Youth Messenger Online Edition

July-September

Are You Ready for Courtship and Marriage?
Are You Ready for Courtship and Marriage?
Liliane Balbach

“Haven’t you found Mr. Right yet?” or “She is going college to get her M.R.S. degree.” If you’re a young lady, you have probably heard remarks like these. Single young men may hear comments such as: “Are you dating yet?” It seems that our society views singleness as a disease that must be cured. However, when viewed from God’s perspective, singleness is an important season in life that can bring many blessings and opportunities. The Lord says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Some of the most productive years of our life can be when we are single: times when we set out life goals and fulfill them, and when we use our time wisely to learn, to grow in every area of our life. Let’s look at two young people to learn how they’ve spent their single years: Christopher is a 30-year old single Christian young man who has been obsessed with trying to find the right girl to date and marry but without success. In the meantime, he has almost put his life on hold until he finds the girl of his dreams. He has completed only 2 years of his college education, is still going to school, working at a second-rate job, and unsure of his life calling. He’s been praying that God sends him a girl as soon as possible. In his heart, he’s been bitter, resentful and full of self-pity.

On the contrary, Emily, a senior in college, is constantly being asked, “So, are you dating anyone?” She isn’t thrilled to hear that question over again and over again. She says, “It’s strange. People don’t realize there’s so much more to my life than being in a relationship. I am a busy college student. I have a strong relationship with my Lord. I have a ministry in teaching needy children, and I enjoy going on yearly mission trips. No one ever asks me about these areas of my life. When others focus so much on relationships, it’s easy to begin thinking that you need a relationship to be completed as a person. But that is far from the truth. I am complete right now. My life is filled with many rich spiritual experiences and opportunities. I am happy in this season of singleness.” Young ladies and young men, who would make a better marriage partner—Christopher or Emily?

During her years of singleness, Emily had times of loneliness, but she didn’t have self-pity. Instead, she focused on acquiring good domestic skills, finishing her education, and preparing for her career. She is learning to live on a budget, improve her health and strengthen her relationship with Jesus Christ while trusting Him to provide a future husband in His time.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4, 5. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” When I was in high school, I believed the Lord would provide for me a fine Christian young man if I did all the right things, prayed, read my Bible and went to church. But, one day as I was meditating on these verses, I realized that unless I make Jesus the center and delight of my life in everything, He couldn’t fulfill the desires of my heart. The truth is that the only way to experience a God-written love story is to love Jesus Christ with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. He wants to train us to delight in Him completely and to find our greatest satisfaction in Him alone. Often God will wait to bring the best companion into our lives until we have truly given Him the first and best place in our heart.

Opportunities of the single season

What should a young man or young lady be doing as he/she is praying and waiting for the right life partner? First and foremost, the season of singleness is a “time to plant,” and marriage is the time to “pluck up that which is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). During our single years, we are “planting” an education, a career, a strong relationship with Christ, domestic and other life skills needed for life. It’s time to use the wonderful opportunities to learn, to improve, and to grow into a well-rounded person before marriage. The more one is able to experience these opportunities, the more successful and peaceful their married life will be.

A. Academic pursuits

Life during your singlehood is the best time to get your college or trade school education completed. It is the time to get that internship finished so you can find a good job with which to support a family. If you are planning to get a master’s degree and/or other advanced degrees, it is best to have them completed before you get married.

My husband and I had gotten married after completing only half of our college education. We both took full-time jobs with the General Conference and were going to school in the evenings. It took us several years longer to complete our degrees and it was a very demanding period in our lives. It is best to finish your education before marriage.

This is also an excellent time for you to attend missionary school. This type of training will equip you to be actively involved in your local church, and in reaching people at your job for Christ.

B. Spiritual Health

This is the best time to develop a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. Establish regular daily devotions. Study your Bible and read as many of the Spirit of Prophecy books as you can. The “Conflict of the Ages” series, The Ministry of Healing, Steps to Christ, Thoughts on the Mount of Blessings, The Adventist Home, Education, and others. Develop a strong prayer life and learn to intercede for others.

C. Domestic skills

I remember several years after my husband and I were married, as a young bride, I was learning the art of entertaining. To me, it was not a problem to have one family over for a meal if we invited them ahead of time and I was prepared. My husband, however, came from a family where they often had 15–20 people come to their home for lunch after church. To me, that was such an overwhelming thought. Although he didn’t push that idea on me, he occasionally wanted to invite people to our home at a moment’s notice. A few years later, when he was pastoring a church, we had many visitors in attendance. On Sabbaths, when there was no fellowship lunch, he’d want us to invite all the visitors to our home for lunch. I would be very anxious about that and would tell him that we couldn’t invite them all because we didn’t have enough food and I had not made any special dishes for guests.

Then he told me something that forever changed my idea about entertaining guests. He said, “Love, don’t worry. Let’s just open some cans of beans, make a big salad and share whatever else we have in the fridge. These people don’t care about our special dishes, what they really need is our love and our fellowship.” From that moment on, my blind eyes were opened and never again was I afraid to invite people to our home for a meal. I wouldn’t serve my guests canned beans, but rather I would cook one or two simple dishes in large quantities. My husband would make a large salad, and he’d invite the guests to help him. Everyone had a part in the preparation, and everyone was happy. After lunch, we took them for a “digestive walk” in nature. When our guests left, they were so grateful and happy; we had a lingering joy and peace for we had also “entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

Learning the skill of entertaining guests is important, however along with that, be sure you learn how to share hospitality with others. Open your heart, your home, and your dining room to people that they may see God’s love through you.

Young ladies

Here are the skills that every young lady needs to master in preparation for courtship and marriage:

Yes No

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to plan a healthy nutritious menu, and to cook tasty vegetarian meals?

[ ] [ ] Are you familiar and comfortable with entertaining guests and being hospitable?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to shop for the best bargains for food and other items for the home?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to plant and care for a garden?

If the answer is “no” to questions 1 and 2, it would be good for you to spend some time with an experienced cook, then practice until you become one. You may even want to take a nutrition class in college. Notice the counsel from Inspiration:

“Our sisters often do not know how to cook. To such I would say, I would go to the very best cook that could be found in the country, and remain there if necessary for weeks until I had become a mistress of the art—an intelligent, skillful cook. I would pursue this course if I were forty years old. It is your duty to know how to cook.”—Child Guidance, p. 372.

Young men

Although young men may not be cooking much when they are married, they also need to know how to make a few basic dishes. These days with both spouses working, it is important that men also know this important life skill.

Yes No

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to cook a few simple dishes and prepare healthy salads?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to fix some basic things around the house?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to take care of the lawn and yard?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to prepare the soil for a garden?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to plant and prune fruit trees?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to do an oil change and some basic automotive repairs?

D. Housekeeping skills

When I was twelve years old my dad, a fine European designer and tailor, gave me a useful lesson that has been very helpful. On that memorable day, Dad had said, “Today, I’m going to teach you how to iron a man’s shirt.” I thought, “That’s common sense.” However, Dad gave me detailed instructions on how to do this task step-by-step and explained why it is done that way. After a 20-minute lesson, it was my turn to iron a shirt while he critiqued me. I have given the same ironing lesson to my sons. When I see someone with a poorly ironed shirt, I remember Dad and am thankful that he taught me perfection in ironing. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing an old shirt, pants or skirt or an expensive new shirt, always iron it perfectly, and you will look your best.

Yes No

[ ] [ ] Are you keeping your present room/home clean and orderly?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to thoroughly clean inside the house—bathrooms, kitchen, bedroom—how to vacuum and dust properly?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to iron well, especially men’s shirts and pants?

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to do simple sewing like putting on a button, hemming a skirt or a pair of pants?

E. Finances

Yes No

[ ] [ ] How are you handling your finances? Do you have a budget? If not, ask one of your parents to help you set one up.

[ ] [ ] Do you know how to live within your budget? If not, what is preventing you from living within your budget? How can you change that?

[ ] [ ] Are you out of debt? Have you paid off your student loans?

[ ] [ ] If you use credit cards, are you paying them off each month and avoiding debt like the “plague”?

F. Physical health

It is important for both the young lady and young man to be in good health before marriage. “The parties may not have worldly wealth, but they should have the far greater blessing of health.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 358. Remaining single should be strongly considered by anyone with a life-threatening and debilitating physical or mental problem.

Evaluate your physical health. Are you physically healthy? Are you obeying all the 8 laws of health? Do you have energy and vitality to perform your daily duties without much effort?

Yes No

[ ] [ ] Are you eating healthy meals and eating them on time? If not, what do you need to improve on?

[ ] [ ] Are you snacking between meals? If so, how will you quit this habit?

[ ] [ ] Are you engaging in regular exercise 5 or more days per week for 30+ minutes?

[ ] [ ] Are you doing some type of practical outdoor exercise like gardening or yard care? If not, how do you plan to incorporate that into your life?

[ ] [ ] Are you drinking a least 8–10 glasses of water per day?

[ ] [ ] Have you eliminated sodas, energy drinks, and other sugar-and-caffeine-loaded beverages from your diet? If not, how do you plan to do it with God’s help?

[ ] [ ] Are you spending daily time outdoors in the sunshine and the fresh air?

[ ] [ ] Are you practicing self-control in your eating, drinking, sleeping, working, social media and recreation? If not, how will you improve this with God’s help?

[ ] [ ] Do you get adequate sleep? Do you have regular bedtime and wake-up times? If not, how will you improve this area of your life?

G. Traveling

The single years are great for going on mission trips, helping others who are in need, learning about other cultures, and realizing that we are all part of the family of God.

Our Lord loves excellence! This is why He promises to help us improve every area of our lives. He says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).

“God, I’m lonely”

Sometimes when you look around and see young couples around you, you may wonder, “Why isn’t that me?” Or “Is that ever going to be me?” God knows our need for companionship and had created us for relationships. (Genesis 2:18.) Now is the time to learn to trust God in your season of singleness, then you will continue to trust Him during your married life.

It’s interesting that some of God’s most successful heroes were single—Daniel, his three friends, and Jesus Christ. Elisabeth Elliot stated, “Loneliness is a required course for leadership.” God may be preparing you to be a leader for Him in the church and in the world. Moses was trained for leadership during his lonely 40 years in the desert. Paul was trained for three years in Arabia, and Elijah was trained for over three years during the drought.

Contentment

The Bible teaches us to be content during all the seasons of life including our single years. He says, “and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

To be happily married, we first must learn to be happily single. If we are unhappy and bitter while we’re single, we can’t expect that suddenly during our courtship and marriage we will be a positive person. It will never happen. Today is the time to learn to be cheerful and content as a single person, to be faithful and patient, and to wait on God, one day, one year at a time.

Enjoy the blessings

Consider the great benefits of your current singleness. Be the man or woman that God wants you to be, then wait on Him to provide the answer to your prayers. But don’t look down on singleness as if it’s a second-class life—it is not. In 1 Corinthians 7 we learn that whether we are single or married, we are to glorify God to the fullest in the season we are in.

Never believe the lies of the enemy who may be saying, “You are not in a relationship because you are not pretty enough or smart enough, not handsome or good enough.” Always remember that “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God, the Master Designer of the universe, looks at you and sees you as His priceless masterpiece. You are worth more than silver, gold or diamonds for you have been purchased with the precious blood of His Son Jesus Christ.