Carolyn McCulley announced last week that her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? (June 2004), has been translated into Korean and will soon be published by IVP Korea, with the new title, The Gift Allowed Today.
Carolyn wrote a new preface to this edition, sharing what she’s learned since its original publication five years ago:
When I wrote this book five years ago, I was essentially preaching to myself. I was thinking aloud on the subject of singleness and femininity, unaware this process would attract an international audience. What a privilege to be used by God to encourage other single women, especially in a variety of nations! I’m grateful for this opportunity.
I also hoped this book would be my “swan song” on the subject of singleness. I hoped that I’d write it, then leave the topic forever by getting married. In God’s good providence, that has not happened. What has happened is that my contentment in God has grown. When I speak to other single women on this subject, I often joke that I am a symbol of their unwanted futures. When I was in my twenties, I would have been mortified to find out that I’d still be single in my mid-forties. I thought it was the worst possible fate. But now I have lived long enough to know that while singleness can be hard, there are many worse forms of suffering. God has abundantly blessed me—I can’t even begin to recount all the evidences of His generosity and mercy to me.
I often hear from other single women who are in their late twenties or late thirties and who are truly wrestling with being single. If you are in those pivotal years, facing the turn of a decade, you have my empathy. You are not alone in your struggles. Those years can be very hard for single women—I won’t deny that. But I also won’t leave you without encouragement. Your heavenly Father will not abandon you in this difficulty. He will shepherd you through this season if you will continue to look to Him for help and sustaining grace. I will also share a secret with you: While it seems utterly untenable to reach your forties as a single woman, the passing of time is actually a gift. Reaching midlife sharpens your focus upon eternity. The brevity of life becomes clearer and the reality of our pilgrimage through this life becomes more tangible.
Marriage is a wonderful gift, but it is only a gift for this lifetime. Those who have received marriage in this age will have to relinquish it in the next. We have to hold on to both of those truths in order to keep a balanced perspective. That’s how it is possible to keep on desiring marriage—as I do!—and yet avoid becoming bitter if it is not granted.
In the meantime, I hope this book will serve as a guide in your single years to embracing your femininity as a woman made in God’s image. That is no small thing. Celebrate your womanly qualities! You are no less feminine for being single. That’s the real heart of this book and I trust you will derive much benefit as you read.
Finally, to those of you who have picked up this book wondering if it can predict whether or not you are going to be single for the rest of your life—you will not find that answer here. No “gift test,” no subjective evaluation of your feelings, no gauge of your contentment, and no evaluation of your longing for sexual intimacy will provide that answer to you. Human beings like to think we have some secret for determining our futures, but we do not. Our futures belong in the hands of a sovereign God. He alone knows His good purposes and plans for us. Don’t squander your present worrying about your future. Be wise about preparing for marriage (it is the norm in Scripture!), but quiet your soul like a weaned child whenever you find anxiety about your future stirring in your heart (Psalm 131). Don’t despise God’s wonderful gift, either. If you are avoiding marriage because it seems too confining, too hard, or too risky, then read on. I believe the Holy Spirit will help you see how the gospel is advanced through Christian marriage and what a wonderful gift marriage and motherhood can be.
Though this book is framed through the lens of singleness, it is essentially a book about God’s design for womanhood. My prayer is that as you read, you will become less aware of your singleness and more grateful for your femininity.