos you've been awarded over on my blog!

Sister in prayer said...

I love the words to that song!
I've heard the song before, and it was a blessing.

Anonymous said...

Waiting is so hard!! But you post is really encouraging. God has plans for us and waiting patiently (but actively!) will be well worth it. Great post!!! <3 ~marykhris

Miss Kirsten said...

This series has been an especially blessing and thought-provoking one for me since this is also where God has me right now! Thanks for taking the time to open your heart to everyone on this topic :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this series, Anna, you've addressed many of the questions and fears that I have had as well! Reading through this has been very encouraging. Thanks and God bless! ~ Sarah Vela

Claudia said...

dear Naomi,
I'm a german girl. My english sounds like chicken scratching,, I'm sorry about that :O(

Think, that you are a girl with your own minds. Don't do what the men say, what you have to do. Men and women are standing together, emancipated. Be with you and God.

And now: your dresses are absolutly beutyful!! I like them so much!! Can you show more of it? I' wearing dresses in all my time. Best wishes from me and my friend.
And i must to be forgiveness for my badly english.