I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
I have always felt that there were two paths available to me. The first was to remain single and celibate, devoting my life to the Lord and serving Him always. I would travel around the world, spreading the Gospel and trying to help people, bringing what healing and love I had to offer to wherever I went. And while this path was appealing for its own reasons, it is one from which I recoiled. Since I was nine years old, I have dreamed of marrying and having children; building a family of my own so unlike the family in which I grew up.
The second path, then, was to marry and begin that family. Rather than traveling around the world serving God, I would stay and work, come to the same home every night, and serve my family first. God would still be a part of my life, but the necessity and truth of the situation is that my wife and children would come first.
This is, as Paul writes, a necessary and approved path for our life. But at least to Paul’s mind, it is a less desirable path, and one I have often struggled to accept. I know what I want, but I have continually worried that I have disappointed God in some way, and that my life is not as meaningful or as helpful to “the cause” as it might otherwise have been. I walk to work each day, and walk home for lunch, and home again at five, and I wonder where else I might have been. I cook dinner and play WoW and go to bed, and wonder what more I might have done.
In the end, I work to serve my church and my community, and hope that someday, through my writing, I can impact and serve the world in a way that is glorifying to God. Perhaps my concern comes ultimately from my (misplaced?) desire to please my earthly father, which has always seemed a somewhat unattainable goal for a variety of reasons. It is difficult not to equate my Father with my father, and in so doing I do God a disservice. I know this, but it’s hard to overcome that feeling.
I do not yet know what my relationship with God should be as a married man, or how I should be serving Him. I don’t know what He wants me to do, and I have trouble accepting that He is completely happy, satisfied, and supportive of my life choices. But perhaps, with time, it will become clear. I know that He is not as central to my life as when I was single, but I desperately want to discover how much of my life and attention I can give Him and still honour April. I need to find out where that line is drawn so I can walk on it more comfortably.
Then again, perhaps it never gets comfortable. I’ve heard that that’s not really the point.