Several months ago I signed up for eHarmony to prove to all the imaginary critics in my life that I was doing my part to get married. You know, all those people out there who mutter under their breath about how I’d be married if I just tried harder. By the time I’d typed in my credit card number, I’d practically composed an entire speech about how I’d spent my twenties trying to get married and I wasn’t about to waste my thirties doing the same, especially if God intended to keep me single. This didn’t strike me as odd—spending my hard earned wages on internet dating just to prove some theoretical faultfinders wrong—until I heard my niece wailing about the Play-do in her tights. That’s when I realized it was time to fire the imaginary critics.
I was FaceTiming my sister-in-law when my five year old niece found Play-do smashed into her tights. As her mom told her to pack up the dough so they could get to church on time, my niece began to whimper about needing her tights washed. Her mom said there wasn’t time and that no one would notice, but my niece began to wail that they would. Who? The mean people. Those all-seeing, all-knowing, invisible judges who zero in on bits of Play-do smashed into tights, who whisper disparagingly about single women who aren’t trying hard enough. It’s time to pull a Donald Trump on them and let them know for once and for all that they’re fired.
- First of all, they probably don’t even exist. Well, I take that back. One person, once, suggested that I was too picky and that this was the reason for my prolonged singleness. Once. And now I’m syphoning money from my bank account into eHarmony. She’s probably never thought of it again, but I let her suggestion mushroom into a cloud of imaginary critics that I’m scrambling around to please.
- Second, even if the imaginary critics exist, they don’t have all the information. Am I being too picky? Well, I got engaged to the wrong person once. I’d say that’s the epitome of un-pickiness. Should I be doing more to get married? I’ve spent a lot of time on that question with God. I even moved to a larger city and bigger church—the very thing one family member kept harping on as the solution to my romantic drought. My ring finger stayed bare.
What the critics don’t know is that I’ve done my best to follow God’s lead and, as a result, found myself in seminary with a busy schedule (surrounded by more Christian men than ever in my life…and still single), taking care of my corner of the world as I listen to lungs and write prescriptions, and trying to use this gift of writing in a way that helps others. Which of these should I cut out to please the critics and get doing something about my singleness?
- Third, where does God fit into their disapproval? Isn’t he big enough to bring someone into my life whenever and however he pleases? Even if the critics exist, it’s not my job to please them. I’m accountable to God, he’s the one I need to please.
So, I’ve decided to fire my imaginary critics.
What about you? What part of your energy and emotions are you sacrificing to some theoretical faultfinders? Maybe you do have Play-do stuck in your tights. If that’s the case and you want to wash it out and have the time, by all means, do it. But don’t let the imaginary critics get your panties in a bunch. They’re your pantyhose after all.