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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

All the Single Ladies

The ring tone for my lady friends on our cell phone is “Single Ladies” by Beyonce. Now, with one recently married exception, the friends I am referring to do all happen to be “single ladies.” But I didn’t choose the song as a label for their vocational state. I just think that it is a fun girlfriends sort of song and it totally cues me to the type of conversation I am about to get on the other end of the line when the phone rings.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned to any of them that their ring tone is “Single Ladies.” I am actually not sure how they would take it. And I wonder if they would be offended.

See, I don’t think any of them are single by choice. I think, and am fairly confident, that if they had their ‘druthers they would be married – perhaps several years married – and maybe even starting families. As circumstances would have it, they just haven’t met men with whom they are called to share their lives.

I am not sure if they would be offended by the ring tone because this feels like a pretty touchy subject I am broaching. It isn’t a touchy subject in the overt, “don’t go there” sense of touchy. It is more in the “I am a married outsider sort of looking in on single life for 30-something women. I have no idea how to have this conversation and so we haven’t had this conversation” sort of way. It is touchy because while we share so much in common (education, laughter, spirituality, values, history) I am not one with them in the situation of waiting and hoping for something that may or may not happen.

That, I gather, is where many of my friends find themselves. They are at the point of wondering if it will ever happen that they will meet someone they are called to share their lives with. I think, in our twenties, they were moving through life like I was: taking life as it came, making choices at forks in the road, a bit of an eye on what we hope or aspire to be, career-wise.

You could say that I was offered a choice that they have not yet been offered. I found love and “chose” to get married. In some ways I would negate that. I would say that I had no more of a choice in the vocational state I find myself than they do. When I met Joshua, I wasn’t looking to meet the love of my life. Quite the opposite. Had you asked college-aged Stacey, I would have told you pretty clearly I didn’t know if I ever planned to get married. It really wasn’t something I hoped or aspired to specifically.

But God called me to Joshua. Sharing life with him is my vocation. I chose him then, choose him today and will choose him every day of my life. But aligning MY will to GOD’s will for my life is the choice I am making, not “to marry” or “not to marry.”

I think that is the crux of the matter for my lady friends. They are deeply faithful women. They strive, just as I do, to discern where God’s will for them lay. I am confident that being in line with God’s will has brought them where they find themselves today. And I imagine that it must be an incredible and strenuous challenge to rest in the place they find themselves vocationally, when they feel as though they are called to vocations in married life.

My fear, though, is that some days they feel as though they just didn’t, or don’t, or even won’t have a choice. I also fear that I don’t do a very good job of knowing how to support them in the ambiguity in which they find themselves. I believe very strongly in the complementarity of vocations and Joshua and I have sorted out what that means very nicely with our dear priest friends. I am much more at a loss to know how my vocation can best complement that of my friends who find themselves in the single state.