I have wanted to get married for about as long as I can remember. I even remember one time being six years old and getting in an argument with another boy on the playground about which of the two of us was going to marry the girl we both liked. Eventually, people told me that I’m not supposed to argue my way into getting a wife. Instead I was told I need to date a girl, then ask her to marry me. Then I became a Christian, and was told it’s a lot more complicated. I was told the way the world dates is wrong. I didn’t want to do things wrong. Ever since I started following Jesus I’ve wanted to honour Him, and do what’s right, but I’ve read the bible cover to cover and it never gave me the step-by-step instructions for getting a wife I was hoping for. So since I couldn’t find my answer in the bible, I did what anyone does these days when they need an answer: I asked the internet.
I went and read about 1000 articles, and a handful of books all about relationships. I also sought advice from married people. I even asked Jesus to tell me who I was to marry, and how to find “the one”.
Somewhere along the line I had been told by some friends that the bible doesn’t really teach the idea of “the one” and that is was actually just Plato’s idea, but I still thought, worried, and prayed like there was “the one” out there for me.
Because of this belief I got really good at worrying about, and overthinking all my interactions with girls. I didn’t want to mess things up. So I kept on seeking out more and more advice.
As I was reading C.S. Lewis’ book “The Four Loves”, I came across a quote that completely changed the way I think about relationships:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness”.
I wanted to fall in love without falling down and getting hurt.
But there’s no getting around it. No matter how much I plan and prepare, I can’t avoid pain. I need to risk the chance of getting rejected, I need to take the risk that in pursuing a relationship things can get messy and people can get hurt. What’s more is that I’m starting to believe that it’s okay.
Actually, I’ve become convinced that being vulnerable is a good thing because Jesus chose to pursue us in this way. Jesus’ love is not safe. Think about it for a moment. He loved us knowing that our relationship with him wouldn’t be perfect, knowing that we would fail him after falling in love with him. He also died for the whole world knowing not everyone would love him back. That’s vulnerable. Remember that Jesus’ path to loving us was built around getting nailed to a dirty cross. But we know now, that it’s the cross that lead him to the beautiful story of the resurrection.
So go ahead, read more articles (I still do), study more, get good counsel, pray. I’m just starting to believe that God in his grace uses the awkward and messy and painful moments in relationships to make room for ushering in moments of incredible joy and beauty and wonder.
photo by (flickr CC) Susanne Nilsson