When it comes to finding the “one,” I’ve heard many people say that. “When you know, you know.” I’ve always been like, what does that even mean? How are you supposed to know? And is it so definitive? How can you have a perfect peace about committing to something/someone for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, no matter what? And since it is one of the biggest leaps of faith that a person takes during his or her life, what kind of certainty are we looking to feel? How strong is it supposed to be? And will it be qualitatively different from how previous relationships have felt? Or will it be similar but with just maybe one or two other positives that convince you to pull the proverbial trigger and pop the question? And how are we supposed to know that we aren’t supposed to wait longer, and that we aren’t going to meet a better fit for us? How exactly do you truly, actually, know – without a doubt? And can that even possibly happen?
So, I can only speak from my experiences, and I’ve lived enough years to see how God writes love stories in a variety of ways within a variety of circumstances and contexts. I definitely don’t pretend to have this figured out. But I did actually get to a point where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rachel was the one for me. And I think it’s worth remembering and cataloguing how all of this happened, to lead me to the decision to pledge my love and fidelity to her, for as long as we both shall live. Maybe this can encourage others who want God to be at the center of their love story, and can perhaps provide certain examples of what to look for as their romance and relationship continue to unfold.
~ One of the biggest things that clarified that Rachel, and not another girl (in general; I don’t mean anyone specifically) was the one for me was that she knew – and demonstrated that she knew – that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be the one she looked towards to make her happy. To bring her joy. To heal her hurts. To solve her problems. To take away her loneliness. She said it, but she also lived it out in so many ways so that I was convinced she wouldn’t burden me with a load that no man’s shoulders are broad enough to bear. She kept going to the Lord, and seeking out spiritual counsel and mentorship from others, and purposed to become whole on her own – instead of needing me in her life to complete her. [mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#aaaaaa” txt_color=”#ffffff”]I was convinced she wouldn’t burden me with a load that no man’s shoulders are broad enough to bear.
I cannot emphasize how huge this was. We both still struggle and flounder sometimes, and are continually striving towards emotional health and well-being. In fact, I’m sure we will keep growing and maturing the rest of our lives in this area. But we are working towards that separately, and not saddling the other with the responsibility to take us there. When you meet a girl (or a guy) who unequivocally conveys this through both words and actions, know they are rare and know they are a keeper. This helps you to get to a point where when you know, you know.
~ Over the course of 1.5 years before proposing, and the six months before our wedding, I can honestly say that zero red flags, warning signs, or major issues arose. And I kept praying that they would, if they were there. Sure, we had to talk out a handful of heavy things, and I personally needed to learn to communicate better. But in terms of her character, integrity, teachability, humility, sincerity, dependence on God, and personal walk with Him, I didn’t have the slightest concern. She was a dime in all of those heart-level areas. It’s weird, as you get older, you truly learn that physical attractiveness and personality (e.g., sense of humor, energy level, intellectual curiosity) are important for a dating relationship, but not as important as everything else – especially in marriage and parenthood. Hopefully, you can have all of the above, but just make sure your significant other has the heart-level stuff in spades. Beyond a shadow of the doubt. This also helps you to get to a point where when you know, you know.[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#aaaaaa” txt_color=”#ffffff”]As you get older, you truly learn that physical attractiveness and personality (e.g., sense of humor, energy level, intellectual curiosity) are important for a dating relationship, but not as important as everything else – especially in marriage and parenthood.
~ We gave the people we trust in our lives full and complete freedom to be brutally honest about us and the relationship we were in. For example, I made sure that I arranged for Rachel to meet people who have known me for years, and who know my flaws and dysfunctions, romantic inclinations, and what would be good for me (and what would be rough for me). This included not just my parents and my sister, but also my spiritual mentors, my close friends, and people I do life with. We know that plans fail for a lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed (Proverbs 15:22). I just wanted them to see her around me, and hear her heart about life and faith and her hopes and dreams. I didn’t need their approval, but I did want I felt like if the relationship were a God-thing, the vast majority would be totally on board, because God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
These individuals had carte blanche to ask the hard questions, and pose the worst-case scenarios, and I was definitely open to them saying that they didn’t have a peace about it. They were not to tickle my ears and tell me what I wanted to hear, but to just lay it out there because I knew they wanted the best for me. A few told us to work through certain issues individually because doing so would strengthen our relationship in the future, and so we did. If a handful of people I trusted would have told me that they didn’t feel the relationship was right, I give you my word that I would have broken it off. I would have. Because I’ve lived long enough to know that I’m not going to miss out on God’s plan for my life. I don’t even worry about that anymore. Thankfully, everyone was on board. And that gave me so much confidence about Rachel as we moved forward.[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#aaaaaa” txt_color=”#ffffff”]If a handful of people I trusted would have told me that they didn’t feel the relationship was right, I give you my word that I would have broken it off. I would have. Because I’ve lived long enough to know that I’m not going to miss out on God’s plan for my life.
~ I’m a guy, and guys tend to be visual (as you know). I am drawn to physical attractiveness. I’m not going to apologize for that. And I do see and meet beautiful girls – single and married – wherever I go. But my heart does not stray. Even a bit. I don’t want to get to know them on a deeper level, on a romantic level. Even when I think about the celebrities that my guy friends and I would playfully pine for back in the day – Avril Lavigne, Jennifer Connelly, Alex Morgan, Hannah Davis, Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence – I realized that I didn’t even want to have a chance with any of them. They just couldn’t compare to what I did have in my life. I hope it doesn’t sound too ridiculous that guys talk about this sort of stuff, and act like we might meet them any random day and have a chance with them, but we do. Anyway, I totally would pass on all of them, because I knew that I just couldn’t find a better heart than the one inside the girl I was with. I believed that fully and completely. I knew that to be true, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Talk about clarity, and being convinced about something. I was convinced about that.
There was a super catchy song a handful of years ago by a band called “Wheat” and the chorus went “I met a girl I’d like to know better, but I’m already with someone.…” I think about that song sometimes. But I have never felt that way while with Rachel. Because I really feel that I can’t find better, and that there is no better. And I think as we grow deeper in our marital relationship, it will become even truer, because our hearts will become more and more vulnerable, open, and surrendered to each other. This is how when you know, you know.
~ In our relationship, it also felt like God was propelling each of us towards marrying the other. I know that sounds bizarre, but it’s really true. Periodically, I would go through these private mini freak-outs where I would be like, ahhhh:
…how am I going to handle being around someone all the time (since I was used to being by myself all the time)?
…what if she gets sick of me considering how often I get sick of me?
…what if I just cannot handle being responsible for someone else?
Maybe sometimes in a relationship, you might feel like you’re doing a lot to keep it together, to grow it, to move it forward. And you feel a bit unsettled, or off-kilter, or all over the place, with too many ups and downs. But He would gently remind me that I needed to take one step of faith at a time, and that He would help me. And so with every step, I honestly felt led by Him – wooing her, praying about her, defining the relationship, talking to my folks, talking to her folks, talking about the future, getting permission from her dad, proposing, and getting hitched. And He kept reminding me that He was sovereignly orchestrating the union with everything going miraculously smoothly, and easily, and without unnecessary drama.
Maybe sometimes in a relationship, you might feel like you’re doing a lot to keep it together, to grow it, to move it forward. And you feel a bit unsettled, or off-kilter, or all over the place, with too many ups and downs.
And sometimes in a relationship, you feel like your hands are off the wheel and God is just doing His thing, actively involved in everything, and you’re like “holy crap, this is happening” and you feel good and solid and stable and healthy, and you have peace, and it’s exhilarating and maybe a little crazy but you’re trusting and you feel like your trust is in the proper place. I think the latter is how it’s supposed to be.
While I did experience butterflies, sweaty palms, electric tingles, passionate kisses, and other moments of dizzying ardor and affection, those played zero role in me knowing that Rachel was the one.As I reflect on these memories, I see that getting to the point of “when you know, you know” is not based on feelings or emotions.
While I did experience butterflies, sweaty palms, electric tingles, passionate kisses, and other moments of dizzying ardor and affection, those played zero role in me knowing that Rachel was the one. Zero. I don’t recommend a dating or marriage relationship without those, but it didn’t affect my ultimate decision-making process. Instead, I naturally arrived at a decision after getting to deeply know her heart, praying about the relationship and being observant about red flags, seeking counsel from those who loved me, realizing that she was better and uniquely suited for me than any other girl, and seeing His hand repeatedly at work in all of the details. While my story is simply my story, perhaps there are some universalities that may (or should?) ring true for you as well. Let me know if you have the chance….