There is a lot of advice floating around in literature, various social circles and the church on how to find love. I see so many books, articles, seminars and podcasts with titles like “5 Steps to finding the love of your life”, “12 ways to make him love you” or “True love waits”, or something of that nature.
I used to be an avid consumer of relationship literature and though I don’t negate its importance; I am afraid we have taken a lot of this secular and non-secular relationship advice as the Gospel Truth, overlooking the fact that God has an individual plan for everybody that also includes an individual love story. We have been fed the narrative that “just because it worked for so-and-so this way and she is a successful wife who married a big time preacher, doctor, entrepreneur or (fill-in the blank) if I do it this way it will happen for me just like that too.” Or we think if we follow these 10 steps to love detailed in the latest relationship book, we’ll actually find it…because well the book said so and it’s a best-seller. And the speaker on the recent relationship expert panel sounded so convincing they must know what they’re talking about so we must sign up for their expensive coaching package.
I also hear a lot of discussion in Christian circles and churches detailing what women should and should not do if they want to be found by a husband. Such suggestions include being still (based on the scripture he who findeth a wife findeth a good thing), hiding her face in the Lord, not accepting dates from a man that she is not 100% sure is her husband, being busy in the Lord and basically just being perfect!
However, I noticed that I don’t hear similar instructions being directed towards men about preparing for a wife, which is a double standard. If men are supposed to be the one’s finding wives I don’t hear any leaders instructing them to stop sleeping around, leading women on or fathering children out of wedlock and just marry them already. I don’t hear any discussion encouraging a man to live his life in preparation for a wife, by building stability and cultivating an environment as a protector and provider for a future family. It seems to me the messages that are being delivered is it’s the woman’s job to do everything perfectly and somehow God will honor her perfection by rewarding her with a husband, no matter how long she has to wait.
After listening to this type of talk for a few years I have finally decided I disagree. I have a different viewpoint and here’s why:
You are on an individual journey.
I think that each woman (and man) should tailor her/his love journey with the help of the Lord how s/he sees fit. Everyone is on an individual love and life journey. Some people will find love right out of high school; others will find it in their late 40’s. Some will find love after having children out of wed lock; some will find love on the internet. Some will mess up a billion times before finding love and some will only kiss one or two frogs. Who’s to say which option is the best? You can only really say what option is best for you based on your values, feelings and perspectives. And your values, feelings and perspectives are just that, YOURS. Not mine or anyone else’s so who are you to say what is right vs. wrong? And furthermore are you saying it in love or just because you want to be right? Or have your voice heard?
Equal discussion should be given towards men and women on obtaining and preparing for a spouse.
If instruction is given to women on what to do to be found but not to men, the ones supposedly doing the finding, there will always be a problem and disconnect. I challenge leaders in relationship ministry to address this bias. Looking in the bible you don’t find a bunch of requirements or instructions on how to find/become a spouse but rather on how to develop better character: patience, sacrificing, serving, slow to anger, etc. These are qualities that make someone a healthy spouse that both men and women can stand to improve upon.
Women: YOU ARE ENOUGH.
In retrospect I realized that a lot of the messages I was receiving about how to become a wife I was interpreting as “I’m still not good enough to get married. I must complete 15 more steps to qualify”; when I was already stressed and tired from completing the first three! LOL. While I am an avid believer in both men and women working to become the best version of themselves whether they are awaiting love or not, I think it’s important for women to hear and know that they are enough just as they are. Honestly, we get bombarded with enough messages on a daily basis that subliminally tell us what we’re not as a woman; not the right size, eye color, skin tone, voice tone, hair texture, not sexy enough…the list is endless. So the messages about how to become a wife is just one more thing that can honestly be interpreted as what we’re doing wrong. Men have self-esteem and ego issues too and are increasingly fed wrong messages about what it means to be a real man. That’s why I advocate creating your own narrative and figuring out what works for you.
You are on an individual life journey that includes love and many other things. I think God wants us to appreciate the life we’ve each been blessed with; finding the value in being ourselves, with our temperaments, strengths, weaknesses and experiences. You don’t have to be like whatever celebrity or leader you admire. It’s ok to look up to them, learn from them and even desire to grow in similar ways but you are uniquely you, created as such on purpose for a purpose. I challenge you to make your love journey your own. Clarify you wants, values and desires. It’s ok to read books and articles, ask loved ones for advice but only you can determine what’s in your heart. For me, plenty of alone time, soul searching and prayer helped to clarify the desires of my heart. And I’m still tweaking it. Don’t be afraid to have a love story that goes against the grain or that others don’t necessarily approve of, because at the end of your life, you want to look back and have lived your truth.
In life you will often have to take many things with a grain of salt; consider the source and decide if you want your life to look like the person advising you at the end of the day. I always challenge people to think for themselves. Don’t feel pressured by Facebook, family or anyone else to have your love life ascribe to a certain status quo. Work with God to determine what the best course of action is for your life.
Hopefully this blog liberates somebody!