Patchwork thoughts: Before and after marrying JE.
Before I met JE, I remember reaching a point where I told God I didn’t know what kind of future husband to pray for anymore. The list was once ultra-specific (pretty sure my pride had something to do with that), and I wanted so many different things that some things contradicted each other.
But over time, my list of many things eventually dwindled down to: Other than a man who genuinely loves You, I don’t know anymore. I even wondered if maybe lifelong singleness was better for me.
During this time, God shaped my expectations with these three thoughts, among others I’m sure:
- “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)
If the monarch’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, so is the heart of my future husband. I don’t need to grow anxious, manipulate, or view other girls as rivals. While human factors are involved, my Abba is sovereign. He is over all the affairs of men, even down to the mysteries of love.
- “It seems to me that we are always falling off the horse on one side or the other in this matter of being tough and tender — wimping out on truth when we ought to be lion-hearted, or wrangling with anger when we ought to be weeping … Some of you need a good (tender!) kick in the pants to be more courageous, and others of you confuse courage with what William Cowper called ‘a furious and abusive zeal.’ Oh how rare are the pastors who speak with a tender heart and have a theological backbone of steel. I dream of such pastors. I would like to be one someday. A pastor whose might in the truth is matched by his meekness. Whose theological acumen is matched by his manifest contrition. Whose heights of intellect are matched by his depths of humility. Yes, and the other way around! A pastor whose relational warmth is matched by his rigor of study, whose bent toward mercy is matched by the vigilance of his biblical discernment, and whose sense of humor is exceeded by the seriousness of his calling. I dream of great defenders of true doctrine who are mainly known for the delight they have in God and the joy in God that they bring to the people of God—who enter controversy, when necessary, not because they love ideas and arguments, but because they love Christ and the church.” (John Piper)
Piper wrote of pastors here, but this is also the kind of man I prayed for — not one who was perfectly these things but who was on the trajectory to these things.
And this is the kind of woman I prayed to become.
- “The good guy can be like the great restaurant that only locals know about. The tourists miss it because they fall for the ‘traps’ of the neon sign and convenient location of the franchise, not realizing that the best is tucked away just a few blocks over. The good guy is more a discovery, finding him can take more effort because you have to work your way past all the flash of the franchise guy … Take the time to get to know him. The one who might be easy to overlook could turn out to be the best kept secret.” (John Thomas)
I tucked this thought away, because before JE, I always fell for the obvious leader. The one whose faith and devotion were on obvious display. The one with widespread, obvious reputation. Not that there’s anything wrong with the obvious guy — we need leaders like this in the church and as husbands. But this wasn’t the right kind of guy for me. And I never knew how to look past this type until, of course, God surprised me with JE.
He served quietly, faithfully in an obscure church for over a decade. There was nothing ostentatious about him. To me, he was the “good restaurant only the locals knew about.” And but for the intervening, providential grace of God, our paths would have never crossed.
Other than praying for my broken family, praying and waiting for a husband perhaps occupied most of my mind as a single. Sometimes I forget this in the day to day of married life and caring for little ones. But let me never forget that I am now walking beside the man I prayed for, God’s kind answer to many years of prayer. He is the one whom my soul loves. There is no other relationship in my life where God says I am “one” with that person — not even the children God formed in my womb. So let me tenderly, lovingly, faithfully, creatively tend to this relationship like no other — save that of mine with Christ of course.