Despite my frequent use (and perhaps overuse) of analogies, there's one thing that I just can't seem to match: marriage.
I understand that the church is the bride of Christ, and so we can model marriages that way - trying to incorporate the love and sacrifice shown by Christ into our own relationships, but even that is not something I can say I completely understand. Analogies are supposed to be simple and familiar: throwing a party, closing a door, stubbing your toe.
There's no earthly thing that I can compare to committing myself to another person forever. I suppose if I chopped off my leg, that would be permanent and difficult to ignore, like a marriage, but I'd rather not draw that parallel. I have some hope that being married is very different from being an amputee.
And so, because I cannot understand marriage by thinking about something else I already understand, I live with a healthy fear and respect for it. Part of this healthy fear and respect is an increasing befuddlement with common ideas surrounding the whole thing. Falling in love, for instance. Yikes. I have no doubt that there is some kind of romantic thing that happens and which feels beyond the control of the person affected - something like infatuation and excitement - but I doubt more and more that that has very much to do, really, with marriage. The marriages I admire appear to be participated in very much on purpose.
When someone says to me "you can't help who you love," I have begun to assume that our definitions of love are quite different. Similarly, anxiety wells within me when I hear people talk about engaging in a less-than-wonderful relationship as "taking risks for the sake of love." What I really hear is "taking risks for the sake of not being alone." That scares me because I'm learning that people don't realize how much they have to lose. I've, somewhat accidentally, learned what they have to lose. I have an extraordinary amount of singleness experience, and I shudder to think that I could have lost all of that - the fun, the learning, the independence, the empowerment, had I decided that not being alone was more important than waiting for something that fit.
I am only 25, yes. I have not yet lost the will to encourage people around me to relish their singleness and, if marriage or some kind of committed relationship is what they desire, wait. Wait and be intentional. Your are of more value to the world as an energetic, joyful, single person than you will ever be as a person in a relationship that does not give you joy or energy.