…that my long-suffering parents finally decided to step up their respective games of “Let’s get Tosin married!” For the first time really, I’m feeling a little pressured. You know what?! My parents have been extremely patient, especially considering that they are after all African parents. I guess what makes the situation with me unusual is that many women in my situation would themselves be desperately agitating to get married, and I am certainly not doing that! My fear in this is that I will get fed up of the pressure and cave in a little and end up getting married to… hmm… a good guy, but likely not a great fit for me, and largely for the sake of getting married, which is definitely what I don’t want to do.
I sometimes wonder whether this is what people want: that women like me should get married at all costs so that in a few years down the line there will be an inglorious divorce to look forward to. Or perhaps they expect to be able to pressurise me to stay in a bad marriage – no way! Unfortunately, a big part of the issue is that I don’t look very serious! People sometimes find it hard to believe that I’m a reader and a serious thinker because I am always joking and laughing. Now you would think that my parents of all people would know differently, after literally spending the first 15 years of my happily encouraging my bookworm habit. But apparently my playful nature has exactly the same effect on them, and they think that Tosin cannot be trusted to deal with this by herself OR they think that they’ve given me enough time to sort it by myself, and I clearly have not! So although I try to persuade my parents that I am not being complacent about this, in fact I have a blog, don’t you know?! – they apparently do not take me or anything I could be writing here very seriously – I guess they fail to see how writing anything could contribute to the cause of getting married.
As long-time readers of this blog will know, I do genuinely want to get married! There are some aspects of marriage that are so appealing which I have written about at great length already here on this blog. I just don’t want all the unexciting bits. I especially do not want the standard gender roles in terms of housework and childcare. Additionally, I really want to be married – I just don’t want to be married to any of the available candidates – ie church guys! The person I need to be married to is Jesus – obviously not THE Jesus; as special as I consider myself, I am not that special! Rather a Christian who is exactly like THE Jesus in terms of holiness, wisdom, character, purity, not being sexist, not being racist, definitely not being a glass ceiling – and attractive too, naturally! And the thing about church guys in my experience is that they are nothing like THE Jesus! Which you will already know if you have been reading this blog for any length of time. As you might suspect I am just about to burst into one of my rants, but I will restrain myself. Long story short, it is even considered somehow unfair or unrealistic to measure these guys against the character of Christ, or indeed to expect anything whatsoever, because they “are not perfect”.
Well considering I have such an opinion of my fellow Christians, it can surely come as no surprise that I am emphatically single, and not really expecting that to change any time soon, truth be told! However my parents definitely do confidently expect that to change!
You know what, I am not being difficult about this! In contemplating this post, I was acknowledging to myself that to have had nine years to sit around thinking about marriage, analysing, going back and forth, rehashing my arguments, reformulating my theories – has been a luxury somewhat! And you know, I was not a teenager when I started this blog; I was already older than I had always expected to be when getting married. Many people do not have that chance to sit around, think, analyse. Life just overtakes them, and they just have to get on with it. To be honest, I have enjoyed that luxury, and I am grateful for it. However if there came into my life a man who was genuinely a strong candidate for marriage and we liked one another, and we got on and…everything else, why would I be stalling unnecessarily?! Trust me, I would not! It is not like I secretly want each guy I meet to score poorly in terms of character and pursuit of Christ, rather it is that Christianity of our times falls so short of Biblical standards, that almost any man whose faith has been shaped by modern standards will equally, fall short, automatically and emphatically.
Now I have painstakingly spelled this out very recently to one of my parents, and they made all the right noises of understanding – but they still so eagerly want me to get married. Here’s the question then: considering that Christian guys are generally so unwonderful, who am I going to get married to?! Where can I go to meet someone who is that outstanding, where are all those amazing men hiding?! I know that there MUST be outstanding guys out there!!! (Will he find me outstanding?!) My dream would be to go to a church or whatever and find row upon row of holy, committed, loving smiling Christian brothers who are all striving after Christlikeness – which is the way it should be in church. This should not be anything remarkable. And then to be able to choose a great and well-fitting match out of a plethora of excellent choices. As it is the alternative seems to be to settle for someone as yet unidentified who will likely be somewhat ill-fitting, just because he is the only person who remotely comes close. I am tempted here to resurrect my analogy about leather and shoes in regard to husbands. It would be great to be able to metaphorically go into a well stocked shoe shop, full of beautifully crafted specimens, finely stitched – like when my Mum repeatedly dragged me around various Italian pelleterie and calzatur…something – this is a true story! Trust me that I know what I’m talking about here! Each shoe presented enticingly, in beautiful packaging, and then it is a matter of simply choosing which one you want, out of a range of outstanding choices which all fit beautifully, all well-made with strong leather to be longlasting. The opposite of this would be to be forced to settle for a badly stitched, perhaps mismatching pair of shoes with scuffed leather, because that is the only option available, and actually I also know about this too! Well it is as if the Bible presents to us a catalogue of the most exquisite handiwork, but all we see on the shelves of shoeshop after shoeshop are some unexciting specimens, and the shop assistants keep insisting “Sorry, none of those are available! They just don’t make them like that anymore!” Or worse yet they try to persuade you that what they have on their shelves is the same as what is in the catalogue. And you keep looking at the Bible and comparing it with what is on actually on the shelves, and you keep telling yourself: “There must be an amazing shoeshop out there!” I know there must be! But where, though?! As I’m writing this I’m asking myself “Am I being a little unfair?” But I’m not. Trust me I’m not. I firmly believe that all of these guys have the potential to be truly oustanding but they just don’t invest enough time, effort, prayer or honesty into their pursuit of Christ. So invariably they are not outstanding – not remotely.
Actually, on second thoughts, yes I am being unfair. Some people in faith – largely men, are utterly insincere. They have no real love of God, or Jesus, they don’t allow the Word of God to sink in to change their hearts, they are just out for what they can get. These are the men who provoke my endless rants. However other men are sincere, in that they truly love God and they truly want to live for Him. However, the practicalities of our modern ways of living mean that they simply do not have the time to invest into praying etc, and even where they might unexpectedly have a little extra time, for instance during lockdown, because of general weak standards and low expectations in modern Christianity, prayer and Bible reading is not the first thing that occurs to them as a way of using that extra time. So where they could in theory be outstanding in their pursuit of Christ, they are often merely good.
As I write this, I think of a few Christian men I know who are actually, sincerely excellent. But they are all married! And I’m thinking “Why do I never notice outstanding guys while they are still single?!” And I’m thinking of someone I knew while he was actually single, and he was lovely, but I felt a little reluctant. Now of course he’s married with children!
Perhaps the truth is that I’m just a little scared. I like to think that my future is filled with limitless possibilities. But to marry someone is like limiting myself to my husband’s limits. It’s like you can instantly see the limits of where your life can go in the person of your husband. So perhaps this means that I have to look for someone who like me likes to dream without limits, so that marrying him is not instantly limiting the scope of where I can go or what I can achieve in my life, and when I look at him I don’t see a limit to my own life!
Regarding my parents though, I’m thinking of what I can do to deftly offset this subtle new pressure. At my age, it is perhaps a little late to talk about running away, but yes, the idea did occur to me! One of the worst things I can readily imagine in my life would be to embark upon a poor match just for the sake of getting married and then just watching as hell inevitably ensues. In my mind, there is a hell-shaped chasm between marrying a “good” guy and marrying an outstanding guy. Please believe me that from my previous experience with supposedly “good” people I cannot afford to marry a merely “good” guy. That would be hell on earth, no exaggeration. For this to be remotely plausible he has to be utterly outstanding and utterly unrelenting in his pursuit of Christ. And so the battle to convince my parents continues!!!