‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (NIV James 1:5).
In 2002 my parents packed up and moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Greenville, North Carolina. That left me with a home to sell and a decision to make; do I stay in Baltimore or do I relocate as well? I really wanted to leave. I had no social life and really had just outgrown the city. I needed a change of scenery and I needed it bad!! But instead I moved into an apartment and continued to die a slow internal death because I really wanted to leave. My mommy wanted me to move to Greenville naturally, but I wasn’t feeling that either. Well three years later, May 2005 to be exact, I had the opportunity to be put on active duty orders (I was still serving in the military at the time). So I packed up and headed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was already familiar with the area as my long term beau was from Philadelphia, so I had spent a lot of time there. I knew people there and for the first time in a long time I felt like I had a social life; I felt alive. Every weekend I was getting into something and it was fabulous. So, I decided to stay. In January 2006 I resigned from my position with the Maryland State Government, packed up my apartment and never looked back. I tell that story because one of my favorite scriptures says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path’ (NIV Proverbs 3:5-6). I wish I could tell you that I asked God if I could or even should move to Philadelphia, but I can’t. I followed my own mind and did what I felt was best for me. Thankfully it worked and even though I did not ask God if it were ok, I felt a peace in my spirit that said it was.
So here I sit, single and desiring marriage and the question I ask God a lot is, “Who is my husband?” I haven’t yet gotten an answer to that prayer but I wonder, will God really tell me who to marry? I use to think he would. I’ve heard many pastors say that persons who were thinking of marriage should ask God if it were ok to date/marry a particular man/woman; and I suppose in my mind I was expecting to hear a booming voice from Heaven say, ‘Yes Shannon, he is your husband.’ But now, I’m not so sure.
Everyone uses the term soul mate which to me implies that there is only one person in God’s vast universe for me or any of us. However, there is nothing in scripture that suggests this and honestly in my humble opinion, that type of thinking places God in a box. The same applies to me asking God if this is the man I am suppose to marry. When people debate me on this I always ask the same question, if there is such a thing as a soul mate then how do you explain a widow/widower or a divorcee finding love again? Naturally I always get the deer caught in the headlight look but when you think about it, the concept of a “soul mate” just does not make sense. It sounds nice; very romantic and flowery. But not realistic. In Proverbs 31, men are encouraged to be guided by a woman’s faith and character when making the choice on who to marry. In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 Paul says, ‘Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.’ In Matthew 19:12 even Jesus says that some choose to be eunuchs-celibate; ‘For there are eunuchs, who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’ So if the bible clearly says it’s my call whether or not I get married or even who I choose to marry then why should my skewed feelings and reasoning’s override living the truth of God’s word?
There is quite honestly nothing in the bible that commands us to marry one particular person. Whether we marry and who we marry are referred to in scripture as God’s permissive will, something he allows us to choose. Just as my decision to relocate to Philadelphia was God’s permissive will, so is who I choose to marry. God gives wisdom to those who ask, and as I read and study God’s word for myself I will learn of the qualities and attributes the bible says I should be looking for in a potential husband. Qualities such as:
- Stewardship – This quality speaks to one’s maturity and character and how they are acted out on a daily basis. My future husband should be consistent with his role and responsibilities within our marriage. Stewardship also represents how my husband will manage what God has blessed him with; wife, children, money, time, possessions, etc.
- Love – This word is tossed around so freely now and often used to refer to romantic feelings or sex or physical attraction. All of these are great. However, they are not unconditional and will not sustain the marriage. True love is like the love Christ shows the church. Author Stuart Scott says true love is “a selfless and enduring commitment of the will to care about and benefit another person by righteous, truthful and compassionate thoughts, words, and actions.” Biblical love is unconditional. It does not have ulterior motives nor is it expressed in a feeling. True love….biblical love is always thinking about the needs of the other person.
- Leadership – God makes it clear in his word that the husband is the leader in the marriage. He is the head of his household. Many women take issue with this and many more men have taken advantage of it. This type of leadership is sacrificial in nature and involves the husband’s ability to be decisive and to take action when needed. The purpose of a husband’s leadership role is to guide his family in righteousness.
- Service – My pastor says that if a husband woke up every day thinking how to make his wife happy and the wife does the same then they have no other choice but to be happy! Hence, service is humbly putting my needs before his and consistently prioritizing me in the marriage. Jesus is the perfect example of a servant and a husband’s focus should be on his wife without seeking recognition and or approval.
- Communication – Poor communication is probably one of the biggest obstacles in a marriage and let’s face it, the quality of any marriage is only as good as their ability to communicate. The important thing to remember is that communication is a two way street. In addition to speaking there is also listening, which is probably the most important element of communication. However, we must be careful to not listen to respond, but rather listen to understand. We want to understand what our spouse is saying so we must concentrate on what is being said, refrain from interrupting and carefully consider all that is being said.
Of course this is not an exhaustive list of qualities that a potential husband should possess, but rather it is definitely a great a start. It provides me with a blue print when choosing whom I will spend the rest of my life with. God has gifted me with his word to make wise decisions while journeying through life. Often times we can get ahead of ourselves because we think we know best so we make our own decisions without following God’s word. But as a single person who hopes to be married someday soon I must understand that should I choose to not follow God’s plan, there are consequences-and in the case of marriage can be long lasting. So I will seek God’s blessing but also seek his wisdom in scripture, apply biblical principles, seek wise counsel, be deliberate and wise in my choice, and consider my future.