I remember being 16 years old and lying awake at night wondering why God didn’t make my desire for romance … guys … marriage an automatic switch that could be turned on when I turned 20, or 25, or whenever it was that I was supposed to get married! But however much I wished those desires would just go away for a while, they still haunted me. I felt perpetually nervous when certain guys were around and either tried to avoid them or tried to get them to notice me.
I’m 23 now, still single ☺, and as I muse back about my teenage years, I wish I could have peaked ahead at some of the lessons God had in store. They haven’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t trade the hard times for anything, because they have brought me so much closer to Christ. I’m still on this journey, but here are a few lessons that have been on my heart to share:
1. Attraction to godly young men and the desire for marriage is a good thing … when you wait for God’s timing!
During my teen years I often felt guilty and even asked God for forgiveness whenever I thought about a guy. But these desires in and of themselves (as long as we don’t give way to daydreaming or impurity) are not a sin. In fact, they’re God’s normal plan. After all, if guys and girls never liked each other, no one would get married! However, you will never be able to truly enjoy God’s good gift of marriage if you focus on them now. Our teenage years are a beautiful season to serve the Lord … not pine away wishing we were old enough to get married!
Imagine the day when God does bring your “prince charming” along. When he gallops up on a white horse (of course ☺), will he find you sitting in the windowsill, complaining that he’s taken so long? Or will you be busy about your heavenly Father’s business, working happily for Him, when one day you look up to see the man God has chosen for you? Then, you’ll be able to look back with joy on your teenage years and rejoice in the fruit that God has brought out of life lived for Him!
2. God has given you those desires as a catalyst to seek Him.
Having to wait for God’s timing when all around you girls are getting attention from guys using the world’s ways is hard. It’s hard to wait, to trust, to really believe that God’s plan is best. But right now, you’re only seeing the first part of the story. Those following the world’s way of flattery, promiscuity, and immodest dress might seem to be enjoying themselves right now, but they will someday experience the consequences of their choices because ultimately, relationships won’t satisfy. Only Jesus satisfies.
I was in my teens when I first read this quote from C.S. Lewis, and it’s come to shape much of my thinking:
“If I find in myself a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.” No man — no matter how handsome, rich, godly, romantic, or funny — can ever satisfy you. Only Jesus Christ can. When the waiting gets tough, lean hard into Him. He is your Heavenly Bridegroom that is alone worthy of all your love!C.S. Lewis
I still have this quote from the great puritan Samuel Rutherford on the backscreen of my computer:
“Lay no more on the creatures than they are able to carry; lay your soul and your weights upon God; make him your only, only best Beloved. Your errand to this life is to make sure an eternity of glory to your soul, and to match your soul with Christ; your love, if it were more than all the love of angels in one, is Christ’s due.” Rutherford’s reminder that the entire purpose of our existence in this life is to prepare for an eternity of loving God is immensely practical. When I have my eyes on eternity, it’s so much easier to not buy the lie that a relationship will satisfy.-Samuel Rutherford
3. Nurturing a heart for women is the most important thing you can do in this season. My mom reminds my sisters and I of this a lot, and it’s so true! You will spend the rest of your life (both before marriage and after) investing in women. If you can find younger girls to invest in now and older women to invest in you, the Lord will use that desire for much fruitfulness in His Kingdom.
4. Communicate with your parents. I know it’s a hard subject to talk about. But communication will only get more complex as you enter adulthood. So now is the time to learn! Your willingness to broach a subject with your parents is the key way to gauge the state of your heart. If you’re tempted to hide something from them, it’s a good indication your heart is not in a good place — with both them and the Lord. Plus, getting both temptations and even good desires out into the open will help sin not fester in the dark. God gives us freedom through walking in the light!
Some good questions to start a conversation like this might be: “Dad, what traits do you think are important for me to develop before I get married?” Or “Do you mind if I share something with you? I’m struggling about thinking about a certain guy. Can you pray I’d keep my eyes on Jesus right now?” Or “Mom, what things helped you growing up relate to guys in a healthy way?” Even if your parents were not believers when they were young (or at all), they will still have wisdom to share from their experiences. You might also consider asking these questions to an older woman in your church whom you trust.
5. What is your goal in life? I laugh now at the conundrum I had when I was attempting to write a life goal as a teenager. For a few months my goal was to have family (which isn’t a bad desire) and then I crossed that out and made my goal to know God and serve Him. I went back and forth crossing one goal out and choosing the other only to change my mind again! My problem was that both were good goals, but they’re not on the same level! God has created me to know Him as deeply as possible for a redeemed sinner and spend all my life and energy serving Him. That’s a goal that can be met, by the grace of God, whether single or married, children or no children. Lord willing, someday raising a family will be part of that larger life purpose, but it’s not an end in itself and I can still fulfill my purpose without it. Seek the Lord first! He will add the “all things” He has promised — including marriage if that’s His will!
6. Truly love your brothers in Christ. It’s so easy to become attracted to a guy and make it your goal to get his attention. You might think you love him, but it’s not true love if you’re only seeking something for yourself. God’s love will desire the best for your brothers in Christ, even if it’s a relationship with someone else. True love will wait so as not to defraud them until God’s timing. True love will treat them with respect but not allow any premature relationships to get in the way of either of your walks with the Lord. And true love will respect them as men, even when they’re still in the maturing process (just like we all are). As you learn this kind of Christ-like love, you will be so much better equipped to love the husband God sends you!
These are still difficult lessons that I have to cry out to the Lord to give me His perspective on every day. The path of following Christ in this area is a narrow and often lonely road, but it is so worth it to know Christ better! May each desire and struggle drive you to Christ, depending on Him for the strength to do what we cannot do in and of ourselves. He is a faithful Father, and He loves us so much more than we can imagine!