A single friend and I were talking the other day about the kind of phrases and clichés you hear when you are a Christian single.
You hear things about relying on God, how God will supply all your needs, how no husband can fill the place of God in your life.
Occasionally you may even hear the Coup de grâce of all Christian single clichés: Focus on dating Jesus right now.
When I was single, my friends and I talked to each other like this (with the notable exception that we never told each other to "date Jesus"), but when we got boyfriends and fiancees and husbands, we stopped. We stopped talking about how we needed Jesus to provide those needs that a husband couldn't fill. We stopped thinking about being content with just Jesus. And, what's more, we stopped hearing about it from others.
When you're single, sermons, books, and Bible studies are focused on telling you that only the love of Jesus can fulfill you. When you're married, the same sources are focused on teaching how a husband and wife can love each other in a fulfilling way.
For all our talk when we were single about how no person could fill the place of God in our lives, we sure started acting like it was possible when we got married. Deep down I don't think we ever believed it anyway -- that only Jesus could fill our needs or that He was somehow better than a husband.
In fact, I remember in high school when one of our youth leaders was saying how much she loved and enjoyed being married and having a family, but that none of it could compare to knowing Jesus. I remember thinking "Of course she says that now that she's married, now that she has the life that she wants."
Maybe when we were single, we were all just passing around comforting thoughts to get us through a difficult season until we could get to another not-as-difficult season where we wouldn't have to believe any of it anymore.
I'm in that elusive "next season" now and I actually believe more than ever that I need God. Two years into marriage and four years removed from singleness, I finally believe it.
I actually think this realization has become more and more clear to me every day since my wedding day. I think I'm realizing that leaving God out of the picture is a recipe for a miserable life -- regardless of whether it's a married or single life.
As I was telling my friend about this, she asked why. Why does marriage so clearly show me my need for God? She listed several possibilities and I had to say that they were all true.
It makes me realize that I need God because it puts a magnifying glass on all my faults. I now have someone who is in my life everyday who I can be a jerk to. Being married shows me how far off I am in comprehending the concepts of grace, kindness, and unconditional love.
It makes me realize that I need God because I put these impossible wifely expectations on myself that I can never live up to. The cycle of self-sufficiency > anxiety > breakdown makes me realize how much I need God to hold me up.
It makes me realize that I need God because, no matter how many times I heard it when I was single, my husband cannot fill every emotional, physical, and Spiritual need in my life. God is still the only one who can do that.
The weight we all sometimes feel -- the pressure, the unmet needs, the lonliness -- that's something inside us telling us we can't do it on our own. That we can't even do it even with an amazing husband or a close circle of friends. It's what everyone was trying to tell me all along during my high school and college years: that no matter what life stage I'm in, who is in my life, or what I have going for me, I need God.
And we can't just share this message with people who are in difficult circumstances. That carries with it the idea that when circumstances improve, we can go back to being self-sufficient or putting all our dependence in another person.
But we all need God. Every day. For salvation, forgiveness, wisdom, strength. In our marriages, in our singleness, with our kids, at home, in our jobs. On our best and worst days. I'm not sure there's a more important lesson we can learn in our Christian lives than that.
No matter where we are in life, you and I need God.