As a graduate of a Christian college, I was privy to the pressure of “ring by spring”: the need to find your life mate before college graduation. Because college is largely a gathering place of like-minded young people in the same age bracket, marriage is the outcome for many. But “ring by spring” adds a layer of necessity. If you aren’t engaged or in a serious relationship by the time you graduate college—what’s wrong with you?
Of course, no account is taken for the intensity of study, the type of guys who are available or the desire to perhaps not be married by age 22. The pressure lives on, leaving many young women less thrilled about graduation than they could be and wondering where, if anywhere, they can meet a guy post-college.
The pressure is real, but so is God’s truth—and it speaks to this situation just as it does to all of life. Here are three things to remember when you’ve had enough of “ring by spring.”
1. No Two Stories Are the Same
And you wouldn’t want them to be! Yes, college is a likely place to meet a spouse. But so is your post-college career. So is a new city or a new church or a hiking club you recently joined. If everyone met their spouse at college, this world would be a boring place.
Your college career may have been precisely the training ground you needed for the place God is taking you. A relationship may have been far more distracting than you anticipated, and could have limited your effectiveness both during college and afterward. Instead of mourning what didn’t happen, think about all that CAN and WILL happen because of your academic dedication. Think of the girlfriends you wouldn’t have (and guy friends, too!). Time spent without a dating relationship is not wasted time. Remember that.
2. God Is Not Limited by a Specific Timeline
God is not limited to four years post-high school and pre-career. He doesn’t only work in your life between the ages of 18 and 22. He is sovereign over ALL of your life, including the rest of your 20s, 30s and beyond. As you align yourself with His will, walk in obedience and open yourself up to new relationships, you will meet all kinds of people—one of whom may be your spouse.
Don’t put God in a box or on a time frame. Let Him work in and around you. Don’t forget—this isn’t just about you, either. Your spouse is still growing, trusting, learning and being molded into a person who can fulfill God’s commission with you. Be faithful in the time you have and let God do His work while you actively wait on Him.
3. College Is Not the Only Place to Meet People
College is, in many ways, a bubble. Some people have jobs; some people don’t. The people who do have jobs are usually so busy they can barely date. Those who don’t have jobs live in a form of reality that will no longer exist post-graduation. Study hours are replaced by a daily commute, 8-5 workday, internships or grad school applications. And in the realness of daily life, you just might meet people!
Just as God is not limited by time, He is not limited by location. If you are walking in His will, serving Him, obeying Him, putting Him first, refusing to idolize marriage and choosing contentment at every opportunity, your eyes will be open to see Him move. You won’t need to fear a ticking clock or a “bad” location. God is bigger than any fear—including the fear of lacking a relationship.
“Ring by spring” may never go away. But we can learn to confront it head-on. We can speak truth over our hearts and believe God when He says He is both faithful and enough. Because He is! As you trust His words to you, you’ll find a peace that may not always make sense—but that carries you through.