Few people really understand the weight of praying for for a future spouse. I mean the weight of a romantic soul-tie in general, is entirely underrated. What makes it so grave? First of all, one of the most painful things to snatch from someone is their heart. Yes, that is possible even if you never sleep with them. I must go against the common conception that guarding one’s heart is only a matter of saving one’s body for marriage. That idea sort of undermines how much one is capable of giving without giving one’s body. As someone who’s heart runs overwhelmingly deep, I can say that my so called purity has been robbed on many accounts by individuals who never even touched me, and then again by ones who did.
Just a little background into what shaped my perception of love and self-worth:
I watched my parents love each other, destroy each other and ultimately divorce each other. I constantly watched them live life in the throes of addictive, codependent, selfish love that seemed sweet on the outside but was all except Godly. It’s confusing how something could take place that had so much potential, and could be almost a shadow of the expression of God’s character, yet not be him at all.
I grew up in a really dark home, and started out as God-fearing sweet child but entered into phases of being obsessed with toughness, cold-heartedness, gangsta- rap, and sexuality. My whole world was full of low-self worth and taking every distraction I could in order to numb by lonely heart. I rarely ever felt my age.
Dire loneliness in my teenage years built on top of my already rock bottom self-esteem, (which developed as a result of cruel childhood bullying) both influenced my taste in men. I didn’t have a boyfriend or anything but knew good and well that a thug was what I wanted and would have been the only thing strong enough to give me the feeling of being secure and protected. I loved the rebellious swagger of a thug; it meant strength to me. It never occurred to me that marriage would be a healthy choice because my Dad would beat my mother and I felt subconsciously that I would never be free to be myself if I married.
I think the topic of romantic commitment is one of the deepest subject -matters I could ever touch on, although I’m unsure as to how to present my thoughts and approach to the matter, given how many thousands of ways the subject has been so over -discussed in a religious context, and yet so over-complicated and lacking in vulnerability. Many approaches to the subject also lack the expression of the brokenness that can be experienced in romantic affairs. That, and to be honest, I simply have made poor romantic decisions and do not feel extremely qualified to give much dating advice. I possess ideals, not answers.
I do not have the place to teach on dating well, but do believe marriage is one the strongest expressions of God’s heart and is an institution that paints a beautiful portrayal of his faithfulness, his desire for fruitfulness, and his jealous love. That’s how I view the bond of marriage today, and that particular view was shaped roughly six year ago when I met my Sunday school teachers my senior year of High school, and has continued to be shaped as I walk intimately with Christ. Choosing Champion Forest Baptist Church for our family was one of the wisest choices my mother made after she and my Father divorced. I guess she figured a strong church could save our family. It didn’t. But it saved me from having a negative concept of family.
Susan and Bobby Roberts were certainly not perfect, but their love did not seem cool as so many had stereotyped the sentiment of marriage after a particular point. They also seemed so innocently in love with Jesus, and made me desire the purity they had. I remember having conversations with Momma Roberts when no one else was around and wondering if she actually dropped out of heaven instead of her mother’s belly. I’m not exaggerating.
They left a permanent impression on my heart, but I must be vulnerable and admit that mainstream Christianity did not really provide me much more freedom in the department of romantic advice than the world did. To add heaps and heaps of rules and morality to something that is failing in society more often than it is prospering, is not necessarily the answer.
I have heard countless sermons on dating that provide the perfect Godly recipe for discovering the perfectly Godly spouse and manufacturing the most Godly and steadfast family. I have been told to wait on “Boaz” or “Mr right” as some may call him, and then I’ve been told not to consciously wait, but to instead fall more in love with Jesus each day and appreciate the gift of singleness.
I’ve been told what age is too young to expect God to provide a spouse and what age to allow myself to begin giving up. I’ve been told not to date until I reach a certain spiritual—even financial maturity if you can imagine. All of these requirements have made me view marriage as wonderful fortune that I will never attain, because I will never fit that mold. Yes, the more I read and listen, the less achievable and realistic it all sounds.
I really think that matters of the heart cannot always be so calculated. They simply cannot. I also think it is quite contradictory to say that the written law is a shadow of the glory the glory of God, but his son who embodies grace is a more full expression of his love, then to turn around and set 1 trillion idealistic limitations on how to go about dating and put it in its own little taboo box. We should do things a certain way in dating because we love Christ, as is so with everything else in our lives. Dating should not be it’s own separate little rigid category, where humans feel ashamed for having feelings, or wanting to be deeply loved and permanently committed. You know…..and sometimes, sometimes we do smile at the opposite sex. It happens.
I know this. I know this so well, that I have come full circle to a place of healing. I have had to mature and realize that all those rigid limitations that those sweet Christians set on me were not really considerate of what my heart was uniquely designed for. The will of God is all-encompassing, and he is bigger than religion.
My Standard as It Stands Now:
I want a Black man. I find them most attractive. The irony is not lost on any of us. I am a Black woman after all, and I am such down to my very core.
I want to give God my whole heart and commit myself fully to the process of life, allowing myself to fail when necessary and grow at my own pace, so that growing is a deep and authentic process.
I want Christ to be my foundation in all things.
I want to be fully comfortable with the woman I am, and dare to make mistakes because they lead to growth. I don’t want to live in the shell of the approval of the crowds because it feels comfortable. I serve God, not man, but I hope to have the support of praying Christians along the way.
I want to be bold, and be with someone who is bold, strong, and who can take the pain of life, because as much as I want to tell you that Christianity is a cake walk, it has been full of pain, disappointments and unexpected battles. I need a partner who can stand steadfast by my side through the thick of life.
I want to be with someone who is nonetheless gentle and compassionate.
I want to be with someone who is a good Father and head of the house. I want children very seriously, and so he’d better mean business about being a Father.
He’d better care about more important things than himself and our relationship. The world is in need of so many things and I won’t feel like I’ve fulfilled the purpose of my existence without striving always to be part of a cause that’s bigger than myself. That’s part of the reason for my creating Jesus & Tea.
You’re probably wondering why I haven’t said he needs to be a strong Christian and a man of God. It’s because that’s common sense, so I don’t really need to discuss with you those details. I’m listing less obvious things.
Ultimately. He’s got to be simple. I don’t need an extravagant home or wedding, or really anything over the top. I’m a simple but nonetheless sophisticated woman. I certainly do have rough edges, as we all do, but for the most part I’m simple. I don’t stand out, but I’m strong.
That’s where I am now. Love is not necessarily at the top of my agenda, but I do feel that I am experiencing breakthrough in the form of being liberated from “faking it”. I’ve been pretending that these shallow rules will suffice for me. I suppose I want something so much deeper than a checklist. I want a man who’s prepared to endure this life with me. Hah…how do you put that into pre-approved, Christian manufactured checklist?
What the Bible Clearly Addresses:
The Bible is clear about two things, and that’s the need to guard ones heart and not awaken love until it’s time. I’ve learned to take that as seriously as my very life, as impulsive romantic choices have costed me so much. I’ve learned that guarding ones heart means more than not having sex until one is married. It also means not giving more of your heart than is fit for that particular relationship. Ultimately I’ve learned that nothing is more worth it than loving God with my whole being. All other fountains, are as Jeremiah puts it, broken cisterns. They are equal to idols if the love we have for God cannot surpass that which we have for anything or anyone else for that matter. That’s the whole truth y’all.
I don’t have a lesson for you, except to read the Bible and take the black and white print to mean exactly what it says. That, and you must allow Christ to teach you firsthand with his gentle guidance and whispers into your heart. Only he is able to mold his desires into yours so that you can be fully discerning of his will.
He is alive and breathing. Walking with him is meant to be full of learning things first hand from him, instead of solely taking others’ word as law. He’s not complicated y’all. Too many rules , and before you know it, we’ve made a whole religion out of loving, and the irony is not lost on anyone. We do it all the time in Christianity. Let’s make this one less thing we have to worry about!