The Marriage Requirements List

The Marriage Requirements List

“Hey Simi, what qualities would you have on your marriage requirements checklist?”

“My what now?” My BFF coughs, sputtering her drink.

I give her a pointed look.

“Wow Ticg, for someone who is mostly reticent, you sure know how to dig out really deep conversations.”

One corner of my lips lifts in a small smile. 🙂

Everyone calls me “Tris” as a short-form for Beatrice while my twin brother Bitrus was dubbed “Truce” by his rather obnoxious friends. 🤨 But somewhere along our very unlikely friendship journey, my best friend decided that I should go by “Ticg“(which she pronounces somewhat like “Tick” by the way) as an acronym for That-Introvert-Christian-Girl. Of course, everyone else kindly refused to adopt that nickname for me, but she stubbornly continues to call me that. So now, it’s kind of our thing. Not that I mind the name anyway; it is everything that I am – I am a christian, I am very introverted and I am a girl. 🤷🏽‍♀️

“Fine! I will humour you.” says Simi.

I notice that the room has gone quiet and that Bitrus, Chuks and Judith are now listening to us. Simi does a slight hair fling, immensely enjoying the attention before proceeding. “In order of importance, I would like to marry a guy who is God fearing, visionary, TDH, richhhhh and romantic, as in veryyy caring and understanding.”

“TDH?” snickers Chuks.

“Tall, Dark and Handsome” Judith provides.

“Oh, cool. This is getting interesting. 😀 Why don’t you go next, Twinnie?” Bitrus says to me.

I count with my fingers as I think aloud about my expectations;

“My must-haves… The guy must be born again. Spirit filled, He must have good character; it’s very important to me that I see him actually bearing the fruit of the Spirit, being loving, patient with others, kind and at the same time in control of himself…” I pause, “He must have a serious job or business, or at least be willing and ready to work. He must have the same values as I. He must have respect for everyone – he must not be abusive of others but must treat the weak, women, children and poor people with respect.”

I suddenly realize that I have held everyone’s attention for a few minutes so I grow self-conscious and smile sheepishly, apologizing.

“Sorry guys, I got into my head for a while there.” 🤦🏽‍♀️ 😁

“No, actually that was really good, Tris” Chuks encourages.

The others concur and Simi squeezes my hand affectionately, “Now you make me sound so superficial” she whispers so that only me can hear and I pat her hand to reassure her, “Of course not, Simz. You are one of the deepest people I know.”

“What are your nice-to haves, Beatrice?” Judith urges me on with a quiet, contemplative tone.

“Umm… It would be nice if my man plays an instrument, sings, paints or something” I confide shyly.“Oh, I would love it if he teaches the Word.”

Everyone breaks into a grin and Bitrus gives Chuks a high-five. I do not know what that is about.

“Finally, maybe he could have a nice British accent, have a healthy sense of humour and know how to cook.”

“Preach it sisturr! I like me a brother who can whip together some real meal for his pregnant wife! Simi practically yells.

If you haven’t figured that out, Simi can be extra but I love her just the way she is. We are almost polar opposites. One of us loves being expressive and in the spotlight; the other is rather reserved and mostly observant but we understand each other just as well.

“Pregnant! How did this discussion drift to that direction so quickly?” Chuks shakes his head and we all laugh heartily. Simi and Chuks are usually the life of the party. 

When our laughter dies down, Chuks offers, “I can share now.” 

“Here are my deal-makers. She must be born again, Spirit-filled and must have good character, especially respect and kindness.”

“Only 3 must-haves?” Judith’s question echoes my own surprise.

“You have no idea how hard it is to find those seemingly common qualities altogether in just one person.”

We all take a moment to reflect on Chuks’ statement. 🤔🤔

It is true that Chuks tends to put up a jovial-boy persona but anyone who knows him well knows his deep and unwavering Christian conviction. Chuks and Bitrus are leaders of our youth fellowship.

“Sadly, most people these days chase ephemeral goals and temporary fills. People are addicted, anxious and easily distracted, with only skin-deep beauty or a given number of pack abs. Yet, we lack true compassion and selflessness.” 🙁

He lets out a long sigh and lightly scratches his beard. “Anyway, I have hope. By the consistent work devoted by my buddy Truce,” he slaps Bitrus’ shoulder loudly, “and by reason of these kinds of meaningful conversations, I think better days are just ahead.”

“Amen!” “PreachIt!” “Yeap!” Everyone around the room nod their agreement. 

After a beat, Simi says, “What about your nice-to haves? After you’ve had your say, Judith will share hers and we will end with Truce.”

Chuks responds enthusiastically, “Let’s see… An intelligent woman! Neat – no mouth and body odour. Hardworking. It would be cool if she has long and beautiful hair. 👩🏾 BUT I won’t hold it against anyone who doesn’t, because well, she isn’t her own creator now, is she?”

I love my friends. And I love this space right here. I love that it is a safe space and that we can each express opinions or preferences without judgement. 💜💜

We all turn to Judith as it is her turn.

“What?? 🙄 You guys know that I am never getting married. I’ve told you that like a million times before.” Judith snaps at us. Then she seems to notice our sad eyes and backtracks, “However, if I decide to go hypothetical, my singular dealmaker for a marriage relationship would be integrity.” 😐

Her voice breaks at the end of the sentence as she sniffs and Simi walks across the room and to give her a warm hug. 👐🏽

Having all grown up together, we witnessed how Judith had to deal with having an absentee father most of her childhood. Her father provided Judith and her mom with the finer things in life including a large mansion in our town and a few sleek cars but sadly, he never lived with them. There were ugly rumours about his other family in the big city. To makes things worse, during her teenage years when Judith and her mom had grown to become a part of the church family here, they learned that her dad had been arrested for insider-trading and had been sentenced to prison. The news shattered them, to say the least. They lost most of their possession after her dad was convicted but thanks to her mom’s hard work and our loving community, they sure have come a long way. Judith did not attend school for a whole term hiding away at home. When she finally resumed, she became this resentful and bitter girl. She still tags along to church and hangs out with us but she told us categorically that she had lost her faith in God’s goodness. We do our best to be just the friends she needs and whenever she starts a conversation, we respond as best we can.

I watch her now as she sniffs again, subtly wiping her eyes and sipping her drink. I smile at her to say, “I understand. It’s going to get better. You are much stronger for it” and she nods in acknowledgement.

Everyone turns to Bitrus to tell us about his marriage requirements list but I peek at Judith for a couple more seconds because I saw something else that others probably missed.

You see, that is one of the perks of being a conscious introvert like myself. There is an adage that goes thus, “The raving eyes see the roaming legs.” In my quietness, I tend to perceive more about my environment than is evidently visible, but I have learned to keep such perceptions hidden within my heart while I bid time like Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus. 

Because I can almost bet you that in those seconds while Judith tells us about her hypothetical, singular dealmaker, she held my brother’s gaze with hope in her eyes.

I am not saying anything 😜 but if you ask me, perhaps MrTruce will be receiving a heavenly vision soon. Perhaps our friend will not stay single forever. 😍 Hopefully, God would heal her heart and join her heart with one of his son’s. 🙏🏽

Never say never, unless God says so!

ExcellerBlog

Bitrus clears his throat, “It’s my turn now, isn’t it?”

“Uh-huh,” Simi responds.

“Heads-up folks! firstly, I have a rather long list.” 😬

“Bring it on!” 💪🏽 Chuks says, good naturedly.

My twin pushes his spectacles further up his nose and starts rattling off with a smile.

“The woman I am trusting God to marry must be a child of God – born again. She must be a committed worker in church. I want someone with whom I can do God’s work like evangelism and mission visits. You know, someone who is interested in fruitful works. She must be reasonably intelligent – basic IQ level. She must be moderately fashion-conscious. She must be generous, even when she has just a little.”

“That’s a really tall list, Truce.” Simi points out.

“I know… 😩😩” Bitrus groans, pinching his nose again, “Which is why I need God to either break any idol that I have in my mind, or go back into His factory if such a human is nonexistent yet.” 🤦🏾‍♂️

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21

 “I don’t think that those requirements are unrealistic or impossible.” Judith says meditatively, surprising us all. 😮😲

“Yea?” I ask.

“I mean, isn’t Truce’s favourite Bible quote, “All things that pertain to life and godliness?”

Now we are staring at her like she grew three heads overnight. 😮😲😱

“So, if God feels you need someone with those qualities for doing all He planned for your life, I bet He has already thought to provide it.” Judith finishes.

“Wow! If it isn’t from the mouth of babes and sucklings.” Before Chuks can complete the statement, Judith flings a throw-pillow squarely at his chest and he doubles over laughing hysterically. 😆😆

Bitrus jumps in to complete his part, “My good-to-haves! Equally juicy, I really hope for a curvy woman.”

“Carnal!” Chuks says under his breath but loud enough to be heard. We all laugh at Bitrus’ expense.

“What? Not all of us were designed to prefer beauty model figures like you do.” My twin brother defends his choice. Simi catches me rolling my eyes and punches my arm. 😃

Bitrus continues, “Now where was I? Nicely shaped and preferably dark-skinned. And I will like a spouse who is homely and caring. That’s it from me.” 

“So, a true African beauty.” Chuks concludes.

“Yea, man. That’s exactly it.” They do their signature fist-bump. 👊🏽

“What I am hearing from all of us is that basically, we mostly want a professing, practicing and spiritual Christian.”  Simi says thoughtfully. “Because, a practicing Christian would be respectful of others,” she points at Chuks and me, “They would have integrity,” she looks at Judith. “A spiritual Christian would have a heart for kingdom work, be generous and kind,” she briefly faces Bitrus, “and they would be mindful of the divine vision planted in their hearts by God.” Simi finishes pointing at herself.

“Basically, yea.” Chuks acquiesces.

“Hmm… I have another question.” I drawl.

“Not again, Ticg. You started all this in the first place. Now, I’m hungry. What wants pizza?” 

I know LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.

Jeremiah 10:23

Nota Bene: Thanks to Amaka, Brighto, Trisha, Oma, Mercy and Chiomy for sharing their marriage dealbreakers and dealmakers with me. With their permission, I have cooked those up in creating the above story about my favourite fictional characters, Ticg and her friends. I hope that this article blesses you so much, because their personal values are a great inspiration! ❤️
Happy First Birthday, Baby!

Happy First Birthday, Baby!

This is a note I wrote to my son a few weeks before his first birthday. Do enjoy with us!

Bobos, can you believe that it’s almost your first birthday? My oh my! How great is our God! One whole year has rolled by and you are now what they call “a young toddler.” Just how amazing is that?

So, about this time last year, I was quite heavy with pregnancy, giddy with excitement and couldn’t wait to finally meet you. You were due to be born at a very historical moment – the period when COVID-19 struck the world and sent all 7 billion of us in all 190+ countries around the globe into a complete lockdown. People were sick, dying and afraid. Everyone was ordered to close up businesses, stay indoors, keep clean and only work from home if they must; and everyone agreed! 

But there was no stopping you! 

It pleased God to situate your birth during this phenomenal time. I knew that I needed to keep active in order to ensure your well-being and safe delivery. And so, every evening, your dad and I would take these walks through the streets, holding hands, praying and praising, anticipating your arrival. It was inconvenient because you were a super big and healthy man inside the womb but I was determined not to lag behind. I would trudge on beside your dad, often out of breath, haha. 

But there was no stopping me either!

Well, the cool night breeze in streets devoid of people with only a few cars speeding past is every walker’s dream. And so, we walked and learned new songs and simply enjoyed waiting for ya.

Then eventually, you came! Sweet, calm and everything baby. Fussy nights, long hours of nursing, careful carrying, countless diaper changes and bath times – we experienced them all. God has used you to bring us immeasurable joy and a whole new level of maturing. Not just us, but also everyone in our lives including your grand parents, uncles, aunties, our Christian community here and around the world. Everyone dipped into this jar of raising you. For several weeks after your birth, the world remained behind closed doors as world leaders and researchers struggled to get the pandemic under control. 

But there was no stopping everyone from showering you with love and excellent care!

Technology was wonderfully maximized so that family and friends were able to participate in your baths and feeding, even if they were miles away! Those who could, went out of their ways to bring you gifts and food, taking optimum precaution to keep your environment healthy in our new found normal. Everyone supported and encouraged us. And you thrived and flourished. 

Until you grew to the stage when you could smile and chuckle. And that brought our joy to yet another level that we didn’t know was possible, wow! You are a big-time charmer. I bet that these your big and warm smiles could wake the dead and even melt iron. And you give the sweetest, mushiest kisses too, just at the right times. The God who wrote the programming for babies must be a genius, to say the least!

Because I keep wondering how you were able to recognize sweet words so early in life! I mean, from the first few days of your life when we sing “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family, with a great big smile and a kiss from me to you. Won’t you say you love me too” and blow imaginary kisses at you, your face would literarily light up! And in the months that followed, your eyes would always follow to see if we were actually blowing imaginary kisses or not! See enjoyment!

I won’t fail to mention when you grew to become “a mover!” That period when you would shuffle, crawl or cruise all over the house. We had to start thinking SAFETY! There was literarily a siren going off in my head every time you moved, analyzing whether this object or that room was safe for you. We baby-proofed every space and our alertness is on an all-new high.

And there’s no stopping us!

It’s been a pleasure caring for you through both the routinely days and the unpredictable days of marking milestones. We look forward to a million more in the future, as Christ our saviour tarries.

 But if there’s anything you take away from this walk down the memory lane, I hope that you always remember that:

  1. You are loved. Oh yes, you are deeply and unconditionally loved by God your Heavenly Father, your parents, your big daddies and mummies, your grandparents, your uncles, aunties, brethren, peers and acquaintances. Let this knowledge settle deep in your heart because it is true and it is never going to change. God is everlasting and we are all bonded to Him and so, I can tell you this for sure; no matter where you are in life and what is around you at any time (t), you belong to a community whose language is love and whose foundation is Love. As you see the world through this lens, you can trust that everything else would assume their right colour. You are loved, my baby.
  2. God’s hand is upon you. God’s presence is with you and He controls everything our lives are about. You can take this knowledge to the bank and cash out- it is sure and true and dependable! Because He loves you, He works in you to make you want to do His good pleasures and also to do those His good pleasures through you! What I mean is, you are God’s child as well as His ambassador, His representative. How cool is that? So cool, huh? My baby, I have to tell you, you are going to have the best life ever simply because you have the Most High as your God! And we all will enjoy it with you.

You are blessed and highly favoured. You are anointed and appointed for the deliverance and joy of many. You continually grow in wisdom, in stature, as well as in favour with God and people. You are taught by the Lord, great is your peace and oppression is far from you. You are established in righteousness, you are an eternal excellence. Your feet bear good news, your breath gives life and healing, your hands always produce prosperity and restoration. Your body carries God’s spirit and your head, His oil. You are fortified with strength, you touch others with kindness and you have godly wisdom beyond your years. Your life is preserved and you are an answer to your generation. You serve the Lord all your days and at the end of time, you will enjoy eternal rest with great rewards! With long life, God satisfies you and He shows you His salvation in Jesus mighty name.

Soon to be your day, please do shakara! Happy 1st Birthday, Manuel.

Excellence in Sexual Purity

Excellence in Sexual Purity

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. 13:4

It is a clear fact that God designed sexual relations for marriage to effect intimacy among couples and to model the depths of Christ’s love for the church, His bride and more so, the heights of glory yet to be experienced by all of us in that union.

But it is also a fact that sexual purity is a major struggle among young people. This is because the youthful age is a period of growth and preparation of body hormones, some of which are responsible for sexual drive. This is also because of the characteristic strength and ‘hyper’ activity attributed to that stage of life. A third reason why young people face troubles with staying pure sexually is because everyone around in the world seems to be crazy and careless about sex. Or, in the words of a sorrowful and confused Christian guy, “…the whole atmosphere is sexually charged!”

sad-girl-turning-away-from-her-boyfriend-CXT3FJ

Yet it is in this same world; where purity is unpopular, where illicit sex and profane words are the order of the day, where pornography is cheap and corrupt movies are a click away on the devices in your pocket, where half – naked ladies and gents parade the streets and campuses, where secret affairs are even obtainable in Christian groups that God calls us to be chaste (pure) and consecrated to Him. I often say this with a deep sense of awe, humility and trembling; Christianity is a higher calling!

 

What does Sexual Purity Entail?

  1. Keeping oneself from having sex as an unmarried person. (Fornication)
  2. Keeping oneself from having sex with a partner who is not your husband/wife. Notice the terms husband/wife, not fiancé / fiancée. (Adultery)
  3. Shutting out impure, unwholesome thoughts (Prov. 4:23)
  4. Avoiding provocative, lascivious movies, books and pictures.
  5. Restraining from using one’s own body as a means to derive pleasure (Masturbation)
  6. Tuning off careless jesting and profane conversations.
  7. Dressing modestly and not in a way that reveals sensitive body parts.

This, no doubt is a higher calling. When we were raised up with Christ to heavenly places far above principalities and powers as we became born again, it was an all time, all high rising. (Eph. 2:6, Eph. 1:21) We must live in the reality of our new status – aspire and practice excellence in sexual purity. IMG-20170521-WA0000

 

Tips for Staying Sexually Pure

  1. Resolve to stay pure. There is power in resolutions coupled with divine grace, remember the Hebrew boys in Babylon. (Dan. 1:8) Regardless of what mistakes and experiences you have had in the past, ask Jesus for a new beginning today and stick with it. If you are one that keeps diaries, think of marking this date with something like this, “I resolve to consecrate and keep my body pure for the Lord from this day onward. No turning back. So help me God.”
  2. Soak yourself in the word of God. Daily study of God’s word has the essential vitamins and antibodies to fight and overcome sexual temptations. (Ps. 119: 9, 11)
  3. Pray in the spirit always. Pray in tongues and in understanding. This edifies you and attacks the enemy of your soul!
  4. Flee sexual advances. Flee from every appearance of evil. The fight for sexual purity is an active one. Be on the offensive always, guard your heart. Guard against careless jokes and jesting. Be ready to walk away. Be ready to turn off your phone. Be ready to say no. And don’t just be ready, actually do these things.
  5. Keep clear boundaries. Define all your relationships. Being indulgent to others does not make you nice. Uphold your standards, this is actually honorable.
  6. Be wise. The world is evil, Jesus exhorts us to be wise as serpent and harmless as dove. Avoid staying in lonely or dark places with an opposite sex. Avoid excess gifts or unprotected food from others. Notice advances and overtures guard against these. Avoid keeping late nights and hanging out in risk – prone environments.
  7. Be active in God’s service, career development and humanitarian activities. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Be at the right place at the right time.

Ultimately, always remember and rejoice in God’s deep and unfathomable love for you. God delights and glories in our purity. “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3: 17. Ask the Lord to reveal His love to you more – its glory, its quickening and its depth. I am not sure that we can know it all on this side of eternity! This is a privilege of our high calling. 🙂

This is written with much love from me to you, dear excellent reader.

Love Finds You… In Service 

Love Finds You… In Service 

Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem: Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you’re ready. (Song of Solomon 8:3‭-‬4 MSG) 

Dear Simbi,

This letter is like nothing you have ever received. I know your make-up, your essence and femininity. As every girl grows up, her heart quietly longs for more. She wonders, “Will I ever attract a Prince Charming whom I will live with happily ever after?”

I understand. You were wired this way by a most loving and infinitely wise Creator. At this point, you feel a certain pressure build up. Pressure to look more beautiful. Pressure to fit into society’s mould of the she-man. Pressure to hang around the male folks and speak in suggestive manners without actually saying any words. And this pressure comes from the 4 cardinal points: Pressure from family members as soon as you approach a certain age. Pressure from friends and age groups as you get invited to weddings every other weekend and you have to buy unending asoebi. Pressure from within as you quietly fear that you may never be good enough. Pressure from the male folks as they keep sending you conflicting signals. The struggle is quiet but real. It’s same for every Simbi you see, if truth be told.

But, let me tell you; since you became a born again girlie and handed over the running of your life to Jesus, He put you on a path to a glorious, predestined future.

Be at rest, hun. God’s got this. Stay BUSY. Do things for God in line with the Holy Spirit’s leading. Develop your community. Dream big and live progressive. Be purpose minded and passion driven. Avoid the temptation of matching yourself with any seemingly prospective dude. Avoid awakening your sleeping love beauty too, by reading or watching or listening to overly amorous materials that may only increase the pressure you feel. Stay in service, love finds you in service. Become more spiritual, beautiful in your way and excellent. Remember, you will attract who you are like…

With love from,

Excellerblog

Dear Ali,

Fewer words will suffice because of your intrinsic make-up; your rather focused and analog mind. Rest buddy, rest.

Every unmarried guy has a problem of finding a wife who will be a good thing and favour from God. The struggle is real. One girl is beautiful but arrogant. Another is educated but not domestic. You can’t seem to get them all together in one. In church, in class, in your office and even on the street, your heart is darting from pillar to post. You wonder, “Is it Simbi or Celine, Bunmi or Ada?” Then you are tempted to send all of them signals at the same time. You know, stir the waters. Bro, truth be told, that’s a dangerous move. Trust me, you want to let sleeping lions lie.

One word, Rest. The moment you became a born again lad, Jesus took charge of your present and your future. Like He took Eve to Adam while Adam slept, God will bring your princess while you rest. Don’t forget that this is rest on your feet man, while in service. Get busy. Discover divine purpose and run with it. Be eternity conscious. Learn to be a man and to be single. Learn to read, lead and cook! Have integrity. Remember that you will attract who you are like…

From a buddy_of_life, 

Excellerblog 

3 ‘S’ For The (Yet) Unmarried

3 ‘S’ For The (Yet) Unmarried

SINGLE, SATISFIED, AND SENT: MISSION FOR THE NOT-YET MARRIED

By Marshall Segal

PhotoGrid_1463132963634

If you’re single, Satan is after you.

Okay, he’s after all of us, but there are some unique dangers in singleness — especially in unwanted singleness. He loves to deceive and discourage single people in the church and derail our devotion and ministry. But God intends to use you, your faith, your time, and your singleness in radical ways right now, as you are.

You might come away from a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 with two categories in mind: those who will live, serve, and die single and those who must marry. Paul sings singleness’s praises, listing the spiritual benefits of being spouse-free. The single life can be (relatively) free from relational anxieties (7:32), worldly distractions (7:33), and wide open for worship, devotion, and ministry (7:35). So, Paul concludes, skip the ceremony, literally, and enjoy “your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Most say, “More power to you, Paul… but I’m getting married.” Maybe temptation overwhelms you, and you need a God-honoring way to satisfy that longing (7:2). Maybe it’s abundantly clear that you need a helper to carry out God’s call on your life (or it’s abundantly clear to others that you do). Maybe you want to have kids and realized that you need help with that. Maybe you just have a deep, undeniable desire for a loving, committed companion. In each case, it is good for you to get married.

While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul’s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness.

ALL DRESSED UP AND EVERYWHERE TO GO

Perhaps the greatest temptation in singleness is to assume marriage will meet our unmet needs, solve our weaknesses, organize our lives, and unleash our gifts. Far from the solution, Paul makes marriage out to be a kind of problematic Plan B of Christian life and ministry. Marry if you must, but be warned, following Jesus is not easier when you join yourself to another sinner in a fallen world.

While marriage may bring joy, help, and relief in certain areas, it immediately multiplies your distractions because you’re intimately responsible for this other person, his or her needs, dreams, and growth. It’s a high calling and a good calling, but a demanding one that will keep you from all kinds of other good things.

Therefore, for the not-yet married, our (temporary) singleness is a gift. It really is. If God leads you to marriage, you may never again know a time like the one you’re in right now. A season of singleness is not merely the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others.

With the Spirit in you and the calendar clear, God has given you the means to make a lasting difference for his kingdom. You’re all dressed up, having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), with literally everywhere to go.

With God’s help and leading, you have the freedom to invest yourself, your time, your resources, your youth, and your flexibility in relationships, ministries, and causes that can bear unbelievable fruit.

So, here are eight suggestions for making the most of your not-yet married life.

1. AVOID TRADING MARITAL DISTRACTIONS FOR OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Paul may have been right about our freedom from spousal concerns, but in an iPhone, iPad, iPod, whatever iWant world, single people never have trouble finding their share of diversions. In fact, if you’re like me, you crave diversion and tend to default there, whether it’s SportsCenter, Downton Abbey, working out, fancy eating, endless blogging and blog-reading, surveying social media, or conquering the latest game. We might call it resting, but too often it looks, smells, and sounds a lot like we’re wasting our singleness.

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything just mentioned can be done for God’s glory, and it all can be a dangerous distraction from it. If you deny the latter, you may need to put down the smartphone, controller, or treadmill.

Look for ways Satan might be undermining your mission with short and simple pleasures. You may not need to eliminate it, but limit it and look for ways to welcome others into your life through it. Be creative and make disciples over college basketball, cooking, or Call of Duty, rather than going AWOL from God’s mission because of them.

2. SAY “YES” TO THE SPONTANEOUS

It’s just a fact, marriage murders spontaneity — not entirely, but massively. If you haven’t learned this yet, I doubt any of your (formerly spontaneous) friends have gotten married.

One of your greatest spiritual gifts as a single person is your “Yes.” Yes to a random phone conversation. Yes to coffee. Yes to help with the move. Yes to stepping in when someone’s sick. Yes to a late-night movie or the special event downtown. You have the unbelievable freedom to say yes when married people can’t even ask the question. When the spouse doesn’t exist, you can’t hurt them with your selfless, impulsive decisions. Be willing to say Yes! and bless others, even when you don’t always feel like it.

3. PRACTICE SELFLESSNESS WHILE YOU’RE STILL ALONE

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3–4 will only get harder in marriage, so practice now.

Think of a couple people or families for whom you could lay down your single life. No one is expecting you to care and provide for others right now — no one, that is, except for God. So be mindful of the needs of others, especially those in the church, and consider contributing. It could be money or food or just time and energy. Maybe especially time and energy. Regardless of your paycheck, you have been given much. Spend it wisely and liberally on the needs of others.

Financially, you’re supporting just one person. Sure, save modestly for days when you’ll need more, but while you wait, look for ways to provide for others. While you’re not buying groceries for five, dinner for two, and endless diapers, budget to bless and develop attitudes and habits of sacrifice for others. It will serve your future spouse immensely and make Jesus shine beautifully to those around you in the meantime.

4. DO RADICAL, TIME-CONSUMING THINGS FOR GOD

Just as you are free to say yes to more spontaneous things, you’re also able to say yes to things that require more of you than a married person can afford. Dream bigger, more costly dreams. Start a daily prayer meeting or some regular outreach. Commit to multiple discipleship relationships. Organize a new Christ-centered community service project. Do all of the above. You’d be surprised, with God’s Spirit in you and a resolve to spend your singleness well, how much you and your single friends are truly capable of, especially when you dream and work together.

Be radical, but not reckless. The idea is not to spread yourself dangerously thin, so make decisions prayerfully and in community with people who love you and can tell you, “No.” My perception, however, is that most not-yet-married believers can afford to give or do more than they are.

5. SPEND TIME WITH MARRIED PEOPLE

The longer you’re not-yet-married, the more time you have to learn about marriage from other people’s successes and failures. While you can’t avoid your own set of marital missteps and sins, you certainly can increase the odds of successes, small and large, by being a good student beforehand.

Look for opportunities to be a regular part of a married person’s life and family. If you’re not around enough to see any ugliness or messiness, perhaps you’re not around enough. Don’t impose on people, but don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation, either. It could be as simple as having lunch with them after church on Sundays. Make it easy for them to say yes by being a willing and eager servant. Offer to babysit on date night or help with yard work or bring a meal when one of the kids goes down sick.

Then be a student. Watch carefully. Ask questions. Take notes on what to imitate. In all your observations, be humble and gracious (if you could see your future marriage, this would be less of an issue). As our minds and hearts are being shaped by Scripture for marriage, we need examples of flawed but faithful marriages. These kinds of ongoing relationships make the principles and lessons real and repeatable.

6. SPEND TIME WITH NOT-YET MARRIED PEOPLE

While married people provide an important perspective and example, you need people in your life who are experiencing the same feelings, longings, and temptations you are. You should find and invest in people who are asking the same questions as you and also seeking to make the most of this unique season of singleness for Jesus’s sake.

Think about it, though he was never married, Paul did most of his ministry with someone. Find the trusted, gifted, and mission-minded friends in your life and be accountable to one another to make your not-yet married life matter for the kingdom. Following Christ was never meant to be done alone, even when you’re single.

7. FIND A FIANCÉ ON THE FRONT LINES

Instead of making it your mission to get married, make your mission God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that.

Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians, but one actively on mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that’s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper.

8. WHILE YOU WAIT, HOPE IN JESUS MORE THAN MARRIAGE

Make it true first. Spend lots of time satisfying your soul in all that God has become for you in Jesus. Then be bold to say it when all anyone wants to talk about is your love life. “So, any women in your life these days?” “Are the two of you an item?” “She’s a really great girl. What do you think about her?” “Would you be willing to go on a date with my wife’s cousin’s roommate’s brother?” Married people have lines, too.

Use the awkward small talk as an opportunity to point them to the Groom who purchased your eternal happiness whether in life or in death, in sickness or in health, whether in matrimony or “on the market.”

So when you feel lonely or discouraged in your singleness, remember that if you’re saved, you’re sent. Instead of waiting until your wedding day to get about the work, make the most of this not-yet-married life.

 


I’m sure that you were blessed by this post, as I was. You should consider following the blog desiringgod.org for more inspiring posts as this, as you follow excellerblog.wordpress.com and as we all follow Jesus.

You, my reader-friend, are the best. So much love from me to you.