Those who've been here before have heard me talk about the Smart Marriages list. In a few weeks I'll be heading down to Dallas for my first Smart Marriages conference. The official description of the conference is the that it is the "Who's Who" and the "What's What" of the marriage-strengthening, marriage education field convening 200 of the nation's top marriage experts and 1500 or so attendees from all backgrounds coming for both professional and personal enrichment.
I first heard of Smart Marriages when I was researching for my book. I wasn't able to go that year because I learned of it too late. The next year I was up to my eyeballs in revisions. Last year my health kept me home. But this year, I'm finally in! I'm pretty excited to meet and learn from all the folks I quoted and sourced in Generation Ex. Since my company is sending me (LOVE when God works like that), I'm also looking forward to meeting with some of our authors.
On a more personal note, I'm hoping God provides a few answers to a gnawing question I have. (And those attendees reading this, please feel free to chime in any time!). Just today the question came up again. I'm going through Seven Habits training at work, and we were asked, "If money were no object, what would you most like to do?"
About a decade (gulp!) ago, I went on a retreat of silence (like the one described in my book) and came away with a life vision:
To establish a godly heritage
To make an eternal difference
To find joy in life, regardless of my circumstances
I review the list each year to see discern if I'm being directed any differently. And every year I've come away feeling affirmed that this is still it.
A decade ago, I thought that first part would involve establishing a godly heritage with a husband and kids. And while that hasn't happened (yet?), I am stunned each time I receive a letter from a reader who tells me that my book was used as a pre-marriage study with their spouse, or they share how the marriage retreat in the appendix got them back from the edge, or...well, I could go on.
It would seem, that as a single, never-married lay person, I don't have much to offer married couples, and yet that's where my heart longs to minister. Would you believe some guys are intimidated by this dream? (And I suppose this post won't help me in that regard!) But I've heard enough stories of how God has used my book and my friend that I believe I don't have to wait until "someday." What a load of pressure off me (and my potential dates!).
Imagine my surprise when I learned that Smart Marriages is hosting a Singles event on Thursday. I can't wait to hear about the experiences of other singles. So here's hoping that in a few weeks I'll be better able to answer the question: In what capacity, as a single, can I be used to build better marriages around me?