Dear Friend Who Is Pondering Marriage,
My friend, you’ve just asked me a difficult question. You’ve asked me whether I like the man you’ve chosen. You’ve asked me what I think of him. You want to know my opinion, you want to know whether you should say yes if he asks The Question.
What can I possibly say?
I know him… but only as a friend. As Your Friend. I don’t know his nervous habits, or what his breathing sounds like in the night. I can’t tell you whether his hugs feel strong or what he’d do in a crisis. I can’t read his heart and let you know whether the love he professes will last for as long as you both shall live.
And even if I knew all those things and could tell you – would you believe me? Would you take my word over his – he who has made you laugh and cry and feel safe and terrified all in one go? He’s promised (if not in words, then actions) to side with you against the world, to throw in his lot with you, to fight with you and for you forever. If I told you all that was false, would you believe me?
I suspect not.
What then do you want from me, my friend? I want to help you. I want to support you – even more, I want to calm your fears and rejoice with you. I want to spin around with you and watch your world somersault in never-ending cartwheels of delight. I want to stand on this cliff face, this point of no return, and laugh and scream in the wind beside you.
I want to be excited for you, my friend. And yet you ask me questions. Tough questions. Questions which I can never answer this side of paradise, and these questions make me stop and pause and hold my breath. How can I possibly speak into this sacred situation?
And yet I’m honoured – and I know if I were you, I would also want to ask these questions. Not from fear of having chosen the wrong man (if I thought that I’d be running, not asking), but because that’s what we do, us humans. We acknowledge we live in community, and we know words can change everything. A single sentence, uttered at the right time, is enough to derail a life. In asking others for their thoughts, we open ourselves to that possibility. It’s part of living authentically. It’s part of being human.
So there you sit across from me, with your heart wide open. Not to accept anything I say (you’re too wise for that) but to listen knowing that my words have value. Not because I have the answers, but because I’m human.
What can I say to you, my friend? How can I answer?
I can’t tell you about your Man, or your decision. I’ve only lived one life, and that’s mine. So I’ll tell you about me. I’ll tell you what I want in a Man.
I want him to love Jesus more than he loves me.
Everything else fades in comparison. It doesn’t matter whether he met Jesus before or after he met me. It doesn’t matter whether he’s able to speak eloquently about his faith or whether he stutters and fumbles. It doesn’t matter whether he’ll be a leader in the church or a missionary or whether he’ll simply (not simply, never simply) be a godly husband. It doesn’t matter whether he’s able to disciple others or whether he finds sitting through a sermon difficult. It doesn’t matter whether his love for me is able to be sustained on its own or whether he’ll struggle to remain patient with me in thirty years’ time.
That he loves me more than he’s ever loved anyone else (ever imagined he could love anyone) is a given. I wouldn’t be asking these questions (I wouldn’t even be considering him) if I thought he didn’t. If I suspected for one inkling that he didn’t love me as much as he professes (as much as any man can), I wouldn’t want to ask anyone’s opinion. The choice would be simple.
He loves me. Now that that’s clear, what matters most is that he is utterly besotted with Jesus. That he would rather say goodbye to me, and never see me again, than forsake his God. That he would rather spend time with God than spend time with me.
I’m not asking whether he will seek God alongside me. I’m not asking if he’ll go to church or whether we can pray together. I don’t care whether we can discuss every topic in religion in minute detail while feeling perfectly comfortable. It doesn’t matter if he will (on his own initiative) participate in Bible study or serve in charity.
I’m asking whether he is crazy about God. Whether he is more obsessed with the Father who loves him than he is in love with me.
That’s the question I’d ask myself (I hope, I pray) if I were pondering marriage. And that question is the only answer I can possibly give to yours.
By God’s mercy, may it be enough.
Your Friend Who Isn’t In The Relationship