by Danyelle Wolfe Read
There tends to be a romance in my stories. Sometimes it’s central, sometimes it’s part of other aspects which are driving the story. I portray love in such a way as to bring back the joy of it. As one who has practiced therapy for couples and families, I create realistic love relationships. The romances in my books are anything but fluffy. They are possible. The characters are not idealized, they are flawed. I emphasize their chemistry over their physicality (there is a difference).
To find the person who really cares for us is a blessing, going back to the first man and woman in Eden.
Jesus upheld the goodness of marriage for both man and woman. Later, His followers did, too. It’s clear it’s for most of us.
Keep in mind that I write this as a single person. I have the grace to be single. I don’t cry myself to sleep at night or think about what activities to engage in based on who I might meet. I tend to have a lot of freedom and a lot of time to do what the Holy Spirit asks of me. Paul warns that marriage will take a person away from the ministry.
However, it is also true that marriage is part of the blessing and even the design for humanity, so while the plan has changed – you could say we are into the next phase, like Earth I and Earth II – it is still true that marriage can be good. Marriage gives so much back to our lives that when done right, it winds up being worth the cost.
Paul, who by the way is the writer of half the New Testament, and pastored many congregations, probably would have presided over many marriage ceremonies. He called marriage a mystery, one which time and again he revealed to be based on the creation of woman from man, of two people ideally suited to each other. Some have taken the way woman was created to mean she is subordinate, a “helper”. It’s important to realize that the same word for helper is used of both God and the Holy Spirit. Paul made clear by language and context throughout his letters, as did Peter, and as it is written in the gospels of Jesus and in the book of Acts, that mutual subordination, one to another, with honor and service, support and openness to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to each, is the key to marriage. Where each has and is developing their intimate relationship with God, this is possible. Yet marriage is the unique situation where two people are able to share their relationship with God with each other. Now that has to make us stand back and say, “wow!”
Marriage is fascinating to portray in fiction. However, one thing is very clear: our relationship with God comes first and is the fountain that makes all else flow in our lives.
So what to do if the right person has not come along? Pray for the grace to wait and stay single. God can give us that grace. Assuming you have a relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus, and have been prayerfully asking God and meditating on what He is leading you to do with your life, you probably have a good sense of what your life’s current purpose is. Above all, and I cannot stress this enough given the many many marriages I have seen and worked with, do not settle for someone who does not understand, support and champion what God is calling you to do with your life, as you now understand it. If you are already in such a marriage, I don’t advocate for divorce. God is God, He can move mountains on your behalf. Not to mention even the best of marriages will entail a dying to self on both sides.
Other aspects of a marriage, divisions of labor and so forth, are left to the individuals to agree upon, sometimes within the context of their culture, though the truth of one’s vertical relationship with God trumps culture. Couples who have shown us different arrangements include Joyce Meyers and her husband, who has a supportive yet unseen role in her ministry, to the more traditional setup where the husband is in the spotlight (too numerous to mention), to marriages where the two are obvious co-workers. There are also marriages which cycle through seasons of different role combinations. Each has a biblical counterpart.
People often ask, “what’s taking so long? I’ve prayed for a mate for years!”
Let’s face it, it’s a fallen world. A lot of things happen that aren’t of God. Why? Well for one thing, He has given free will to humans. Aside from the standard answer that God is preparing you for your mate, which has great merit, there is also the truth that sometimes the right people just aren’t doing their part and are either not ready or are out of sync. We should not have to choose between walking in God’s Will and being married, but sometimes we do! Please don’t settle. Put God first in your life, not only your faith but His will, even if it means staying single. Being His is the better thing, the one thing needful, the only thing that really matters in life on earth.
There’s a constellation of good reading on the topic. Andrew Bartlett, John Gottman, Jimmy Evans, Alice Matthews, Marg Mowczko, even my own novels, depending on what perspective you require. These authors are well known and easy to find in an online search. If you need recommendations on which book or article to start with, feel free to contact me.
As I close, I would like to pray with you. Would that be ok? Since we cannot join hands, perhaps you could unite your heart with mine for a moment. I agree with you that you will have such a strong sense of God’s hand on your life, of His love and mercy toward you, of His grace and of His Presence, as they are freely accessible in Christ Jesus, that you will rarely, if ever, feel lonely. I ask that you will experience tremendous social blessings, friends, neighbors, coworkers, people with whom to make memories, for this lifetime and for eternity. I request for this person, Father, to possess health in both body and soul, a giving spirit, peace, open doors for work, rich moments alone with You, and a lively hunger for Your truth as in Your Word. I agree with you also that God grant you to know more and more what are your gifts and next steps, that you are sure that He is your rock and your deliverer, removing you from anxiety or fear, far from oppression and false barriers, with no sense of being less-than any one else, single or married, male or female, of high birth or position, rich or poor. Above all, we ask, Father, that this person be totally free from preoccupation with finding a mate. I agree that you are able to let go and let God bring you a life partner who recognizes your worth and your awesomeness. I join with you in asking that you be established in stability, gentleness and humility to serve God by serving others.
And the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus...Phil 4:7. Amen.