Lies About Longing and Wholeness

by - December 03, 2009

It terrifies me that as Christian women we often propagate the idea that we are not whole until we are both married and have children. We train single women's hearts and minds in preparation to some day be good wives and mothers, and we teach mothers how to be better mothers. Often, all other classifications of women (married no kids, widowed, divorced, abandoned, once had children and have suffered their loss, celibate anyone?) slip through the cracks. While I believe that scripture does point towards a calling in these areas, namely in Genesis, which is echoed throughout the rest of scripture, and while not all but certainly a majority of women do long for these things, there are no promises in scripture that we all will find spouses or be able to have children.

There are two much deeper longings in our hearts which these longings for spouse and children echo: the longing for the deepest sense of companionship and the longing for greater purpose. Marriage does bring companionship and being known, but is also has times of great loneliness and times of feeling completely misunderstood. There is great purpose in raising children, but not all of us can have them, and children eventually leave and we still might be blessed with another 30 to 40 years of life. If we are to say that these two lesser longings are the ones that when answered will satisfy the depths of our souls, then there are many women who are subjected to lives of never being whole women. And frankly, how satisfied would we truly be considering all the disappointments and heartache that come with both?

The Westminster Catechism asks the question, "What is the chief end of mankind?" I say mankind here rather than man because while we are created as men and women, ultimately we have the same end, and thus shouldn't our lives also focus (albeit in our own avenues) towards that end? The answer, "Mankind's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." There we find companionship - enjoyment of God forever. There we find purpose - to glorify God.

Proverbs 31 is pointed at as the pinnacle of wholeness as a woman. For those who aren't married or don't have kids, it is tempting to look at the chapter and say, "Well I'm not married and don't have kids, so I guess this doesn't apply to me yet." I know while I was single, those verses were somewhat alienating. What if we instead looked at the heart of this woman? What if we saw her spouse as the authority and leadership that God placed in her life whomever that might be? What if we saw the children as those that God entrusted her with to train and care for? In her current community she is gladly serving those around her in humility and great strength. Her attitude and thus her actions glorify God. This is something we should all strive for.

So we get that our deepest longings are satisfied only in Jesus, but what are we to do with these lesser longings? I call them lesser, but they are so real and sometimes they scream loudly in our ears and don't let us sleep at night. Before I dated Joe, I was convinced that until I let Jesus be my everything and let him satisfy my deepest longings, I would never be given a spouse. In turn, I tried to shut off these longings, viewing them as distracters. As we waited several years to start making babies, I was so impatient for "my time". The problem is, for most of us, God has given us these longings for a spouse and kids. Our longings aren't evil (until we allow them to consume us) and most likely we can't shut them off. So what are we to do with them?

1. Recognize them for what they are. They are real. They are likely God-given, and thus God-delivered. We cannot force them to be answered.

2. Accept that they will not and cannot bring ultimate satisfaction to your soul.

3. Be real with God and talk about your longings. If your heart hurts, if you are deeply disappointed, if you are downright pissed, your telling God is not going to make God fall off His throne.

4. Believe that God is the only one that can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts, both for Him and for our desire for family. Either He is sovereign, is in control, and we can trust Him, or He is powerless to help us and we are a most desperate people. I believe He is the first and both dances with us in joy and cries with us in our pain.

5. Know that Jesus' love is sufficient and we must surround ourselves by people who rely on Him as well. Until we have a spouse, when we have a spouse, and if we never have a spouse, we desperately need to be in community with people who will continually push us into the arms of Jesus.

As someone who in high school decided she would marry at 23 and probably start having kids around 26, (I married at 23 and got pregnant at 26), I realize it is very tongue in cheek to talk on this topic. But I feel it is important to say that while they bring me great joy, these things have not and cannot satisfy me. I still have times of deep loneliness and struggle to find purpose. I don't see my marital status and procreative fortitude as any indication of my wholeness as a woman. If anything, these have become stumbling blocks as I treat them as if they are to replace my ultimate calling to glorify God and enjoying Him forever. These have been given to me as avenues to glorify God and enjoy Him but are not the end goal. If I treat them as the end goal, I begin to evaluate my worth and your worth on the presence of these gifts rather than on the words and love of the Giver.

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7 comments

  1. Excellent post. It's been a disheartening truth that marriage and children do not an awesome Christian make. Some days I find myself just as lost as ever.

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  2. Another intense truth, Paige. I really appreciate your insights. I don't know what the thrust of Raleigh's sermon was this week, but Taylor talked to us a lot about desires, and this meshes neatly with that.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Well said, Paige. I found a similar thought in an article I was reading last week in regards to single/married women. It says this: "First we must realize that God's will for people isn't dependent on marital status."

    Have a read at http://markofbeauty.blogspot.com/2009/11/gods-best-for-single-women.html

    Mind if I post a link to this post on my blog?

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  4. C, thanks for sharing some resources. I'd be happy for you to link me up :)

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  5. This topic is close to my heart and on my mind a lot lately. I remember when I was newly engaged making a comment to a single friend along the lines of "I can't wait to be a real woman." I realized how offensive that was a while later. Marriage while good at times, has not been the answer. I am learning now how to be a real woman who allows God to be the satisfaction my soul craves.

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  6. Dee Dee, as to the "real woman" comment, I know Joe and I have jokingly referred to being "real adults" in reference to being married, having kids, home, etc. Agreed that it is very offensive even if said jokingly.

    Thanks for our conversation the other night. You definitely got me thinking and processing.

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  7. C, thanks for sharing some resources. I'd be happy for you to link me up :)

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