I’ve always been independent. Maybe it’s because I’m the firstborn of three children, or maybe it’s my personality, but doing things on my own is my default.
My entire adult life is marked by independence. I moved 12 hours away from home at 18, I established a life in my city, made incredible friends, served my church, completed a bachelor and master degree, held multiple jobs, did internships and leadership training, spent time as a missionary, and traveled to India, England, Scotland, Germany, Morocco, Spain, and 22 different states in the USA. I started writing, photography, played volleyball, read books, sat by a pool in the summer, became a plant-lover, and spent time with whoever I wanted whenever I wanted.
It wasn’t perfect, though. Looking for a spouse was not a top priority for me, but there were difficult days, weeks, and months. My longing for companionship could sometimes feel crushing. Loneliness was not always distant from me, even though I loved the season I was in. I desired marriage, but no matter how much I wanted it, I wanted to steward my time, use my gifts, and make my own decisions more than compromise for a mediocre relationship. My prayer was for faithfulness in my singleness and to use my independence for the glory of God and the good of the church.
Then last year, my whole world flipped upside down. It was tumultuous to say the least. I experienced some of the biggest heartaches in my life and no part of my life went unscathed. My health, friendships, church, family, and job were all affected by some trial, and it was brutal.
Right in the middle of the hardest part of the year, a man who was my very platonic friend for a couple years suddenly became someone I deeply cared about. We launched into a relationship in the middle of October, were engaged on New Year’s Eve, and are now days away from marriage.
I have no doubts or questions that this is the man I should marry – he is far from mediocre and I am confident our upcoming marriage is good and honoring to the Lord. Despite that, one question still lingers in my heart. To walk with obedience into this next season, I realize I must give up something of great value and importance to me. I must give up my independence. Do I really want to give that up?
The ways I spend my time and where I give my attention will be dependent on another’s desires. I am no longer able to say “yes” to spontaneous trips with friends. My finances and belongings will belong to us, not just me. If I’m emotionally exhausted, I will not be able to escape to my room to process. Dinner and groceries are not just about what I want, but about what we do. The way our home is organized and decorated must be conducive to our life, not just mine. Though I always sought wisdom for big life choices, decisions that were once mine to have the final say are now ours for the choosing. Even my text messages to friends are about what “we” are doing on Tuesday night and where “we” live and who “we” are going to invite for lunch. And in a matter of days my body will be covenanted to his and it will no longer be only mine.
I realize that some of you reading this may not feel the way I do if you desire marriage, have marriage, or are content without ever getting married. Wherever your heart is as you read this, I hope to use my current nervousness and fears of giving up independence to shift your gaze upward. I pray whatever God is calling you to abandon for His sake, whatever desires you hold to tightly, whatever wants or preferences He asks you to change, you can offer them up to your trustworthy Father today.
God cares about every single aspect of our lives, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
I often struggle to believe that God really cares about me. Desires continually unmet can lead us to call out like the psalmist “Lord, why do you reject me? Why do you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14)
God actually cares about everything. He is the God who created the earth with intricate detail, knows every inch of it, and cares for all the world. With Jesus’ own words we hear the truth:
“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
The hairs on our head fall every day, and yet God knows them all. He values us with such detail, care, and commitment.
When I feel the pit drop in my stomach knowing so much of my independence is about to leave, I can feel the temptation to wonder if God cares about my love of travel, being hospitable, holding jobs that use my gifts, creating a home, and all the rest.
He sees me and He knows even this seemingly small desire in my heart. Already God shows me that He cares by giving me a man who loves similar things as I do, who wants to see me thrive in my work, and who is also giving up the independence that he loved. My life will not be the same as when I was single, but even though moving from “I” to “we” means that “I” don’t always get what I want, I know for certain God cares for me with an unfathomable love. He may not always give me what I want, but He will always provide exactly what I need. What a gracious gift!
God calls us to obey Him, and His calling always requires self-abandonment.
We are called to obey Jesus, and to follow in his steps on the narrow way. If we belong to God, we are given a new heart, a new life, and new desires. We do not hold to the belief that following Christ means we gain health, wealth, prosperity, marriage, children, and everything else we might want.
“That is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24).
What I want is not the most important thing about me. Rather, what God has called me to do in obedience, what He has laid before me as my path, that is what is most important. Because I am not yet made perfect, I can trust God when He put marriage in front of me and asked me to abandon my independence. He receives my sacrifice as worship. On the days when I struggle most with sharing life, I must remember that everything we abandon for Jesus’ sake will be worthwhile when we see his face.
God orchestrates your life for the purpose of bringing Him glory and loving others.
In a phone call with a mentor several years ago, I heard words that shaped my thinking from then on. She said, “Wherever you are right now in life is exactly where God has you to bring Him the most glory. Until He desires that you bring Him glory somewhere else, that is where you will be. He will move you when He desires and you can trust Him in that.”
In this season of my life, God is moving me to a new season to bring Him glory. My former seasons were not lesser and I am not reaching a new level of holiness by entering marriage. I am simply being moved to the next opportunity to love God and love others.
Simple as it may be, God is moving me from “I” to “we” so that He may receive glory. He received glory in my single life, He will receive glory in my married life. God’s purposes are greater than mine, and I can trust that His commandment to love is of utmost importance.
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:36-40).
I am confident that God is giving me the gift of marriage for His glory and to love others. Giving up my independence for this purpose will not be easy and I will need God’s grace daily. Whatever God is calling you to abandon today will not be easy and you will need His grace, but He loves you, cares about you, calls you to obey Him, and when you see His face in heaven, you will know for certain everything you lost was really gain.