If there is any topic more written about than marriage, I’ll eat my hat. And maybe yours too.
If you’re anywhere near the eligible age, it’s the elephant that fails at hiding in the shadows during seemingly casual conversations with neighbours, family and equally single members of the opposite gender.
I always assumed I would never have to go through this.
After all, everyone is hyper-sensitive, especially to the feelings of single Indian women who work every day and have way better things to do than worry about getting married, if we feel a calling at all.
It’s been a really crazy experience prepping for close friends’ weddings for the last two years of my life. I’ve been on all kinds of diets, worried about getting the right material, gone looking for the perfect shade for wedding cards and even organised a bachelorette party while based in another city. For all the fun these outings with my besties has been, (I’ve got my own wedding planned to the finest detail), it’s also given me a lot of time to contemplate how very single and unprepared I appear to be.
Part of our problem, as a people, is that we tend to swing one way or another. I remember my pastor describing this vividly in one of his talks on love.
We are either overly cynical or overly romantic. We either pine for our long-awaited future husband, or we decide we will be just fine alone and don’t need anyone to complete our lives.
And while I agree, we don’t need a man to give us joy or “complete our lives” the way Jesus does every day, I’m beginning to see that this wild oscillation is a coping mechanism many of us have developed to handle the struggles thrown at us.
I’ve had people tell me I’m already on the shelf at 24. I’ve also had people tell me that I shouldn’t consider getting married until I’m 30. I’m buffeted and battered on every side, to describe the man of my dreams, to really “get out there”, to take it easy, to wait patiently. I can’t think of a single piece of advice I haven’t received, from prophecies about D-Day to tips on reducing high expectations.
I’m overwhelmed by the sheer excitement and anxiety that pervades this entire process.
On one end of the spectrum, we have what I’d like to call the “overly-anxious aunty/uncle” who is well-meaning but destructive in criticism of all the unattractive qualities you possess from poor physique to bad pronunciation.
On the other end, we have the “super-relaxed aunty/uncle” who assures you that God is just working on your to-be-husband and that it’s a good thing He’s taking so long because that means you’ll get the perfect guy.
While the overly-anxious individual is quite blatant in their agitation, and therefore in many ways easier to ignore, the super-relaxed is often doing equal damage but in subtler ways. This individual builds your hopes and expectations about marriage to such a high that it’s difficult to identify and kill the lies every one of us comes to believe in.
All I can say is that it’s very difficult to be a single girl in her mid-twenties. And it’s even harder to live in the fascinating dichotomy that is our culture.
I have realised personally, that in battling this struggle, it has become increasingly easy to forget Jesus.
I fall on the cynical side of the spectrum more often, building walls and assuring myself that all I need to do is focus on work and keep my head down so that one day, when He nudges me, I’ll look up and find him.
I forget it’s always about finding Him.
When I get exhausted by what the world tells me I must do and how I must behave, I go back to the everlasting comfort of these words that tell of a love far greater and richer than any between a man and woman on this earth.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
That’s 1 Corinthians 13:1, one of the most beautiful descriptions of love that I have ever read.
It makes me want to fall in love with this God who loves me like this, who speaks beauty into the world, who is Love. When I fail at walking the line between cynic and romantic, when I fail at waiting, when my patience is wrung to its core, He reminds me to turn to that wooden cross where Love hangs wrapped in my failures, smiling and waiting for me.
It is then that the voices of the world fade to nothing. It is then that the wait is finally over and He takes my hand.
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