Yep, you read that right. I have an arranged marriage by my Father. Oh, and I live in America and I got married in 1998 when I was 28 years old. It sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would allow their Father to pick their husband? In a free country? In the 21st century?
I did! Feel free to call me an idiot or one who made a wise decision. (smile)
To my friend who is a wife:
This was a hard post for me to write because you are already married! To some that are reading this, you may have a fabulous marriage and to others, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Now, I know how we women like to compare ourselves to one another, BUT I caution you NOT to do that! Sister in Christ, don’t go there! We shouldn’t be comparing or competing with one another ever, because all it does is bring hurt and disappointment.
Furthermore, the last thing I am here to do is plant seeds into your head telling you that you do not have a wonderful marriage if the Lord did not arrange it. You can still have a thriving marriage. Remember, God has plans for you that are good, not evil. Don’t be discouraged either if your spouse happens to be Mr. Wrong in your eyes. God is in the business of transforming lives! The journey might be difficult and hard as you overcome many obstacles, but in the end you can have a glorious marriage.
In the coming weeks I will be writing many posts on marriage, so stay tuned! But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you my pre-courtship story. It will give you a little more background on me and my marriage, which I think might be helpful to you when reading future posts on the subject of Wedded Bliss, (or the lack of).
Also, I STRONGLY encourage you to be an older woman to a younger one who is in need of Biblical direction regarding marriage. Share with her my story AND your story. Plus show her what to look for in her future husband.
Now….on with the story!
How can a young woman without the proper Biblical upbringing know how to discern what to look for in a husband? Those were my thoughts as I headed out on this journey.
For me, I felt with the right husband my life could be wonderful and with the wrong husband I could be living a life that was like a death sentence. (No need to go there because I already made that choice!) You can read a little more about that here and here.
I wanted my Father’s help; my Heavenly Father, that is. Surrendering to the Lord and asking Him to intercede on my behalf, for Him to choose my husband just for me. I can honestly tell you it was the second best decision I made, with following Christ as my number one.
Here’s where I was when this process began.
I came to Christ at age 26 with a desire to someday meet my Prince Charming and have the fairy tale wedding that all women dream of. However, as I dug into the scriptures I soon learned that a God-fearing woman was to submit to her husband. (I had to do what?)
Not wanting to do that anytime soon, nor wanting to settle for a man that was second-best, I soon became content in my singleness! (Before Christ, I was the epitome of a contentious woman, with a capital ‘C’. There was much for me to learn before I was willing to hand my life over to some man that I had to follow.)
I read the Bible, referencing all the scriptures that talked about a woman or a wife because Godly wisdom is the BEST wisdom to have! Along with that, I also read a short book called, Let Me Be a Woman, by Elisabeth Elliot which certainly made a profound impact on me. (And no, I don’t receive compensation for saying that.)
I had a lot to learn about being a Godly woman. I became asleep to my desires of being married, much like when God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep so He could fashion Eve from him.
So, into a deep sleep Adam went while God was in the process of arranging the first marriage of mankind.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:21,22
While being asleep to my desires, I started to grow in the things of the Lord. Seeking the scriptures and trying to be obedient to what I was learning, even if it didn’t feel good!
Soon, I started to meet men (mostly from church because that was the only place I went to, outside of my job, or the all-female gym that I had attended). Remember, I wasn’t seeking out the next hot guy that I could date for fun. I was content seeking the Lord. Learning. Growing. Serving Him.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
Some rules that I had established in my mind, thanks to the Lord’s prompting:
I made the decision that men had to approach me because I was unwilling to approach them. Not because I was playing any games with them but because I wanted to start off any future courtship with the man God chose for me with the right foundation. In God’s word it says that a wife is to follow her husband. So, I felt it was best to not play the game, Follow the Leader as me being the leader. If the man was interested in me, then he needed to ask me out, not the other way around.
Here’s the right foundation: When married, the man leads. Therefore, when courting, the man leads. If the man did not act like a God-fearing man or a gentleman when I first met him, then he soon learned he was not the man that God had for me. In other words, if he couldn’t lead me while on a date, he couldn’t lead me in marriage. (Next.)
Also, I would examine their character more so than their outer appearance (even if they were easy on the eyes!) I wanted to see if they would qualify to the standards held in the scriptures for a Godly man, after all my future husband would be leading me for the Rest. Of. My. Life. so I didn’t want to make that decision based on how I felt about him. I asked the Lord to guard and protect my heart. To not be deceived by my emotions.
During this time I made a list of character traits along with other things that I felt my future husband should have and then I daily, prayed over the list.
- He was to be a God-fearing man. I know that may seem vague to some, but being that I had only been a new Believer for about 1 year, that was the only way I knew how to define my standards. Very quickly I learned that even though some men proclaimed to be Believers their actions said otherwise. Watching him is how you can determine his character. If it doesn’t measure up in the beginning…Tell him to hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more.
- He was to lead-(not rule). Now that might be an odd character trait to some women, but to me it wasn’t. The reason why is because I was always the one who led in prior relationships. Most of the men were unwilling to take charge…so I always did, plus I would have fought for control even if they tried. (Remember, I used to be a contentious woman.)
- He was to be a man of honor and integrity. His ‘yes’ was to be his ‘yes’ and also, he would honor the Lord by keeping me pure until our wedding day.
- He was to attend my church. Here was my reason why. When I first got saved I went church-shopping. After attending 3 different churches in 6 months, I later found the church that I attended for 15 years. The several churches that I attended said the same message over and over. “Jesus loves me and died for my sins.” Yes, true statements, but I hungered for more. The Bible is a big book and I knew there was more for me to learn but it wasn’t being preached on a Sunday morning at the churches that I had attended. Being that I did not know much about the Word of God and that a husband was to be the spiritual leader of the home, I wanted my future husband to know more about the Bible than I did because I did not want to lead him spiritually. I wanted him to take me by my hand and lead me spiritually. I felt I was most protected, spiritually speaking, if my future man sat under the same teachings as I did. Plus, I was not willing to leave my church since I was spiritually being fed there. If I married a man who happened to attend another church….guess what? I would have to follow him and he might believe in some weird doctrine that I did not know about when we were courting. (I wasn’t willing to risk my spiritual growth in order to be married.)
- I wanted a man that was just like me. I wanted his spiritual convictions, morals, values, and resolve to be in-line with my own. I also wanted his personality and the way he thought to be very similar to the way I thought because I wanted him to understand me. I know that sounds strange especially when people say opposites attract. But I figured there would be less problems and misunderstandings in our marriage if we were able to understand one another. Males and females bring in their own uniqueness just by being, ‘males and females’. We are opposites by nature and that is still a BIG enough difference in my book.
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.” Exodus 13:21
And the Lord went before me…
- Are they passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ?
- Do they attend church even if you can’t make it for some reason?
- Are they daily reading God’s Word?
- Do they initiate spiritual conversations with you or others?
- Do they compliment your character, virtues, or just your outer beauty? If he is a God-fearing man, then he will be looking for Godly attributes in you.
- He makes continual poor choices or decisions that you do not respect. (This will continue in marriage and it will make it extremely hard for you to respect him.)
- He has his hands all over you. Obviously entering into a physical relationship too soon is a big fat no-no! What I mean by a physical relationship is lots of kissing, embracing, touching. In this instance, I am not referring to the act of marriage (s*x). That time is only reserved for a husband and wife.
- He only complements your outer appearance, personality or things the two of you have in common, yet never refers to your heart for the Lord because that is not important to him. (For some married women, they have this issue in their marriage and the result: their husbands do not like it when they are serving Christ.)
- He only talks about the Lord when you bring Christ up in your conversation.
- You have become his ‘girl’ way too soon. (After all, you can’t even remember his last name!) He becomes possessive of you or is extremely jealous. (There are insecurity issues with him!)
- He is calling you all the time. (Didn’t he have a life before he met you?)
- You have become the center of his life rather than Jesus Christ being the center of his. (This will show you real quick if Jesus Christ is really the Lord of his life.)
- I surrendered and prayed for the Lord to choose my husband. Seeing how God is a lot smarter than I am, I decided to let Him make the decision. (I knew I would mess it up and lead with my heart rather than have the decision Spirit-led.)
- I was content in my singleness.
- During my singleness, I sought to grow in the things of the Lord, becoming the Godly woman that a Godly man desired. (That’s a big key, friend!)
- I made a God-fearing list and prayed over it so I knew what to look for when the Lord brought the man to me.
- I prayed for discernment and for the Lord to open my eyes to see any ‘Red Flags’.
- I prayed for the Lord to protect my heart so I would not make a decision based on my emotions.
- I prayed for the Lord to keep my passionate feelings to a minimum so as not to cloud my vision.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21