Glory and Guilt

Married women have needs; unmarried women have needs. Little girls have needs, teenage young ladies have needs. There is no escaping it. I dare say men have needs too. God created us to be in fellowship with Him, and this is what puts us fundamentally right so that we are able and enabled to minister to one another. We are designed to live in community and God gives us the privilege of blessing one another, loving one another, forgiving one another, and living sacrificially for one another. Living in this way by the grace of God is what makes us well-adjusted or secure or whole people.Unmarried women are hungering for that close community that is only found in marriage. They can enjoy the fact that they live in community, but they want more. God has put this hunger in them and it is good by definition. The central thing I enjoyed about Debbi Maken’s book (Getting Serious About Getting Married) was the way she addressed the worldview problems in the church about marriage: mainstream evangelicalism has a nasty habit of labeling singleness as a “gift.” Now I suppose that it is a gift in one sense, in that it is good to want to be married. Hunger is a good thing, but getting to sit down to dinner is the real blessing. It would be a defect to have no hunger. Hunger is good. So in that limited sense we could call this a gift. But that is not what is usually meant when people (both pastors and laymen) say that being single is a gift.I believe it is our generation of pietistic evangelicalism that has made the unmarried feel guilty that 1) they want to be married at all, and 2) that they don’t feel appreciative for this “gift” of unmarriedness. This is the same kind of pietism that disapproves of enjoying life too much; it frowns on feasting, wine, celebration, conjugal love, owning a beautiful home, driving a nice car, wearing pretty clothes or (yikes) makeup, or saving up an inheritance for the kids. This mindset has given many of us a guilty conscience when we should have been overflowing with gratitude. And this is what makes us try to cover up a longing for marriage with a nice little pat on the head and calling it the “gift” of singleness.

My husband once counseled someone who could not sit down and play the piano because of the guilt. So many people in the world are deprived of music, why should a Christian get to enjoy it? This actually deprives God of the glory and praise and gratitude we owe Him for bestowing so many blessings on us, all undeserved. So wanting to be married is good. It is a God-given desire, and God’s children should want Him to pour His blessings out on us more and more. So my counsel to unmarried women is to embrace the blessings of this life that are available to them — feasting, dancing, dressing beautifully, setting a gorgeous table, spending money on lovely things — with an overflowing heart of gratitude and joy. Then ask God for more.

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7 thoughts on “Glory and Guilt

  1. YES!! Amen and Amen! Ah, these are things that I wished I had learned before I got married or was even walking down the road to marriage. I was totally caught in the throws of the “gift” mentality that you speak of. And now, as I look back on my time mentoring young women at a University in New Mexico I find one regret… not knowing how to teach them to prepare for marriage and to make their homes/space/dorms lovely and so much more. Thank you Mrs. Wilson for reminding me to continue to pursue this with these girls even though I am not there face-to-face.

  2. What a great word! And what a great ending – embrace the blessings! enjoy the blessings! be grateful for the blessings! and then ask God for more!!! I just love that!!! What a marvelous picture of God I receive – One who loves to bless His people! I am smiling from ear to ear!

  3. How can I balance this with the previous post? When one is hungry the brain sometimes doesn’t function.

  4. We thank God for all the good things on our plates that He has lovingly put there. (The Puritans called our circumstances the piece that God has carved us.) Then we are to gobble them up with gratitude and ask Him for more, not with greed, but with thanksgiving. He is the Author of our creaturely needs, He knows that we need them, and He is the One who ultimately meets them. When we look for the blessings, we look to Him, not to the creature. And we receive it all from His hand with joy.

  5. Nancy, I wish someone had told me that when I was single. I believe the Church’s historical preference for celibacy as a route to holiness creeps even into the conscience of a married woman. I find myself thinking, “I had more time to pray when I was single,” or, “I wish I could have hour long devotions like I did when I lived alone.” Ahh, the busy-ness of our “worldly affairs” as wives.
    Single girls out there—the marrieds who say these things may be suffering from their own disillusionment. Their husband is not meeting all of their needs (that’s why we need God), and they see you as having greener grass: at least you have time for contemplative prayer. Take heart; if you’re reading Nancy’s writings you know to seek God for fulfillment. Don’t let someone else’s catty “encouragement” get you down

  6. Wow… so much truth. I just wanted to share my own experience. I just recently graduated college and my 6 best friends are all in serious relationships. It makes you question God about your own singleness. And I laugh because I look back on my college experience and God taught me so much. He taught me more about Him and what he has blessed me with. In my period waiting I was able to lead two different bible studies, to nanny for 3 kids (and pour myself into those sweet kids), and love on girls in my dorm and classes. God used me in ways I probably don’t recognize and what a gift that is. However, less than a week after graduation God brought a wonderful gentleman back into my life. And surprise he pursued me like crazy. I have never met a man who loves the Lord more and challenged me to spend more time with the Lord. I am blessed… God provided and he continues to amaze me with my boyfriend. An answered prayer and I would never give back any of my single days. Of course I am still waiting on that wedding ring, but I am not in a hurry. Just trusting the Lord and still enjoying time as a single woman, watching to see how God opens our Love for each other. GLory to God.. For he is GOOD!!!

  7. Hi I was browsing to the net for some encouragement for my single state. I grew up in a big and lovely family with 5 children, always little ones because my mother cared for them and for some years foster children. I expected always to be a mama myself with a big family and adopt many children. My older brothers and sisters started their own family and I have 9 lovely nieces and nephews. However with each year passing by, it hurts more, some days more than others, of being single. I know it is lot’s of work to have a family, I know my siblings and their spouses have arguments with each other,… I know it is many hard things and also many beautiful things.
    Most of the time up till now I continued to live with my parents because I was affraid of the loneliness of living alone. With 1,5 year away from 30 I realize I need to start living on my own place. The reality hits so hard. I am feeling so guilty also from ‘you have to be content’, ‘woman who want a family are not attractive’, ‘it is probably an idol’, etc. So I try to bit my tongue and do fine. But sometimes I just want to weep and somebody just to hold me and say it is okay to be sad. And then when I was seeking for some comfort I stumbled again on another guilt I carry. God made me creative, but I am just like that piano player feeling so guilty for act on what I have been given because I always feel so responsable for a million things. I try to celebrate now a day of resting Christ victory inspired by other posts of you girls on the Sabbath. Thank you for encouraging me that I can enjoy beauty and his blessings I have already now.

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