By Kimberly Miller
Last month, I promised you matters of the heart. Readers of Single!, here it is: I’m getting married! I can’t think of anything more relevant to my heart than the man who’s going to hold it forever. Well, ok, yes I can: my Creator-God who loved me first.
I know what you’re thinking: But this is an e-zine for single Christian women… well, yes it is. One of the things I have already learned since getting engaged a month ago, though, is that getting the ring on your finger doesn’t change your whole life. Neither does the grand moment of saying “Yes!” to the proposal. I always thought it would, so in case you also think it will, let me spare you that confusion later. You’re still the same person afterwards as you were before, and so is he. I am still the same writer today as I was a month ago, with plenty of experiences of single life on which to reflect. And my relationship with my Heavenly Father hasn’t changed either.
I’m still the same me – and a little put off by it, truth be told.
While growing up and waiting to fall in love, I developed expectations of how powerful the love is that leads to marriage. Those expectations were not entirely wrong, but they sure were more fantastic than realistic. Now that I’ve experienced it myself, I can say that coming to the decision to marry requires an enormous amount of love – and like – for one another; nonetheless, the fireworks and grandiose background music of my expectations seem to be conspicuously missing. Maybe your courtship and proposal will happen like that, but mine didn’t.
After two years of not knowing whether I wanted to get married at all, much less to this guy, I was sitting at work one day and then poof! I knew I had to marry him or always know that I should have. For me, the realization was very sudden and random, but it followed years of praying for guidance and asking God to protect my heart until the time was right. From that day until he proposed about five months later, I kept waiting for the “big moment” that happens in fairytales. The proposal was a cherished memory, but birds and squirrels didn’t dance and sing. Every person’s love story is different, but I think mine is typical. I suppose some girls get the big shebang, complete with background music and fireworks, but your heart will be better protected if you don’t expect it.
I spent my whole life hearing people say true love is not a fairytale and that my expectations weren’t realistic. I heard them and believed them on an intellectual level, yet I still felt very confused about falling in love without the fairytale backdrop. Consequently, I questioned and doubted my fiancé’s sincerity on some things just because they were not wrapped in pretty, romantic packages. Don’t obsess over your quest for romance. Even in the best of relationships, you don’t get romance every single day. I’m sorry ladies, but you just don’t.
Love is the most powerful force of good in the universe (God is love), and love that leads to marriage is all kinds of awesome. But the popular picture of passion is skewed. Remember that Satan is the father of lies – lies are his baby, his brainchild. Just as he deceives us in every other way, he distorts the truth about marital love. He plants the seeds of disappointment by giving us unrealistic expectations, then waters them with resentment and delights as they flourish into nasty weeds that choke the life out of your love; he laughs when you lose the love of your life because you wanted the fairytale that was invented by evil incarnate.
I don’t mean to accuse Walt Disney of being Satan’s puppet or criticize our parents for reading us love stories. Heck, I love a good romantic comedy as much as anybody does. But it is important to be wise to the un-reality portrayed in them. It is indeed exciting to be courted, but in a committed life partnership, true love becomes your ordinary way of life; by definition, it isn’t extraordinary. If God has placed a mature, Christian man in your path that you can trust and who is seeking God’s will, don’t write him off just because he doesn’t write you love songs.
Conversely, it should be exciting to be courted! If you are in a relationship that is hard work, maybe it isn’t the right relationship for you. My dad once told me that dating is supposed to be fun; it shouldn’t be difficult until after you’re married! I hope my marriage is more fun than work, but I promise you that a difficult courtship will not magically become an easy marriage.
Finally, I urge you not to spend your entire youth waiting and looking for “that guy.” I know how it is when you desperately want to be with somebody. Everywhere you go, every guy you meet might be “that guy” and your heart is open to him just in case. And then he isn’t. And your heart hurts. If you lay awake at night, fancying yourself Cinderella and wondering when your prince will come, here’s my advice: don’t. Be who you are and who you want to become. Focus on your relationship with God, your family, and developing lasting friendships with both girls and guys. As long as your heart belongs to the Father first, you can always entrust Him with its care and protection. He is, after all, the only One from whom you never have to guard your heart.