in pursuit of critical and compassionate living and thought. in surrender to courage & delight of Christ.
This is a post for my fellow femmes, though fellas, it could all apply to you too…
I could start this topic off with descriptions and illustrations of my point, but perhaps most helpful is a personal note, because I know I’ve never been alone in these thoughts…
I’ve never thought I needed a man.
And I’ve never thought I didn’t.
I may not have been the girl to plan out the details and adornments of her wedding, but dang it if I didn’t have an awkwardly grander and more thought-out vision of my marriage and family than a kid should have. I’ve always wanted to be married, and to have kids. My childhood-self thought I’d be married at 21 (like everyone did, right?!). My teenage-self kept an odd obsession with marriage statistics and family trends and figured out that a more realistic age would be my late twenties or early thirties. And so I braced myself; and so far, I was right.
As I went through the years in between those numbers, those desires and that vision didn’t go away. They got more refined, realistic, and also faith-full. I’ve dated with seriousness, sworn off it for times, wondered “am I really ready for kids?!” and considered fostering as a single adult. But these have never been consistently less-than or greater-than priorities for me than other things. I want marriage. I want a family. They are very important to me, and I believe to society. I’ve made big life decisions around these future possibilities, I pray for them. But they’re not idols to me. I understand they are neither guaranteed, nor necessarily God’s best for me, nor even something everyone can have by His will and the way things in the world work. And I understand the great value and beauty of both temporary and permanent singleness.
And so, as I’ve gone through the years in between those numbers, my desires and visions for other things, that I’ve had all along, have taken front-seat. I’ve pursued deeper learning, and work I feel called to do. I know how to take care of myself, and have preparations for how I will in the future. I surround myself for the long-haul with community that supports and loves me; I prepare for and invest in places of belonging; I always keep in my life a few people I can hug on whim, children and youth I can love and learn from, friends who I admire, cherish, and whose dreams I’d be overjoyed to support till we’re old, and people who are the same to me. I ask God with an open hand to the future, Lord, what would you have of me now? and I don’t ask questions if I can’t see the future I plan and want in His answer. These are not second-best plans or things I see as merely means to an end. Not at all. They are things I am just as passionate about that, at least for now, get my full attention.
It’s a funny in-between that we live in to both plan for the life we want, and also for the (just as good, or better!) one we might have instead.
But this is all the background. This is under the covers kind of stuff. From what my life looks like from the outside, I’ve been called “ambitious,” “independent,” even “intimidating,” in ways that have often come with the extra hinting that maybe I think I don’t need a man.
And they’re right. I don’t.
I chuckle at all the older women praying for me to rsvp a man asap, not because I am not grateful they do so, but because I do not live in fear of what I cannot completely control. If marriage and family doesn’t happen tomorrow, I do not feel that I am missing out, not because it is not a strong desire, but because as long as what I currently do was surrendered to God before I began, I know I am blessed. I just run that path, and run till someone joins me at the same pace, in the same direction.
And they’re also wrong. I do.
I do think men and women need each other; sometimes in marriage, sometimes just in general. I do think there are ways we are divinely complementary in some way or another, simply because we are different. And I believe we should live cognizant of this fact. (I’m sorry Beyoncé, but we actually can’t run the world alone!). I will always need men in my life.
But as for whether I “do or don’t need a man”,
I don’t think in those terms. Its a false dichotomy.
You see, I don’t think I can fully know what I need in the future.
I don’t think I can know for sure whether what God has in store for me to do “needs a man” or “doesn’t need a man” to bring it to completion, even if there are visions, gifts, and things I believe he has placed on my heart that would.
I think some people do want a spouse, and others don’t; sometimes those that do, do get one, and sometimes they don’t; and sometimes those that don’t, do get one, and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes this is God’s divine will, and sometimes its something we go and get for ourselves regardless, and the Lord then works with it. And yet I also believe that God delights in granting his children their desires.
So, here’s the short of the long.
Do women need a man?
How shalt thou think without this dichotomy?
1. With prayer & submission, and freedom that you might not need a man to call your own. Pray for what you want, what you think you need, and for the peace to hold those with open hands. Life is really not about your needs; those are met. So quit defining your life according to them, or trying to determine what they are. You worry about what you need precisely because you don’t know what you actually need. Man or no man, your life is always complete in Christ.
2. With prayer & wise, faithful use of your freedom. Live like you don’t need a man…and like you might. You weren’t meant to live preoccupied or worried, so don’t let your life revolve around finding a man. But, why does your life look like a No Man’s Land?! Please, put that faith into some works and wise choices. If a man is what you want, then take note of whether your lifestyle is flexible to, and could serve as a foundation for what you’re praying for. Do you live a lifestyle that involves you never, ever running into new people, or the type of people you’d want to be around for life? Maybe you can change those life-traffic routes a bit, and keep some lanes open. Do you live like you might one day take on a gigantic life-long commitment that will involve spilling all your secrets and daily self-sacrifice? How well practiced are you in holding long-term and vulnerable relationships in general? Are you living a life you’re ready to be intimately, even uninviting and intrusively accountable for by another person? Maybe you could do some self-reflection and investment around that.
3. With humility & a healthy understanding that you do need men. Women who feel you “don’t need a man” or who feel pressure to think this way: There is no one you don’t need, and no one who is not of any value to you. If you think or pretend that you do or don’t need any type of person in your life, these feelings are from arrogance, not independence or maturity. You are both kidding and hamstringing yourself. Do you not know you are part of one body with many parts, all of which must work together? (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12)
4. With strength & trust that men are good* and that God is always good. That feeling that you don’t need a man may also be from fear: you think or pretend that you don’t need a man (whether as a spouse or in general) so that you can appear, or make yourself feel independent, strong, capable, mature in fear that if you do not appear as such, you will be taken advantage of**. I know this fear. And to you who feel this way – I wish I could wrap my arms around you as a sister and say I get it…I really get it…but you need not fear. Does not an Almighty God say he will care for you? That you are more valuable than those fragile sparrows? That he protects you? That you do not have spirit of timidity, but of power and love? That blessed are the meek, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, the merciful? You will find healing, strength, and freedom to trust and love in believing this. (1 Peter 5:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Matthew 6:25; Matthew 5:1-12)
4. Kick pressures, expectations, and labels to the curb. As I’m sure you know, everyone is going to tell you what you do and don’t need. And they’re going to label you according to their impressions, paradigms, and all the condemning connotations and awkward congratulatory terms that come with them, none of which have anything to do with what you actually want or believe. Old fashioned. Man-hater. Not cut out for singledom. Not cut out for marriage. Religious. Feminist. Poor-thing. Cat-lady. Careerist. Left-over. Traditionalist. Past-her-prime. Spinster. Kept. Not marriage material. Little of faith. Soo conservative. One-of-those-liberal-types. Daddy’s girl. Gold-digger. Needy. Probably not trying. Trying so hard. Unfeminine. Broody. All those words to package you: to the curb! Do any of those things actually help you keep your hopes up and your prayers fervent? Do any of them actually help you be faithful in what you do now? Do any of those things remind you that God is in control, and you’re not? That you are loved and have a purpose no matter what? Do any of those things take away your fears of either direction your life may take? Labels give you absolutely no peace or wisdom. God’s purposes for you are bigger than this world’s packages for you. To the curb with what you do and don’t need.
Ladies, what can we do together to quit and call out this spin?
*Nay, very good! (Genesis 1:31)
**You can be all these things – independent, strong, capable, mature – without fear!