As I reflect on my time as editor of The Well, I am struck by how many wonderful pieces we have published over the years. For ten weeks, The Well will share some of my favorites from the past in a TBT (Throw-Back Thursday) series. Enjoy! — Marcia
"Buying the Mixer" is not only one of my favorites, but a reader favorite as well. Writing about singleness, Grace Chiu examines theology in light of expectations and disappointments and then considers what it means to live a rich and full life even in the face of heartache and loss.
I’m a pretty frugal person. I bring my lunch to work from home. I make a purchase from my favorite clothing store when the item is on sale and I have a coupon. I brew my own coffee at home...except on rare occasions when I cave and buy an iced coffee from a certain coffee conglomerate.
When it comes to home and kitchen furnishings, I’m content with the minimalist setup in my studio apartment. But there is one appliance that I’ve had my eye on for ten years. It’s the KitchenAid mixer. The 325-watt motor, 5-quart stainless steel bowl with ergonomic handle, pouring shield, and a tilt-back mixer head design. It is a thing of beauty. It is also $499.99.
Unless you’re Betty Crocker, a $499.99 mixer is a significant culinary investment. Ten years ago, I mentally categorized the mixer as a “wedding ticket” item. Something to place on a wedding registry one day. Apparently I’m not the only one. “I really want one of those mixers, too,” shared a friend. “Guess I’ll have to wait until I’m married to enjoy one.”
Now, ten years later, many of my friends have married. And yes, they each registered for a KitchenAid mixer.
And now, ten years later, many single Christian women I know stand at a crossroads. They are unmarried, and according to many, with few spousal prospects on the horizon. And they are without a KitchenAid mixer.
At this crossroads, many of us grow disappointed, weary — even angry — with God. We feel that God is unusually cruel by withholding the benefits and blessings of marriage. For refusing us the company of a lover and spiritual companion. For suspending the prospects of raising a family. For denying full rights to a shiny KitchenAid mixer.
Many of us — myself included — can momentarily fall into believing this merit-based formula: “If I do the right things, God will bless me with [fill in the blank].” When we don’t receive those blessings, we feel deprived. This thinking has entrapped many Christian women who find themselves romantically entangled with non-believing men or nominal believers. Knowing a number of women in this situation, I don’t think they intentionally desire to be unequally yoked. Rather, they long for a relationship they believe they were promised. When life doesn’t come to fruition as we desire, the heart is devastated.
Sometimes this despondency morphs into an attitude of entitlement. This sense of entitlement is not exclusive to new Christians. It is a true struggle experienced by mature believers, even those in ministry.
How do we grapple with this struggle? Perhaps we should examine our theology. If we believe that we’re entitled to certain blessings, we need to stand back and remember that God did not even withhold his greatest gift, his Son, from us. When we embrace this truth, we learn that God is not cruel, far from it. When we face rejection, disappointment and betrayal, the life and ministry of Jesus demonstrates that he knows how it feels to be ignored, emotionally abandoned, and uncherished. Christ experienced the absolute depths of loneliness — far from what we will ever experience — for our sake.
This does not negate the fact that many of us have experienced tremendous loss and true heartache. But is our desolation a reflection of the inner struggle of treating good things like marriage as ultimate things? David Powilson and John Yenchko remind us, “Marriage is a great gift. There is no doubt about that. It is a joy to have an intimate partner for life. But there is a danger here. Marriage is not the greatest gift, nor does it provide the deepest and surest joys.”
One of the Westminster catechism questions states that “God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.” When we live for God’s glory, we are never living “Plan B,” regardless of which dreams don’t come true.
Yet our hearts still ache. When we do not have the words to pray, we can turn to the scriptures for guidance: “As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me.” Psalm 55:16-18
Today, I purchased my first KitchenAid mixer. It comes in my favorite color, it’s on sale . . . with an additional 15% markdown (of course). I felt a momentary pang of sadness that I wasn’t opening the box with a special person by my side. But whether single or married, I am never deprived of experiencing or sharing Christ’s love. We can live full, rich lives that speak of a love that will never let us go: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” My new appliance will help me extend care by way of the treats prepared with it. Hospitality and community are not “wedding ticket” items. These are gifts that can be extended, received, and enjoyed right now. And for that, I can celebrate!
Grace Chiu received her PhD in Urban Schooling from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, and her EdM from Harvard Graduate School of Education. A former classroom teacher and literacy coach, Grace consults in schools and districts across the country, committed to improving the quality of public education for underserved children and youth. During college, Grace worked as a street artist in New Orleans Square at Disneyland. She is currently training a reading therapy dog, Pip Puddleglum.
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