Lists on the interwebs, I’ve observed, are ways that new bloggers can make it look as though they are being productive and wise. It’s like the people that start off their day writing at the top of the paper “1 – Make To Do List”.
This in mind, I read a list earlier in the year: 23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged. I get part of it. Around senior year of college, enough engagement rings start appearing that those who are single can wonder if they are missing something. But I was still not impressed with her suggestions. Was this a list saying that getting engaged is another task in life? Some of her items served others and promoted personal growth. Others not so much.
Well, someone read the first list and wrote her response. But she wasn’t helpful. Rather, she was rude and impudent. She states in her rebuttal that “Well, if this is her bucket list, then maybe she shouldn’t publish it and suggest that I do it, too.” But what does she say later?
“Oh, and that if you’re going to share a list of fun things to do, make sure they’re actually fun. And worthwhile. So, here goes. 23 Things You Can Do With Your Husband Regardless of Age.”
And later on:
“…maybe that’s why some people don’t marry young, or ever! Because sucky people like her suggest doing awful things like that.”
And the married vs single wars continue.
After reading the first list, other than rolling my eyes at some of the suggestions, all I could see was a 23 year-old needing validity for not getting married. It seemed to be a plea for purpose. “Help! I’m caught between desire for relationship and feminism!”
And the married girl? First, don’t mention making out or having make-up sex with your husband – multiple times in one post. Second, why are you so offended that someone was trying to encourage, albeit badly, that people not focus their personhood on marriage? Third, you didn’t represent the marrieds very well. You were snarky to the single girl. You didn’t say anything positive about your single experience. Also, getting married at 25 is not that big of a difference to 23.
In fact here’s what both articles screamed to me:
VALIDATE ME! VAAAAALIDAAAAATE MEEEEEEEE!
But some lists, or lists disguised as prose can be good. This came to my attention a few weeks after I read the first two lists.
“Start living the life that you do have instead of wishing for things that you don’t have. There will come a time you’ll meet a boy and you’ll have to give up some of this single freedom you currently have. Start being more thankful. Start doing that now.”
It was refreshing as secular reasoning for singleness can be. It reminded me of a book I read at the beginning of my post-college life that gave a list of 100 things to do in your 20s. But unlike the first two lists – it doesn’t depend on or make value judgments about marital status.
We can have all the lists we want and never have the life we need.
The heart of the first two lists is basic discontent and lack of approval. As Christians, this is crucial to understand. All we need as the source of our validity, personhood, approval, and life’s contentment is Christ. He gave us other good things – family, the Church, talents, abilities – but they are not to be the foundation of our acceptance and knowing we are loved.
I needed three years of counseling and multiple reminders since that Christ is my contentment. Christ is my source of acceptance. The very God that says He knit you in your mother’s womb, and looked on his creation and called it good (Psalms and Genesis, respectively). This same God calls us to lay aside everything that hinders and look to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12).
Get away from lists and go towards Christ. The list looks easier at first, but in reality it is heavy and constricting, regardless of your marital status.