This post is going to be a little bit of an addendum to my previous blog about finding a "biblically-qualified" spouse. So, if you haven't read that one... maybe you should!
Here's the thing: I'm pretty sure those of us who are not married, or not yet in a serious-to-the-point-of-probable-marriage relationship, spend a heck of a lot of time thinking about who it is that we will eventually marry. We make lists of what qualities they will and won't have, we mentally note all of the cute things that men in the moies do that we hope they will do, and we watch and scrunitize all other men (taken or not, married or not) and keep a mental tally of what we hope for and what we certainly wish to avoid. Let's be honest, it totally happens... a lot.
And so, we take all of this time, and lists, and hopes, and tallies, and dreams, and desires, and we make a nice little mental file that we label "husband!" and it all seems well and good. Those of us who are Christian women also make very sure that all of those biblical qualifications are snugly situated in the file, and all of those secret-warning-signs-that-tell-you-he's-not-really-a-Christian-even-when-he-might-say-that-he-is are left very much OUT of it. And then we wait, and we look, and we try to be patient, and we keep our eyes peeled... and we wait some more, and we look some more and we think that one day we'll stumble upon someone who just fits perfectly into the little husband mold that we've built for ourselves. And then we'll know that it's the right one because it just fits... like magic! Like God designed it!
Okay, so I went to this meeting at church on Friday and I heard a statement that has kind of haunted me all weekend. And it wasn't even intended to speak at all to this issue of who ends up as our husbands and who doesn't... but I can't get it out of my head, and I can't stop thinking about how it pertains to this. Maybe that means it's something worth paying attention to? The statement was this:
We tend to see others as flawed versions of ourselves.
Think about it. It's true. We have conflict with the people who are most unlike us because we literally cannot figure out why they just can't get it together and start thinking the way we think and being the way we are. We rarely value difference... In fact, perhaps the only time we readily value it is when it directly benefits us. Think about it. Pretty much every other time we find difference to be frustrating, annoying, bothersome, etc. That's not much middle ground; either it's fine because we're benefitting, or it's impossible because we're not.
So then this leads us to another thought, which is this:
We tend to value people and traits more highly that are the most like us.
Again, we all totally do this. Of course, we think that we were all designed and/or raised the "right way" and that the things that come easily to us do (or should) come easily to others. It's so very difficult to understand how something so natural as our gifts should be challenging for someone else to master. So, we tend to gravitate towards people who share our gifts, and we also tend to value those people more highly than others.
Here's the rub, though. In doing this... in gravitating towards people like us... we align ourselves with people who not only have the same strengths, but who also have the same brokenness. I like the word brokenness here better than the more conventional word "weakness." Because let's be honest, two people with two equally weak legs can still run a race, albeit slowly. Two people with equally broken legs. Um, no. Not at all. The Bible makes it clear that we are all broken... not simply weak.
So, God in His great wisdom and mercy designs diversity to solve this problem. If one person has a broken foot and one person has a broken nose, they can complete that race, certainly. It won't be pretty, but that's the nature of the fall, right? This is not news to us; God tells us throughout the Bible that His design is diversity and that diversity is intended to grow us, help us, complete us (in some ways), and strengthen us (1 Corinthians 12). We know this. Woo hoo! It's all good!
But really, here's the thing that's been haunting me about it. I have made my little mental husband mold out of traits and characteristics that I value. Which means that I've crafted my future husband to be made up of all the same ingredients that I am... Which means that I've been potentially setting myself up to run the most important race there is with two broken legs. And let me tell you what... I have found men like this, and they just fit so nicely into the mold I had in my head... and the race was ROUGH. And the race ended with far more broken bones than we started with... both of us limping away in opposite directions. Why am I surprised? And why do I continue to think that it will work the next time, even though I refuse to change the formula?
The thought of throwing out the list, the tallies, the expectations, the hopes, etc terrifies me. Yet, it's becoming ever clear that my own mind and heart is not to be trusted in truly knowing what is best for me. So what am I left with? What are we left with?
1) Accepting possibilities
2) Preparing for curveballs
3) Praying, praying, praying, praying.
...and not praying that God will give us just what we want. I'm talking, praying, praying, praying about whether the one we have (now, maybe, or in the future, God-willing) might just be the one He wants... even if it doesn't look like we expected.