As huge of a fan as I am of life, I am also acutely aware of how very, very difficult it is to do well, and to not irreparably wreck yourself and others along the way. Growing older is hard, dealing with the mortality of your parents is hard, handling school and work stresses is hard, dealing with your own personal junk and insecurities is hard, and relationships are hard – even if you are with your absolute dreamgirl, the one you know God made you for, and the one who was made for you. And life is full of inconsistencies, and unpredictabilities, and instabilities, and so much that you can’t possibly control. And of course you can’t control how a relationship will progress or turn out, but I think you can find a girl who makes it so you don’t need to try to control anything. Because she is all about living for Him, and surrendered completely to what He wants for her. And you hopefully are all about living for Him, and surrendered completely to what He wants for you.
I feel that relationships end for many reasons. Because people just don’t want to put in the hard work to make them last forever. Because people think that the “feelings” of love should always, always be there, even though the reality is that feelings are fickle and fade, and require intentional, constant effort to be rekindled. Because people think that there is someone else out there better suited for them, even though they were convinced this was the best possible person for them when they got together. Because people think that they need to scrape and claw and salvage whatever “life” they have left, and that means getting rid of whatever it is they feel might be holding them back.
It has been said that you can’t trust a man without a limp (referencing Jacob in Genesis 32, and how he wrestled with, and was then injured by, an angel in order to break his pride and will, and lead him to growth and maturity). To me, when it comes to relationships, that means in order for me to trust her (as much as it is possible to trust a fallible, flawed, and partly dysfunctional human being like myself and like everyone else), I need for her to have been broken in some way by Him, and especially by the Cross – which Christians believe is a symbolic representation of understanding what we truly deserve as those who rejected and hated God with our attitudes and choices, but who have graciously been forgiven and given the gift of life, and love, and today. If she has been broken, then I can have faith that she is not all about herself, and her goals, and her future, and the nice, comfortable little life she wants to build.
Rather, if she has been broken then I can have faith that she is more concerned with what God is concerned about. Like, unconditional love. Sacrifice. Commitment. Others before oneself. Widows and orphans. Those on the fringes, those who have been marginalized. The narrow road, rather than the broad one which often leads to destruction. Words and actions that build up, instead of tear down. Being swept up in something bigger than herself, something that transcends the silly daily dramas we often get wrapped up in that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Obtaining her identity from what He says about her, instead of from her physical beauty, or athleticism, or the scene she is part of, or her line of work, or American cultural standards of success, or from how she wants everyone to view her.
And then there is integrity. I’m a social scientist by trade and a keen observer of human behavior by nature, and so I firmly believe that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. I need her to have a track record and consistent pattern of making good, healthy, life-affirming choices. Not a track record of choices made on bad days and nights which really convey sentiments like “Screw you, God” or “Whatever, it doesn’t matter” – where she does things just because she’s in the moment, or she’s mad at the world, or things have been really crappy and show no signs of improvement, or because she needs to numb herself from the harsh realities of life. I need her to not want to hurt God by doing stuff that makes Him sad. Because that gives me confidence she is not going to want to hurt me by doing stuff that makes me sad. And I really need her to feel that deeply, to where she can’t possibly turn her back on Him, or on me, by proceeding down a pathway of wrong and painful choices just to get through, just to survive, just to eek out whatever shred of momentary comfort or happiness she can get.
To be sure, I must be clear that I am talking about a pattern here. Because we are all going to make mistakes. Possibly huge ones, with consequences that will last the rest of our lives. But overall, she has to know that there usually always is a right and a wrong, and not as many grey areas as the culture would have us believe. And she must desire with all of her heart to do what is right, because somehow – on a cosmic, transcendent level – it matters. I know it matters to God, because He has provided a standard for us to try to emulate. And it matters to me, because honestly I will find it so very attractive. And it should matter to her, because it leads to blessings, and peace, and the fullness of life.
While a girl like this doesn’t guarantee a successful relationship, because life is complicated and we cannot manipulate it to turn out exactly how we want it to be, it definitely does increase the chances of things working out, and working out really wonderfully well. Not that choosing a girl is like making a safe bet. That’s the last thing I want, because I’m not going to get fireworks, and butterflies, and shortness of breath, and can’t-imagine-my-life-without-her intensity of feelings, and the essence of true, passionate, romantic love if I just choose a safe bet. I just mean that I won’t allow myself to fall in love with a girl who isn’t moving steadfastly in this direction. Because that is the way I am going. And we need to be able to do this adventure together, in step with each other, all the way to the end.
Image source: http://hd-tattoos.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/black-cross-tattoo-3.jpg