A friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous, texted me tonight to tell me that a burgeoning relationship had just ended. This person contacted my friend recently, and let her know that though they hadn't seen each other in several years (they were classmates), he had been thinking about her consistently and felt that God was telling him to explore a potential relationship with her.
I know, it sounds a little weird already.
So, this "relationship exploration" or whatever began very recently, and they had been in contact on a daily basis since. Tonight, apparently, they were discussing eating and exercise habits, and this person said told my friend something along the lines of, "If we end up getting married, I will run with you every day until you have the body of a model."
My friend was understandably taken aback, and she informed him that while it was one thing to encourage her to be healthy and reach her goals, it was something else entirely, and entirely inappropriate, to expect her body to change utterly because she was now his wife.
When she told him this, the man announced without much fanfare that he had obviously been wrong about God's leading in the situation, and that both the conversation and the relationship possibility were over. Just like that.
My friend is neither fat nor thin, but that is hardly the point. I told her plenty of stuff that she already knew, mainly that his words were complete bullshit and she should be glad to be rid of him so soon. But it brought up a question to my mind that I have often wondered about before.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that this is not a man-bashing post, that women are just as capable (and I think sometimes just as likely to) of having these same thoughts.
A long time ago, some pastor or another told me to make a list of what I would want in a husband--character qualities and the like. They made the point that the list should not be focused on physical attributes, but that this list should be consulted when I dated anyone, and if crucial items on the list were not met, I should not be in the relationship.
Whether you've been told explicitly to make a list or not, I believe we all have one. Especially for those of us in the Christian community, many of whom have been told that our spouse is out there, waiting, and God, in his perfect timing, will bring us exactly the perfect person for us.
What this often turns into is the incorrect assumption that we can essentially custom-order a spouse from God. And because this is rarely discussed, it often goes unchecked, leading many of us to think in the back, secret spots in our minds that this Perfect Person God Has Chosen For Us will look how we would like, will have a personality that compliments us perfectly, will share our political leanings, sexual interests, social constitution and, of course, obviously, spiritual discipline.
This is so untrue. I remember being absolutely cut to the core when I first heard this, but it's true:
GOD HAS NOT PROMISED YOU OR ME A SPOUSE. There is nowhere that says that God is bound to provide you the perfect husband or wife. For many of us, He will, but not because He has to. And since it's not promised to us to have a spouse, what right do any of us have to tick off boxes and categories into which our spouse must fit?
I do believe, if you are a Christian, that God intends, if you marry, for you to marry someone who also loves God with all their heart, soul and strength, and who will encourage you to do the same. And it's all well and good for us to say, "Well, I want to marry someone who isn't a liar, and who isn't greedy..." etc, but the truth is we're all liars, we're all greedy, and we're all sinners, and whoever you marry, that sin is going to show up at some point. The important thing is not to imagine it's not there--it's knowing what to do when it arrives.
So, all of this is to say that I am sorry and frustrated for my friend. Unfortunately, I've found that sometimes invoking the name of Jesus over a relationship simply allows for one person (or both) to jerk the other around and cause great amounts of grief.
How do we handle this better, friends? How do we stop the inner monologue that says, "Well, this can't possibly be the person for me, because God wouldn't send me someone who...". I wonder if any of us can see people for who they are, and not just who they are to us. Would it change anything? I think it might.