Sometimes God teaches us things we don't fully understand. After all, what is the point of teaching you something you already know?
Recently, God has been teaching me about dating and marriage, and even, dare I say it, about motherhood. I feel far too young for this kind of teaching, I'm only twenty, and still in college, I don't want to get married now! In other ways though, I know it's right. God is preparing me; He's not giving me a husband now. I've been learning about courtship instead of dating, and friendship as a main ingredient to a godly marriage.
Let me enlighten you.
I was in an unhealthy relationship which ended about this time last year. I honestly believed that this was the man for me, and that this was the man I would get married to. However, I hadn't consulted God on this. A wise friend once told me that we make plans and God laughs at them. Well, needless to say, God laughed, and my relationship with this guy ended. Cue lots of crying, yada yada yada...
After talking to God about this, I eventually realised that my relationship hadn't glorfied God. And to prove the point so it seemed, He placed another man in my life. This man only ever had the status of "friend," but it was a close frienship, one that approached the ideal of courting. At the time, I didn't realise this, and we both blundered along answering "no" to our friends' questions of "are you two dating?" The fact was that we were spending a lot of time together, both alone and with other people. Sometimes I would have phone calls on my cell for him, and vice versa, as people assumed we were together. I've since realised that this kind of close relationship with just any guy would not be a good thing. Far too many emotions were invested, but God used this relationship for a reason - to teach me all that is good and bad in a godly relationship with a man. I found out for example that when praying alone with a member of the opposite sex, you leave yourself vulnerable in a way that wouldn't happen otherwise. I felt closer to this man having prayed with him, particularly about our past relationships. A quick healing prayer never harmed anyone, but a deep, emotional prayer should not be shared with simply anyone.
God used this man to show me other things too - such as patience! I still completely fail at displaying patience in all situations, but sometimes, just sometimes, I keep my calm when otherwise I would have lost it.
I've read plenty of articles on the subject of dating, courtship and marriage this year. All of them point to one thing. Get into a friendship with a godly man like I did, and you'll likely end up together as a married couple. I'm not completely sure I'd want to marry right now, but if I did, it would be with this man. A man whom I know to have a strength of faith which I not only admire, but which inspires me in my own relationship with God. Yeah, I think I could learn to love him in a way which God would be happy with.
It's taught me one key thing though. I won't settle for anything less. I don't want anything less than what God has in mind for me. Our Father provides, and He provides in ABUNDANCE. When I finally know who my spouse will be, I want to know that we have God's blessing, and that the man whom I marry is the man that God intended me to marry. I want that friendship, and I want my future husband to teach me about God and bring me closer to God throughout my time on earth with him. And I want to be ready for him. I want to learn everything that God is teaching me now - all the qualities that a wife needs, that a mother needs. I want to be the best wife and mother I can be, and I need God's help. I need Him to teach me, because despite having a wonderful mother myself, she has not been able to show me how a Christian wife and mother acts. There's so much that God has yet to teach me, and I'm sure I'll learn during my marriage too. But until then, I'm holding out. I'm hanging on to the promise God has made me, and until then I'm happy to be single. I can learn about God in my own time, and deepen my relationship with Him through prayer and bible study. My man will find me. God will point the way. I have only to recognise him when that offer is made, and until then, do my best to learn how to be the best helpmeet I can for the man whom God intends me to marry. I don't want to let the men in my life down. Not my Dad on earth, not my future husband, and not my Father in Heaven. And then God will keep His promise, and might even send me back to the godly man whom He initiated this learning curve with. Until then, I'll wait, displaying all the patience in the world. A patience borne of the absolute knowledge that God will provide, and it will be good.