There is a moment during the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice when Charlotte announces to Lizzie that she’s marrying Mr. Collins. Lizzie is quite appalled, so to explain herself Charlotte says,
“I’m twenty-seven years old. I have no money and no prospects. I’m already a burden to my parents…”
Yeah, I always used to look at that scene, shake my head, and say, “Well, thank goodness that the world isn’t like that anymore!”
Today I realized that…
I am 27
I have no money,
And I am, in some ways, a burden to my parents.
And the problem is, the world I live in isn’t that different from the world Jane Austen wrote about. Because, to paraphrase Austin, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of no fortune, must be in want of a husband.”
Confession time. As a young Christian woman, there are times that I feel, well, a bit less-than. A bit not enough.
Like when I turn on the radio and some lady is going on about how the woman’s place is in the home, and how realizing that has made such a difference for her family. And if her daughter wanted to be a doctor she wouldn’t discourage her, exactly, but she would let her know that if she marries a man she might have to give up the med school thing because after all her place is in the home. And I turn into a bit of a crazy Christian feminist in those moments, wanting to scream at the radio, “Look, lady, it’s important for your daughter to have a career option, too, because she might turn out like me! And I cannot help it that I am still single! I cannot help it!”
I get really on fire about that because I think some people think I can help it. I think some people assume I have made some sort of a singleness vow and that is how I managed to turn 27 with no ring on the finger. Or that there is a line of men waiting to propose and I am simply turning them all down.
I know people mean well. They do! But I’m running out of polite responses to church folk/ anyone I meet who notices that I am “all alone.”
The looks of sympathy. The assurances that, “don’t worry, God will send you someone.” The reminders that we single gals aren’t getting any younger. The “encouragement” to put ourselves out there, the, the, well, if you are a single church gal you can fill in the blank here.
Trust me. We know we’re getting older. We are aware that we are single. We are aware that all of our friends are getting married one by one and having children. We are aware that being single is difficult at times, but we are also aware that marriage has its challenges too.
We are so aware.
I’ve had this conversation with my mom, too. After coming home from the Race I finally had to tell her to lay off the marriage talk. She threw her hands in the air, exasperated. “Well, Jenifer, can I help it if I want some nice guy with a job that has good health insurance to come along and just take care of you so you can stay home and write all day?”
And I have to admit, that sounds pretty darn amazing.
But it just isn’t my reality right now.
Thankfully, I’m not alone. I’ve been reading a few blogs lately from other young single gals. We of the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and purity ball generation. I never actually went to one of those purity balls myself, but I sure did read about them in my Brio magazines.
We were told to wait. And write journals to our future husbands. And wait. And pray for our future husbands. And wait.
But the problem is, nobody ever told us what to do when the waiting didn’t work as we planned. Nobody ever told us what to do when we waited, and prayed, and waited, and wrote in our journals, and waited and did everything just as we were instructed to do, and yet “the one” still had not arrived.
Nobody told us what to do when we were well into adulthood and were still waiting.
I remember reading a story once. A fairy tale that was supposed to teach young Christian girls about waiting. Basically, there was a king with two daughters. One was super attractive and desirable and beautiful and whatever, and the other was nice, but kind of average in the looks department. Or something like that. And the king gives each daughter a golden apple, and they are supposed to save it and keep it all nice for their future prince. And one day, of course, a prince arrives and spots the super hot sister and is all, “Yes, I will take that one please!” But he has to go off on some adventure first, and so while he’s gone the sister has all kinds of male suitors, and I’m totally serious, her golden apple loses its shine.
So the prince returns and he’s all, “oh, your apple is kinda tarnished.” But ugly sis has been sitting in the corner, or whatever, this whole time, and so her apple is perfect. And so he marries her instead.
And even as a young teen, this story appalled me.
Because I knew I was supposed to be the less attractive sister in this story. And I was supposed to be sitting around waiting for prince charming to quit dating the hot girls and pick me as his second choice.
Please. I’ve figured something out.
I am totally attractive. (So are you, dear single girl who is reading this. I have recently learned that me being single because I’m ugly and me being single because I am forgettable and forgotten are disgusting lies, and that goes the same for you).
And I am totally done waiting.
I’m still not having sex before marriage.
But I’m done waiting for a husband.
If my prince does arrive, he’s not going to find me sitting in some corner pining away for him.
He better get himself some running shoes instead.
Because I am sprinting full speed ahead into my Savior’s arms and the gloriously full life He has planned for me whether or not there is a man in the picture.
And if a “prince” does want to find me, he better be one heck of a fast runner.
Jesus and I make a pretty good team, and this prince is going to have to be in pretty good shape to keep up.
***And just a note for all of you beautiful ladies who identified more with the hot sister in that story, know that that fairy tale is kinda ridiculous and you are all kinds of redeemed and worthy and loved and beautiful and made new, etc etc etc, and that story is dumb, the end.