I've noticed a trend recently with my generation that when the topic of marriage and having a family comes up, people often want to delay it. To 'live their life' first. I totally understand that desire. I suppose it's good to find yourself a bit before you get into a lifelong relationship. In the Bible, Paul talks about if you can stay unmarried, it might be better for your ministry, that you can serve God easier without obligations to a family. But when you're married, you have to serve your marriage and God.
I think we've taken only half of that though. I think we stay unmarried so we can serve ourselves.
A lot of times when someone mentions the desire to stay unmarried until they are older, they always list off a bunch of things that have nothing to do with ministry, helping others or serving God. They always mention traveling, seeing the world first, furthering themselves, etc. Maybe even for some, they just need to catch up on their Netflix.
I think what Paul was saying is that if you're single, you have a tremendous opportunity (maybe even obligation) to help others, serve others, dedicate your life to helping others in some way.
The beginning of your life, you're incredibly co-dependant. You can't eat, get around, sleep, burp or wipe your own butt without someone else. Eventually, if you're parents raised you well, they eventually started letting you do things on your own, eventually and hopefully getting you to a place that your independent. Most people in my generation don't get there fully, there's tons of studies of delayed adolescence being later and further throughout the years. People are waiting until their thirty to move out of their parents or even later to get married.*
I think a lot of people have a goal of eventually becoming totally independent. I think that's great. But I think as Christians, our goal shouldn't stop there. We should become independent so that we can eventually become interdependent. Which is eventually helping others.
To put it simply, the three steps would be:
1. Parents feeding you 2. You feeding yourself 3. You feeding others
I think a lot of us either stop at 2 (independence) or before we're fully at 2.
I love Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, etc. Though with their flaws, they were giants in dramatically affecting history by giving their lives to serve a bigger cause then 'getting to see the world' (but ironically, they got to see the world as a result of their efforts). But I've looked around at my generation and the past 20-30 years. Who's this generation's Martin Luther King? A lot of my generation loves awareness, but not much action. We stop at a tweet or pouring ice water over our head and then dry off thinking we've made a difference and get back to our Netflix.
We aren't leading ourselves to action (independence) so we can never lead others to action (interdependence). And I think that's why there isn't a Martin Luther King of this generation.
Another thing is that we worry too much about changing everything in the world, that we don't trust the body of Christ. (Interdependence ultimately means mutually relying on each other). If Martin Luther King worried about the poverty in India, he wouldn't have been so impactful to the Civil Rights movement. And if Mother Teresa was worried about Civil Rights in America, she wouldn't have done what she did in India. But if you look at our Facebook posts, we have our hands on so many different pots that nothings getting done, and maybe that's because it's paralyzingly overwhelming.
Another thing that I see a lot is when someone does have a great platform, everyone tells that person how to use it. I once heard a personally life-changing talk about loving God and loving people and you could see that it impacted a lot of the people in the audience. On the drive home someone started talking about how "if that speaker has so many people hanging on his every word, he should have used that opportunity to mention sex trafficking". Which was also a great cause, but what I've learned is that if you feel so convicted about a certain subject, that's your calling and I think you should use that conviction as a fuel to do what you can to help.
Trust the body to do their job, but also do your part within your role and it'll help the whole body.
I just look around so much at my generation and it seems like loneliness, lack of purpose/meaning, anxiety and depression are common struggles. I am a strong believer in the idea that if you 'lay down your life for your friends', you 'give your life, you'll gain it' and that if you love and forgive you'll understand love and forgiveness in your own life.
Jesus says "whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me". I take that more literally than ever. If you visited Jesus in prison, who's life would change, yours or his? If you gave Jesus food, who would feel fulfilled, you or him? Anytime you hear someone come back from a missions trip or homeless shelter to help. They say "I thought I was going to change them, but it changed me".
I started writing a prisoner 6 years ago, pen-pals. At first I thought I'd be helping him out. But the more I've written him, the more I've seen how Jesus sees me. He's always excited to hear from me, nothing I could ever do would shock him, he is always waiting eagerly for me to write him.
I've had my lonely days for sure, but when I started living for others, I haven't felt lonely in almost four years. I've been depressed and it melted away anytime I spent less time entertaining myself or worrying about how to get me out of my depression and eventually focusing on other people's struggles and problems, it always pulled me right out of it.
I just see so many people talk about living for themselves before they get married. Like someone saying "I want to have on last cigarette before I quit". Marriage is about living selflessly and the more you live for yourself, the harder it will be to change directions. I think we should start working on living selflessly now, walking that out now. And if we never get married, we'll still feel fulfilled and not lonely.
You need to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" again. Especially because it's not Christmas right now. Watch it with the lenses that he changed the lives of many not because he was their friend but because he gave his life and goals to "see the world" to help someone other than him out.
Here's to George Bailey. The richest man in town.
*I know these are blanket statements and also there are a lot of exceptions, I'm not saying this as a black and white rule, but a dark gray area.