Don’t get me wrong–I highly value prayer.
My parents prayed for my future husband for so many years.
It comforted me that my parents wanted me to get married and that they were investing in the search, at least, if not in the final product, should he never actually materialize.
In high school, I prayed for my future husband a lot. I had a lot of God-issues to sort out, though. Like, was God even good? For a long time, I thought that if I really wanted something, He would take it away to teach me more reliance on Him. (That is definitely not the character of the triune God. But it has taken me years to learn this.)
I remember driving with four women from my church to a Beth Moore conference in Houston. I was 18. I had just graduated from high school, never having dated. Never having been kissed. A fresh heart and a very full life ahead of me. And I was crying. In the backseat of a Chevy Avalanche with four married women. Talking about their husbands. Wondering if I would ever find my husband.
And then, there is that time that my Cuban grandmother called my cell phone by mistake in college. Her English was fading the longer she lived in Spanish-speaking Miami and it was hard to communicate, but we always tried. When she realized it was me and not my dad on the phone, she still had something to say: “Why aren’t you married yet? The longer you wait to get married, the harder they are to train.”
My Abuela. That’s her picture up there, in the banner for my blog. Strong, stubborn woman. So much to emulate. And yet, so much to leave behind…just like any human being. Her message to me? Probably something to leave behind, even if it has truth behind it. I’m not particularly interested in training someone to pick up his socks. I hope his mother taught him that. :)
But getting married…that’s the point of my life, isn’t it? “Get married; make babies!” as the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding so articulately demands.
Please don’t get me wrong on this second count–I LOVE being married. Zachary is the (second) best thing that has happened to me. He is my best friend. He is my support. He is my cheerleader (sans skirt). He is my cover. My lover. My mate. I don’t know where I would be without him.
But I would still be me.
And I would still need friends.
When my firstborn was on her way, I was zealous in prayer. We prayed about everything–sleeping habits, health, confidence, love for God…and then I got to that obvious Christian parent staple: praying for her future husband.
I was conflicted.
I asked myself, “What if she isn’t ever going to get married?” It wasn’t a question that provoked sadness, though I know that might be some people’s reaction. I’m so happy being married–don’t I want happiness and fulfillment for my daughter?
Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.
But that doesn’t mean she should get married.
My friend Jim and I had a conversation in college that went something like this:
Jim: If people in the Church didn’t get married, the Kingdom would come sooner rather than later.
Me: Wait. What? No. God designed us for families. Marriage is a part of that. You’re wrong.
Okay, so most of this response was in my head and after the fact. I had to struggle through the implications of what he said for a long time. Should some, perhaps most, Christians seek to marry? A resounding yes! Should all? I think the answer is an equally resounding no.
What if? You know the game. It’s not always helpful to play. But humor me this one time.
What if it isn’t the best idea for my daughter to marry?
What if she is part of the generation in which Jesus returns and she is so consumed by love for Him that she would rather pour her life out in sacrifice as a single woman rather than as a married woman?
What if Jesus comes back before she is of marrying age?
What if she never meets Mr. Right? (What if the idea of Mr. Right is a socially-constructed fable to comfort us in the partner search?)
What if my daughter isn’t interested in the opposite sex? What if romance isn’t on her mind? Ever?
All these questions float before me as I see and hear of people praying for their children’s future spouses.
May I suggest an alternative? Or two?
First, if God speaks to your heart to pray for your child’s future loved one, DO IT. He directs us in the things to pray every day. My first suggestion is to ask the Lord what is on His heart for your child. Joining with Him in what He is praying is the most effective way to see your child blossom and bloom, I’ve found.
Second, pray for your child’s friendships.
Marriage may not be for everyone, but friendship is.
I want to pray for my daughter and my son–that they will each have deep, meaningful, challenging, Jesus-centered friendships that will propel them deeply into the heart of God and in love of their neighbor. Friends that will challenge them to love when it is uncomfortable and when it hurts. Friendships that will build in them the relational aptitude they need for all of life, whether they get married or not.
Jonathan-and-David friendships. Covenants before God. Rich and meaningful and rewarding covenants that are meant for everyone to have. Married or single.
That is my prayer for my daughter, for my son, for all my future children. For friendships that mirror the heart of Jesus, who calls us not servant but friend.
And then as their friendships develop over their lives, we will pray and seek with them if marriage is something they are walking towards. With willing and open hearts, not pre-conceived ideas of what the Christian life looks like. But fresh. Hungry for genuine relationship. And in some cases, leading to family. More humans to be friends with. Amen and amen.
My husband is my best friend. He is the human (the non God-human, that is) who understands me the best. Our friendship runs more deeply than all the other aspect of our marriage, which are also really amazing and truly valuable.
Truly, that is the heart of God.