So there’s a new song out by Marshmallow and Anne-Marie (No I had not heard of them either) called Friends. It’s all over pop radio right now. The song and video encapsulate what we call the Friend zone. In fact it is often called the Friend Zone Anthem.
Now I’ve written extensively about the friend zone and avoiding it here at the blog for years. (Some posts are linked below). But I haven’t written on it in a while and I know that there are a lot of people, especially younger guys, who find themselves in these situations.
Carrie Underwood accidentally stirred the the twitter pot recently when in an interview with Redbook she said that at 35 she may have missed her chance to have a big family. This was of course one answer to one question in the interview but people jumped on it.
Now Carrie wasn’t trying to say that no one over 35 can have a kid. She also went on to say that they have talked about adoption and they do a lot to help kids which she enjoys. But that wasn’t good enough for many who insist that there are no limits to fertility.
I bring this up because I think we need to be honest about where our culture is at. Especially as we navigate singleness, marriage and children.
The other day while driving I was listening to some Dave Ramsey. In case you’re not familiar, briefly, Dave wants people to live biblically with their money, meaning stay out of debt, control your money instead of letting it control you and be generous along the way.
He has a radio show and people call in with all kinds of scenarios asking his advice. Very rarely do I ever see Dave not have an answer. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen it . . . until the other day.
A young never married guy called in and said, “Hey Dave, I’m following your plan. No debt, I have a budget etc. I’m not married but I want to be. Here’s my question, how much should I budget for that pursuit?”
One thing about Dave is that he’s always honest with people and he just laughed and said, “I have not been in that world for so long, I have no idea.” After both he and the caller laughed a little, he did toss out a couple of thoughts, but it made me think of a couple of important ideas and some practical ones if you find yourself in that position.
Over the last three posts we’ve been talking about Servant Leading, what serving has to do with attraction, and the fact that in marriage the man is the head which has many responsibilities including loving (serving and leading would be a part of doing that well). You may want to read those before you dive in here.
Today I want to talk about as a single man, knowing the previous thoughts, how should that affect how you go about things in terms of dating and looking for a wife. There are at least two parts here: How we prepare ourselves and who we seek to marry.
In my last post I began talking about this idea of being a servant leader that we toss around in Christian circles. I’m not going to rehash all of that here. You might start by reading that post. Today I want to talk about the servant part and in another post I’ll talk about the leadership side.
I want to clarify a couple of things quickly. I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t serve people. Not at all. We often should. Again, Jesus served. He called us to serve others. What I’m suggesting that serving and leadership are not the same and our motive for serving matters.
Jesus did not serve in order to gain followers. He didn’t serve to earn relationships. The reason Jesus is the greatest servant is because he didn’t have to serve at all and yet chose to. Not only that, but He gave the ultimate service in dying for us. Jesus served His followers. But again He didn’t serve to get followers.
One of the things I did a lot as a single person is pray for a spouse. That took a lot of different forms. Sometimes it was simple and relaxed. Other times it took the form of crying out (read begging) for God to bring me The One. Often when I really thought someone could be the one it was praying for God to “make it happen”, sometimes before I’d even been on a date (that hurts a little to type – Ha!).
But over and over again for years, it never happened. God didn’t “answer” my prayer.
This really begs two different types of questions. First, should we, and if so how should we, pray about gaining a spouse. Second, why is it that God doesn’t seem to answer this prayer or as I like to say, why doesn’t God just “poof” us a spouse.
One day a few years ago I was meeting with a pastor, who was perhaps in his late twenties, to discuss a singleness talk that I was going to be doing at his church. We talked about many of the things that we discuss here on this site. As the discussion turned to celibacy it took a bit of a different turn.
He shared that part of his story was that even though he was married he thought there was a good chance that he was originally gifted/called to ministry from the context of celibacy. Now he was not complaining in any way about his wife. In fact he has a good wife and a good marriage. That wasn’t his point in sharing. He had two points really.