Finding a Character to Marry, Part Three

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Dear Lindsey,

There was a story of a guy and girl who were newlyweds and went to the bedroomimages-2 the night of the wedding.  She sat down on the bed and removed her heels and nylons.  Opening a drawer, she put in her glasses.  She then continued and took off her eyelashes, putting them in the drawer. She took off some special padding, a hairpiece, and a girdle and put them in the drawer too. Her Invisalign, her Spanx, and other paraphernalia filled the drawer. The man looked, stunned at what was left of who he thought he had married and said, “Maybe I should just make love to that drawer!”

My single girlfriend, be the REAL YOU, and your man will love YOU after you are married. Be sure that your real beauty cannot be taken off, or put into a drawer. Make your real beauty shine. (1Pet 3:3)

Summary of FInding a Character to Marry:

–                Be God crazy. (Part Zero)

–                Be someone with character of Christ, worthy of being married. (Part One)

–                Be the best YOU you can be and the right spouse will find you at the right time, just as God intended all along.  (Part Two)

Questions some may be asking:

Q:  WHAT IF I am already married, and now reading these articles, I feel like I have made a mistake in the spouse I chose. (This is my least favorite question to answer here.)

A:  The Bible is very clear: Do not divorce because your spouse does not follow Christ:

1Co 7:12-13 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

Yet, we can trust that God has a plan for every day (even the ones that don’t make sense to us)!  Trust in Him and not your understanding, and He will direct even you. (Prov. 3: 5-6) You never know what the Lord will do with your marriage – and your unbelieving spouse – through your testimony of peace and loyalty in Christ. They may be won over, without words, by the purity and reverence of your life.  (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Q:  WHY would you write to singles, when you are so “happily married after twenty years”?

A:  Honestly, I feel for singles today! When I struggled with the pain of infertility, I remember feeling like singleness had so much in common with it – waiting while others around me seemed to have what I wanted, and wondering why God didn’t want that for me. In addition for singles, the pull against the Word of God and His direction is so evident in the media today, and therefore it is probably evident in the lives of many singles across the country. I want to put my arms around you and tell you that you are not alone. You CAN glorify God as a single. There is more to life than volleyball and beer, so don’t feel like you have to succumb to that in order to find your future spouse. God DOES have a plan. Do the right thing, and don’t act out of fear that it won’t happen unless you…do the wrong thing, quickly. There are other singles reading this right now who wish they could find YOU. Be ready!  What if you took advantage of being single while you can? Read good books for becoming all God meant for you to be? Dived into serving others who are in need, before your family needs you full-time? Worshipped with no time-limit of hungry kids to feed?

Then one day, right in the middle of finding joy in being single, your spouse will come into your life, carrying you to the next season. It is amazing how the Lord works; believe it!

Q:  So WHAT IF the last decade of my life has been spent with no evidence of the character of Christ?

A:  Jesus knows. Repent, (Ask Him for forgiveness and correct your ways) and surrender your life to Him by praying. Romans 12:1 says you can. He WILL forgive!

Q:  WHAT IF all that purity stuff is too late for me?

A:  Start anew. Ephesians 4:22 says, “Move out.” According to the Bible, it is never too late! We can repent, be forgiven to the point of “white as snow” again. (Isaiah 1:18)  All have sinned. (Romans 3:23) Your sin, in God’s eyes, will not be considered worse than anyone else’s (even your mother’s! 🙂 ). (James 2:10) “Secondary abstinence” is probably more difficult, but oh how it must please the Lord to see your new commitment to Him. Find a local church for support in your new life.

Q:  WHAT IF my parents would prefer I “court” instead of “date”?

A:  Praise God you have parents who care so much! Honor them, and be blessed!

Q:  WHAT IF I am not sure of God’s will for dating, courting, marriage, singleness, my life in general?!

Welcome to the world of “faith not sight”! (2Cor 5:7) To quote the book, Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung, (which I highly recommend you read!):

“We must denounce our sinful desire to know the future and to be in control. We are not gods. We walk by faith, not by sight. We risk, because God does not risk.” (p. 48)

“We should spend more time trying to figure out how to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God as instructed in Micah 6:8 as a [single] and less time worrying about whether God wants us to be [married].” (p. 45)

“The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we are going.” (p.26)

HERE’S OUR STORY:

Chris and I met in a college class, “Real Time Computing in the Laboratory.” Oh the geeky life I led!

At the end of graduation, it was as though everyone (including myself) was expecting me to have a ring, but Chris was clearly not ready. He often talked about taking a year off of work to thrive at being single. He wanted to travel the world before the world was depending on him, so to speak.

I understood; he has always been a Rascal (the appropriate title for a book he wrote).

I waited.

I knew how badly I wanted it, because my night-time dreams involved him poppingimages-1 the question:  One night in my sleep, Chris proposed to me using a plastic “mood” ring. In the dream, when I hesitated in shock over the type of ring, he quickly switched to another…and another…and another. “You don’t like it? Do you like this one better?” he said, nervously showing me another ring of many colors out of his pocket. In his typical fashion (even in my dream), he had me laughing out loud, and telling him, “I love it,” with every one, but when he took out the sixth one (a pearl – Finally! One color!) I yanked it from him and said, “It’s perfect!”

When we had parted after graduation, my job offer was in Dayton, Ohio, four hours from Chris in Michigan, but soon after I was transferred to Fredericksburg, VA:  twelve long hours of driving from the boy of my dreams. Five months out of college, and I was antsy. I felt like guys in the apartment complex were interested in going out, and I was always staying home alone, while my heart was in Michigan.  I was tired of waiting for Chris to decide whether I was the one. I was tired of not allowing myself into the social life of young-twenties, since I was serious about the Michigan boy.  I was beginning to wonder if I had an idol of my heart in Chris that was actually taking me away from Christ. I wanted to be married that badly.

I could stand it no longer. I was resolved to break off the dating relationship. We had plans to meet for an October weekend in Pittsburgh, our college town and basically the half-way point between Michigan and Virginia. A fall sinus infection was threatening to steal my weekend, but I tried to think clearly despite the medicine. As I drove the six hours, I cried and put words together to cut our strings and let Chris go.  I surrendered to God’s plan, since it clearly wasn’t for us to be married, or Chris certainly would have asked by now. I got a peace about being single. I dreamed of youth groups I would help; children to whom I would be a “Big Sister.” I surrendered my marriage dream to God’s timing.

I arrived at the designated meeting place, and saw his white S-10 pickup, with the red striped sticker down the side. My pulse quickened! As he got out of his truck, his smiling eyes seemed to scream across the parking lot to my own. I should have known the depth of those dimples was foreshadowing the ones I see in my own kids today. His joy in seeing me melted my heart into a formation that has not left. There was NO WAY I was breaking up with that man that weekend, but I had agreed to be surrendered to God’s timing.  I was at peace with singleness*.

We spent the day throwing football at Schenley Park, a favorite place of ours near our Alma Mater, Carnegie Mellon.  The next night, we took the incline – a trolley car that rides a track up the side of Mt. Washington for a glorious overlook of the city of Pittsburgh – where it had all begun on one of our first dates, two years prior.  When we departed the train, Chris grabbed my hand and seemed to race to the top of the mountain to the overlook platform. Unfortunately, my sinus infection had taken any oxygen that was left after the altitude had had its share.

“All I want is Nyquil and a pillow!” I famously said as he hurried me along, not seeming to care.

We stood out on the cantilever deck with the $0.25 binocular views, and he put his arm around me, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a ring box.

My heart skipped. NOW? Had I thought about this? SERIOUSLY? He’s going to propose?  Right after I was going to give it up?! Was I SURE what I was going to say? Was I READY? Did God give me THIS so soon after I had surrendered it?

He opened the box, and my heart stopped beating when he revealed a costume jewelry piece, similar to the mood ring toy I had seen in my dream (which I had previously shared with Chris).

“Haha! You thought I was going to ask you something, didn’t you?!” He laughed.

I fought myself to force a laugh, but this was not funny.

I turned my head toward the city lights as the crisp October air chapped my face.

Would he ever understand? This isn’t a humorous time of my life. I am serious and he is not. But I am content to wait. “Really, God, I will wait contently” I silently prayed.

“So you want the real one?” he said to my back as he reached into his pocket and revealed another case. This one looked like a crystal cube, in much contrast to its black plastic predecessor.

He got down on one knee, and my emotional roller coaster began the click-click climbing back to the top.

“Terri Estes, I love you with all my heart.”

(Cue the tears.)

“I know I said I wanted to travel the world before I settled down; but then I realized, I really would rather do that WITH you.  I want to spend our lives together. Will you marry me?”

(I said, “yes.”)

images

How will you know it’s the right one?

When you love something, let it go (to God).  If it comes back to you, (meets you in Pittsburgh and proposes like your dream), it’s yours (and His will) and if it doesn’t, it never was. (smile)

In God’s timing.

According to His plan.

Delight yourself in Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)

In love,

Terri

In all things, at all ages, single or married, we can give thanks and delight ourselves in Him and indeed be blessed. (Ps 37:4)

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7 thoughts on “Finding a Character to Marry, Part Three

  1. Terri,
    The truth you share is beautifully written! Your story is so easy to picture and I love the humor you two have. Hope to see this series in book form ;), as it is great for our kiddos and any singles we know. Well, in that case, it’s great info for all of us since the message of letting go of all that captures one’s heart more than Christ is key to living a life of peace. This is a great reminder:) Thank you!
    Blessings!

  2. Terri, I can not tell you how grateful I am for you to have written this! We have family members of the marrying age and it is a relief to have someone they respect and admire such as you and express and confirm the values we tried to teach while they were growing up! Thank you.

  3. WHAT AN AWESOME STORY….AND HOW FITTING THE PROPOSAL….HAHAHA CHRIS! YOU TWO ARE AN AMAZING COUPLE AND I PRAY FOR A MARRIAGE LIKE YOU HAVE…WE ARE WELL ON OUR WAY! MANY BOOKS TO WRITE AND STORIES TO TELL OF THE JOURNEY….BUT THE LAST CHAPTERS WILL BE THE ONES THAT STEAL THE HEARTS OF MANY AS WE ALL JUST PREPARE FOR OUR MANSIONS! GOD BLESS YOU BOTH…AND TERRI….YOU HAVE A WAY WITH WORDS! THANKS FOR BEING SUCH AN AMAZING INSPIRATION! I AM HONORED TO CALL YOU MY FRIEND! BRENDA HATCHER

  4. Whoa…Terri – I found myself inspired, then chuckling and now choking up. You have pulled at my heart strings yet again! I am pretending this says, “Dear Kristen…” because it has spoken to me perfectly (as you always seem to know how to do). Thank you for sharing your story – so cool! And God ‘had it’ all along 😉

  5. Terry, you are an amazing and inspiring woman of God. Thank you for your sweet spirit, the knowledge you poses and your willingness to share it to help bless the lives of others. Thank you for blessing and inspiring me!

  6. Terri, this thank you is long overdue. I am so pleased and grateful when I first heard you speak on this topic from stage. I wished that I had heard it when I was single and frustrated with the season I was in. But God is good and He made sure I heard the truths you speak in your blog in some other way. I have and still am referring singles – struggling or not – to read and share the Character to Marry entries. It has brought such clarity, not only to my life but so many other young people who are trying to live a good and Godly life. God bless you!

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