Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And Lastly...

The last blog post I wrote before I got married. Engagement and preparing forr marriage left me little time to write and I never finished this series as planned.

Romeo, Romeo, WHERE Art Thou, Romeo?

“How are you going to find someone to marry if you don't go to college?” This is a question I have received many, many times, and each time someone asks it, I find myself somewhat speechless – not because I don't know how to answer, but because I find it funny that someone would actually feel the need to ask this. It's a pretty amusing question if you think about it. I mean, women managed to get married for hundreds of years without going away to college, and yet now we find it incredible that a young lady might actually meet a special young man whilst living under her father's roof.

The very nature of the question is nonsensical, because it to assume several things. First, it assumes that going to college is somehow a guarantee of finding a mate. Second, it seems to suggest that it is impossible, under present circumstances, for me to interact with young men – as if I am locked away at home never to go out to any social gatherings. Third, it implies that if I want to get married, I'd best be sure to take an active role and throw myself into situations where there is an abundance of single men, or I run the risk of ending up an old maid.

When did college become a place for single women to hang out until they could catch a husband? Why is it acceptable to pretend to pursue a degree when, in reality, many young women are there only to pursue a relationship? Why would I spend more than $16,000 a year to attend college and spend my time looking for a husband rather than focusing on the studies I am supposedly paying for? Say I did end up going to college because I felt that was the best place to find a husband – finding him would still cost me more than $60,000! That's one expensive guy!

Even at a Christian college, there is no guarantee that I will meet the right man. Having more men to choose from in no way makes the right man any easier to spot – in fact, it may complicate matters. This only serves to distract us from our true purpose in life. I do not need to throw myself into situations where many single men abound. I do not even have to be concerned about whether or not I get married. There is a huge misconception when someone asks, “How are you going to find a man to marry?” The answer is, I'm not going to find a husband. I am depending on the Lord to find my husband, and I know that He is more than able to orchestrate events to bring us together whether we live in the same town or several countries away from each other. When did we stop believing that God can work through any circumstances to bring about His will? When did Christians start thinking that they needed to help God along in the process of finding a mate? I see no reason to remove myself from my father's protection simply because some think I would have a better chance of getting married if I throw myself out into the world.

The waters of guy/girl relationships can be pretty tricky to navigate in any circumstances. I simply cannot imagine trying to evaluate a young man's worth without the input of those who know and love me most – my family. Is this a mark of immaturity on my part? Does the fact that I admit that I may not be able to make completely wise decisions regarding young men all on my own mean that I am not mature enough to get married? I don't think so. God has given me my parents for a reason – to protect, guide and assist me until my father gives me away in marriage. I don't think it is immature to rely on their wise counsel and listen to their advice about young men. I am a girl and, believe it or not, I am not always level-headed (I know that comes as a big shock ;-). I don't have a problem admitting that I'd rather have the support of my parents when it comes to making decisions about marriage than the advice of college students who do not necessarily have the same values as I do. Someone will have to keep my feet on the ground when I become twitterpated over some young man, and I have more faith in my parents than in my peers to do it.

Soon after I answer the skeptical question about how I will ever find a man to marry if I live at home, the person I am speaking to usually looks at my sympathetically and asks, “What if you never get married?” as if to remind me that if I don't take their advice, the terrible fate of spinsterhood looms on the horizon.

Rest assured, the idea of never getting married does not make me want to run out and drag the first guy I meet down to the courthouse to sign a marriage license. I am not desperate to get married. Seeing as I am the ripe old age of nineteen, I know that's hard for you to believe. I mean, come on, I'm practically a spinster already, it's high time I consider the high possibility that I will remain single until the day I die ;-) But truly, getting married is not my main purpose in life, therefore the idea of living without it does not send chills down my back.

Admittedly, one purpose of me living at home is to better prepare for marriage and motherhood. HOWEVER, that is not the ONLY purpose of living at home. I do not have a rule that says, “If I'm not married by the time I'm this age, I will leave home and give up on the idea of biblical womanhood.” No, I have committed myself to remaining under my father's roof because I believe God's design is for father's to protect their unmarried daughters. That principle does not expire when I reach a certain age. If I never marry, I don't see how that changes my purpose in life. My goal is to please Christ and I believe this includes ministering to my family, visiting the sick and widowed in the community, mentoring younger girls and encouraging them to follow God's will for their lives, being the best sister I can be for my siblings and for my brothers and sisters in Christ, being hospitable, and above all showing Christ to the world and leading others to Him. I do not have to be married to do any of these things, and whether I'm married or single by the time I'm thirty I will still be doing this same work.

Being single the rest of my life is not the worst thing I can think of – far from it! Rather, being impatient and ending up married to the wrong man is one of the worst situations I can imagine. I would prefer to be single the rest of my life than to marry recklessly and without the wise counsel of my parents.

I do not fear an unmarried life, nor am I simply passing the time until I get married. There are blessings in being single that I would not have in marriage. “The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:34). In this season of my life I have the unique opportunity to focus wholeheartedly on serving my Lord, without the distraction of college, or being married, or feeling like I need to find a husband.

Decisions should not be driven by desperation, but by a desire to please the Lord. Trusting in the Lord means that I do not have to worry about going out on a search for the perfect man. I know God will bring us together when it's time. There are no biblical examples of girls leaving home on a search for a husband. Rebekah was living in her father's home when Abraham's servant found her and asked her to return with him to be Isaac's wife. She was living in obedience to God, serving others and working alongside her family, not going out into the world making a name for herself or searching for a husband. And God blessed her quiet submissiveness by bringing her the opportunity to be married to a God-fearing man. She waited on God's timing, but she was not obsessed with the idea of marriage. Instead, she used her single years to serve God and to patiently trust Him.

So, how will I find someone to marry? By waiting on God's timing. What if I never get married? I will continue to serve God to the utmost of my ability. Obviously it is not God's will that I be married today. I don't see why I would live any different if the same should be true twenty years from now. Though I do hope to be married and raise a God-loving family one day, that is not my top priority right now. Preparing for marriage is of second (or maybe even fifth or sixth) importance at this time of my life. If I never marry I will still praise God that He has a plan and I will continue to enthusiastically dedicate myself to fulfilling His purpose.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13). In marriage or in singleness, contentment is the key. And contentment comes with knowing that God has a plan for your life that will benefit the Kingdom, not simply to fulfill your every whim and desire. We have a purpose bigger than marriage, and we can fulfill that purpose through Christ who gives us strength.

College Bound? (Part Two)

The fourth post in my previous stay-at-home daughters series.

College for Girls - the eighth deadly sin? (part two)

Having spent a year taking classes at our community college, I can attest to the fact that it is very difficult to stay focused on the things of God while trying to keep your grades up. The amount of studying required gives you little time to be involved in your community, church or family life. The worldly environment (even on a Christian campus) can quickly wear you down and leave you feeling drained spiritually.

Not only does it leave little time for spiritual growth, but you also have to consider whether college is a wise use of your money. A typical degree can cost anywhere between $60,000 and $100,000. I came to the conclusion that being a good steward of God's money meant not wasting it on a degree that I didn't really need. Think about this: If you choose to go to college, unless you are extremely blessed financially, you will likely enter marriage with college debts. One way I believe I can support and help my future husband is by staying out of debt before marriage.

My biggest issue with college is not that it is inherently wrong. I have nothing against women being educated (though I honestly do not think that college gives you the highest education), and I do not claim that women should never go to college. However, my biggest complaint about college is how much valuable time it steals from young women. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17). Think how much you could accomplish in the four years that a typical degree requires! Think what a difference you could make if you chose to dedicate the years before marriage to serving Christ and His church rather than pursuing a degree and a career to satisfy your own desires! Satan wants to distract us from our purpose of serving God and bringing others to Him. I will dare to say that he has accomplished this in the lives of a staggering number of college students who have gotten caught up in the world's standards for success.

During the course of a conversation on college, generally most of the questions I receive begin with the phrase, “But what if...?” What if your husband dies? What if you never marry? What if your father loses his job and can no longer support you living at home?

First off, these are very real concerns and I do not want to treat them lightly. At the same time, I have no desire to live my life in fear. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). We could live our whole lives preparing for the worst, or we could use the time we've been given to focus on furthering God's Kingdom, knowing that God is on our side. For me, that means not wasting time in college or seeking a career. However, that does not mean that I could not step up to the plate, should a crisis occur, and contribute to the family's income. This last summer, my dad lost his job, and the reality of life hit me. Tragedy happens. Being a helpless damsel in distress is not an option. This trial gave me the perfect opportunity to practice my "survival skills".

When my dad lost his job, my family did not fear the future. We knew it would be tough for a while, but we never feared starvation or destitution. This was mostly due to our belief in God's faithfulness and provision for those who serve Him, but it was also due to my family's ability to work together to save and make money. My brother runs a lawn mowing business, my little sister is incredibly disciplined about saving money and will not ask for things she knows she can do without, my siblings and I do pet sitting and babysitting, my mom is a super saving genius and was able to cut our grocery bills in half. Sure, these were little things, but when we put it all together, it added up to a considerable amount of money. It is possible to make it financially without resorting to sending women out to the workforce to hold down a steady job, even when times are uncertain. It definitely takes more discipline and creativity, and possibly more hard work, but it keeps the family together which is more important to me than being able to afford a few meals out. The lessons I learned about how to save and make money from home were lessons that I would not have learned had I been at college during this time, and I am so grateful for that experience.

The Proverbs 31 woman made money. And not just when times were tough. She was a hard working woman and she received reward for her labors. I would never say that a woman cannot or should not learn how to make money. Quite the opposite, I believe girls should learn marketable skills. Obviously, a productive woman is something Scripture praises. But look at the jobs the Proverbs 31 woman did. She eagerly worked with wool and flax (vs. 13), she is skilled in cooking and could presumably make money selling her food (vs. 15.), she buys land and profits from the fruit of her labor (vs. 16), she is a seamstress (vs. 24), and above all she is not idle but looks after her household well (vs. 27). All her work was based from home where she was still available to her family and anyone who needed her. She was certainly industrious and creative, but she remained under the protection of her husband and did not enter the workforce, thereby abandoning her children to be raised by babysitters and public school teachers.

But this doesn't really answer the question, “What if you never marry?” Or my favorite question, “How will you meet someone if you don't go to college?” But I think these questions will take up a whole article all by themselves, so I will leave that for next time. For now consider this. What do you want to accomplish with your life? Do you want to make a real difference in the world? You are not going to make much of a difference if you do the same thing that everyone else does. It takes dedication and strength to stand against the world's ideas of what a young woman should do with her life, to instead cling to God's design, but it's worth every second of struggle in the end.

College Bound?

Part three...

College for Girls - the eighth deadly sin? (part one)

It's a fact of life that when ways of doing things differently are brought up, people can easily become defensive. We don't like to be challenged. We don't like other people to think that we are doing things wrong, or that there may be a better way of doing something. Obviously not everyone is going to agree with me, and that's okay. I may say a lot of things on this blog that you don't agree with, but please know that it all comes from a sincere heart, that I have given a lot of study and prayer to these subjects, and that I am trying my best to do what I believe the Lord wants. This is not to say that I think everyone must do things my way, I simply want to express my opinions on the topic and hopefully everyone reading will be encouraged to study it out for themselves.

When I tell people that I don't go to college, and have no plans to do so in the future, I often receive a blank look accompanied by the blunt question, “Why?” It's hard to answer that inquiry sometimes, because there are so many reasons for my choice. It's difficult to condense my answer into a few short sentences and refrain from launching into an all out lecture on the subject. Occasionally, a simple answer of, “I feel home is where I can best serve the Lord,” will suffice, but more often than not, people are genuinely curious about my decision and want to know more. The biggest problem I face is how to explain myself fully without giving offense (or boring my listeners). But here's my best shot.

I always try to begin with this disclaimer. I do not believe that it is a sin for girls to go to college. In fact, I believe that some girls truly are called to enter that environment. However, I also believe that a huge number of girls are in college not because it is something God has called them to do, but because it is something the culture has called them to do. Christians today have gotten into the dangerous habit of accepting what the world tells them is necessary instead of evaluating every decision they make based on God's priorities. The sin would not be in attending college, but in ignoring God's will for your life – so going to college could become a sin if you were doing it in violation of your conscience.

The Bible talks a lot about God's design for women. From Genesis 1-2, to the Proverbs 31 woman, to passages like 1 Peter 3 and Titus 2, God's Word is clear about a woman's role. God created woman to be a help-meet to man. We are equal in God's sight, but our roles are different. The man was created to lead and protect, and the woman was created to follow and be protected. God created women to give birth to and care for children, raising them up in a godly environment and keeping watch over their homes. Women have the great privilege of giving their lives in service to God by spending their lives serving their families.

The question is, does getting a degree run alongside these principles? For the majority of people, the answer is no. Women do not usually get a degree in order to better serve the families God has given them. Feminism has told women that they should pursue whatever their passions are, and that they should make as much money doing it as possible. The world has indoctrinated us to believe that women should not have to be 'tied down' to a family or home life, that they should be encouraged to go after any selfish dream they desire. Naturally, in many cases, this agenda requires getting a degree.

My ultimate goal is to please God. From Scripture I read that the things which please God include evangelism, hospitality, caring for orphans and widows, serving my family, being a good steward of money, being peaceful, content, pure in heart, loving, respectful of authority, encouraging people, admonishing others toward good works, giving glory to God, and sacrificing my desires in exchange for God's plans, (among many other things). Interestingly enough, none of the commandments that I read in the Bible require a degree. In fact, spending four years in college could actually keep me from doing these things and cause me to lose sight of my goal.

In the next post I will present you with some of the ways that college hinders, and has the potential to completely destroy, a young lady's walk with God.