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The Season of Marriage For God's Chosen Women

We like to quote that scripture, “Many are called, few are

chosen,” which makes God sound indecisive, like He can’t make up His mind. The hardest part about achieving your goals is turning off the movie you’ve had playing in your head all your life. All believers are called. People who are chosen get up in the morning and just do things nobody else believes in. She was chosen, but he didn’t recognize her. Or, maybe he did. Maybe he knew she wasn’t Wilma. He knew she was Joan. But he married her anyway. And he selfishly allowed her to turn away from her greater potential just so she could make him toast just the way he likes it.

In his letter to his son in the Gospel, Paul describes these brothers as, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” [2 Tim 3:5] and warns Joan, “from such turn away.” Oh, but I love him. Idiot. God sent him to me. God had nothing to do with it. A man who loves you, a man in love with God, will see the God in you, will recognize the ministry you are pregnant with. The biblical model is Joseph denying his own needs (and, for that matter, his reputation) to defer to his young fiancée who was pregnant with the Son of God. Most brothers these days would have dumped Mary on the spot, or maybe give her bus fare to the abortion clinic. They'd surely want their money back (the dowry paid Mary's father).

Joseph denied himself for the sake of the ministry, the work, about to be birthed. If your man is sent from God, he will recognize the God at work in you. The last thing he’d want to do would be to interfere with that work. You don’t marry Joan of Arc. You sharpen her sword. You don’t interfere with the mission. You don't take the thoroughbred off the track and put her out to pasture. It's insane. You let her run. She's in her prime, she's got work to do. Pots on the stove. Once that work is accomplished, that's when she gets to settle down and make babies. There's no trainer on earth stupid enough to treat a thoroughbred like a lap dog, fencing her into the backyard to bark at passing cars. But, as often as not, this is what brothers do: find themselves attracted to a fierce, prized contender, and then take her out of the game at the height of her potential so she can burp babies and make him toast. I actually understand this impulse: man's impulse is to compete, to win, to dominate. We all, men and women, are often led by our emotion rather than our intellect. Intellect tells a man of a woman's great potential. Instinct, biology, and emotion lead us to want to crush that potential so she can make us eggs. The African American male who can furtively support his mate's ambitions—emotionally, financially, spiritually—is extremely rare. Women are expected to stand by their man. We rarely stand by our woman as it's a little humiliating to be Mr. Wife. So our instinct is to lead, to be up front, with her standing dutifully behind, even if she's the one with the gifting, anointing and purpose. And many if not most sisters, likewise being led around by their emotion, not only expect this unbiblical nonsense but embrace it.

But, what does the bible actually say about this arrangement (as opposed to what we think the bible says or what we done heard someplace)? Paul, no friend of marriage (or, for that matter, women) makes his case for singleness in his first letter to the church at Corinth:

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. 29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.  —I Corinthians Chapter 7

There will be plenty of time, once the mission is over, once she's run her race, once the battle is fought, once Joan has massed her armies and conquered, to hold hands with her on the couch. Oh, but I love her. Prove it. A lot of brothers are attracted to strong women just for the challenge of winning her, of breaking her. Of convincing her to give up her dreams in order to be biblically submissive to him. These men are idiots. They are, best case, selfish little boys, attracted to your strength while wanting to rob you of it. The very last thing a man who truly loved you would want to do is marry you. Not until you’ve accomplished your goal. Not until you’ve had your adventure, followed your dream.

Lena Horne described her early marriage as “quite a detour” from her career—from what she was supposed to be doing. This is the Great Holocaust: untold millions of brilliant, gifted women who fall in love with men who either don’t see that potential or who don’t care. Make Me Toast.

I was married to Joan.

I’ve never been happier, never been so completely bound up in joy, so enraptured, than when I was married. I mean it. It’s hard to explain this kind of indescribable, delirious bliss I experienced. She was heroin and I was mainlining it. I adored this person. I changed my entire life for this person, gave this person every part of me. But, in many ways, all that giving was actually fairly selfish. My goal was an innately selfish one: to convince her to stay. When I was married, not a single day—I mean it, not one—went by without my falling to my knees and thanking God for this person. For her love, For her goodness. That’s what a good woman will do for you: without nagging, without hollering, just by being who she was, she made me want to be a better human being.

She was, in every conceivable sense, a better, kinder, nicer person than I was, and that gravity drew me in and made me want to change, made me want to be compassionate, made me want to be helpful and patient. Of course, I was none of those things. I was a cynical New Yorker who disliked everyone he’d ever met. And she was my emotional bodyguard: she had the super-power to walk into a crowded room and shake hands and not pretend to be interested but actually be genuinely interested in people and their problems. She was Batman. It just amazed me.

The Awful Truth About DivorceI relied on her for daylight and air. I was simply not functional without her, and my devotion may have been a kind of bribery to keep her distracted from what was broken and wounded about me. For a marriage to work, for any relationship to work, there must be two people. Two whole people—not one broken and the other investing all of their time and energy propping them up.

Which made the problems in the relationship more difficult to see and, perhaps, more difficult to work on. I mean, I'm sure I heard her, I'm sure she told me when she was unhappy, but we figured we were bullet-proof. Problems were for somebody else, for other people. Divorce wasn't even a conversation; it was never going to happen to us. So, whatever problems there were couldn't be that bad. After all, we were in love.

If your guy can’t see who you are, you need to pump your brakes until he can. If he does see who you are and doesn’t care, then he’s a little boy in a man’s body. Selfish, impatient, confusing infatuation with love. Love, dear heart, is not selfish. Love is not impatient. Love does not demand its own way. Marriage is forever, and forever is a long time. If he’s willing to commit to you forever, then what’s the rush? What is he afraid of?

Most guys pressuring you for sex or, for that matter, for marriage, are trying to lock you in. The only reason to lock something in is fear of losing it. If he’s afraid to lose you, that means he’s insecure about your relationship and he is using marriage as a dysfunctional solution to that insecurity, which means the marriage is doomed from the start. Guys like this, once they begin to feel secure, lose interest. The adrenaline rush is over. The uncertainty is over. And there it is—that moment of clarity when he realizes none of this was actually love.

My guess, 90% of our sisters launch out with enormous potential and all this electric talk about what their plans are. And, almost immediately, take a right turn into hell, submitting themselves, their goals and their lives to a man who has absolutely no idea who they are. Or worse, who doesn’t care who they are. These are the people Paul was talking about when he concluded

the matter, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts…”  [2 Tim 3:6]

Relationships should help us grow. I have no way of knowing what the deal is with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but from a very, very long distance from it, they appear to be making it work and supporting one another. It would likely never occur to either of them for Jay to demand Beyoncé retire from the stage and stay home so she could iron his shirts and make him toast. But this is what happens to far too many of our sisters every single day, and you ladies allow it to happen. Oh, But I Love Him. And he drags you off the stage and you sit around gaining weight, burping babies while wondering if he’ll be home in time for dinner. This, sisters, is not love. This is not God’s plan.

A woman’s great strength is also her greatest weakness: her heart, her capacity to love. Learning to love with discipline means subjecting your love to a reasonable set of endemic proofs, what we Baptist folk like to call, “Try the spirit by the Spirit.” That fire in your belly, that yearning to stretch out over the horizon, can be your calling from God. You don’t need to be a spinster to follow it, but if you’re in love with a guy who can’t engage your ambition, who is either consciously or unconsciously trying to destroy the very attributes that drew him to you, who can’t see or doesn’t care that you are not Wilma—your relationship is doomed from the start. And that same strength that once inspired you to greatness will fortify your sense of honor and commitment: you’ll stay in the relationship longer than you should, giving up on everything you ever wanted from life.

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Joan’s got game. Joan's got pots on the stove. He doesn’t care. He says he does, but he doesn’t. All of that will take a backseat to his morning toast and, sooner or later, to the wailing baby hurling oatmeal at her. And, hear me: there's time for all of that. But ask God, is now the time? Or are you turning away from your calling? Once you get married, you have to put husband first. Have a baby, baby comes first. Now that's two people you've put ahead of your ministry, two compromises to the work God has given your hands to do. Everything we do for God exists within seasons. Make sure you know what season you are in.