[Guest Post by Emily Miller] – Our pastor asked my now-husband and I an important question at our first premarital counseling session.
“When did you first start to talk about marriage?”
And, we answered honestly, we really hadn’t talked about marriage in the two years we had dated until Joel gave me a ring.
Not unless you count the time he asked, hypothetically and completely without context, how many kids I wanted to have someday. Or the time he asked, generally, what kind of “jewelry” I liked.
Of course, we hadn’t talked about dating until after we had been friends more than a year and he snuck his hand across the couch to mine and said he thought we should go on a date. (I said I thought it was about time.)
This is not generally what pastors like to hear, I take it.
In his first message in a series on Song of Solomon called “The Peasant Princess,” Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll offered advice to a woman who described herself as “a single gal who’s dated guys who were definitely physically ready for marriage, but admittedly were too fearful to commit.”
Driscoll encouraged fathers of “younger gals” to sit down those boyfriends, to ask them, “What’s the plan? Do you have a plan?” For “older gals or whatever” (like I had been when Joel and I were dating, I guess), he said:
“I think it’s OK to ask, ‘What are we doing? You call me. We go out. What are we doing? What’s the plan? Are you looking for a wife? Are we going anywhere? If not, why are you pursuing me? Why are we dating? What is the plan?’”
While Joel and I may not have talked much about marriage before he proposed, God and I had.
And while I may not have known Joel’s exact plans for our relationship, I felt reasonably sure I knew what God’s plans for the relationship were. I felt He was calling me to marriage.
In his first message in a series on marriage, or, rather, “Christ-centered relationships,” Cornerstone Church Pastor Francis Chan preached on 1 Corinthians 7. This is the passage in which St. Paul wrote it is good to stay unmarried, those who have wives should live as if they do not and it is better to marry than to burn with passion. It also is the passage in which he said, “This world in its present form is passing away.”
This may seem like a weird place to start talking about marriage. But it is the place where everything starts.
“The point of this passage is there is something bigger. If you can do this better, if you can please God better and reflect Him better as a single person, then do that. If you can do it better as a married person, then do that. Just do whatever you need to do, but we don’t have time to sit around and cry, sit around and rejoice, sit around and look at the things we created, sit around and just talk about our marriage. There’s something bigger going on here.”
I felt I could please God better and reflect Him better not just as a married person, but as a person married to Joel Miller.
I didn’t know what that would look like at the time, or how marriage would change me, but I felt sure it would and for the better.
In my first year of marriage, I already have seen a glimpse of that, as in a mirror dimly.
Marriage has softened some of my rough edges and confronted me with my own selfishness. It’s shown me that it is “not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) and “two are better than one” (Ecclesiates 4:9), that I need to ask for and accept help when I need it and sometimes even when I don’t think I need it, that God didn’t design us to do life alone (and that goes whether we are married or single). It is the crucible in which I am working out every day what I read in God’s word.
As you consider marriage, prayerfully consider if it is something that would lead you to please and reflect God better; not to mention, if this is someone who would lead you to please and reflect God better.
Consider if it is something you are willing to stick with and let change you. Read books, listen to messages and get a good, biblical understanding of what marriage is. Keep in mind, though, as others so wisely have noted on this blog, “no one has the answer to your marriage.”
Above all, don’t lose sight of your “mission,” as Chan called it, in this short time on earth: “to live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35). That’s something bigger than marriage.
And maybe talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about it.
Emily McFarlan Miller is an awards-winning education reporter and adventurer, a social media-er, a Christian, a Chicagoan and, as of May 2011, the unlikeliest of newlyweds. Mostly, she writes. Connect with her at emmillerwrites.wordpress.com.