I was blown away by this passage from my current read, When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James. This is a long quote, but stick with it! I'll share some thoughts after the block.
A lot of women live with a subterranean sense that God doesn't have a plan for them. If there is a plan at all, it is only temporary and quickly discarded when "someone" comes along with a real plan.I think this passage touched me so deeply because I am, or have been, all of these women. I've felt like a "supporting actress" all my life, believing that the only plans God had for me involved helping someone else. But over the past couple of years, God has really opened my eyes to the abilities and passions He's given me, and I've been flooded with a longing for my own story. I greatly value the institution of marriage and hope to remarry eventually, but I know that I'll never again be content simply to piggyback on someone else's dreams. I also know now that that's not what God wanted from me in the first place. Being a "helper" is great, but my desire is to do something that God created me specifically to do, to glorify Him in some way that no one else can. This piece tells me that He has the same desire for me, for all women, and that nothing can ruin that or stand in His way. I don't know about you, but that's the best news I've heard in a long time.
Single women with this point of view are waiting for the plan to commence. Until a husband arrives on the scene, they are on hold or must default to a second-class plan that is not nearly as good or meaningful as that of a married woman. Singleness is perceived by many in the church (including some singles) as a woman's private purgatory – a suspended state of uncertain duration useful only as a bridge to marriage…The mistaken assumption that God uses the same plan for all women – to marry, conceive children, raise a family, and move on to grandmothering – is painful for women who fail to fit the profile at any given point. In the meantime, there is an unspoken consensus among Christians that what a single woman does with her life is an interim or makeshift plan – a way to mark time until she marries and the real plan begins. Such notions can lead to some rather half-hearted living.
A married woman faces a different problem when she believes the plan she's on belongs to her husband. Her plan seems eclipsed by God's plan for him. I'm afraid it's true that many evangelical men see their wives as merely a supporting actress in his story, or as a spectator, alternately cheering him on or biting her nails as she waits to see where God will lead him next. She braces herself for his next big decision and the adjustments she will have to make. She invests herself in her children's lives and watches them move on in God's plan for them, but she doesn't have a plan of her own…It's hard to have a clear sense of purpose or calling if you're convinced you are only tagging along.
Women who live on the other side of marriage because of death or divorce suffer from thinking the plan is over. Their grief over the termination of their marriage is compounded by the deadening sense that unless they remarry, any plan God had for their lives is spoiled for good.
God's sovereignty puts women back on the map of life. It reminds us that God has a unique plan for each woman. We are called not to sit on the sidelines, but to be players, active contributors, to run the race he has marked out for us…We are not left in the wake of God's plan for someone else. No matter how intertwined our lives become with the lives of husbands, friends, and family members, God's plan for us is individual and personal.
Those who believe that God has a plan for them sometimes encounter another problem – the conviction that they have lost God's best plan for them…But if God is sovereign, then Plan B is a myth. No matter how dark things look to us, or how big the mess we're in, we're in plan A. God's plan for us is intact, proceeding exactly as he intended, neither behind nor ahead but right on schedule. Nothing – not our sins, failures, disappointments, bad decisions, nor the sins of others against us – can deter a sovereign God from accomplishing his purposes.