Marriage and other thoughts

This may be a 1, 2 or perhaps 3 part blog entry.  But here we go.

This may be controversial.  But if anything, it’s definitely counter-cultural.  Marriage these days is counter-cultural.

If you watch any bit of television, you see this.  I am unashamed to admit I’m a huge Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice fan, but I will also admit that many of the ideals presented in these shows are totally against Biblical standards for purity and marriage.

I have an interesting outlook on life.  Example number one:  My parents were married at 29 and 32, almost 27 years ago.  Back then, that was OLD.  But these days, this is typical, in fact, marrying even later than this is fairly typical these days.

Mindset/example number two: I always wanted to get married and have kids.  Until recently.  I grew up thinking about my wedding, what it would be like, how romantic it would be.  I dreamed of being that soccer mom driving kids to practice in a van.  Totally.  That was me.  In fact I went through years of feeling extremely lonely and depressed because i was  (duh duh duh…) SINGLE.  I was single for a lonnnnngggg time.  My first boyfriend = age 25.  First kiss= age 25.

But things have shifted.  Example number three: I think many may see me and feel sorry for me.  I’m 26 and single.  But you know what, I’m in an awesome place.  For the very first time, I feel freedom in my singleness I never understood or learned to embrace before.  I feel content and totally fine walking hand in hand with just God and I right now.

But.  Two things are warring against one another.  The culture says to embrace freedom, liberty, and sexuality.  Singleness in our culture means you have a free ticket to explore whatever sexual avenues you want.  Homosexuality, many MANY sexual partners…. among other sinful activities.  Watch one episode of Grey’s Anatomy and you have an accurate picture of how our culture sees things.  Not only this, but hey, if you aren’t ready for marriage but you’re seeing someone, by the second date if you haven’t slept together, there’s definitely something wrong with one of you!

Then, we have God’s picture.  Many right winged Christians advocate for early marriages, and that this can lead to less promiscuity (fairly true), and that God’s entire design is for man and woman to be together, not alone and separate.

But, we live in a fallen, sinful world, may I remind you.

So, what does this mean for me?

I am 26 years old.  I am a virgin.  I have no foresight of being married in the near future, yet so many Christians see me and think that I must be desperate to meet someone.  Not true.  And those who are living a worldly lifestyle assume I’ve had multiple sexual partners and am living in total freedom.  Two worlds screaming at me, but neither is true.  Neither paints a picture of who I am.

I believe God has made us for relationships, to desire protection, care, and to live life with one another.  Out of Adam’s side was Eve created.  Not so that Eve would serve and slave for her husband, but that they could stand hand in hand, side by side, serving God together.  He completes her, and she completes him.

A number of things have delayed the marrying age in our society.  I don’t mean to play the blame game, but seriously, there are few men in my life right now I can say I would even consider dating, let alone marrying.  Many of them are boys, not men.  Many of them spend hours playing video games, eating pizza and drinking.  This is not responsibility, and guys, no woman wants to marry that.  Get yourself together, do things, be productive, read your Bible, be mentored by a Godly older man, and make steps toward marriage, if you believe God will one day call you to this.  We live in a culture that increasingly encourages boys to remain boys, instead of encouraging men to be men.  And now, you’ll find more and more women who are single, leaders, and completely take charge type women, because guess what?  No men are being men.

God knows and sees this.  I just wanted to point out a few statistical reasons why the average age for men and women to marry is gradually being pushed back. In 2010 the average age for men marrying (first marriages) was 28, and women age 26.

Then there is the subject of divorce.

That is an entirely different blog right there.

Perhaps there will be a part 2 or 3 to come.  But for now, that’s all I got.  Back to work.

Informational website on marriage statistics:
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html

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a fire deep within

I just got back literally an hour ago from a conference that wasn’t even for me, but I was deeply touched and God began to tug and pull strings on my heart during this time.

So, here’s a little bit about how all this came together.  Darin Pust is a friend from the old days of the Simpson University Music Department, and we were in choir and other various things together.  Anyway, he contacted me maybe in October and let me know that he and a team of people would be coming to Thailand for a conference; he was leading worship and the rest of the team would be doing child care.  He later let me know that he was trying to talk Becky Levy, another good friend  from Simpson, into coming to help lead worship as well.

Time quickly passed, and before I knew it, they were here, and it was time to go!  I met up with them on Saturday to do some sightseeing with them around Bangkok (it was refreshing.. I haven’t ever been a tourist in my own city!).  As things came together, and it came time to leave on Sunday, I FINALLY understood what kind of retreat this was.  For some reason I had thought it was for Christian Chinese leaders in China, but rather, it was a forum for all the CAMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance) leaders in China.  Obviously since the only tie I have to CAMA is Simpson, I did feel quite out of the “circle” as you might say, but from the beginning I felt that I was getting just a small picture of this intricate network of people and I felt so blessed to be apart of their ministry, and to get to feel like I was stepping into their shoes for just a few days.

This retreat happens once a year, and always outside of China, since it is still against their government to have large gatherings of believers.  The entire time, I just was struck with the truth that these people rarely get a chance to really worship like this, and hear encouragement from God’s word.  I was just struck.

Last night, all the women attended a nice banquet.  I wasn’t totally looking forward to it, since sometimes these gatherings tend to be unnecessarily tear-filled and super emotional.  Not to my surprise, there were tears, but I found myself crying and just being struck with conviction and just looking at these women and being filled with such awe and respect.  

I guess my idea of a “missionary” were families who came to churches and dressed really weird and spoke.  That’s all I really knew of them.  Then, when I began attending Simpson University, my eyes were open to the needs in the mission field around the world.  I was struck with the concept of learning about other cultures, and learning that other cultures didn’t have the same values that we had.  My idea of being a “missionary” was totally turned upside-down.

Now, yes I’m in Thailand right now, but sometimes I don’t consider myself a “missionary”, but I realized during this conference that I really am a missionary, and it just looks different for everyone.  

The other thing that really struck me was the strength that these women have.  There were all ages in this room, and many of them aren’t much older than I am, and have families of 3 or 4 children.  I was struck with the deep, reverent faith they all had.  Sure, it had been a year of trials for them, but still, their deep faith that God is their provider and the one who will care for all their needs completely blew me away.

Faith has been a huge theme of my life, especially this last year, but when I looked into the eyes of these people and heard about their ministries in China, it made some of the trials I have experienced here in Thailand just fade away.  I get to go home in two months, and some of these families still have years before they will get to be on home assignment again.  Wow.

There’s so much more I could say, but I feel a fire burning deep within that won’t go out.  I know that I’m supposed to be exactly where I am right now. I know I need to finish this degree with Liberty; teaching will really bring so many options for me in the future.  I’m not saying anything definitely right now, but after this conference, I realized: 1) how much I will really miss Thailand, 2) how much I will miss being overseas, 3) what an adjustment it will be for me to go back, and 4) that I’m willing and open to go literally wherever God wants me to go.

I would like to say so much more now, but this is all I have time for!  Homework and lesson plans need to be done!