I started writing this post with the idea that it would give a bit of the history around the Georgian wedding ceremony, as well as make you laugh as I let you in on how their cultural views of marriage, and my singleness, seems to taint every conversation I have. But as I am writing, it is kind of taking on a life of it’s own, so I have pulled out most of the historical information. Let’s see where this goes…
I have actually been putting off this subject for a while now, mostly because I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong picture. So let me start by saying this: I did not leave my life in Arizona so that I could come to the Republic of Georgia to find a husband. Now, if you know me very well, you are probably either laughing hysterically at that statement (because you know that I have barely even dated let alone focused on finding a husband) or you are now reading hesitantly waiting for me to announce that I did find someone (yes I am talking about you dad). Don’t worry, I have not found anyone…still not looking! But that doesn’t change how this topic of marriage and a husband infiltrates every conversation I have with Georgians.
You have to understand that in this culture, nothing is more important than the family. And a person’s role in the family is established by their marriage…especially that of the female. And since kids get married as young as 15 (please remember this is not the norm – most marry between 17 & 22), and marriage is so important, the idea that I am a single 36 year old female is completely foreign to them. Even amongst the community of believers, I am weird. And no topics are uncomfortable or taboo with Georgians.
This all manifests itself in my conversations in basically the same way, but I have seen a bit of evolution in the direction it takes once the topic has been raised. You see, it started with a simple question – Shawna, you are not married? I would say no, and then they would ask – You have no boyfriend? I would say no, and they would get quiet and the conversation would move on to something different. I am using the pronoun “they” because this exact same scenario has played out with multiple different people, across multiple conversations, but in the EXACT SAME WAY…it’s almost scary.
Then the next week, in the middle of everything they would ask – Shawna, are you divorced? I would say no, I have never been married. They would ask – And no kids? I answer again, no. Then the conversation moves on. But the next time I spoke with one of these ladies, I was blown off my chair. Literally, in the middle of a completely different conversation, she interrupted to ask – Shawna, why have you decided to never get married? I was honestly at a loss for words for a second.
It became apparent to me then that marriage is so fundamental to their way of life that they literally have no reference to help them understand a person who is single. Kids grow up to get married and have a family. That’s the way it has always been. So when someone comes in at about twice the age of most that are getting married, with no apparent desire to rush into anything (not to mention they are all aware that as an MA I have agreed to not date during these two years) they don’t know how to process it. They don’t have a little box to put me into, and it bothers them. They are still trying to figure me out.
Isn’t that how we all are? We grow up with our own little boxes that we use to categorize the people and events in our life. And when something doesn’t fit, we struggle to understand it…like a child trying to fit a square peg in the round hole. When we can’t make it fit anywhere, we usually go so far as to judge it. If it doesn’t work with what we believe, it must be bad. If they can’t act how we want them to, they must be bad. If….
James 4:11-12 says, “Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” (NLT)
As someone who is constantly being judged because I am an American, a female, single, etc. etc. I can tell you that it is not fun. But I can tell you that it has helped me to realize that maybe the issue isn’t always the person being judged. When is the last time you looked at a fellow believer and saw them as a child of the King? How about the last time you saw an unbeliever and seen them as the person still seeking what can only be found in Christ? Maybe we need to learn to throw away our boxes and start to see everyone like God sees them.
Oh, and there has been one additional step in the evolution of my marriage/singleness conversations… Just yesterday, out of the blue, I was informed that after my two years was up I would definitely marry a Georgian man. Not sure if who I am to marry has been decided by these wonderful God-fearing women yet, but at least I can say that this is going to be an interesting couple of years. 🙂