Saturday, September 3, 2011

From Single to Married: the Do's and Don'ts

Sometimes, well-meaning Christian ministers, parents, and friends are too quick to tell un-married people "just pray and wait. The right one will come along some day." I've been guilty of it myself, and am here to publicly apologize. There are practical things (some straight out of the pages of the Bible) that can help singles be more intentional and prepared to meet their future spouse. I would like to address some of them here. This is not a "recipe" for getting married. You can not follow Steps 1, 2, 3 and expect "Mr. or Mrs. Right" to suddenly appear. It is possible for someone to desperately long for a spouse, be and do all the right things, and never get that desire met this side of Heaven. Since I think being unable to find a spouse is the exception and not the rule, I will speak to the majority.

* Yes, Christian. Wait on God. But don't use that as an excuse not to work for God.

* If you really want to be married one day, make sure the only thing keeping you from it is God's timing. It may be wise to finish some education, explore a mission experience, or get started in a new career. Don't let laziness, lack of biblical knowledge, or failure to control yourself be the reasons you don't find a spouse.

* Women: do not fall in the trap of chasing good men. It's not attractive. Instead, commit to good works borne out of godly character. If you find a way to practice good works in the presence of godly men, you'll be set apart from the average woman. While God ordained the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, Ruth knew how to "get in the way."

* Some people are too picky. Some people aren't picky enough. Your list of "negotiables" should be longer than your "non-negotiables."

* You've heard it said not to change who you are. But you can capitilize on certain aspects. My husband Chris is a huge baseball fan. I can't keep up with him on stats, players, teams, etc. But when I was interested in him, I made sure he knew I could throw a baseball.  When I "aimed at his heart" and put the ball in the center of his glove.....he was hooked ;)

* Women: beauty should not be your idol. But again, 100% natural isn't a good thing, so be intentional. Let's face it: Eve was the only woman who didn't have the effects of original sin on her body. For the rest of us, we've got imperfections. I don't care who you are, you can not be attractive to all men...Stop trying. However, you CAN be attractive to SOME man...Start working.

* For men, one of the best practical ways to prepare for marriage is to learn how to make good decisions. Decision-making will be a major part of how you lead your family. For women, do not be prone to arguments. Nags are annoying. Learn how to disagree in a peacable way. Ask godly men and women how they've grown in these areas. Learn from their mistakes so you don't have to make them!

* In the age of social media, be careful about reading everyone else's "awesome" life. It can set you up for bitterness and jealousy--highly unattractive qualities. Get out and live a life worth writing about. (The biblical women commended for their faith served others in simple, obtainable ways.) If you never get married because of it, you'll at least be useful.

* There are some really good books about dating/marriage, but some books are dangerous. If you want a recommendation, I will be glad to send you some, but I think the best way to understand marriage is to have a comprehensive understanding of the Bible and relationship between Christ and the Church. I agree with Solomon that "there is no end to the making of books [or blogs], and much study is weary to the body." (Ecc 12:12)

* Don't use the Church, but DO utilize the Church. Find you a bible teaching, Jesus-centered, Gospel-drenched church. If you can find a single's group somewhere, don't be afraid to join it.  If there are no singles in the building of the church you attend, utilize the global Church (Christians who care about you) to help you meet other un-married people.

* If you are someone who has no trouble finding dates, but trouble finding the "right one", you need to ask yourself some hard questions. Why do you have a hard time committing? Are you afraid of something? Is your view of marriage Gospel-centered? Is there a pattern to what those of the opposite sex say to you? Ask God to search your heart.

*My final plea is to single men who are walking with Jesus and would like the gift of marriage. Not to perfect men, but those who obey the commands of Scripture and repent when they don't. Not to rich men, but men who are financially wise and working hard at their jobs. Not to men who never struggle with lust, but who know how to escape temptation. To men who are not hot-tempered and understand that marriage is a mission and ministry in and of itself: It is possible that you should begin a more intentional search for a godly wife. Think about where the godly women are. Think about who knows godly women. Be willing to get outside of your natural surroundings. Get a righteous man to pray for you and pray over you--out loud.

You can consider me right. You can consider me wrong. You can consider me crazy. But on behalf of frustrated singles everywhere, I prefer you consider me "Abraham's servant". :)

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