The average American wedding now costs $25,000. That's jaw dropping to me. That's more than a single year of college education folks! Sometimes when I look over these statistics with weddings I find myself wondering if we prepare just as much for the actual marriage, which is meant to last till death do us part, as we do the wedding, that celebratory party that's only for a 24-hour day.
As a single gal I've been e-mailed countless articles and gifted books on how I'm supposed to be preparing myself for marriage should it ever come my way. There's nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it also floods my brain with a lot of information that I have to wonder the value in knowing at this point as a single, you know? Sometimes it's just overkill.
My pastor once gave a sermon on marriage, and honestly, the only thing that stuck with me that Sunday was when he explained how "marriage will reenact something." Light bulb moment! This is something I can examine even now as a single. In sifting through all this information and keeping in mind that marriage reenacts, I've personally found that investing in my possible-future marriage really comes down to just five things... and the best part of these five is that even if I never do get married, none of it goes wasted... it's a win-win blueprint whether married or single.
#1. Tend to The Heart. Everything flows out of our hearts like water from a spring (Matt. 12, Luke 6, Prov. 4), and tending to our hearts is daily work. What we believe in our hearts is what permeates into our thinking, how we act, what we speak, and everything else, including how we approach relationships with one another. So we'd be wise to take care and nurture our hearts in such a way that would be of benefit for our future spouses, as well as ourselves. We should desire hearts that would resemble Christ's heart.
#2. Build Character. Many has said that it's better to be preparing and working towards the person you want to be for your future spouse, than to walk around looking for someone who meets all the criteria we're looking for in a future spouse. It's actually a really great to think about marriage prior to ever meeting that special someone: What kind of person do I want to be for my spouse? For me this usually always comes back to growing in kindness, faithfulness, love, respectfulness... which is all starting to sound a lot like Galatians 5:22-23 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It's good to have somewhat of an idea of who you want to marry, but let's also wrestle and grow in Christ-likeness (through grace) personally too.
#3. Join a Church. God doesn't call us to live in isolation, but in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Church should be the ideal place to look for and have mentors who can speak encouragement, love, and wisdom (even about hard things) over one another. And to be honest, we need that when we're going through the waters of dating/relationships. Sometimes they can see or identify things that on our own we cannot. Being a part of the local church is also about serving one another, and in marriage there's a great deal of putting aside selfishness for the betterment of your spouse (so I'm told). If marriage reenacts a mindset of serving one another, than serving in the local church is a good place to start practicing now.
#4. Steward What God Has Given. I think one of my mom's biggest mantras that she wanted to pass down to my sister and I was learning to take care and be responsible for the small things we were given, so that when bigger things came our way we'd be well prepared. Translation: Steward and cultivate whatever God has given you today (no matter the size... or how unimportant we may think it is) so that we can be trusted with much in the future. As singles we've been given gifts to steward and cultivate now that will have an impact and effect on our marriage (e.g. our hearts as previously said, finances, talents/gifts, communication skills, etc.). Let's be faithful and sow with the seeds we hold now.
#5. Chase Jesus. Jesus should be in the center of our lives, no matter the relationship status, so chase and pursue Him after Him. Live with Jesus, practice giving and receiving grace, and at all costs treasure the gospel. When we do so, we love others well--as Christ loves, which is our heartbeat in singlehood, or marriage.
~This post was originally written and shared on Darling Companion, 2013, by Natalie Grimm~