We’ve all received the comments. You’re not dating anyone- oh why not? I happen to know this person….. Oh you’re dating someone-when are you getting a ring? You’re engaged – when’s the wedding date? You’re married- when can we expect a baby? You have one child- aren’t you going to give them a sibling?
I don’t know when we got to this point where we started treating different stages of life as levels that get better and better and ranks we must climb through. I don’t know if it’s misery loves company or that we’re so self-centered that we can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t want to be where we are, but it has got to stop!
Why must this stop?
1. It’s prideful
What is being said when we approach someone and try to convince them to have a child, or expect them to want to get married is that we’re God and we know what is best for their lives. There are some people who genuinely feel called by the Lord to remain single or childless. Or perhaps they want those things but are faithfully trusting the Lord to provide them in HIS timing. Trying to convince them otherwise is just wrong.
It implies that we’ve figured out this great life mystery that the person hasn’t already figured out themselves. We all know that children are a gift from the Lord. We can all see the beauty of Christ displayed in the covenant of marriage. Just because someone doesn’t have children or a marriage doesn’t mean they don’t know it’s great. To attempt to convince someone that they should partake in procreation or marriage, like they don’t already know the benefits, or haven’t thought it through enough is just demeaning.
It also gives the impression that we have achieved something when neither marriage or children is something we can enter into on our own. The Lord Himself must provide a compatible spouse. Perhaps the divorce rate these days is due in part to people rushing into marriages society is telling them they need to be in, when they didn’t wait for the right spouse to be sent to them in God’s timing, not their own. Having children is not something that you can calculate or decided to do on your own schedule. We don’t get to assess life and determine that a specific time is the wise and right time to have a child. No, it’s a gift. The Lord Himself must open the womb and allow children to be conceived. It’s prideful to think we choose children. To call someone to attempt to achieve this feat, like it is a smart decision they are choosing not to make is just haughty.
The hinting, joking, and lording is just another way of saying “You’re not actually where God wants you to be” and that is simply a giant insult to a Sovereign God!
2. It’s hurtful.
What if that single person is struggling with feeling inadequate and questioning what’s wrong with them that they can’t find a mate? The endless questions and “I have someone you should meet” comments reinforce the very thing they’re already thinking…that something is wrong with them, that they would be valued more if they were married.
What if the young married couple is trying their hardest to conceive and struggles daily with the crushing weight of the unmet desires of having a baby. The remarks add more weight to their burden. They know you think something is wrong with them because they can’t have a baby, like they “should.”
Even if the person the comments are directed to is perfectly secure and content with their lot, the constant questioning, implying, and insisting is just another way of saying “You’re not good enough the way you are” which is blindness to a Creative God who designed different stages of life for a purpose.
3. It’s just plain wrong.
It’s just not true that one of these stages of life is better than the other.
The Bible even talks about it being better for some people to remain single and as far as I know there is no proclamation that having children gives you more jewels in your crown.
Saying things like “just wait until you’re a parent” or “you’ll understand when your married” implies that the stage we’re speaking from is even better than the one before it and that they’re missing out on something because they’re not there.
Are things different there? YES. Are they better? NO. What is better for each of us is to be exactly where the Lord has called us with the spouse, children, or lack thereof that He has called us to and provided (or not provided) for us. Anything more than that would not be better because it would be outside of His will.
Prodding, commenting, and thinking that we’ve arrived at the “next level” and wanting other people to “arrive” there too is just not true and is sin against a God who asks us to move into peoples current situations, not wait for them to arrive at the next one.
Please do not hear me say that marriage or children are bad or wrong. None of these stages in life are bad, none are wrong, and none is so much better than the other that we are all waiting until we reach that ultimate pinnacle of life stages.
I think our society functions because we have people in all different stages of life doing life together. Single and childless people have time to devote to others that parents don’t have. Married people can understand and communicate intricacies about communication, discipleship, and relationship that singles might need to hear. Whatever your stage may be it has shaped you in a way that you have something unique to offer, and that’s what makes us work. Different people with different experiences and different things to give.
Where we are needs to be appreciated with something even greater than contentment. My stage of life is not an accident and I am not in a waiting room just anticipating the next place. It is purposeful and divine. It is good. Please, please let’s stop trying to convince people otherwise.