Three years ago, I posted "6 Ways to Know if He's Worth It." I posted it just after I had met the man I would eventually marry, even though I had no clue at the time. My future still seemed very single to me.
Now, with almost two years of marriage to Paul, I want to reprise this discussion, because I've learned a few things about healthy marriage--nuances that I wouldn't have even known to pray for in my future husband, that I am now so grateful God knew I needed.
This post is meant to be a follow-up to: "My Response to the Purity Culture and Josh Harris."
First, I delayed publishing this follow-up because I wanted Paul to look over the post before it went live (my guard against errors in both memory and Biblical matters!). Secondly, please note that this is a super condensed skimming of very large matters. Paul said that it could easily be two or three blog posts, but, honestly, we could write a whole book on the subject! (And many people have.) For the sake of brevity, I chose to keep it all to one post.
However, given the brief treatment, if you want to dig deeper into anything I say here or have questions, Paul and I would love to answer them together in a future post. Drop me a comment!
When Josh Harris--author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book that contributed to the "purity culture" of my generation--publicly admitted that he was not proud of some of the directions that the purity culture had taken, I thought, "This might be a good thing. We might be able to have an honest discussion now about some of the purity culture's difficulties."
My hope turned to dismay when, recently, I learned that Josh Harris and his wife are divorcing and Josh no longer identifies as Christian. The purity culture discussion was just becoming another opportunity for #exvangelical and "deconstruction" advocates to rally.
But I still want to have the discussion and tell my own story of growing up in the purity culture--the good and the bad. So here goes.
Your gentleness has made me great.
Recently, my husband and I have been scouring through our marriage "garden" for weeds. Our marriage is fantastic; we've never argued and any disagreement has developed as an illuminating discussion, not a clash of wills. However, as we've read through Vertical Marriage by Dave and Ann Wilson, we've discovered a few weeds in our garden. They're not full-grown--we were barely aware of them--but we recognize their potential to take over our carefully-cultivated fruitfulness.
In the course of that weeding process, I have become intensely aware of my own selfishness.
My secret preferences for a husband were very specific, but I gave up those dreams because I did not want to encourage unrealistic expectations. God alone knew what kind of man was best for me, and I trusted Him.
Unknown to me, God took my secret list and the dreams I had given up to Him, and said with a gleam in His sovereign eye, "Daughter, you are about to meet my son Paul."
When we deal with painful things, do we pull away from our Lord or lean into Him?
“You’re feeling yucky today, aren’t you?” My husband asks, seating himself next to my quivering body. He reaches out and pulls me in to a warm, close embrace. I cry out in pain.
Taking a quick break from my Incredible Journey posts, I'd like to highlight a meditation that has recurred often for me recently...
Is marriage a distraction from whole-hearted devotion?
When I was single, I often struggled with a disturbing fear: that my future marriage would distract me from true, single-minded devotion to God. That was always very concerning to me, even though I vaguely understood that having a husband would likely consume much of my time and--let's face it--my affection.
"What can I get you?" Paul asked as he stooped over me.
"New tonsils," I replied. It was week two of mono--a virus like the worst, longest, and most painful flu you can imagine--and I felt like a disgusting ball of misery.
Paul laughed softly and seated himself next to me on the couch, careful not to bump me or to move suddenly. After hours--weeks, really--of caring for my every little need, he knew that my best therapy was simply having him near.
People used to tell me, "God will bring you a husband when you least expect it!"
That never made sense to me, because I was never not praying for or keeping my eyes open for a husband. I wasn't desperate. I wasn't chasing down every potential candidate. But I desired marriage and I was always aware.
So how in the world would God bring me a husband when I "least expected it"?
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.