Thursday, January 9, 2014

7 Habits To Cultivate While Preparing for Marriage


(this is an updated post from May, 2013)

First, for some background: I've always wanted to get married, and I always wanted to be married young. Marriage has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was old enough to know what it was. I wanted a best friend who I'd never move away from, a fairy-tale romance, and children to bring up in the Lord.

I grew up in a conservative Christian homeschooling family, and always attended fairly conservative churches. I was always taught to dress modestly (not a denim-jumper kind of modest, but a feminine-kind-of-decency), to save yourself for marriage, to not flirt, and to cultivate healthy and Godly relationships with guys. While I didn’t have a long stretch of “single years”, I did feel the struggle of waiting.

I had been involved in youth groups and churches where friends & leaders around me were experiencing the dating cycle & had very loose friendships with members of the opposite sex, so the temptation was always there. Praise be to God, He preserved me for Sean in most every way, even though I had some emotional slip-ups here and there.

So basically, marriage didn’t just happen when I wanted it to. There were temptations and trials getting here, and I learned a ton in the process through experience, God's Word, and the wise counsel of Godly men and women.

When I was engaged I had a friend of mine ask the following question of me, and here is my response! It's a loaded question, and I have a bit of a loaded response.

And honestly, I feel kind of silly writing with such authority on this issue, because I'm truly no one of influence. Anything I may say here or anywhere on this blog is because of the Lord, and simply I pray it is of some encouragement to you. May He make it clear to you if anything I say doesn't align with Scripture!

“What is something that you, knowing now as a girl really about to get married, would like to have known when you were in the season of preparing for marriage but had no idea who hubby was going to be? What are some habits you would suggest me picking up, or attitudes I begin striving toward, or emotions I learn to grapple with now?"

1. Look for ways to encourage or pray for a brother-in-Christ when you meet him for the first time, instead of running through a Potential-Husband-Filter in your head. I was the girl who would check things off a mental “checklist” when ever I met a new guy. Could he be it? Is this the one? It was really a burden, to be honest. I wanted to get married and wanted more than anything for a guy to see what a catch I was! I never threw myself in the way of guys, or flirted with them (not much, anyway) – and from the outside I’m sure I seemed very self-controlled. Ha! If only they knew that I was silently analyzing every little thing they did!

Looking back I feel such regret over wasting so much mental energy on this area of my life. It was dishonoring to them, to their future wives, to my future husband, and to the Lord! I wonder now, what COULD I have been thinking about whenever I talked to a brother-in-Christ? How SHOULD I have seen them? He’s a person too. He has a family. He’s a redeemed sinner. He has dreams and gifts and talents just like I do. Just because he’s MALE doesn’t mean he’s an entirely different species (even though it sure feels like that sometimes!)

2. Live productively and joyfully and in a manner that glorifies the Lord even if there is no one on the horizon for you to marry. I know, "easier said than done, Beka". If you don’t even KNOW any young men you could even consider marrying, or even if you attend a church that’s full of them – don’t stop living a sacrificial life and working heartily unto the Lord. You DO need to be content – but actively and joyfully content. Our Heavenly Father is in the business of keeping His servants busy to glorify Him and you can’t do that if you’re constantly living in anticipation for the future. Even being married I struggle with this.

3. Do not neglect daily time spent in the Word and prayer. I cannot express how important this is! I had a very active prayer and devotional life in the months prior to my courtship with Sean, and it was the most Spiritually rich time of my life thus far. When the emotions of new love and the busyness of planning a wedding came in the months to come, it became tempting to forget my first Love. It is still difficult! Life will only get crazier in the years to come. It is never too soon to start making “abiding in Him” a daily priority.

4. Talk to your parents. In the last few years there were many things I did not share with my parents, simply because I saw no purpose in doing so. I didn’t keep secrets from them or go behind their backs, but I didn’t share with them every problem or concern that they probably could have helped me with. Now, I wish I HAD spent more time talking with them or seeking their advice on things, instead of waiting until the last minute. Don’t wait until it’s too late to cultivate a loving and healthy line of communication with your mom and dad. [I understand this isn't possible for everyone, and if it isn't , continue seeking to cultivate meaningful relationships with trusted, mature, and Godly men and women.]

5. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. Be humble. Don’t parade yourself around or act in such a way that communicates, “I am such a steal!” In Romans 12 it says, “don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (vs 3) When I had no idea who my husband was going to be, I had times when I saw myself in a way that was ideal…like I actually deserved a man who fit all my criteria. It wasn’t even until I became closer in my relationship with Sean that I realized how broken, sinful, and fallen I truly was! My courtship, engagement, and now marriage has been a magnifying glass to all the ways I needed to be humbled.

6. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When you’re in a position of unwanted or prolonged singleness, it can be hard. You look at other women who are in loving and Godly relationships and you can’t help but wish the same would happen for you. As much as you can tell yourself, “I’m content!”, truth is, you know you really couldn’t be content forever! It can be tempting to wallow in a bit of self-pity or let your singleness begin to feel like hopelessness. Instead of dwelling on the things you lack, praise God for the blessings He’s given. Instead of feeling aimless, remember that “the Lord establishes [your] steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). Instead of constantly thinking of yourself and your needs, pour yourself out in service toward other people.

7. Don't follow your heart. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), but the Lord searches the thoughts and intentions of our heart (vs 10). I heard this somewhere: Don’t follow your heart. Lead your heart. Don’t let your mind run off with romantic fantasies that aren’t real. Don’t be shaken. Remain steadfast and sober-minded with your emotions in check and your heart in submission to the Lord!

glory to Him
~beka

6 comments:

  1. Thanks, Beka, for sharing this! I was very encouraged by your words and ideas on how I can prepare my heart for marriage, even though I'm not even in a relationship yet! I've been looking for ways I can do this and I'm glad to hear from a young woman (my age) who is already married.

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    1. Thank you, Sierra! Glad it can be of some encouragement to you. Writing things like these always help me, too. I'm preaching at myself more than it might seem like I'm preaching at y'all :D

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  2. I loved reading this post, Beka! It's easy to forget about all these points in the struggle of waiting, yet so crucial to keep in mind while preparing oneself for marriage. Thanks for the encouragement. :D

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  3. Beka, I recently discovered your blog while researching CollegePlus and have really enjoyed your posts! Thanks for the encouragement and tips within this one. So many of us girls are in this stage of life and need these little reminders. God bless!

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  4. What an encouraging, inspiring and motivating post! I love your tips! Thank you for sharing! :)


    Feel free to visit my blog as well! You will find topics such as health, beauty, self image, personal growth and motivation between others! <3

    Diana
    www.ManhattanImageandStyle.com
    New Outfit Post: A Cozy Day

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  5. I really like these tips! I wish I would have read a post like this while I was in my single season of life.

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