I have prayed and prayed about this, and I keep coming back to him after being with someone else. I compare other guys to him yet still doubt if he is really it. My head and my heart are constantly in a battle, and I don’t know which one to follow. I wish that just as God sent Gideon a sign, He would do the same for me. I don’t want to hurt this guy again, and I just can’t promise that this won’t happen for a third time. I cling to Romans 8:28 and Proverbs 3:5-6. Do you have any advice for me?
How can you know that you know that you know? That depends on what you mean by “the one.” If by the one you mean he’s the single man in all the world that God made for you alone to marry, or he’s the one who will be best for you or he’s the one with whom you’ll live happily ever after, I don’t think you can know.
This whole notion of the one is a real problem. It suggests that working really hard to find the absolute right mate will eliminate troubles after the wedding. It also implies that once you’re married — reunited with your missing half — that you’ll be complete. But we know from Scripture that “those who marry will face many troubles in this life” (1 Corinthians 7:28). We also know that in marriage there will always be two sinners (Romans 3:23). In that sense, it’s impossible to find a perfect mate.
Does this mean you’re doomed to heartache and turmoil? Because of the redeeming work of Christ, no! If you marry a man based not on what culture says but on the qualifications set forth in Scripture, you will have a marriage that while not perfect, is fruitful. If your goal is marriage for God’s glory, and your criterion is God’s Word, and you have the input and accountability of God’s body, the church, then you may indeed have a sound, joy-filled and fulfilling marriage. And it won’t be all those things just for you, in the privacy of your own home, but it will also be a blessing to the world around you. That’s the whole point of marriage.
The question is how do you get there? And also is the relationship you’re in of the sort that can go there? To answer these questions, you will benefit greatly from the input of your church family as well as the more intimate input of a mentor couple who knows you both and is walking alongside you in your path to marriage. (For more about church membership, please see this interview with Josh Harris about his book Stop Dating the Church.)
As I’ve written before,
The answer to the question is there just one? remains a mystery. But you can know for certain that once you are married, whomever you’ve wed becomes the one. At that point you are committed for life. Period.
That’s a long time — make the best decision you can! But even with due diligence, there are no guarantees. Getting married always involves the uniting of two fallen humans. There will always be a risk in such an intimate joining. The point isn’t to shun risk, but to risk wisely.
In “Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend,” Michael Lawrence answers the one question from a man’s perspective. He writes,
In a culture that allows us to choose the person we’re going to marry, no one wants to make the wrong choice. Especially if, as Christians, we understand that the choice we make is a choice for life.
The question is not merely ironic. If what you’re after is a marriage that will glorify God and produce real joy for you and your bride, it’s also the wrong question. That’s because the unstated goal of the question is “How do I know if she’s the one … for me.”
The question frames the entire decision-making process in fundamentally self-oriented — if not downright selfish — terms.
The same goes for women. We’ve become such adept consumers that we barely notice when we apply our shopping skills outside the mall. But choosing a husband is nothing like buying a fall wardrobe. You’ll have your husband till one of you dies (you could hardly say that about a new sweater) and if he ends up to be different than you expected, or even disappointing, there’s no return policy.
That’s why it’s essential to choose your husband based on the job description God sets forth in Scripture (see “How to Pray for a Husband”).
This may be a leap, but when I read your question a song popped into my head. It’s an old hymn that I learned a long time ago (probably at Vacation Bible School or summer camp). The refrain goes like this,
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
It’s clear that you’re on board with the trusting, but I wonder if you’re as committed to the obeying. (And if I’m off on all this, please indulge me, someone reading will likely be able to relate.) Whenever someone has a near impossible time staying broken up with an old boyfriend, whenever they compare all others to him and whenever all this is in the context of still having doubts about him being “the one,” it’s almost always because they’ve sinned sexually.
Sex is a glue stronger than any other, and it’s very difficult to break those bonds. When bonds are broken, it feels more like divorce than a mere break-up.
I wonder if this may be why you’re having such a hard time finding rest and peace about your decision to move forward with him.
The first verse of “Trust and Obey” says,
When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.
We learn God’s will by reading His Word, the Bible. In Scripture He tells us what is true and what He expects. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). If ever there’s a time for obedience, it’s in romantic relationships. Nothing makes clear thinking and good decision-making more difficult than surging hormones and emotions brought about by sexual immorality and disobedience.
If you want clarity about this man — the ability to discern if you are a good match for a covenantal, Christian marriage — you must be pure in your relationship with him. There is no other way. If you’ve sinned in the past (with him or another), you must repent and turn from your sin.
“Trust and Obey” is based on Psalm 84:11-12,
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. (Emphasis added.)
It’s not enough to love the Lord. We must be blameless. First Peter 1:15-16 says,
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (See also Leviticus 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7.)
This is not a call to be perfect in our own strength — an impossibility due to our sin nature — but to be perfected by power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.
Romans 8:3-5 says,
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
As you live in accordance with the Spirit, learning what He requires by studying God’s Word, your mindset will be transformed. Your desires will become His desires. You will be able to discern God’s will. But all of this hinges on your obedience.
It’s in the daily discipline of studying His Word and obeying, by the power of the Holy Spirit, what it says, that we come to the knowledge of His “good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Thinking that it would be easier to get a sign — a fleece, a la Gideon — is understandably tempting. Certainly it would be a straighter, less involved path to knowing God’s will. But what we often don’t remember is that Gideon’s request for signs from God grew out of his doubt and fear. He risked God’s anger asking repeatedly for evidence that God would do what He said He would (Judges 6). His is not a model to follow.
I pray that you will walk in obedience and faith, knowing that as you do so, God will direct your steps.
Copyright 2010 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.