I’m taking a break from theology for a little bit here, because there’s something that’s been on my mind lately.
I got married when I was eighteen years old, to a wonderful 21-year-old man.
And, without much surprise, most people did not approve of our very young marriage.
Let me back up a bit first.
The school I go to has a reputation of young, quick marriages. The phrases “ring by spring” and “no one dates around here, they’re either single or engaged” get thrown around with so much regularity that one would think it isn’t a school as much as a four-year-long speed dating event (which, I guess, is kind of contradictory). This has gone so far that I’m actually surprised to see couples who have been together for more than a month still listed as “in a relationship” with each other instead of “engaged” on facebook. I’ve had multiple girlfriends say “I think he might be ‘the one'” after one date, and multiple guyfriends say “okay, so, goal for this semester: find me a girl” at the beginning of every term.
And I’m not condemning them. It’s completely natural to want to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a spouse. I can say from personal experience that there is no other person who could even come close to loving me as much as, and in the same way as, my husband does. There is an innate element of Christ-likeness in married-love. And it’s awesome.
But it’s not the point of life.
Our lives are not about dating or getting married. Our lives are about being the hands and feet of Jesus. Marriage can be a part of that, but it’s not the focus. There’s only one wedding that we should define our lives by, and that is the one on the other side of eternity.
All of this goes to say that there is way too high of a push to get married as soon as possible at my school, especially considering that it is a “Christian institution,” and should thus have bigger and better things in mind.
So when my now-husband and I announced our engagement, the bulk of our community assumed that we were following in this track.
And, as much as most everyone seemed to perpetuate it, when the people getting married became their students, or children, or friends, they seemed to change their minds.
It’s as if they suddenly realized just how dangerous premature marriage can be.
Over the next eleven months between our engagement and our wedding, we heard choruses of “you’re too young–your brains aren’t fully developed yet” and “you’re not financially ready” and “you don’t know what he/she will be like in five, ten, twenty, fifty years–what if that person isn’t someone you love?” and many, many others.
All of these seemed so ridiculous to me.
First of all, I am a Bible and Theology major at a 40K+ per year school. I plan to go into the mission field, and I believe in a poverty, not prosperity, gospel. My husband was the same, except he majored in Reconciliation. So, we may not have been financially ready, but…we never will be. We’re always going to be flat broke. The time it would take for us to be significantly more financially ready for marriage would require another five to ten years of sitting around, being engaged. Which isn’t good for a relationship.
Second, the whole “you’re not ready,” “you’re going to change” thing is downright stupid. Part of what it means to covenant together in marriage is to grow with one another, to change as the other person changes, to become more and more unified as time goes on. Yes, we both have and will continue to change, but (1) that won’t stop when we hit some magical age of “full brain development,” and (2) if we’re committed to loving each other no matter what, for our whole lives, then that changing will necessarily draw us together. If I love my husband more than I love myself, then I will, by default, deny the parts of me that want to move in a direction away from him. The changes in my personality will be ones that make me more suited for him, and he, likewise.
So, a few hundred words of ranting later, these people meant well, but didn’t really understand what we had in mind for our marriage.
Because for us, the marriage wasn’t even about the marriage–it was about Jesus.
My dear husband and I were never really looking at marriage as the focus of our respective existences. Well, I did, but that was before I knew Jesus, and then things definitely changed.
We both had bigger plans in life.
I wanted (and still want to–none of this has changed) to travel the world, to do what Jesus would do, to live out the gospel in some of the darkest places on earth. I wanted to change the world, or at least as much of it as God would enable me to change. I wanted to be light in darkness.
And I always figured I would do it flying solo.
Sure, I’d have my brothers and sisters in Christ who would partner with me in this, but I just kind of figured I wouldn’t get married. I wanted to be a revolutionary. And it says in the Bible that the one who is married has their spouse to worry about, and so their attention is split, but the one who is single can focus fully on God.
I knew my life wasn’t going to wait around for the next five or ten (or more) years for a spouse to come along. I didn’t want to wait for marriage for my life to begin.
And then he came along.
And he was perfect.
And he wanted to be a revolutionary too.
We prayed really heavily about our relationship–it became clear we were called to partner together for life, but we weren’t really sure what that meant. So, we started dating, because it seemed like that was the best way to figure things out.
And, less than a month into our dating relationship, lo and behold, we straight up heard God telling us to get married. Soon. Like the next summer soon.
Needless to say, we flipped our respective lids.
But, over time, it became clear that this was actually what we were called to. And we later realized that all of it happened so soon because we simply weren’t going to wait around–God knew that–and thus, if S/He wanted us to be married, it would have to happen fast.
And I can see now that, as scary and difficult as it was, is, and will continue to be, there really was no other way we could have done things.
So we got married.
It seemed crazy–it still does–but sometimes that’s just how God works. There’s no one crazier than God.
And now, we’re not even thinking about the “what if” questions–“what if s/he’s the one,” “what if I’m not supposed to be single,” “what if I just settled down?” We’re starting our revolution, as a team, building each other up and growing closer to God in the process. If it had been all about just getting married, it would have never been like this.
Two revolutionaries, in love with Jesus, who were called to be in love with each other, too.