Wanted: Eligible Young Ladies Only

by Bailey on February 6, 2012 in Training Ground for Mature Adult Character

She was articulate, Biblically versed, a cultural warrioress, womanly woman and culinary artist to boot. She dressed beautifully and modestly. She could debunk any atheist who trotted along as well as wring a chicken’s neck. She loved books and children alike. She submitted to her father, exuded a gentle and quiet spirit, and ended up married to a godly young man who had waited a long time to meet this godly young woman.

No wonder.

I shut down the internet and put my head in my hands. Perhaps it was the time I set the stovetop on fire after spaghetti night, the lopsided dishrags or the chronically messy desk. Maybe it was the way I stumbled all over my words, laughed boisterously and jumped around to my sisters’ utter embarrassment. Surely it had to do with the fact that I could win the Forgetful Laundress Award. I don’t know. But I knew for a very long time that I would never graduate homemaker-in-training satisfactorily—with the MRS degree. I would be the failure woman who, if she ever did get married despite her college degree and dislike of knitting, would send out for pizza when the babies screamed, might possibly waste too much time on Facebook and would be too bored to read her Bible one morning.

I just wasn’t godly enough.

In a stroke of brilliance, I told my mother how imperfect and ungodly I was, and she shrugged off the alleged perfection of this paragon of internet godliness and told me to be myself.

Be myself? The horror! I’d read the purity books. I’d seen the godly young men’s lists, the ones where the wife holds a baby on her hip, chops peppers and talks eschatology at the same time. I wasn’t stupid: I knew that the key to marrying a godly man was being godly myself. Godly marriages defied universal law: opposites did not attract. They didn’t want a girl who’d had random crushes on guys. They didn’t want a girl who’d rather go off to college than stay home. They didn’t want a girl who was imperfect.

They wanted a godly girl—to wit, not me.

For the longest time, I thought marriage was the reward of the godly. I even heard a girl say that everyone will eventually marry if they’re walking in God’s will. I don’t think I ever believed that, but I certainly believed that no one would get married unless they were good enough. There were slim pickings, after all—the group of godly young men who would lead and love was small and diminishing, and they only went after the cream of the conservative crop.

So I was out. Unless I wanted to marry some semi-heathen who let his wife work outside the home and eat McDonald’s.

The idea of young women preparing to be homemakers, wives and mothers is beautiful. My mother tells me of the days when about all she could cook was eggs. Certainly nothing is wrong with preparation and skill, especially if one hopes to be married someday. My only concern is that “preparation” has become equated to “worth,” as if a young lady can increase her godliness factor and eligibility by meeting more requirements before marriage. I stumbled across one article where the author insinuated that the fault of declining marriage lay not with immature men but ungodly girls who were too busy chasing after “fluffy homemaking” and ignoring the true qualities and skills that godly men look for.

In other words, if you care for the frivolities of cake decorating and chick flicks, you’re losing the race to get a husband.

Silly as it is, this thinking needs correction. Pronto. It’s not a race. True love can never be earned. Marriage is not as simplistic as (godly) boy meets (godly) girl. Women are not made of what they can and cannot do. We hold distinct worth simply by being daughters of God and followers of Jesus. Nothing and nobody can take that away—certainly not our messy desks or frumpy sneakers. If a man cannot love us for who we are—warts and all—and pursue God with us—pitfalls and everything—then the fault lies in the fact that it was not meant to be.

I do not believe the Bible lays out the path to Ultimate Eligibility; indeed, I do not think the Bible ever supports the idea that all godly women will be married. It does, however, speak powerfully to the timing and wisdom of God, the beauty of marriage and the mystery of the love within. Ironically, marriage is not a reward or the pinnacle of godliness: it’s a temporary, earthly sanctification tool, meant only for sinners who need the companionship, support and reproof of another.

In my off-and-on pursuit of homemaking, I now view it not as a means to the end of marriage. I view it as an opportunity to serve and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, whether now in helping my mom with dinner dishes or then in ministering to a husband and a house of kids. I know that imperfection does not disqualify a girl from marriage and that it’s not sin to marry without learning how to imitate Olive Garden or Design on a Dime.

Love is not the reward of the faithful. It’s what makes the sinner perfect.

Bailey

Bailey is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler in love with anything literary or theological. The second oldest of nine children, she finds joy in romping with her younger siblings, scribbling in her ever-expanding notebook and trying her hand at the home arts.

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{ 36 comments }

Marie February 6, 2012

What a great post! I already put a quote for Facebook! LOVE your conclusion.

Dianne February 6, 2012

You always right such well-written articles, Bailey. A good thing to think about as I’m training up my little homemaker.

Mrs. White February 6, 2012

I really enjoyed reading this! It is lovely to get the perspective of a young girl still at home with her family. Out of my five children, three are daughters, ages 17, 22 and 23 and I understand their frustrations at time.

So many apsects of this post made me smile!

As strange as it may sound, reading portions of this also made me want to strive to be more godly. It is the peaceful, yielding to God’s will that makes one meek and gentle. And something we can always work on.

The rest – the mistakes, the imperfections are all the humorous parts of life that make each of us unique.

Blessings
Mrs. White
The Legacy of Home

Becky February 6, 2012

Wow I think this might be the best article I’ve ever read on Raising Homemakers!

I am a domestically-challenged wife (sheepishly raising hand) and used to struggle under the burden of “not good enough.” How freeing to realize my worth & value in Christ alone and not in my mothering, housekeeping, cooking, etc.

“Marriage is temporary” How awesome that you’re understanding this at the age of 17! I wrote about the temporality of marriage on my blog http://www.createdtobehis.com/?p=207 I wish I’d understood that concept years ago but better late than never 🙂

Kelley February 6, 2012

Bailey, I always enjoy reading your articles. You are such a thoughtful, articulate young woman. I hope my daughter will be a lot like you when she’s your age! And believe me, there are plenty of more experienced homemakers out there who swing through the drive-thru for a McDonald’s Angus third-pounder with mushrooms and swiss and buy our curtains at Target–I am one of them! And you know what? My godly husband cherishes me. Keep thinking, keep writing, and try not to set the stove on fire. 😉

Sarah Coller February 6, 2012

Good stuff! Just remember that all the character traits you described in the first paragraph can and should be coupled with all the character traits you mentioned in the rest of the article! There’s nothing wrong with being the girl in paragraph one…it’s how we perceive her that needs changing. Just because she is all those good things, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have faults as well. And…just because you might not embody all of the characteristics in the first paragraph, doesn’t mean you don’t have some wonderful and blessed traits of your own that would match or rival all of those! 🙂

Have a beautiful week,

Mrs. Sarah Coller

Bailey February 7, 2012

That is an excellent point, Mrs. Coller, and I’m glad you brought it up!

Catherine Burton February 6, 2012

wow…I am in tears at the honesty and truth in this post. Bailey, it isn’t easy to think and live this way, open to God’s direction and correction, but if you pursue it you will bless so many. It is encouraging to find someone being so real and vulnerable before the Lord and others. Thank you for this beautiful piece. From one imperfect wife, mom and homemaker.

brooke February 6, 2012

God really does guide people to each other. And any man who isn’t willing to marry unless someone fulfills “the list” is not that great of a man anyway, yet. 🙂 We all can change. My husband and I have changed so much. God guides and God is good.

Blessed Mama February 6, 2012

So true! And in Christian circles guys have to be the best providers before they deserve a wife. Well, it might be best for people who really love each other to get married while in college or young, and not wait until their husbands can provide wonderfully for them.

Yeah Christians can definitely make marriage seem like a huge list of rules or this person must be all these things. Marriage is what matures people and grows people. And I agree that people should be really careful about making lists of what are husbands/ or wives will be. The Bible only lays down one rule- that the person should be a believer, another Christian. We have lots of freedom within that to find a person that is a good fit for us! And who might be the best fit for us might not seem likely. I remember someone saying that there daughter could have married a pastor’s kid, which would have seem liked the perfect match. However, she didn’t and ended up marrying someone who hadn’t grown up in a Christian family, but turned out that this man was a much better match for her. What looks “ideal” might not be God’s best.

And another thing to remember- a man needs a helper, and that as wives the most important thing we can be is loving, understanding and accepting. These things make a man feel very loved. My husband tells me so everyday. (Fascinating Womanhood is a great book to read on having a great marriage). So many Christian women have all these great expectations of what their Christian husbands will be and ruin the happiness of their marriage by expecting all sorts of things. Expectations lead to very unhappy marriages. Accepting marriages are delightfully happy!!! What wife would want a husband who comes home and says to her, “why isn’t dinner on, why is the house a mess?” and is mad, after she had a horribly hard day taking care of a crying infant all day. Wouldn’t a wife much rather have an understanding husband, say that is okay those things didn’t all get done, I am so glad you were able to take care of our little one, lets get take out for dinner. The understanding husband will have a wife that feels very loved. And the same goes for the husband- he greatly desires an understanding and accepting wife! Understanding and acceptance can truly make a marriage loving and happy!

Bailey February 7, 2012

I love this – acceptance versus expectations. It’s something I’ve been trying to apply in all my relationships and it’s really changed how I view people. Honestly, people become who others perceive them to be. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if others hadn’t stuck by me in thick, thin and ugliness. Blessings!

Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz February 6, 2012

Beautifully said.

Jamie February 6, 2012

This is a good reminder. I particularly appreciated the comment about marrying a heathen who lets his wife work outside the home and eat fast food. I’ve always been slightly saddened by the way boys/men are talked about in women’s discussions of marriage; we understand that we are all works in progress but so rarely does someone acknowledge upfront that the men we marry are as well.

Certainly, we want a man who shares our faith and who is seeking to learn and grow in the right direction. But many a godly Christian man and father started off as a boy just as challenged by and despairing of meeting the standards of godliness as we are.

You are spot on here Bailey – marriage is about growing, supporting and refining one another. Being the kind of woman willing to accept another person for their strengths and weaknesses and willing to commit to giving them your best for a lifetime matters much, much more than any collection of skills we might acquire. 🙂

Dawn Walton February 6, 2012

Hi Baily! I so enjoy reading your posts and seeing your perspective! As far as I know from Scripture, the only qualification for a “godly woman” is that she fear the Lord! That can encompass a lot of things, but gives you much room to grow in singleness or marriage in many areas. Like you said earlier marriage can be very sanctifying in a woman’s life, but it’s not the purpose for marriage. The Lord tells us to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, rule over it and subdue it because He wants a “holy” seed here on this earth to advance His kingdom. I think singleness is a special gift the Lord gives to some, but His general purpose is for most to be married. If you fear the Lord as a young woman that means you are a vessel of honor that the Lord can mold and shape more and more into His image. In your single years you can soak up His word yourself and through your parents instruction without distraction and have a wonderful foundation to build a marriage on. Will you know it all? Will you be perfect? No, you’ll still have lots to learn, but that beautiful foundation will be there and you’ll be planted and rooted in His truth and purpose. I’ve been married 21 years to a wonderful godly man and have been blessed with 9 children. My oldest ones are following the Lord. It has been an ever life changing, and growing experience so far for all of us, and with all of it’s ups and downs, one I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!

Kate February 6, 2012

I think that is a lovely and balanced perspective, Bailey! And I commend you for “saying it out loud” because it was honest and real, and I know there are other young (and older) women out there skulking in the shadows of the girls they perceive to be all that they are not. Beautiful!

Jenny @ A Mother's Heritage February 6, 2012

This is such a wonderful post! Thank you so much for these sentiments. I am actually hosting a series on my blog A Mother’s Heritage on being a single Titus 2 woman. This fits right in with this! What a blessing!

Sarah February 6, 2012

“marriage is …meant only for sinners who need the companionship, support and reproof of another.”
I have a little trouble with this part of the statement, for the label of “sinners” being used. It is my understanding that, in the Bible, that term is used to refer to those not saved… Is that what you’re saying- that only sinners/non-disciples of Christ should marry?

Bailey February 7, 2012

Sorry for the confusion! As I understand it, a sinner means different things in the Bible depending on its context. It’s most basic definition is “someone who sins,” which, let me honest, I do daily – Paul called himself the “chief of sinners” while he was saved, for example. You’re right, though, that “sinners” often refers to unbelievers, as children of God ought to be characterized by holiness, not sin.

It was certainly not my intention to imply that only nonbelievers should marry – that would argue against my whole post! I should have used a word more like “imperfect.” I just wanted to get across that marriage is not a reward but a help to imperfect people. Even before Adam sinned, he needed a helper. I hope that clears things up!

Maggie (from Canada) February 6, 2012

Hi Bailey,

This is a beautiful article and it really touched my heart. Even though from what I can see, our backgrounds could scarcely be more different (I am from a non-Christian, divorced home, and came to faith at age 21), I have had the same thoughts. I remember crying myself to sleep thinking that no Christian man would ever want such a flawed woman, a child of divorce, someone who barely knows how to cook. Then God showed me that being “godly” is so much more than decorating a cake or having an immaculate home. I looked at godly women in the Bible like Abigail, Deborah, and Ruth, who were hardly sitting at home knitting all day. It’s good to cultivate these kinds of skills, no matter what the future holds, but even if a woman is the Christian Martha Stewart, that doesn’t guarantee a husband. Funny thing is that my best “wifely” skill is baking, and I ended up marrying a man who doesn’t like sweets. We are newlyweds living temporarily in a tiny apartment that is so packed with stuff that I doubt even Martha herself (Stewart or the biblical one) could tame this place… but we are happy anyway! If God have a husband for you, he will be someone who will appreciate you for who you are rather than for the resume of homemaking skills you bring into a marriage.

Sorry this ended up being pretty long. Grace and peace to you in your journey. 🙂

Bailey February 7, 2012

You live such a beautiful story, Maggie. I’m so glad that you’re safe both in the love of Jesus and your husband. And if you need anyone to eat your sweets, well….*cough* 😉

Maggie (from Canada) February 7, 2012

Thanks Bailey! I suspect that my husband’s lack of a sweet tooth is probably God’s grace to give me a reason not to bake every day…

Marcia Wilwerding February 6, 2012

I hear what you’re saying, Bailey, and I understand your heart. In fact, there seems to be a bit of a backlash against the “perfectly eligible” young woman as portrayed by the higher echelons of the conservative home school movement.

We have a stay-at-home-daughter who just went full-time outside of the home this week. She stayed home for three years after graduating from our home school. She did everything she was taught to do by the books, websites, seminars, and her mother. Then, once the other kids moved out of the house, and she and I were left staring at each other, she got a dream job working at the fabric counter at a local, Christian hobby and crafts store with her parents’ blessing.

Since working there, she has met a whole network of people through which it is quite possible she might one day meet the one man for which God has prepared her. But, that has never been her purpose in getting this job. Her purpose was to expand and put to good use the knowledge and skills for which she is uniquely gifted. She still helps at home, of course, but with only she, her father, and I at home, there’s really no need in both of us maintaining the household.

This has really made us stop and reconsider much of what we believed, what we are seeing the Bible actually teaches, and what we share with others.

Thank you for sharing your heart.

Bailey February 7, 2012

This is sort of where I’m at too. Of course there’s beauty in the girl I portrayed in the first paragraph, as she is clearly accomplished at what she loves and devoted to the Lord. But there are so many avenues and talents and skills for individual girls to have – like your daughter – and the Lord can use them all for His glory. It grieves me that young women feel pressured to achieve an imaginary standard of perfection when they have such opportunity already in their own uniqueness. Thank you for being the mother who supports and guides her daughter into that understanding! You remind me very much of my own mom. 🙂

Cristy Jenkins in AL February 6, 2012

This is the most beautifully perfect post I have ever read! As a mother of seven children with two older daughters, I think this logic is most appropriate. Thank you for your candid, humble, and real conclusion that young women are perfectly and uniquely created to be daughters of the Most High first. Anything after that, mom’s helper, sibling potty-trainer, wife, mother, etc. is just icing on the cake. Brilliant!

Bailey February 7, 2012

Thank you! And three cheers for sibling potty-trainers! 😉

Natasha February 7, 2012

so beautiful. and so very true.

In Him,
Natasha

Tiffany Sanders February 8, 2012

“Love is not the reward of the faithful. It’s what makes the sinner perfect.” Lovely.

Tera Bare February 10, 2012

Great article! Thank you so much for this. I’ve linked it on my blog as a must read!

Alexxus February 11, 2012

Bailey dear, I believe this is the best article you’ve ever written on the homemaking topic. I enjoyed it very much. Honestly, I am relieved. I could never be the perfect homemaker to save my life. 😉

Ruth February 13, 2012

Great article. It was so encouraging for me to remember these things as I never thought God would bring a husband to less-than-perfect me. But His plans are perfect and He knows what we all need. I pray He brings you joy in this season.

Hannah S. February 13, 2012

Wow, Bailey. It appears to me you’ve figured out so much more in your 17 years than I have in my 28. Thank you so much for this article!

Sunny W. February 16, 2012

“Wow, Bailey. It appears to me you’ve figured out so much more in your 17 years than I have in my 28. Thank you so much for this article!”
I second that!
I’m looking at the possibility of marriage and am beginning to see how unprepared I really am. Oh, I can sew, knit, crochet, cross stitch, bake, clean, organize, etc. But what I’m seeing is the spiritual aspects that I am just still immature in. Lord, help us learn what is the MOST important. And the neat thing about the most important things to develop before marriage, is that they are applicable in any stage of life.

Miss Rachel P. February 16, 2012

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! 😀 Now at the age of 25, sometimes this girl admits she gets disheartened at times – it’s so hard not to get caught up in the worldly thinking of our day and age isn’t it! 😛 This was such a blessed encouragement to me, Baily, and I thank you for sharing the thoughts the Lord laid on your heart my dear! You are quite right…it’s not a race, and marriage is not a reward for the most “holy” of young women (wow, you said all that so perfectly in this post! I could not figure it out, fully, before!) – but just another tool God uses to guide us and mold us. 🙂

And thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I too don’t always do my best at the homemaking pursuits and it’s very easy in this internet age to feel inadequate next to another sweet sister in Christ when reading her blog or Facebook status updates isn’t it? 😉 We ought not to do that but it’s very easy to sometimes. I’m glad to know I’m not the only procrastinator who spends too much time online some days and isn’t “perfect”. 😉 Hehe *hugs*

Love in Christ! 😀
~Miss Rachel~

Thank you dear!
God bless!

Leanna February 16, 2012

What an encouraging article! It was just what I need today. Thank you for helping cement the fact that we don’t have to be perfect and have our act together to be eligible.

everly February 16, 2012

Oh Bailey,

This is so good. You are wise beyond your years, but you’re probably sick of hearing that by now.

Come visit Eyrie Park and let’s be friends!

Everly

Rose February 16, 2012

This is so true. Sometimes my girlish heart gets so caught up in wanting the love and affection of a man, that God gets pushed back. 🙁 Thankfully my eternal lover keeps pursuing me with love and grace. I’m so blessed. 🙂

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