The one thing you want going into a union as colossal as marriage is the assurance that God has brought you together. Think about it. If you have no doubts that God Himself has pulled off bringing you to your man, then you'll always have peace in the struggle of cohabiting and becoming one. And how do you know God is orchestrating things?
1. You are not having to strive to make things work. They just fall together: even if in a terrifying, fear-exposing kind of way.
As much as you'd love to be attached and get flowers this Valentine's Day, it's best not to take it on yourself to make it happen. Women who manipulate their way into a marriage will most likely be found stunned by the roadside with backfire juice all over their nice clothes.
The bottom line? Your man must lead the charge in your relationship, or he'll most likely not lead in your marriage. Men who don't feel they've led or can lead will resent at best and bolt at worst. The masculine gender has been wired to lead. I know this may not be an easy truth to swallow, so don't take my word for it. Go read Ephesians 5:22-30.
2. His mission in life resonates with yours. Marriage is not your calling?although it can be a huge part of it. A woman's true calling is as deep, unique, and significant as her very heart. This means that when you check him out, you need to do so with a clear sense of what your calling is. This will ensure that you hitch up to someone going the same direction you are.
Rest assured that if he's for you, his life will expand your calling and dreams and not shut them down. This is huge! Don't fudge an inch. Know your purpose here on earth and wait for the man who just for being who he is, releases you to it. Here's another way to say this: Don't marry him unless you can live out your destiny mo' betta with him than you have so far on your own!
3. Your union is bigger than you are. If God is in your life, then your marriage should also have a spiritual dimension to it. Will Jesus' designs to bless the planet be more fully realized in your union? Really? There's much more at stake in your choice of a life partner than just your life and his. I shouldn't have to tell you that if you're trying to follow God and your man is pulling you away from God, that's the signal for the game to end. And you might as well know that you don't have God's blessing if you're blatantly going against His words in the Bible (see 2 Corinthians 6:14 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
4. He's your emotional peer. I've met all the mommywives I need to last me a lifetime. So please, before running down the aisle, have a thorough look-over in this area. First, because we women are wired up to nurture, and second, because we sometimes have insecurities that drive us to want someone emotionally dependent on us so they can't leave us, and third, well, because romance can really dumb down our thinking.
So ask yourself: Is he as sharp as you are? Does he "get it" like you do? Do you wrestle with similar things? (For example, are you both seeking to deepen your trust in Jesus, or are you there and he's still back at whether Jesus exists or not?) You know how to forgive; does he? And you want to be fully honest; does he? Not only is it good to be committed to the same core values; it's also really grand if he's not three miles behind you in that journey. Sure, it's possible to be patient and accepting, but rocking a full-grown man to sleep each night can get old rather quickly. No boys, please, and no binkies!
5. He sees you for who you really are. There seem to be two kinds of people that draw us in and for opposite reasons: those who connect with who we really are and those who connect with who we think they want us to be. Ever dated someone who made you feel like the hottest chick on the block? OK, now please do tell: Is that the real you "you know" the person God created you to be? Or is that who they wanted you to be?
Marriage is a union of hearts. There are men out there who will get your heart, and men who won't. The ones who do will draw the real you out. You'll be crying and laughing and pouring out your journey without them even asking. You won't put on any airs with them, because they send that quiet message that they see you for who you really are and like what they see.
So ask yourself, Does he get you? If he doesn't, bag it right here. I don't care how proud he is of your accomplishments, looks, or even spirituality. It's your heart that your husband is supposed to watch over and nurture, and a man can't nurture what he doesn't get.
6. You see tangible evidence that God is blessing your union. Now this one is really, really tricky. Why? Because spiritualizing runs wild nowadays! That's when you take some religious thoughts or even Bible verses and manipulate them into promoting what you just have to have at this very moment. The Bible is meant to expose us, not be something we hide our agendas behind.
So when I ask you to check out the dude you like and figure if God has put tangible evidence out there in support of your getting serious with him, please do not attempt this alone. Give at least two other honest people a shot at coming to their own conclusions alongside yours.
And what is tangible evidence? Well, some of the core teachings of Jesus are humility, forgiveness, honesty, sacrificial giving, openness, and respect. So start here. Do you see more or fewer of these things in your life in relationship with so-and-so? And when you are with him at church, are you drawn into a kind of worship that addresses your true inner condition and calls you to face stuff and grow, or is it all posture and pretense? If you find yourself feeling close to Mr. Potential when you pray, read the Bible, or attend a worship event, good. When you commune with God, you want to sense that your relationship is affirmed; there should be no confusion or tension.
7. You feel as lucky being with him as he does with you. I wish we didn't have to talk about this. It seems pretty sad that cute little you would ever consider settling for less than your desire. Why on earth would you vow to love someone you aren't all that thrilled about? Or worse yet, pursue his affection when you know he's not flipped over being with you? This is the height of stupidity!
Sorry for using the "s" word here. But really, to settle down with a man, you should be in a bit of shock that he chose you! I mean, Wow, look at all he is and how good it is to spend time with him! Lucky, lucky, you! And vice versa. He should wonder what on earth made you so sure he's all that!
If there isn't that grateful feeling, that I won the lottery feeling, you need to get honest with yourself. There is nothing more painful than marrying for the sake of convenience or the other person's feelings. It's a fullblown lose-lose. One won't be cherished the way they deserve to be "ever" and the other will never know what it feels like to be the luckiest dog on the street!
So here it is loud and clear: Don?t settle for someone you sense is not the one, and don't let him do the same. I don't care how comfortable it is, how cute he is, how much your parents like him, or even that your pastor thinks you two are superb together. Walk away. Trust your gut and your heart, and know for sure.
What more can I say? God is good and an expert matchmaker? Yes. He is, after all, love personified.
So I urge you to let God have full reign in writing your love story. It doesn?t even matter what chapter you're in. He can take it from here, and you'll be way, way better for it!
Clar Worley Sproul lives out in the woods of Oregon with her wonderful (rather new) husband and her wonderful (rather new) last name. Contact her via www.clar.cc.