Why does “ring by spring” pressure exist on a Christian college campus?
The jokes are rampant. The pressure causes misperception.
What is crazy…
The average age to marry in America is 28 for men and 26.5 for women.
Studies have proven that marital satisfaction increases and the divorce rate decreases when husband and wife enter the marriage covenant at an older age.
So why are students in such a hurry to get to the altar?
We create a timeline and list of criteria for choosing a marriage partner. We all have them, whether they’re written down or floating around in our head.
A timeline of when it should happen.
A “things I am looking for in a mate” list.
You know, those lists that leaders have their high school kids compose at summer camp during “the relationship talk.” We’re supposed to review that list from time to time and remind ourselves, If I want to marry a queen, then I have to become a king. Or something goofy like that.
But let’s face it. If we’re honest with ourselves, no one ever makes the grade. Not even Jesus would make the cut on many of our lists:
- smokin’ hot body (almost sure Jesus didn’t have a hot body) [Isaiah 53:2]
- rich, but down to earth (by humbling Himself to come in the form of a man Jesus was certainly “down to earth,” but he wasn’t exactly materially rich)
- smart, but not smarter than me (and, well, having created the universe, Jesus probably is smarter)
In some way, we all create these mental lists. But often our expectations have little to do with reality and much to do with our fantasies. Consequently, an awful lot of bogus criteria often end up on those mental lists of ours.
What if God’s expectation and list is different from campus culture?
Even if we don’t have a written list of what we’re seeking in a marriage partner, chances are we have some very specific criteria in mind.
But I’d like to challenge that thinking and take a closer look
at those lists and expectations of being married by Spring.
Too often we tend to focus on more superficial qualities in a person,
the outer veneer,
thinking if we meet a person that matches those specifications
we’ve found our “soul mate.”
While it’s certainly reasonable to want to spend our lives with someone who we feel could fulfill our greatest longings, what we’re really asking is for that person to be rather super-human; to meet 100% of our needs.
When it gets right down to choosing a mate, it’s more important to focus on criteria closer to the heart like character, values, and shared purpose. Most importantly, find patience to wait until God’s Spirit has wholly developed us.
God has a way of interrupting and re-writing our best-written life scripts.
Be careful that you aren’t clinging so tightly to your own list that you refuse God the right to make modifications.
Asking the Right Questions
Fortunately God encourages us to seek Him about which questions to ask! In James 1:5 of the New Testament God states,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Once we earnestly begin to seek God’s wisdom, we might be surprised at the insights we receive. What we originally thought might be just the perfect person for us could turn out to be quite the opposite.
When we begin to focus on our Creator and not our own created list or timeline,
be prepared for many surprises…
Spring may be full of flowers and not rings.
Well, at least there are beautiful flowers in the quad.