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“When are you going to…?”

It happened again just the other day. Another person with the, “When are you going to buy a house…a REAL house?” question. I’ve heard it many times before from many people, but my husband and I are happy with our 2-bedroom townhouse condo that’s less than 1,000 sq.ft. It’s more than enough room for us and our 12-year-old daughter. It fits well into our budget and allows us to pay Christian School tuition while pursuing a debt-free life. There are all kinds of parks nearby and we like not having a yard. We are not fond of mowing. But, why should we have to defend our choice?

We’ve all heard the “When are you going to” questions. And, most likely, we’ve all been guilty of asking them. I know I have and I am going to try to quit, because I do really struggle with inserting my own opinions on someone else’s life with one of these questions. When are you going to ask her out? When are you going to propose? JILL! Stop it already.

Now, I’m not talking about the reasonable questions like, “When are you going to be home for dinner?” Or, “When are you going to have that project ready for me?” I mean the personal, life stuff kind of “When are you going to…” question. This is the kind of question that has to be eliminated from my repertoire. And, maybe yours as well.


When are you going to…get married, have a baby, have another baby, buy a bigger house, a house with a fenced in backyard, etc? When we ask these questions we’re assuming the target of our inquiry is PLANNING to do any of these things. Just because a couple has been dating for a couple of years doesn’t mean they have plans to marry any time soon. Or, maybe the couple doesn’t want children for a variety of reasons. Why? I guess it’s really none of our business. If we do feel it appropriate to ask about these areas, maybe we could start with, “ARE you planning to….” This way our assumption is left out of the conversation.

What if the couple is having fertility issues and doesn’t want to discuss it outside of their close circle of friends? Or, what if the house they have is what they can afford and they don’t want to live above their means. Or, maybe they just don’t want a bigger house, period. Many people have no problem discussing these issues with friends or even acquaintances. But some folks choose to keep these matters private. When we get a little nosy, pressure is applied and tensions can rise. Maybe we should leave these questions alone altogether, unless our friend or relative brings it up.

The thing I realized lately is that when I ask the “When are you going to” questions I’m, in a way, saying I think whatever that person is doing now is obviously not best for them. Or not good enough for me. They need to be moving on toward whatever step I believe is best. They’ve been in the same position for several years now, when are they going to apply for a promotion or start looking elsewhere? Maybe my friend feels he’s in the best position for his skill set, his work environment, or simply for his work/family/life balance. Why should I give direction as to which way he should go in his career?! Maybe I can simply ask, “Do you like the position you’re in right now?” If my friend wishes to elaborate, he will.


OK, so how do we best answer when these “When are you going to…” questions come our way? Two words: GOD KNOWS!

God knows IF and WHEN I’m going to have a second child (by the way, I’m 48…it’s probably not going to happen now). He alone knows if I’ll ever adopt or buy a bigger house or move to another neighborhood. It’s a simple answer but it’s everything and can stop the conversation right then and there. Besides, doesn’t scripture back it up?

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) It is God’s plans that matter, not mine. I can plan, but He directs in all areas of my life, anyway.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) Only He knows the plans for my life and how He will use them to help me do my best work for Him.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. — James 4:13-16 (NLT) Even if I have plans for this or that…how do I know what tomorrow will bring? Boasting. It’s kinda like being arrogant. We make our plans, but hold them loosely.

Will you join me in no longer asking the “When are you going to…” questions? Or trying to answer them to defend a choice you’ve made for your family? Imagine how much less stress we’ll all have.

What’s your perfect answer to the, “When are you going to…” questions? (You can share this post on Facebook with your comments.)