Tuesday, May 17, 2011

All Kinds of Perfect

            Human beings are totally depraved.  We can do nothing good apart from God.  He enables us to be good.  According to the good pleasure of His will, He gifts us.  Grace is more than a status, more than something that rescued us from Hell and promises us Heaven; it is real now, useful for our lives. 

Deserve.  Competition.
            Though marriage is good and normal and to be desired, it is not something that anyone deserves.  Nor is it a competition to be the most deserving.  Feeling that the wife market is a contest tragically cripples my relationships with other women as I become jealous and judgmental.  Or I get frustrated with men for not being discerning of who is most worthy of their attention.

            Marriage is a gift from God.  We become married, stay married, and excel at marriage only by His grace.  The timing and circumstances are results of God’s goodness, even when there is long waiting, heartbreak, rejection.  The goal of marriage isn’t for us to be happy.  It is a good gift, but it is also a good work. 

            There is so much pressure to be perfect, as though that would persuade men – or God Himself – that I am worthy of marriage.  And when I fall short of perfect, I despair of marriage.

            Grace answers this, because God’s grace is merciful.  Everyone already knows I’m a failure.  Marriage is not a synonym for heaven, the reward of the already sanctified; rather, that relationship promotes our sanctification.  God’s grace looks on my imperfection and gives me what will teach and grow me.  For now that gift is a time of hope.  One day He may make me more like His Son by making me a wife.   

All kinds of perfect.
            Looking around at the women who are already married, as though this was scientific, I see all different kinds of strengths and skills and types that have attracted men.  And I have no idea which kind of perfect my future husband is going to want/need/find attractive.
            Because men get to do the initial choosing, I also lose sight of the fact that men don’t deserve wives any more than wives deserve husbands.  So I shouldn’t be putting too much stock in what they think or how they feel.  The pot cannot say to the potter that the potter formed it wrong – but if the pot is a gift from the potter, the person receiving the gift would be rude and rather silly to tell the pot that the potter is forming it wrong.  Nor do I know many men who reject the good gifts the Potter has made for them.

            I believe God is much more involved in the process of finding a spouse than we give Him credit for.  There isn’t any scientific reason why a man should find one woman more attractive than another, why he should notice the shy girl and not go after the more exuberant one, for example.  God gives a man his wife, Proverbs teaches.  It’s almost like magic, and it is nothing I can control, even by being perfect. 

Striving, worrying.
            But I want to control, so I try to be all kinds of perfect.  I second-guess myself.  I over-analyze everything about everybody.  Maybe I gave the wrong impression of myself.  Why do people always assume things about me that are false and that don’t help my marriage prospects?  And then I worry that I’m not good enough.

            One good thing about grace is that it applies to other people as well.  I’m not a vindictive, no second-chances friend, so why do I expect anyone to treat me that way?  Do I have the humility to let others show me grace?  Do I have the confidence that God can work in their lives even when I’m not all-knowing – or even when I do something selfish or stupid?

Peace, joy, fulfillment, vessel. 
            Confidence that God is active, and good, brings peace.  I rejoice when I see Him working, when I receive a gift – whether it is a compliment, a conversation with a friend, or (if the Lord wills, someday) a husband.  I can rejoice when things don’t go as I had planned because it is evidence of a much smarter and more loving Person working.  There is fulfillment in being each day the person God wants me to be instead of the person I am guessing (this minute) would give me the best chance at getting married (this year).  In the life of each person I know, I don’t play the role that I want to play, or that they want me to take on; I can be the vessel for God’s grace and truth that they need, that He intends.  I would much rather have a marriage based on serving a spouse as God has designed than as either of us imagine or demand.

            There is a sense in which God’s grace reveals how I could please Him better.  He is perfecting me, faithfully, and will not cease to do so when I get married.  He guides me in the next step to take: not by excessive analysis of every possible outcome of my choices, but by personally revealing where I am weak and where He has made me strong. When I have the perspective to see that He is using others in my life for His purposes, I can follow the examples of other godly women, without jealousy; and submit to the men teaching on how to be a virtuous woman and valuable wife.  

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn


Glory Girl said...

Dear Lisa,
This might be my favorite post. You articulate many of the same feelings I've had or continue to struggle with. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your heart. The Lord has blessed me through your words. What a great reminder of His grace and faithfulness. I'm hopefully anticipating :) news of His provision in your life in the near future. Lord willing, it will be sooner rather than later. Those times my hope of a husband wane and cause despair, I'm gonna re-read your words and be reminded of the "smarter and more loving Person working" on my behalf. You are a blessing and encouragement in my life. Praying with anticipation!

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Ahh, Nicole! Thanks for your comment!

Of course I definitely need reminded of these things, too; that's why I was thinking about them enough to write. My anxious little heart needs to rest in grace.

You're such a gracious person, desiring to be pleasing to our God, that you never fail to encourage me!

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn