With all the responses and messages I received from last week’s blog, I thought I would share more from my thoughts on marriage as an idol.
When I am honest, I feel as though in church I was sold a “load of crap.” That is right; I said it, a “load of crap.” At least that’s how I feel when it comes to how dating works and what God expects of us in the ethics department of dating. I remember being in a Bible study group in college. The title of the book was something like Lady in Waiting. The whole premise of the book was that we as ‘good’ Christian women are waiting. Waiting for ‘the one’ and until that ‘one’ comes, we are to wait; and while waiting we are to serve God. My father and mother would have been mortified if they knew I was participating in this kind of female waiting conversation. My father, after all, is the same man who gave me a mug that reads, “The right man for the job is most often a woman.” I would leave these small groups wanting to believe that, just like at the end of Pretty Woman, some dude would ride up in a limo and take me out of my current life; although my waiting has never gotten bad enough to force me to become a street walker in Beverly Hills. I had a sense that I wanted to be rescued. I would leave the group having those thoughts, and at the same time having deeper thoughts that troubled me… like “if I am supposed to be waiting for the one, what happens if there isn’t a ‘one.’” It doesn’t seem as if our life should be a giant waiting game; hoping that you will meet the right one, and once and only once that happens, life can begin. I know God has created us for so much more!
Many people spend their lives waiting for the ‘one’ to appear, and in college many of my friends had found that ‘one.’ I felt like an outsider as people were getting engaged all over the place. It wasn’t just church and my Christian friends; it was everywhere. From the candle lighting engagement ceremonies in my sorority to the girls on my ‘rec’ sport’s teams, everyone’s hands seemed to sport a shiny reminder that someone had chosen them. I truly believe that I deserve an Oscar for my ability to sit through engagement stories while having the biggest smile on my face. I have perfected the “tell me the story” squeal that is required of all girls when a ring is revealed. I know Leonardo Dicaprio’s pain in not being recognized for his natural acting ability. I wasn’t only not engaged, I didn’t feel anywhere close to being ready to be engaged. I convinced myself that the issue was that I was living in the South, and that really I was just a marriage ‘late bloomer.’ I liked to think that I wasn’t behind the curve, just some how above it.
My singleness wasn’t from of lack of dating. In fact, I had a long string of monogamous relationships that had some level of commitment. Nothing materialized as a forever match. Worse than that, I went on a streak where the men in my life would marry the very next girl they dated. Some of my friends once teased me that when one of their ex’s married their next girlfriend they called it “pulling a Sarah Heath.” My friend Katie had been devastated when her ex had gotten engaged pretty soon after their break up. People told her to call the expert; as she relayed this to me and asked for my guidance I felt like this was empathy I never wanted to acquire. A movie came out called Good Luck Chuck. The movie premise is that every one of Dane Cook’s ex-lovers immediately marries the next man she meets. My friend said I should sue them for stealing my life story. I am starting to think the word syndrome will some day be added to my last name for causing others to commit to someone else; The Sarah Heath Syndrome. The Sarah Heath Syndrome is diagnosed by the ability to inspire men just disengaged from your relationship to move into a serious relationship with someone else, leading to the side effect of thinking that you are potentially a carrier of the marriage gene, but you yourself are asymptomatic. I laughed, of course, at all of these jokes; however, deep down something in me was turning, believing that somehow I was different and unworthy. The empty finger occasionally made me feel un-chosen.
Once I left college, I thought my feelings of being an outsider would diminish. My really close girlfriends were all still single so I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t vexed until my late 20’s. One day out of nowhere, I looked up and almost all of my friends were married. I began to feel the separation between myself and my friends. That chasm felt even greater when all the wedding showers turned into baby showers. Eventually the baby showers turned into sprinkles. What is a sprinkle you ask? Well, it is when a family is having their second child. You don’t do a full shower, just a sprinkle. These are the things you learn when everyone around you seems to be on some sort of shopping registry. It’s not that I am complaining. I love being part of people’s lives and I love that people want to include me in their big days and moments. However at some point you can’t help but begin to see their notable life moments as a reminder that you haven’t progressed with them through these milestones. So where is God in all of this and isn’t God supposed to be enough… well even in the garden God looked: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’” Genesis 2:18 We will talk more about that next week.