I'm a young Christian man, a late-bloomer, and I'm kind of in a pickle. I am in my second year of college. Getting married and becoming a great man are top goals of mine.
I know it's important for men to prepare for marriage. Yet, how does a guy even begin to start the journey of courtship?
At this point in my life, I have the role of only a passerby in the lives of most of the women I know. I have no substantial friendships with women who aren't related to me, and I have no idea how I might become a friend of the opposite gender. Naturally, I'm not just looking for a friend, but I have to start there, don't I?
I want to put a disclaimer right from the start: There is no formula that guarantees that a relationship or marriage will happen for any of us. Yes, we might be able to do a number of things that prepare and position us for marriage, but in the end we all must humble ourselves before a sovereign God and yield our lives to His plan, whatever it might be, and whenever it might be. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, Proverbs says, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
So that's where I start. I don't start with me and my needs or wishes. I start with God and His sovereignty and glory. That might seem subtle, but it is a huge paradigm shift for most Christians. Orienting myself to making the glory of God my top priority shifts the emphasis of my life, and therefore my relationships and ultimately, my marriage, from being about me to about God. If we can understand from the start that as a Christian my life is not my own, it will be enormously helpful down the road. Our life then is marked much more with thankfulness for what we receive than disappointment over not getting our "entitlements."
Having the right orientation about life affects how we then view relationships and marriage. Yes, we want someone whom we enjoy. Of course we want someone who enriches our life. Obviously we want someone with whom we connect emotionally and spiritually. But above all of those things, we want someone with whom together we bring glory to God.
So now that we've got the right framework, let's build on it. Practically speaking, begin asking God to prepare your heart, and to show you the areas where you need growth before you begin this phase of your journey. As you think and pray more intentionally about this area of your life, keep your heart open to the ways God might lead you.
You might discover that you need a total remodeling of the way you look at relationships, or maybe you just need some tweaking here and there. You might discover that you're not nearly as ready as you thought you were, or you might feel very confirmed in your views. Whatever the case, allow some time for God to prepare your heart for what is to come.
Next, and this is just common sense but I'll throw it out there anyway: You're going to have to put yourself in the orbit of the kind of members of the opposite sex that hold your views about relationships and marriage. Again, no guarantees here, but if you're around single girls, you at least are placing yourself in an environment that is conducive to meeting like-minded members of the opposite sex.
That's why we at Boundless emphasize the college years as an important time to be thinking about marriage. It's why we urge singles to get involved, whenever possible, in an active Christian singles group. It's why we encourage singles to get to know married couples who will help you network with other singles, especially those who are marriage-minded. It's why we caution against putting marriage off for too long, when there might not be as many prospects for you.
It's easy to think that this is all up to you. The good news is that you are not in this alone. First, God has a perfect plan for you and He will lead you as you seek Him. Second, there are plenty of people willing to help and support your marriage goals. You mentioned not having friendships with women who aren't related to you. Well, maybe the ones who are related to you can help you meet others who they think might be a good fit for you.
When you start getting the word out there to some trusted friends and sources about your interest, they might be able to help you in your search. I hate to use the term networking, since it has such a negative connotation, but that's the general idea—letting those you trust know that you believe God is preparing you for this next season of life, and ask them to 1) pray for you, and 2) let you know if they have any ideas of girls who might be good to get to know.
As you move in this direction, here's a prayer you might use to help you get started, one that I suggested to a reader not too long ago:
Lord, You know my heart better than even I know it. You made me for Your glory and pleasure. Your goodness and love is billions of times better than the greatest love my mind can comprehend. Your plans for me are perfect. Your love for me is perfect. There is nothing I can do to make You love me more, and nothing I can do to make You love me less. Grant me the grace to make You my deepest passion, the strongest desire in my life. Make my heart like Your heart. As You transform me more and more into the image of Christ, prepare my heart for the seasons and relationships You have planned for me. Prepare my heart to receive a spouse that together, we would bring You the greatest glory and pleasure, for that is my life's goal. You know exactly who that would be for me. I yield myself to Your unspeakable wisdom over my life. Amen.
Copyright 2007 John Thomas. All rights reserved.