Friday, March 28, 2014

Deserving Prince(ss) Charming

"God will give me a spouse when I'm ready for him/her."

He will? I had no idea that was the impetus behind my marrying Nic. I was ready and so God delivered, huh? It's funny; I didn't feel ready. I just fell in love.

I know a lot of young ladies eagerly grooming themselves for a future hubby. Some are living with their folks saving their money "so he and I can buy a house when we get married." Which he? The one you're not dating yet?

Others are attending all the events a good girl should hoping a nice guy will notice them and come out of the woodwork.

Don't get me wrong: this isn't all bad. If you want to get married some day, becoming someone who will attract the right person is a good idea. Don't spend your time building skills in complaining, domineering, shopping, and gaming.

But we need to get away from the idea that if you deserve someone, then you'll get them.

Sometimes you will. Sometimes you won't.

There are two myths this idea is based on:

1) There is such a thing as ready/not ready to be married
2) You need to earn your spouse

The first is a myth of our general culture. We believe that if you're ready, all will go well; if you're not, it'll suck and you'll probably divorce.

You want to know something? No one is ready to be married. I love hearing the stories of the folks who knew each other for a few months and got married and are still married today. Were they "ready" super fast? Or is it that they worked hard every day of the last 30 years making their marriage work?

No matter how "ready" you are (or not), marriage will have ups and downs. It'll take work. It'll involve patience, because your spouse is not going to change their annoying habits out of love for you. (That's another myth.) They'll still be leaving their dirty clothes on the floor in 10 years.

Marriage isn't about being good enough so that you can earn the spouse of your dreams. The spouse of your dreams doesn't exist.

You know what that means? Your spouse's dream-spouse doesn't exist either. I'm not my husband's dream wife. His dream wife would never be late, lose track of time, or forget things. She wouldn't be upset with him when she came home from a retreat to 2 days of his unwashed dishes.

Sadly, I'm not that woman. The reason he wound up with me isn't because he didn't try hard enough so God gave him a sub-par spouse. You can't earn anything from God. Ever. That wouldn't be grace. I'm too messed up to ever deserve to hold Nic's heart in my hands, but I do hold it, and I'll be holding it the rest of my life. Not because I earned it, but because God loves us (or because he enjoys playing with us; one or the other).

It's good you can't earn your spouse, because otherwise no one would ever marry. Nobody's ever ready; but that's okay, because marriage is a process, not a destination.

You don't arrive at marriage. You do marriage.

This isn't to tell you to stop trying to become a better man or woman. Character development is a good idea in general. Become the person you want to be. But don't do it for some mystical potential mate. Do it for you. Do it for the people who have to deal with you right now--your friends and family and coworkers. Do it so you'll have a better life. Not for some person who may or may not show up.

I want to end with a quick story. I have an aunt who was single. She went to Budapest and learned the language and worked as a missionary; then she moved to England and became a pastor. She's brilliant and funny and while I didn't see much of her after she left the U.S., she was always one of my heroes.

She faithfully served God for years...single. She did awesome stuff, single. She experienced a lot of life, single. I haven't asked, but I bet it was hard sometimes to be alone. Still, her life didn't stall out until she found someone. She kept moving and working and loving and experiencing. Being single didn't hold her back.

At the age of 50, she got married to an awesome English guy with grandkids. I don't think she was undeserving until the age of 50; I think she just had a different life. A single life. There was nothing wrong with her and nothing wrong with her life because she was single all those years. It was just the way her life went.

I'm afraid some of you will walk away from this post believing that you can't earn your spouse but still planning on marrying someone as soon as possible. Marriage is a wonderful thing and it's great if you want to get married. But don't pin all your hopes on it. You might not get married, or not any time soon.

Enjoy being single and don't let your life stall out. You want to travel? Travel. You want to move to another state? Move. You want a different job? Switch jobs, and who cares if you have enough money to buy a house on your wedding day.

People think that enjoying singleness means you have to stop desiring marriage. I don't think that's true. You can still long to be married; for all I know, it might be impossible for some people to stop wanting it. Just don't let those desires rule your life. Don't let a currently-nonexistent person control you, or you will come to marriage with bitterness and high expectations. Your spouse deserves better.

Word count: 975.