The words were spoken during a moment of quiet confession. We were gathered together, just the women, during a church prayer retreat, and around the room, women would tentatively lift a hand or slip from their chair and confess areas of weakness and sin.

One woman had tried to start several times, but in the awkwardness of silent waiting, another would start at the same time, and she would retreat. The leader, having understood her effort, called to her.

“You’ve been trying to speak a few times now. Tell us what’s on your heart,” the leader urged.

“I want my husband to meet all my needs, and he doesn’t and then I get frustrated with him,” she said, through tears. She went on to explain that she has a great husband, a good marriage, wonderful children, but she still feels empty sometimes.

She was confessing that she had looked to a wedding ring to meet her needs instead of God.

I was stunned. Not at the confession, but that it came from the lips of a married woman. Having been single my whole life, I have often held marriage up to the same high standard. No matter what difficulty was happening, I would conclude that it would be easier if only I were married. This happily betrothed woman’s confession made me reel.

Others in the room, both married and single, seemed to respond similarly. We all knew what she was talking about, though we experienced it on different sides of the fulcrum. And in that moment, I felt a barrier drop between the women with husbands and the women without.

Marriage is a beautiful union of two; it was established in Paradise before sin and precisely depicts our relationship with God and his Son Jesus like no other metaphor. But marriage isn’t the goal of our lives. In fact, marriage ends with this world. Paul tells us that marriage vows hold only in this life, and Jesus said that there will be no marriage in heaven.

I want to get married. And though we’ve all heard that a woman over a certain age has a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married, I’m still nurturing this God-given desire.

But I am also standing with my sisters, both married and unmarried, in resisting the urge to make an idol out of the institution or the man. Jesus needs to be enough for me. For all of us.

For your Maker is your husband—
the LORD Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
–Isaiah 54:5

holy experience

Today, I am writing in community with Ann Voskamp and friends, exploring the Spiritual Practice of Holy Matrimony. After hesitating a week or two on this four-week project, I decided to offer a single’s perspective on the revered institution. I pray that it has been an encouragement. To see other’s thoughts, click on the button above.

You might also be interested in an earlier post: “A Marriage-less Wife.”