They said marriage and children are really hard. No, like really hard… Seriously. And this is good – honesty is good. But, if you’re hoping to get married, make sure it is to The Right Person. And, actually, while you’re at it, make sure you are The Right Person.
They posted endless Facebook articles : 8 ways to find a godly marriage partner, 10 things Christian men should look for in a bride, 15 things godly women need in a husband, 20 characteristics of a God-honouring marriage…
They said to find someone who would lead me spiritually, someone who would encourage me in all my gifts, someone who would push me to be the very I best I could be.
They said that if it were right, I would ‘just know’; that if it were real, it wouldn’t be so hard.
They said to seek out a man of character and to stay away from anyone with ‘issues’.
They said to make sure I was ready; my issues prayed away, my patience perfected.
Later, they added things like ‘financial security’, ‘more than sexual attraction’, ‘shared values’. Think about who’ll die first, who might get sick, where you might live, how you’ll spend your money, raise your kids, paint the bathroom, cook your pasta, scratch your… Well. You get the idea.
So, I packed up all these thoughts and questions and traits and hoisted them onto my back.
I didn’t notice the weight at first, because I wanted marriage, I wanted to choose well, I had to choose well. And now that I carried this stuff with me, when it came to being in a relationship, I knew what it would look like, how it would feel, what I would do, what he would do, what we would be together : a lean, mean, godly marriage machine. And it would last, I’d be sure it would last.
I, particularly I, would need to be sure it would last.
Then I fell in love.
No-one said I would come face to face with my fears as I accidentally fell for someone so completely unexpected. Someone so completely… Human.
No-one said (or I didn’t hear it well) that life tends to be a little less tidy than my backpack of relationship expectation. They didn’t post Facebook articles offering 8 ways to stop being Shit-Scared of marriage when your parents are divorced, 10 ways to loosen your vice-like grip on what you perceive to be control, 20 characteristics of two screwed up human beings trying to build a life together while trusting grace.
So I find myself in a relationship with someone whose complete human-ness is irritatingly out of my control (this is tongue-in-cheek, but – seriously?!? No-one said I would need to surrender control!). But in all his uncontrollable human glory, he is funny and gentle and GOOD. And I love him.
Those things they said I should look for, should do, should be… They haunt me sometimes. Sometimes they haunt me often. There tends to be plinky-plinky Disney-like music and chirupping birds echoing somewhere in the background. There is always fear.
I am not afraid of his imperfection – though sometimes The Lists would have me think so. (Then I can blame it on someone else.) I am not afraid of infidelity and drama. I’m afraid of me.
This is my fearful shame :
After all these years of praying for someone who wouldn’t give up on me, my biggest fear is that it will be me who gives up because marriage and kids is really hard. No, like really hard… Seriously. Like, maybe too hard for anyone other than The Right Person.
And if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past few years, it is that I am not The Right Person.
I am only me. He is only him. And that load on my back is only Heavy.
Stuff the lists.