The “I Wanna Be” Syndrome

“Everyone I know is getting married or engaged!”
“I sure wish I had a “SPECIAL” friendship like…”
“I am already 19 (or 22 or 35) and I don’t even have a serious boyfriend or suitor!”
“I thought for SURE I’d be married right after graduating High School!”
“Maybe I should try E-Harmony or something so I can figure out where my friends are finding all these spouses!”

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Each spring and summer season seems to bring a bevy of engagements and weddings among our friends and acquaintances. While we rejoice with our friends we can find ourselves growing discouraged and discontented. Some of us may even be tempted to ditch the “wait-upon-the-Lord” program in favor of some “Instant Fix” sales pitch. I am deeply concerned by the prevalent: “Woe is me, I’m not married and I better do something about it!” attitude among Christian young ladies. When we respond in this way we are demonstrating that our hearts are discontented with God’s sovereign will and purpose for our lives! The purpose of this note is to encourage the unmarried woman to wait patiently on her God, with contentment and joy. “For godliness with contentment is great gain…” (1 Timothy 6:6)

Even in the church, we are continually assaulted with sensuality and the “I want what I want and I want it NOW!” condition of self-centeredness. Tingly-sensual, romantic books and videos face us almost everywhere. It is very unpopular to be “single,” at least in the sense of not having a serious boyfriend or girlfriend. We are programmed to think that if we aren’t in a wonderful sensually charged relationship we are in some way lesser than our peers. I believe this is one of the hardest areas for Christian young women to “swim upstream” and consistently think and act differently.
In my early teens the Lord impressed this verse from Song of Solomon deeply in my memory:

“Daughters of Jerusalem,
I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field;
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4)

Solomon was giving a command, or, according to one commentary, exacting an oath, from the unmarried women in Jerusalem that they will not alert, excite or stir up romantic love until the proper time. We understand from other sections of Scripture that the proper time and context is in marriage, which means that it will require a purposeful commitment to thinking and acting in purity to keep romantic affections “asleep” until that time.

My dad likens awakening romantic love to taking a runner sled down a steep, icy hill. It can be an exhilarating ride on a clear hill when you are fully committed to riding the entire way down. But if you pick a hill with trees or realize you got on with the wrong driver and decide to bail out part way down, there is going to be some serious damage…if you can get off at all. Similarly, in romantic love, the further you have gone before marriage, the more difficult it will get to bail out and the more painful it will be when you do… if you can. Obviously, the wisest course is to not get on the sled until you are committed to riding all the way to the bottom and in romance to leave well enough alone until you are in a committed marriage relationship.

But how can we avoid “awakening” the sleeping romantic desires both physically and emotionally? Sisters, we must commit to using wisdom regarding the things we read, watch, think, and talk about. It is just as silly and foolish to sit on the sled near the edge of the slippery hill and presume that you won’t end up going down unprepared, as it is to read books and watch movies that make your spine tingle with the sensual/romantic scenes and assume that it will not invade the purity of your thought life. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What we fill our minds with and dwell on will be who we become. If we want to obey The Word and keep romantic love sleeping until the Lord blesses us with a husband, we will have to be deliberate in avoiding things that will give us an unhealthy view of “love.” We want to have God’s perspective, not man’s perversion, don’t we?

If there is anyone who is thinking, “It’s too late for me, I already have begun to wake up those desires,” let me offer some encouragement from the testimony of my own life. I am one of those kids who “fell off a rock” and knew how to read at 4 or 5. I didn’t just read books, I devoured them! My parents tried diligently to keep guard over the reading material I was consuming, but they hadn’t reckoned on one factor. An elderly “Christian” lady in my life that gave me books my parents disapproved of (behind their back) and said, “These are good things you need to read. Don’t worry; they won’t hurt you. Your parents are just being hyper-sensitive!”

I read many, many books as a pre-teen and very young teenager that no Christian should ever set eyes on. They perverted my mind, and for many years I struggled with sinful thoughts. Finally, in my upper teens, after struggling for years to stop reading those types of sensual books, I confessed my sin to my parents and several believing friends and through much repentance and prayer, the Lord began to give me victory, “bringing every thought captive to Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) In His strength alone I have been able to resist the allure of reading books that cause me to stumble and rejoice in His rule over my thought life for the past six years.

In so many ways, the Lord Jesus Christ has restored my innocence and healed my soul’s diseased view of love, replacing it with a greater view of true, sacrificial, Christ-like love. It is a blessing with benefits far beyond the “tingles” of short-term sinful pleasure! It is never too late to repent and start fresh when the Lord is on our side! And there is a reward to pursuing purity: Song of Solomon 4:12 represents the maiden who has kept the command and is presented a pure, chaste bride to her delighted husband:

“You are a garden locked up,
My sister, my bride;
You are a spring enclosed,
A sealed fountain.”

She is special to her husband – set apart for him. Throughout the book of Solomon, we find that keeping sexual and emotional intimacy for marriage results in greater delight in one’s spouse. Purity in singleness is also a picture of the Church, the bride of Christ, pursuing Jesus Christ only and not allowing idols to creep into the affections of her heart. If we desire to glorify God and accurately represent Him to those around us, we must take this command seriously!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb 12:1)

Dear sisters, if we profess Christ, it is time for us to joyfully embrace His calling in our lives. We need to devote our single years to whole-hearted service in the places where we have been put, contentedly trusting that God is able to bring a godly husband into our lives at the proper time. We need to stop chasing the world’s view of love and seal up our hearts and bodies for the one man God brings. We need Christ to transform our minds and our speech to please Him. May we be women who commit to keeping our romantic inclinations sleeping until it is appropriate for them to wake up, for the Glory of God! Amen.

12 thoughts on “The “I Wanna Be” Syndrome

  1. As a young man in the UK who has become convinced of the biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood, I face the opposite problem. Young ladies who value biblical femininity hardly exist over here.

    Any ladies out there want to consider a future in the UK?

    I would also add to the post that perhaps part of the problem is that the western world despises the ‘matchmaking’ advantages afforded in bible times where parents took much greater responsibility to find their son/daughter a spouse.

    In addition, though hard to contemplate, it may be the case that the almost unbearable deferred hope many young women in the church are now going through (even those who cherish God’s created order) is a consequence of the sins of the generation before us who opened the gates of feminism which drove away the very manhood these young women seek.

    The consequences of sin often affect the innocent, that is the way God has structured the universe. But we always have our hope in Him which can never be taken away.


  2. Yes, young girls/women! This is important to remember. Also, if you are a discontent single woman, you WILL be a discontent married woman. It is only through finding your place as God’s child that you will find true fulfillment. From that context, trust that God will bring your man at the right time.
    However, mothers, I would like to mention something…I was a very protected young woman and never read sensual novels. Not because my parents necessarily forbade them, (though they probably would have), but because I was never comfortable reading about something that I couldn’t watch on a tv screen. So I avoided them. What romatic fiction I did read was either Jane Austen types, other classics, or very very light romances like Jannette Oke(whose books I like, as she, I think, portrays the situations of women in the past correctly, and while romance is often there, it’s not harped on nor inappropriate). Anyway, as such, when I came into marriage, it took a long time for me to feel comfortable with myself as a lover of my husband. It took a long time to not feel that things were wrong or sinful. So while we need to protect our minds and hearts, we somehow need to balance that understanding and practise with the understanding that it can be a strange thing to go from “red light” for say 5-10 years(while single) to “green light!” overnight!! So for all you mothers out there who are raising daughters, don’t give s*x a “bad” name. It is wonderful in the context God created it to exist in.


  3. Thank you for writing this! As a young Christian woman (and a hopeless romantic), I’ve often had those same thoughts, and I need to be reminded often that I must be patient. It’s not usually so hard, except for when friends and family ask why I don’t have a boyfriend, and why I’m not in a hurry to be married (I just had a conversation with my cousin about this yesterday), which starts me thinking, “Well, maybe they’re right!” …which never leads me down a good path. Thank you especially for sharing that first verse from Song of Solomon–I had nearly forgotten it!



  4. By God’s Providence we read this post and the comments made by Henry and wholeheartedly agree with him as we find ourselves in a similar position here in the UK, as in we have an 18yr old daughter for whom we are praying for a godly husband who would value biblical femininity. We have home educated our children and raised our daughter to be prepared to be a biblical wife and mother in the home.
    We believe that the parents should be involved actively in the courtship and marriage of our daughters.
    We are not sure how moderation works on this site but if the young man is seriously interested in pursuing a wife perhaps our details or this comment could be forwarded to him.


  5. While I agree with most of the article, especially the idea of not letting discontent seep into your hearts when you are not in the state you wish to be, women in the past did not have to wait so long, because parents and entire families were involved into making certain that the appropriate types of young men were introduced often, in a family and social setting so that God’s match for the young woman could reveal itself. To avoid the young woman having to put herself outside of her sphere, it was made certain that young men of the right moral character were introduced into that sphere often and in a no pressure environment, not laden with romantic overtones, but opened up to the possibility of attachments being formed.
    When families do not take that active responsibility anymore, it becomes a problem for the young women. Religious communities can somewhat stand in but the judgement of parents, aunts uncles and grandparents is hard to replace.


  6. In response to Henry. I live in England, am English and very much believe in what LAF promotes. I value bliblical feminity and enjoy being a woman and fulfulling the role that God has ordanined. I would love to be in touch with people in the UK who believe in what LAF promotes. Please leave a comment if that is alright here if anyone wants to be in touch.


  7. Thankyou Jennie for your kind response.

    Ruth, we as a family would love to be in touch and are sure our oldest daughter would appreciate a like minded friend. More than happy for our details to be shared with you.

    Such a small island and yet how hard it is to not feel alone – and how much we appreciate and benefit from sites and ministries like LAF


  8. This is very true – as one who had a hard time jumping off the sled.

    I never planned to get married right out of high school – I always thought it would be sometime after college, despite friends telling me I’d get married IN college. I knew myself better than they, and they were clearly no prophets. I did think I’d get married before I was too old to have kids though . . . . and at 27 with no prospects in sight I feel more restless.

    I’d never make the mistake again of getting on the sled with the wrong person – but if there is anything that has tried my faith – it’s knowing that the “desire of my heart” is to be a wife and mother and raise a godly family . . . and knowing that God has yet to fulfill that promise.

    It also makes me wonder if I’m being punished for having hopped on that first sled too soon and staying on too long.

    I know God forgives and I hope he grants me this desire. Until then I try to wait actively by contributing to my community and church and improving my body and mind as much as I can.


  9. I would like to say,I enjoyed reading all of the comments and pretty much agree with everyone.I will be 50 In February and have never married,I have tried to do something about it,but no success.I am a Catholic,and at the age of 18 I considered the religious life but wasn’t sure I was being called to that,so I became a nurse.I have decided to give up on Marriage and Just come to terms with my situation,as at times this has led me to consider hurting myself,it has just been too painful.To those who believe they are being called to the vocation of marriage,I pray that God will answer your prayers.Thank You,Therese,Brisbane,Australia.


  10. Hi, and from someone else based in the UK.

    It seems to me that the church works really, really hard to promise the teenagers that God will have someone for them as long as they are good boys and girls. Then, once the twenties arrive, this becomes, “you might have to wait a while”, and then, once the thirties arrive, this becomes, “there might not be anyone at all”.

    As a single man, I know lots of thirty-plus single Christian women. They’re not single because they’re rabid feminists, or even feminists because they are single. That’s just how things have played out.

    We spend a lot of time preparing our people for marriage. Perhaps active preparation for singleness – in case it’s needed; hopefully it won’t be – could be useful as well. Anyway, comments/criticisms both welcome.


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