Remember the story of Sleeping Beauty, the lovely maiden who was cursed to wait until her Prince arrived to rescue her with a kiss and whisk her off to Ever After? For years and years she slept, unable to move forward with her life, trapped by her circumstances, all her hopes and dreams suspended, waiting for her Prince to arrive.
Sound a little too familiar?
It seems that far too many of us can identify with Sleeping Beauty’s plight. We carry the dream of marriage in our hearts, we’ve done all of the “right things,” and yet for some reason, it just doesn’t seem to be happening. We’re feeling stuck waiting for God to make things happen, waiting for a man to finally come and knock on our door so that the dream can begin. The difficult questions beckon:
I feel like You made me for marriage, Lord, so why hasn’t it happened yet? Haven’t I waited long enough? You’ve healed me and filled me, and I feel ready to share my life with someone. Actually, I’ve kind of been ready for a while now. Is there something wrong with the men (or women) around here? Or is there something wrong with me? Maybe You’re allowing this for some reason God: is there something I’ve done or haven’t done that ‘s causing You to withhold a spouse from me? Well, anyway, I’m ready when you are. I’ll just wait right here and listen for the knock on the door. Ready and waiting…
Many of us have prayed prayers like this. But what we need to realize is that there is a crucial difference between Sleeping Beauty and us. She was under a curse that froze her and prevented her from pursuing the love that her heart longed for, but we have a God who has rescued us, redeemed us, given us free will, and empowered us to make good choices. Perhaps it’s time for us to wake up to what our role might be in moving toward getting married and discover what it looks like to actively partner with God on this journey.
Most of us are comfortable pursuing the other dreams we have—dreams that have to do with our careers, our ministries, our hobbies or our passions. But when it comes to the dream of marriage, we have an expectation that God will sovereignly “make it happen.” In our minds, to actually do anything ourselves would be to tamper with “The Plan.”
Imagine for a moment that God gave you a dream to become a medical doctor and work overseas. You would probably begin by making a plan. Researching different universities, you’d prayerfully choose one, apply for it, and once accepted, begin your studies. After a few years of study, you’d do an internship, then a residency, and then start looking at gaining experience that would be helpful for you when you move overseas. The whole time, you would be partnering with God, while making strategic choices and moving forward toward the dream.
I’d like to suggest that there shouldn’t be a difference in how we pursue and partner with God in our dream for marriage and in how we’d partner with Him in any other dream. Most of us would think it was crazy if someone’s sole plan for achieving the dream of becoming a doctor was to wait and pray. And yet that is often what we do with our dream for marriage. It can sound really spiritual and almost heroic, the idea of waiting for the one, but in reality, most things in the Kingdom require us to act, to walk and even to face challenges.
We’d all love to hear the audible voice of God telling us who to marry or to have someone literally arrive on our doorstep and sweep us off our feet. But that’s not often how God leads His free people. It’s possible, and we’ve all heard the stories, but in general, God has set up a model of partnership, where we co-labor with Him in our decision-making and where He expects us to take active steps toward the things that He’s offering us.
I believe that it’s God’s intention to fulfill the desire that He put in our hearts for marriage. Instead of feeling powerless and asking, “Haven’t I waited long enough?” we can instead ask, “What does it look like to partner with God in finding someone amazing and then begin building one of the healthiest marriages on the planet?”
Perhaps your greatest dream is something you’re completely free to pursue right now.