If you’d said to me six months ago that I would be engaged by fall I would have laughed and/or rolled my eyes. I look at the ring on my finger and I still can’t believe this is real. David and I met on May 26th and he proposed on August 8th — 75 days later. He bought the ring at the end of June, only a month to the day after we met!
It’s crazy how sure we both were from the start of our relationship. It’s also crazy how little resistance we’ve encountered. I expected some hesitation from friends and family, but I haven’t encountered a single person who has said “You’re crazy,” which is actually a thought that crossed my mind several times an hour in the beginning and still crosses my mind from time to time.
I spent many years being single and wanting to be in a relationship. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it…well…forever! : It was worth waiting for. In the five short months that David and I have been together, I feel as though I’ve grown to understand some things about God that I didn’t quite grasp before. The picture of God’s love for me is becoming more clear through David’s love for me. And that, my friends, is what marriage is supposed to be.
It isn’t just my relationship with David that has taught me these lessons though. Certain friendships have also been instrumental in opening my eyes to how my relationship with God is meant to be.
Here are five things my relationships with others are teaching me about the character of God and how I should in turn respond to Him:
I have always known that the key to any successful relationship is communication. The best example of this in my life is my friendship with Rachel. She and I have had an ongoing conversation using text, Facebook, letters, cards, phone calls and just good old fashioned face-to-face talking for over four years now. It truly has been one fluid conversation, jumping from one topic to another, but never ending. We share all the little stupid to-do lists and happenings in our lives, but we also share the hard times and the deep spiritual struggles and revelations. We never say goodbye, because our conversation is never done. Because of our ongoing communication, I hardly ever have to wonder where Rachel is or what she is doing or thinking or feeling.
After meeting David, I started to think even more seriously about what makes a relationship, especially a marriage, successful. Thinking back over my own friendships and also looking at the marriages of couples that I know, I can see how important communicating and communicating well actually is. I began to think about my communication skills and how they’ve developed throughout the years. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.
The same is true for my communication with God. Prayer. It is clear to me now more than ever that God desires to communicate well with me. I see my shortcomings in this area very easily. My prayer life should be like my ongoing conversation with Rachel. It should never end. I should always be eager to tell Him everything, from the most mundane task I need to accomplish today, to the deepest and darkest of my hurts and needs. I should share with him the good and the bad. Some days I am good about this. Some days I wake up with a thankful heart and go throughout my day whispering prayers and singing praises. But some days I neglect my conversation with God. Some days there is silence on my end which inevitably leads to silence on His. How am I to know what God is doing, thinking and feeling if I am not in a constant state of prayer, always sharing and always open to recieving a word from God?
2. Quality Time
I have noticed a funny thing happening in my life over the past several months. The more time I spend with the man I love, the more time I want to spend with him! We spend time watching movies, talking, doing laundry, organizing and reorganizing his house, cleaning, going to church, talking about the future, eating dinner, eating popcorn, eating ice cream….a lot of eating. The point is that we spend time together doing just everyday things. And when I leave him, I count down the days until we are together again.
I know people are rolling their eyes and gagging at this point. Believe me, I’m completely aware of how annoying that sounds, and I’m aware that my desire to be with him 24/7 right now is partially because we are still in the “young love” stage. But the lesson I am learning through this time in our relationship is very valuable.
I have seen this happen in my spiritual life. The more time I spend with God, the more I want to spend with Him. I spend time reading God’s Word and in prayer and that sparks something inside of me. I long to be in His presence. The more I learn about Him, the more I want to know. This quality time with my Savior is more valuable than anything else He could ever give me. But when I let life get in the way and stop spending as much quality time with God, I start to find myself feeling lost and unsatisfied. I was made to be in the presence of God, and just as I long to be with David, my soul longs to be close to God. My heart aches to be closer to Him, just as it should.
I am a person who has always – oddly enough- enjoyed household chores. My mother would probably say that I really haven’t ALWAYS enjoyed them, and I suppose that would be true. I went through my teenage rebellion and disobedience stages, but in general I have always enjoyed serving others. I like cleaning, don’t mind cooking and though I procrastinate on laundry, it makes me feel very accomplished to have all the clothes washed and put away.
David has spent the last 31 years of his life as a single man. He has lived in his house for 3 years. The first time I went over to his house was only a few days after our first date. My first impressions were that he was tidy enough (for a single guy) but that he sure did need to vacuum! He is very responsible and does a good job keeping his house clean. However, my idea of clean is a lot different from most people’s. Especially a single guy living alone. I came in and fairly quickly turned his house upside-down making my own “improvements”.
Whenever I am in Huntsville on a day that David is at work, I make it a point to spend the day at his house getting stuff done. I sweep, mop, dust, vacuum and organize. David has never once asked me to do any of this. I do it because I want to serve him. My love for him overflows into my actions. I don’t mind doing chores because I know that when David comes home to a clean house, he will be pleased with me. He doesn’t expect a clean house, but I know that he appreciates it. I want to make him happy, so I do what I know will make him happy.
In the same way, my love for God should overflow out of my heart and turn into action. I should want to serve Him, not because of some reward that is at the end, but because I know that it makes Him happy. And I want to make God happy! I should not mind doing what may seem to me like the most mundane act of service for God, because it pleases me to serve Him. But I don’t always jump at an opportunity to serve God like I do to serve David. The realization of this truth is heavy on my heart. I am thankful beyond measure that I am able to see this playing out in my life and that I have the opportunity to correct where I may be going astray.
I have seen from the beginning of our relationship David’s intense desire to provide for and protect me. We have had so many conversations where he tells me, “I just want to take care of you.” I think this is such an important quality that God has instilled in men: the desire to take care of their families. I see that David wants the best for me. He would do anything to make sure that I was taken care of. He wants to see me succeed. He wants to see me thrive.
God is my ultimate protector and provider. He cares whether or not I have a roof above my head and food on the table. He wants to give me good things and keep me from all the bad things. He does not take pleasure in my struggles, but rather He wants to step in and save me from all the troubles in this life. He just wants to take care of me, and His protection and provision are two things I simply cannot live without.
5. Unconditional Love
There are a handful of people in my life that I know will love me no matter what. This is a huge blessing that I know not everyone has. I know that no matter what I do, no matter how I act or what happens to me, there are people in my life who will stand by my side and love me through it.
Since meeting David, I have come face-to-face with a near perfect example of God’s love for me. When David looks at me, he doesn’t see my flaws. He sees beauty. And he tells me. All. The. Time. This is a hard thing for me to hear, but it is also an amazing thing. I don’t see how he can call me beautiful, with all my stretch marks and scars and the extra pounds I need to shed, but he does! And I can tell when I look him in the eyes that he isn’t just saying the words….he actually believes I’m beautiful. He loves me though I’m flawed. This brings me to tears, because I don’t feel like I deserve his love. I am a stubborn, opinionated, hard-headed and hard-to-love person. I struggle to let people in. But he pursues me daily and his love is not based on anything I could do or give to him. He loves me without condition.
I am beginning to see, ever so slightly the amazing picture of God’s love for me. He does not see my faults, because of those I’ve been forgiven through Christ. He looks at me and sees beauty. He pours out His love on me without condition. Sometimes I find it hard to accept His love. Some days I run from it, because I feel so undeserving of it. Still He pursues me every day, offering me a love that I might not deserve but that is mine nonetheless.