By Renner Clements, Opinion Editor
I took part in two weddings over the summer. The only remarkable quality shared by both ceremonies was the age of the brides and grooms-to-be: not one was older than 21. My dear friends, whom I had grown up with, were diving headfirst into lifelong partnerships before they were legally permitted to drink alcohol or drive rental vehicles. With this said, I could not be more happy or proud of my friends and their courage and faith in prayerfully taking the right next step in their relationships.
While these present examples of collegiate marriage might fill some people with joy and excitement, it fills others with mixed feelings of apprehension and insecurity. What do we do when one of our close friends begins the next stage of their life while we are still taking notes for Spanish? Do we warn them of the dangers of jumping the gun? Or do we ourselves need to look around for our spouses at school?
For those of us whose minds jump to pictures of reckless young couples eloping and eventually divorcing after getting married in a Vegas chapel, I recommend getting down off of that seat of judgment.
“But they are so young; they do not know what they are getting into,” you might say. You might have a genuine fear for his or her future relationship starting prematurely, but unless you play a pivotal role in the decision-making process in others’ lives, then you should put that gavel away. You could argue whether or not one should get married in college, but either way you grossly oversimplify the nature of relationships, as well as the nuances and vastly different circumstances that the individuals wanting to get married find themselves in. You do not know what their walks have looked like. You do not know what God is calling them to do next.
It is not our call to judge the rightness or wrongness of other people’s decisions. That is explicitly known to be up to God, and not us. Not only this, but if you try to apply that same kind of blanket value statement to your own life based on other people’s experiences, you run the risk of falling into the deadly trap of comparison. With so many of our peers partaking in the vows of marriage, why are we not?
We face this type of question often; in these struggles, anxiety rules the day more times than not. Comparison comes along to steal our cake and point at someone else’s to make us fall to our knees before insecurity. ‘Oh look, another one of my classmates got engaged. Once again, the bar has been set higher than I can reach,’ you might think. ‘I wonder what’s wrong with me. I must not be pretty enough. I must not be pure enough. If only I was taller. If only I prayed more.’
Instead of basing our self-worth on things of substance, we choose to either use our neighbors as standards for how successful we are, or use standards set by ourselves that are impossible to fulfill. Neither of these options is healthy, and both do more damage to your relationship with Jesus than help it. Make God the one to decide your value, instead of trying to decide it yourself.
God says that we are loved, that we are treasured and that as believers we are his. Cling to this when you feel like you do not measure up or if you feel unwanted, worthless and alone.
What should we do if our classmate gets married? Celebrate with them. Pray for them. Enthusiastically cheer them on as they step into a brave and vulnerable new type of relationship. If voices of judgment or insecurity start whispering in your ear, drown them out with Scripture, prayers on behalf of the married couple and honest personal reflection.
Photo by Madeline Mullenbach