Saturday, March 26, 2011

The heart of her husband trusts in her...preparing for marriage or singlehood

Our growing up years are to prepare us to take on adult roles someday. For a young girl, that training should include the possibility of marriage, motherhoods, and managing a household. It should also include the possibility that God might call a particular woman to either be single several years into her adult life or even to be single for life.

We who are mothers of daughters should prepare them for whichever calling God has in store for them. Training for marriage and motherhood presents an obvious skill set which we need to pass on to our daughters. We also need to pass on our heart for our family, for managing a home is far more than just the mechanics. Yet, a woman who remains single for a number of years or for life also needs to know how to create a home and to be hospitable. We also need to pass on to our daughters a devotion to Christ and a deep desire to follow God's will, no matter what that might be for their lives. In that way, a daughter can learn contentment in her circumstances, no matter how God leads her.

If we are married, we must be careful not to inadvertently make it harder for single women to be content while waiting to be married or if called to be single. Sometimes, we make well meaning comments at weddings or showers, such as "Your time is coming soon." Or, we will talk about nothing but children and marriage around our single friends. A little bit of this can be helpful to single women by giving them a vision of married happiness. Yet, if we go over the top with this, we can make single women feel like second class citizens without meaning to.

The Bible speaks highly of marriage. Yet it also speaks highly of being single for the Lord as a time when a woman can devote herself fully to him. (See I Corinthians 7). Married women and single women need to show support and encouragement for each other and to help each other reach their best potential in the circumstances of their current life.

What of a young woman's responsibility to train herself for marriage and/or single hood in Christ? Any young woman who is old enough to pray and dream about her future does well to eagerly prepare herself for adult life. A mother and other mentors can provide training and the opportunity to learn their hearts. Yet, if a young woman is distracted and focused on other things, she won't be able to take full advantage of this training. The wonderful thing is that we can always learn and always grow at any stage of life. But, the sooner a young girl seriously begins to acquire the character and skills she might need in adulthood, the better off she will be. Much heartache in life can be avoided by acquiring character and discipline before adulthood.

Large segments of our culture today emphasize academic training, career training, and/or training in athletics. These are important areas of life. Yet, these are not truly complete without training in character, life skills, and domestic skills. These are things that are best learned in the family.

As a girl prepares for her future, she may try out various scenarios in her mind. One minute, she sees herself as a mother surrounded with happy children. The next, she imagines that she is a missionary or a doctor or an artist. This is fine, provided that she does not fall into a habit of being too distracted by daydreaming, turn toward unwholesome dreams, or set her mind on glorifying herself, rather than God.

Dreaming is part of childhood. In a similar fashion to play, it is one method of "rehearsing" for real, adult life. As Mabel Hale says in Beautiful Girlhood,
Dreams have a large place in character building. In them the dreamer works out many problems and comes to decisions as to what is right and wrong in many changing circumstances. If a girl will watch her dreams, she may know what kind of creature she is.
She goes on to say,
Dream, my little friend, dream. But guide your dreams lest they wander off into forbidden paths. And do not let your dreams consume time that should be given to present service...Dream, but let the dreams be of usefulness and service, of purity and truth. Look away to the mountain heights, and, after looking, climb, climb, climb. Make your dreams come true. You can do it, if they are the right kind. God bless the girl with dreams.
What if a woman dreams of marriage, but God's plan is that she remain single. Is she never to know the joys of making and keeping a home or of loving children? Hardly. I fondly remember a single Bible school teacher from my childhood. She loved children deeply. Those of us who, as children, were fortunate enough to know her could see that she genuinely cared about us. She was always neatly turned out, and she always had a wonderful, bubbly smile on her face. She was an old-school Southern lady with gracious manners. She maintained an active interest in life well into her later years, and her enthusiasm made her an interesting person. She not only taught me a lot, but she was a great example to me of someone who was cheerful, unselfish, feminine, and kind. I kept in touch with her until she became quite aged and too infirm to correspond. She did not give birth to any children, but I am positive that many children were blessed because of her.

Happy Home Keeping!

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