Instagram is a dirty liar.
Lol. Okay. That was extreme. But really. Let me just a run a scenario by you that might look all-too-familiar.
A friend or acquaintance that you follow on social media starts dating a guy. They go on coffee dates and dinner dates and road trips together, all the while documenting their moments together with the aesthetically-pleasing filters and color schemes.
A few months into this dating relationship you see a professionally photographed documentation of an elaborate proposal, complete with string lights, a scenic overlook, romantic notes, and a celebration with friends.
The engagement is documented with pictures of fun wedding showers, trips to bridal shops to find the perfect dress, James Bond-esque photos in Target with the registry gun, and bachelorette parties with sashes and crowns and little black dresses.
The wedding is picture-perfect. Literally. The pictures are perfect. The dress is perfect. The flowers are perfect. The bride looks flawless as she breaks it down on the dance floor and the family is hugging and smiling. The bride and groom drive away amid lights and confetti and they spend a week traveling, relaxing, and enjoying each other.
**Let me first say – I don’t mean to criticize any of the above things. In fact, a lot of these things were present in my dating and engagement process (string lights are my love language). I just think the fact that we allllll have seen this story play out almost exactly this way is funny.**
Seeing these beautiful stories of other people’s love lives can have the effect of bringing us joy at their God-ordained love story. However, often if in a season of singleness or if in a season of difficulty in a relationship, these stories can tempt us to feel bitter or frustrated because they show us something that we long for deeply.
But. Let me just be the first to tell you that these pictures do not tell the whole story.
I am definitely not an expert on marriage (I barely have 8 months of experience under my belt). But let me tell you something that Instagram doesn’t tell you:
Marriage is hard.
In fact, the past year of my life has probably been the hardest in my life. Looking for jobs and uprooting our lives and realizing our insecurities and fears and differences in communication styles. I’ve cried more in the last 8 months than I have in any other season of my life. It’s new and hard and it seems like it is impossible for us to get things right.
I don’t know if sharing this is helpful or not. And I definitely don’t want to paint marriage as all negative, because it’s definitely not.
But I do want to dispel the lies that marriage will make your life easier or shinier or more complete, because that is absolutely not the case.
The lies of social media make us believe that marriage will fill you with joy and that you will be free from the insecurities, frustrations, and sins that you struggle with now. It’s so easy to long for marriage to fill a desire for intimacy or purpose.
But let me tell you,
If you are longing for marriage to meet a desire for intimacy, you will be disappointed.
If you are longing for marriage to meet a desire for purpose, you will be disappointed.
Marriage will not meet your need for intimacy and purpose or anything else that you are seeking. Only Jesus will.
Yeah yeah, I know you might be rolling your eyes at me because that’s the easy “Sunday School answer”. But it’s also the right answer.
Only Jesus can know you deeply and fully.
Only intimacy with Jesus will satisfy you completely.
Seeking Jesus is the only purpose that will bring you joy.
A spouse will disappoint you. Over and over again.
I know this is true because I am human and broken and I disappoint my spouse daily, and vice versa. If we look to each other for joy and satisfaction, it does not work.
It doesn’t work.
It’s not a bad thing to long for a relationship. In fact, it’s a good and holy desire that reflects the heart of God. The very nature of the Trinity is an intimate relationship between the three persons of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We were created for relationship. This is illustrated in our relationships within the church body, our relationships with nonbelievers, and for some in the covenant of marriage.
What IS a bad thing, is when our longing for a human relationship surpasses our desire for intimacy with God.
The question is not when will I get married or will I get married or will I have kids or whatever question it is that you are asking.
The question – married or unmarried, old or young, tall or short, rich or poor – is how can you most effectively leverage your life for the sake of the Gospel?
When we realize that this is the central question…we realize that every other question is secondary. We realize that God does not make mistakes and that He has an incredible exciting purpose for you exactly where you are.
Why do we doubt this?!?
We doubt this because in our sinful flesh, our tendency is to prioritize our own preferences over the mission of God.
I’m going to say that again for effect, and because I need to hear it again.
In our sinful flesh, our tendency is to prioritize our own preferences over the mission of God.
I do this. I did this when I was single – feeling discontent with my circumstances rather than leveraging my singleness for the sake of the Gospel. I do this now – feeling discomfort with where I am or what I’m doing rather than leveraging my job and my location for the sake of the Gospel.
Friends. I have not done this perfectly. As I challenge you I am challenging myself.
What I needed when I was uncomfortable with singleness, what I needed when I was upset with where the Lord placed me to live, what I needed when I was dissatisfied with what I did at work, what I need now when I know frustrations with my spouse will inevitably arise… what we all need, is a reminder that bringing the Kingdom of God from heaven to earth is the most important thing we can do in this life.
It doesn’t matter where we do that. It doesn’t matter how we do that. It doesn’t matter what stage of life we are in as we do that. It doesn’t matter if we are married or single or divorced or widowed.
Friends, what matters is that we take advantage of every moment, every circumstance, every opportunity, to share the Gospel of Jesus with a lost and hurting world.That is what is of ultimate importance.
I pray for myself as I pray for you, that the Lord would give us strength and grace to look away from ourselves and to look to Jesus as we join in on the most incredible adventure, the most worthy mission, to bring the knowledge of Jesus to the world.