When I was unmarried and out of college, I went to lunch with my future mother-in-law Bessie Wilson. She had been a missionary in Japan, and married Jim when she was thirty-two (he was twenty-four). I asked her whether I should be preparing to go to the mission field. I remember her wisely suggesting that I stay where I was. In fact, she told me not to rule out marriage (which is still our little joke). And though I had not ruled out marriage, I didn’t want to just be sitting around waiting.
Many women ask me about the wisdom of pursuing a career since they don’t see marriage in the immediate future. Maybe you can go to lunch with someone like Bessie to help you sort it out. Meanwhile, let me suggest a few general principles to help you think about your options.
First of all, what are your gifts, opportunities, and desires? If you have a desire to pursue nursing, and you have the opportunity, then by all means go through the door that the Lord seems to be opening for you. If you can do this without putting yourself behind the eight-ball financially, then God bless you. When it comes to medical school, which is a much bigger and more difficult commitment, I would advise more caution because of the heavy financial obligations involved, as well as the serious time commitment. If you are in your last year of med school and you meet someone you want to marry, how will you feel about leaving med school? What about all the debt? The temptation will be to finish med school since you have already gotten this far.
Whatever career you decide to pursue, you should be willing in principle to drop it if the right man comes along. Remember, the biblical picture is for you to be a helper to your husband, not the other way around. But if you pursue a career that does not require such a heavy investment of time and money, you may find it much easier to drop everything when a husband comes along. And sometimes, depending on your circumstances, you may not need to drop it right off the bat. So consider these things as you invest yourself in a career. When it comes to law school or med school, it may be very tough to walk away. However, if you believe you could, then go ahead, keeping an open hand before the Lord.
But consider where this will take you. Will you be in a community where you can be a member in a faithful church? You don’t want to head off to the wilderness (spiritually speaking) for several years. If you want to be married, then you should want to be in a community where there is a possibility of meeting someone like-minded. My dad always told me that distance adds intrigue. But once you get there, there you are.
The other thing to think about is what kind of career it is. Is it consistent with a godly femininity? If so, that will rule out becoming a cop, a road construction worker, a race car driver, a football coach, a bouncer, or a combat officer (to mention a few). There is no reason on earth for a Christian woman to pursue such things. God has given women many gifts, talents, and abilities, so use them, and leave the men to use theirs. I realize there are many career choices that are neither masculine or feminine, but our society wants to (and has succeeded in) blurring the edges in many of the ones that are necessarily masculine. Christian women want to think clearly about such things and grow more feminine, not less, as a result of their career choices.