That title is a word. And if you don't understand the reference, I am crying. I beg you, go watch Princess Bride.
Anyway, I feel like in the words of Hugh Grant from Love Actually, "Love is all around." Even more specifically, marriage - or talk of marriage - is all around. So I'm jotting down some of my ideas of late. If you don't agree with me - cool. If you do agree - cool. This is just what I think, formulated from reading the Bible and listening to those who are older and wiser than I am.
One thing that has always confused me about "finding Mr. (or Mrs.) Right" is the "checklist." I have read many of these articles where people write about "things-to-look-for-must-have-walk-away-if-this-isn't-present" characteristics, as if they are on a list simply waiting to be checked off. Now, don't get me wrong, I totally understand and agree with having standards or "non-negotiables" when looking for a future spouse. I am not going to marry some Joe-Shmoe off the street because, yeesh, nobody's perfect and might as well, right? No way. Not what I'm saying at all. Obviously, there are traits we're each going to be attracted to and looking for in a future spouse. But what I'm trying to say is, if I'm waiting for the man who perfectly represents every characteristic I've ever dreamed up, a man who has a perfect relationship with Christ, the perfect man for me, I'm going to be waiting for a REALLY long time. Tim Keller and his wife wrote a book about marriage (The Meaning of Marriage) where they discuss how people nowadays often look for a spouse that is a finished statue rather than a block of marble to grow and be shaped with. Marriage - heck, LIFE - is a growing process: God chisels us through experiences and relationships.
I love this article (also by Tim Keller) http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationship/features/27749-you-never-marry-the-right-person. It talks about how basically we marry strangers. Marriage is not a magical spell that makes things peachy-keen. It takes loads of hard work and self-denial to grow together instead of apart. So I guess for me, the important thing here isn't the checklist, it's finding someone who says, "Yep, I love Jesus more than I love you, Sarah, and I know I'm not perfect so let's do the best we can together to grow to be more like Christ. Sorry I haven't read all of Tolkien's works and sorry I am [insert character flaw here]." And then I'll say, "Hey man, that's okay, I'm not perfect either. In fact, I yell a lot when people suck at merging and I'm too competitive, but thanks for liking me even though I'm not a very good representation of a Proverbs 31 woman - will you help me pursue that? Thanks, you're great." Or something like that...haha.
Second, there's this article that went viral called something like "23 better things to do than get married before you're 23." I thought I was going to be really excited about this girl's point of view because she talks a lot about traveling - one of my favorite things to do - but my first clue that I disagreed with her was when she advised me to date two people at once and see how long it takes for that to blow up in my face. Ummm, I think I'll pass. My second major disagreement with her is that I have some really great friends who are getting married or have gotten married before 23, and as far as I can tell, they are not shackled in a life of misery and stagnation as she seems to imply will happen if you stand at the altar before your twenty-third year and denounce any shred of independence you may have in favor of settling down with the person holding your hands across from you. Okay, okay, I'm exaggerating. But this girl seems to me to be quite anti-marriage. I'll let you read it for yourself (http://wanderonwards.com/2013/12/30/23-things-to-do-instead-of-getting-engaged-before-youre-23/) if you'd like - it's really not all bad! My major point here is that marriage isn't - or shouldn't - be a straight-jacket. I don't think God intends for marriage to be boring or complacent. In fact, if we're to grow together and in trust of God, new experiences and adventures (i.e. traveling, having children, etc.) are probably some of the best ways to do that. Hard work (think: marriage) can be fun if done with a best friend (think: spouse). It makes me sad that this girl thinks marriage is the end of the adventure rather than the start of a new one.
Finally, and this one is really important to me, marriage is not the start of "true life." I see this so often, especially in Christians, and I have been so guilty of this thought process, too! Sometimes it's easy to think, "When I get married, then my life will begin." Or substitute graduation, getting a job, getting a house, having money, etc., for marriage. It all revolves around this idea that life is on hold until I get to this certain mile-marker. The way I see it, my real life began when I started walking with Christ. And maybe you come from a different standpoint, but I really feel this principle holds true across belief systems: stop waiting around and pining after a certain point in life because the point in life you're at now is slipping past you! Enjoy where you're at, be content with the present, the future will come soon enough.
To all my married/engaged friends reading this: You rock! You can do it! Enjoy life!
To all my single friends reading this: You rock! You can do it! Enjoy life!
Peace and blessings, y'all :)