As a young lady, I know that your heart longs for the love of a young man. That is as normal and natural of a thing as could ever be because your God designed you in just that way. Leaving my care and putting yourself in the care of another is the way things are supposed to be.
It’s hard for you to imagine now, I’m sure, that there would ever be a time when living in my house is not your all-encompassing, experiential reference point for life. But, the fact is, your childhood will begin to fade now and your adult life will become the new normal. But have no fear, your childhood will remain with you for the rest of your life, and you will draw on your experiences there to help you understand your pilgrimage into the future.
I would, however, like to point out something about your childhood that deserves a little thought, which is that much of it was out of our and your control. You really didn’t have a choice when it came to whom your parents would be, or where you would come to live out your childhood, or the gifts and liabilities with which you would be born. And, in many ways, your future life won’t allow for that many choices either. Yes, you will have the choice of whether or not to agree to marry a young man, but once you’ve made that choice the rest becomes life, much of which will simply seem to happen, and which you will have little or no control over. The pastor who married us told us that when we got married it would be like two rivers coming together, after which the rivers would become one. After the rivers become one, that single river must bend and twist between mountains, around rocks, and through the rapids as it makes its way to its final destination. Such will be your life as a married woman, just as it was for you as a child. Many will balk at this, such is Man’s hubris to think of himself as wiser than our Creator. The bottom line is that as far as it is up to you, let wisdom rule in your life. But also be aware that there is much that is not up to you.
I say these things under the heading of “finding love” because when we do find love we experience it in the present. The feelings that we feel are in the now and can they make being married to the worst of a human being seem almost romantic in that moment. They can make you confident that the two of you can deal with anything that comes your way with ease. They can make you willingly blind and cause you to turn away from anything that would threaten your present euphoria. In short, these feelings can be horribly deceptive. They become a valley of sorts which you must pass through, even though they won’t feel anything like a valley at the time. The hope is that the valley will give way to a love that is dependable and deep rather than to regrets. You can be sure of this though, those blissful feelings will ultimately prove to be made of paper and they won’t carry you through the storms.
Some might say that I’m being a dream-killer by telling you these things. But my goal here is to not feed a common deception that we wish were actually true, but rather that you would have realistic expectations in life and marriage. I can promise you that no matter who you marry you will have problems. So it’s not a matter of if you will have a fairytale marriage, but whether or not you and your husband will ultimately be able to bend, teach, learn, forgive, admonish, grow, and love in your marriage. The happy times are easy. Nothing is required of you in those. It’s the hard times that your husband and you must practice for… even now before you’ve even met him. But it’s these hard times that will grow and mature you, and drive your love deep so that it rests on a sure foundation as you are both actively fighting for your marriage.
It’s common in this age to think of love as a feeling, and while I suppose there could be a smidgen of truth to that notion, it’s also true that those feelings are fleeting. For many, as go the feelings so goes the marriage. Divorce is rampant. In your marriage, love will have to be a decision that you both make. You will have to make that decision yourself, and you will also have to be married to a man who understands how to make it. As you meet people in your life who are divorced and who have only rotten things to say about their former spouses, remember, no one forced them into their past marriage. They were most likely led and deceived by their feelings. A life of singleness is much better than a rotten marriage. Never forget that the best divorce is the marriage that never happened.
With all of this in mind, I’ll give you a few brief pointers on finding the love of your life, drawing from a very shallow well I must admit. It’s actually the things that I wish someone had told me when I was your age.
First, by the longest stretch, is that you should pay no attention to the young man who does not express a deep love for God. He will not be able to love you in the right way if he has not loved God first. Also, as far as this is concerned, don’t be fooled. A young man can be convinced that he loves God because he has fallen for you and the fact that you love God. He will deceive himself first on this matter, and then you, all to get his bride. You should look, therefore, for a history of him loving God before you happened along.
Second, and closely related to the first, is a young man’s willingness to submit to authority. The lover of God will be a lover of His Word, which not only has authority over him but which will place other men in authority over him. The Godly husband will be a man of authority, under authority. And unless your suitor understands humble submission, he cannot understand gracious authority, and this ought to be a trait that you keep your eye peeled for.
Third, when your ship moves into the fog of “love,” you lose your bearings. First, resist the fog. Look to your friends and parents to see things you cannot, and by all means, trust their words more than your own feelings. Ask for honest input, yes, demand it. You’ll know you’re being lied to if you’re told the young man has no problems for you to contemplate, for that would be impossible.
Fourth, the Bible tells us that we are wasting away. You will grow old, and his and your beauty will fade. There has got to be, therefore, something more than a mere attraction to beauty if your marriage is to be sustained.
Fifth, some may suggest that you take a look at how much money he may have, and determine whether he can afford to be married. I’d rather not so much take that advice because young people, as a rule, don’t have any money. I’d rather talk about work ethic. The working man will be able to take care of you, and you need to be confident that this young man will be able to provide for his family. But not only this, he must not love money so much that he is willing to sacrifice his family because of it. There are at least two ways to do that. One is to put money and status that are earned by work above family. The other is to force you into the workforce with children at home. This is a popular thing to do these days, and also a tragic thing to do. No amount of sheetrock and car brands is worth that sacrifice.
Sixth, you need to know that it can seem way worse than it actually is when you’re young and faced with watching the young man that you consider to be the best thing that has ever happened to you walk away. Always be willing to let that happen. If he wants to leave before marriage, marriage won’t fix him. You need to know that marriage in and of itself is not what holds two people together. Dragging your young prize across the finish line of matrimony is a bad plan. It would be much better to simply endure the heartache.
When it comes to losing a love, or the seeming inability to find love, it will help if you’ll trust what I’m about to tell you. The most important thing I encourage you to do is to not get discouraged. No person is so great that everyone loves them. This means that even if you were the most lovable and sought-after woman on the planet, there would still be those out there who would not be attracted to you. Knowing this helps you to have understanding when someone doesn’t have feelings for you. Always remember that there are going to be those who will be attracted to you. And by “those” I mean more than one, a lot more actually, even though most of the time it won’t seem like it. I am confident you will meet a young man who will love you. You need to have that same confidence lest you cling to someone simply because they expressed an interest in you. My advice is to live your life, achieve goals, and enjoy the liberty of your singleness. There will be young men who will find you interesting and will approach you, and that takes us back to choices.
Seventh, when you marry a man, remember that you are, to some extent, marrying his family also. You can learn a lot about a person by their family. You can also learn even more about a young man by the friends he keeps. Birds of a feather flock together. looking at your young suitor’s friends can give you an unveiled glimpse into what he’s really like. If you find that you don’t trust or care for his friends, that ought to be a serious red flag.
Eighth, don’t date just to date. There’s no shame in the fact that you are looking for a husband. A woman once told me, upon me telling her that I wanted to get married, that she saw people like that as losers. I didn’t care. I wanted to get married. Dating for fun is a waste of time and can prolong your singleness because you are designed to become one with another person, not to hang out with them when it’s convenient. It will take you down a road that has no destination and will cost you precious time. You can become attached to someone that you could never marry, and there you’ll be, not able to go forward, but too attached to separate. I’ve heard it said about some people, “they had to get married just so they could get a divorce.” Don’t let this be you.
Remember that we, as humans, are designed to be married. A half-century ago I wouldn’t have had to say this, but now it’s necessary. Man thinks he has found a better way by following his fleshy desires. But all he has really done is given himself over to slavery. Being who you were designed to be is but a piece of the puzzle in living a fulfilled life. Having said this, please don’t misunderstand me. You can be happy and fulfilled without marriage. But you can’t be happy and fulfilled in seeking the drug called affection for the sake of being happy and fulfilled. Singleness is much better than being married to a person who doesn’t Love God, and so cannot love you. It is also better than being married to a man who does love God even, but who is not gentle with you, and who does not Love you like Christ loves His Church.
I do pray for you that you would get everything you dream for. I’ve heard your dreams, and they are good ones. May God give them to you.