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I can’t help but find mild amusement in various thoughts regarding marriage and relationships leading up to marriage. I am approaching this reflection with utmost sensitivity for obvious reasons. I also feel compelled to share with others who may be experiencing similar scenarios in their personal lives, especially some of our younger readers of this blog. And of course, in doing so, I find myself a little vulnerable as I choose to open up my heart and mind in this personal reflection.

I’ve had two close encounters of a marriage-focused discussion with two female friends. Whenever I would bounce back with marriage conversations with Mumsy, she would often say, “You’re not marrying the parents.” Fair play, however to some extent, one does marry into the family, whether you think about it or not.

If you marry into a traditional family then you’ll be labelled the son-in-law or daughter-in-law. My Mum would dub it as an outlaw, as that is what Mum felt like with Dad’s family. Non-traditional families will essentially adopt you as one of their own precious son or daughter. Secure that special love and immediate bonding, and you are really blessed! How do I know this when I’m not even married? You’ll understand the reality when you see it. And for those friends who are experiencing this newfound adoption of a son-in-law or daughter-in-law, please treat them as yours, the way Christ sees us equal in each one of us.

Before one shares wedding vows and rings at the altar, one is always keen to know of the spouse’s parents and siblings (if any). It’s also a way to learn of the genetic traits of your significant other (and potential junior), and whether you are likely to see any support and love from your future extended family, even before you tie the knot in holy matrimony.

Returning back to those marriage-focused discussions with two female friends…

I vividly remember a healthy conversation with a friend from across the pond regarding marriage, especially when she was based in the Bible Belt. Marriage for her is of course inevitable. It is part of their DNA to get hitched, and often at a young age, which doesn’t leave the bloke much time to prepare, plan or invest in himself. The bloke is essentially ushered as a full-time bread winner and all personal ambitions are thrown out the window. At the time, that was how I saw the situation.

She came from a large family. They are a stereotypical family who live in the Bible Belt, and they found their family values on select passages of Scripture to be fruitful and multiply. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to follow in the same footsteps as her mother and be fruitful and multiply. However, it may be the only thing she could do. She was homeschooled but didn’t do much with her education. She simply wanted to settle down, and she aspired to be a mother 24/7.

I don’t mind the “house mom” (as they say in the States), but yeah, be less naive regarding life and have a little exposure to secular education and society. It’s actually what shapes our faith, and not the bubble wrap surroundings from mummy and daddy. In addition, it makes you thicker-skinned when embracing failure in everyday life. Just don’t be a Facebook mom, which is something I dread to have.

Her Dad was odd and it hit a nerve with me. He threw cats at the top of his house roof in his something-acre land in the middle of nowhere, and he once urinated in his oldest son’s clothes as a form of discipline. I AM NOT KIDDING! Perhaps that’s why American’s love their questionable freedom, because they literally know how to take the piss. He even ranted down the phone at me, because at the time our Scottish Government released one of the suspects who was linked with the Pan Am Flight 103 (aka the Lockerbie bombings). And of course, I don’t even work for the Scottish Government, nor did I endorse the SNP leader at that time. It also proved my personal point in the typical mindset of a Republican voter. Pro death penalty, pro torture of suspects in federal cases, pro gun culture, yet they are pro-life for babies regarding abortion, whilst mainstream American churches preach on forgiveness and God’s grace.

Do you get my point in my growing concern of marrying into her family?

There were other traits within the family that made me seek the LORD in urgent prayer, and it was concerning that my friend found more inspiration to be her mother than to be herself. And it didn’t help when she careered away from mainstream Christianity to focus on a non-Christian cult. Red flags everywhere. At least she is happy with her three kids as a Facebook mom. Nuff said.

I’ve reflected before here on this blog that it was my fault to continue the friendship, even though I phoned her while she was driving home from work. I called to say that she needs to move on. Yes, I called a friend to reject her on the phone… how brave?! Because I didn’t bend my knees to propose her whilst I was recovering from a post-op to my perforated appendix, she couldn’t wait… and she later rejected me in an e-mail. At least, I had the guts to phone. Despite my testing year in 2009, I know why I had the burst appendix. The LORD saved me from marrying the wrong woman. I sometimes wish the LORD wasn’t so dramatic with my ruptured appendix, but I am thankful for having it there and then.

I also remember a conversation with another friend. She was different, yet familiar if you know what I mean… just with different principles… like everyone else. She mentioned that for a guy to ask her for a hand in marriage, he must seek approval from her brother first, and her brother alone. Yes, you read that correctly! One doesn’t seek permission from the father or even the mother by modern standards, but a brother who isn’t a Christian (can’t recall exactly) and his lifestyle consists of bubbly beverages and late night parties. My mind was signalling alarm bells with a sarcastic “Yeah right!”

I can sensitively reflect on three other conversations with three other sisters in Christ.

Please Note: I also add a brief disclaimer to say that I am not writing in spite, or even out of bitterness, but purely as a testimony and warning to guard your heart of deceiving attitudes, especially when one is single… and have been single for a good while.

There was this female whom I encountered online from a dating website. You could say it was my first encounter of wanting to learn the social behaviours without expecting anything. This woman was a so-called missionary from the States, who was based in Scotland. She didn’t get that I wanted to learn more from communication in e-mails and she was annoyed that I didn’t initiate a date within days of communication. Personally, I think she was after a British bloke to help secure her a visa to permanently live here. Or as the British would say, “Sorry luv!”

I encountered another female from another dating website. Why did I return to a dating website? Perhaps it was because I was working part-time, doing seminary studies full-time, serving at my local church and not recognising anyone to befriend a female friend… or to widen my circle of age-related friends.

So yeah, this one had a health condition that passively bothered me, because I know on face value that it can be passed to the next generation. I gave it to the LORD and proceeded to meet in-person, choosing to accept her for who she is, as I also knew the LORD could heal her of her health.

Again, alarm bells were ringing regarding her family. She had a mixed relationship with her two brothers. Her Dad used to be a minister but left full-time ministry. And the mother is a minister (I think Methodist), which actually put me off. I want to be able to converse with my future mother-in-law like my own Mum, without realising that I am talking to an ordained minister of a local parish. And besides, it conflicted with my conviction of my complementarian views of men and women in the Church.

You may have guessed that I never followed through with a follow-up chat over tea. I did however receive two unusual forms of communication from her. One was a random text message to say that she was lonely, not knowing where she was going with life, and that she was sitting at a nearby train station. I somehow sensed she was needy and pretty desperate, and after seeking the LORD for wisdom, I advised her to seek guidance from the LORD. I can sense a needy person, or when I feel like I am being used by someone else. She also confessed that she wants to get married because she fears being lonely, which doesn’t sit comfortably with me to be honest. I also sensed that she needs to grow in the LORD. Only He can fill that void of loneliness. Her second correspondence to me was to say that she was pursuing missions in Africa, which seems to be a thing with single Christian women. It’s either cats or missions in Africa at an orphanage.

Lastly, the third sister in Christ is interesting, as I actually know her family. Lovely Christian parents too, whom I value and respect. And I passively knew her in-person after a brief stint of chats over lovely hot beverages. However, your eyebrows jerk with concern when you receive a random message on Facebook, a social media platform that I don’t exactly use religiously like most people. It was a message of me popping in her head and inviting me to her church. My mind was literally racing like a harvester drawing crop circles in a field. And at that time, I was looking at other churches to attend, but I strongly felt the need to remain at my local church for the time being.

The tone of the Facebook message was a familiar psychological tone (even though I have no knowledge of playing the dating game), and yet my gut reaction was that I was being approached as a rebound, which made me feel uncomfortable… like an out-of-date sandwich at a reduced price. If however, I wanted to take advantage of her good looks, I would have jumped at the opportunity… but I’m not that guy who is shallow minded to only see beauty on the surface of a person. Hence why I’m a bit too mature for my own age.

At the same time, I wanted to protect her as I was still unemployed. I’m also aware her social activities involves the need to spend money, which was something I was lacking in. I think it’s fair to say that some women need to be “entertained” more than others. Others are easily pleased to live a low-key lifestyle. At the end of the day, she wasn’t my answer to prayer, and I wasn’t her answer to prayer either. She also knows I’m a boring type for her lifestyle, so I don’t know why I was approached. And I know deep down I would have to change denomination and compromise theological convictions to chime with her. Nor did I want to throw away my seminary and expository studies, and personal convictions simply to please a Christian girl. It was not what I needed back then.

At that moment in time, I needed the LORD, and I made that known to her in my correspondence. I also knew enough of her character to actually let go, as I found peace in the LORD to kindly decline her unexpected offer. It annoyed me to reject her, but it was God’s discernment to follow through with that reply. Ironically, a few years before, she rejected me in a text message after a friendly meet up in town, which I laughed off, because it’s considered the norm in how folk value friendships, which is the equivalent value as Starbucks paper cups… disposable.

Marriage… I’m up for it, absolutely, but only with a founding friendship with a dear sister in Christ whose relationship is firmly rooted in Christ, and not like the Scottish weather. I’m not a fan of folk who want to tag along because they are lonely, or fear loneliness down the road. And I’m definitely not interested in rebounds either… I don’t have the slightest interest in becoming your third boyfriend, or whatever achieving number you’ve reached to date.

Only God can fill our voids in life and heal our broken hearts. Show substance in your active relationship in Christ, and save yourself for Him. I genuinely plead with you to have Christ as your No. 1, because only He can strengthen and bless you in ways that are beyond description and understanding. One of the very reasons why I started this blog.

Women want to be pursued, but you also need to be worth pursuing for! A pretty face or a falsified “fit” body simply doesn’t cut it (much like a girl’s desire for financial security and maturity in a man), especially when some of us desire to pursue God’s own heart… and not as a means of impressing a Christian girl, but actually grow in Christian maturity, so we can better support you, love you, and serve Christ and His Church, much like Christ loves and provides for His children.

And just because I am sharing my personal and vulnerable reflections of not marrying into a particular family or pursuing a sister in Christ, there are others who the LORD has called upon to pursue you. Some of whom have found success, and I am happy for him. Really, I am, because only the LORD knows what is best for your nature and character.

As for me, I simply need to pursue God at this crucial moment in my given life… not for my selfish needs, but with an earnest desire to give God the glory, as I seek to grow confident in Him and find refuge in His strength in the days that I live for Him.

Should a sister in Christ spark an interest to engage in like-minded Godly thought and conversation, then I am all ears, but my first love interest is the LORD. And yes, I do pray for that two-way friendship of a significant other of the opposite sex. After all, it takes two to tangle.

~Richard