Peter, thank you for stimulating my writing hand! I knew my last entry needed something else to go with it, but I couldn’t decide what it was. You put your finger on it in your last comment!
I mentioned in my last entry that I should concentrate on being the woman that Christ wants me to be. This general statement held volumes of meaning that I somehow expected my readers to be able to interpret. I should remember that you cannot read my mind. 😛
As I wait for the Father to bring me the man He has chosen for me, I do everything I can to prepare for him. I would like to learn his favorite foods, favorite colors, pet peeves, and personality quirks. I want to find out what values are important to him, what issues make him passionate, and what his deepest struggles are. Despite this longing, this knowledge is impossible while I do not know who he is. However, there are still ways I can ready myself to be a precious gift to my husband. Just as the Church should do in preparation for Christ’s coming, I must prepare for my bridegroom.
First and foremost on my “To-Do List for Marriage” is to be a woman who submits herself to Christ. He is my first love and must be first in my allegiances. The willingness to follow His perfect path even if it is difficult or not what I want is the essence of submission. If I submit to Him, He will bring about His perfect will in my life. If I submit to Christ, it will be easier to submit to my husband when I am given to him. It will follow a path of logic: Christ is already my head, and he has placed my husband as my leader, then it only makes sense to submit to my husband. Even though it will be hard, if I go at it with the mindset of submission to God through man I may find it possible.
Second, I must remain pure for my husband. When I think of my future husband, I hope he will be pure. Even if he has slipped in the past, Christ’s love is sufficient for all sins, therefore my forgiveness should be as well. I consider that he is certainly hoping the same. However, I do not want my husband to have to forgive me. I would rather be given to him pure and undefiled in the eyes of God and man. Therefore my purity is one of the most precious things I have. Committments and vows I have taken testify to the standard I hope to maintain. On my wedding day I plan to give myself to my husband pure, telling him he is worthy of the effort and trials I have withstood to make it so. That much he deserves. Maintaining my purity is a constant, vigilant effort in our culture, another thing I do daily to prepare myself for God’s chosen partner.
Third, I nurture a spirit of meekness. My definition of meekness is not weakness; instead, it is the idea of contained strength. Christ was meek. He had all the power in the universe, but he knew when to use it, how to use it, and who needed it. He controlled himself instead of controlling others. I work on this to prepare for marriage. Christian marriage is not with the idea of the woman being a weak and broken servant ruled by a dictator, as many unbelievers would see it. Instead, it is a beautiful picture of delegated responsibility, of distinct and separate roles. Though a woman is submissive to her husband, she is not weak. She is a strong and steady influence in the home, but she gives her strength through meekness. This is one of the traits I most desire. I want to be the kind of woman that people look at and think, “What a quiet, gentle spirit, but what strength contained within it!”
Fourth, I must learn respect. For women, this can be quite a struggle. It goes hand in hand with submission, but is different in its own way. It is the thing that my husband desires more than anything. My pastor preached on this and was very honest (and got many nods of agreement from men in the church) when he said, “Women, did you know that most men would rather be respected than loved?” To women, that is such a foreign concept. Love is the ultimate gift to women. To men, perhaps respect is far greater. What better gift to give my husband than my ultimate respect of him?
Fifth, forgiveness is such a monumentously important piece of the “perfect marriage puzzle”. Without forgiveness, a relationship begins to deteriorate at the first conflict. Knowing God has forgiven me for my sins and knowing all the filthiness of those sins allows me to fully and graciously forgive anyone who wrongs me. I must concentrate on controlling and obliterating my anger and letting it give way to the sweet grace of God. I know I cannot forgive within my own human nature. It must be God working through me.
I believe these five things are the foundations of my preparations for marriage: submission, purity, meekness, respect, and forgiveness. Out of these come a thousand small things I may put into practice every day in my friendships, family relationships, and encounters with strangers. These are the large branches of a great tree, and the smaller branches coming off of it are numerous. However, the trunk is something greater than any of these, that will cause all of these things if practiced as Christ practiced it. It was named the greatest of three great virtues in Romans. Yes, it is love. The main trunk of the “tree of marriage” is love, love as a choice and not a feeling, which will give strength, nourishment, and inspiration to all of these other virtues.
However, if love is the trunk of this great tree, what is the root? Why, the one from which all these things spring! It is the very Creator of all these preparations: God Himself. The root of all my preparations for marriage once again leads back to one being: God. Everything on earth and outside it traces back to God. So it is with my great preparation for marriage. As I wait patiently (and occasionally impatiently) for God to reveal the one He is preparing for me, I will love God with my life. I, as part of the Bride of Christ, will love my bridegroom with all that I have. Then He will prepare me as He would have me f0r His will.