I’m starting to believe that my desire to give them the best will get in the way of my ever pursuing a godly woman whom I believe would make a good spouse.
I have no real reason to feel inadequate, but each time I find a girl I can see myself being with, the feeling returns. Why is this happening, and how can I stop feeling this way?
Thanks for your openness in asking this question. I obviously don’t know any of the details of your life or history or spiritual walk, so it’s difficult to get really specific in response, but let me offer a few biblical principles and suggestions that I hope will encourage you and help you move forward.
Remember Your Position in Christ
I’ll assume for purposes of this response (after all, you wrote to Boundless) that you are a believer in Jesus. If that’s true, then at least two truths flow from that fact. First, in a sense, you’re right to feel “inadequate” because you know we are all sinners who cannot, in our flesh, live in a way that truly serves others and pleases God (Romans 3:23). But it is just as true that if we are in Christ we are “freely justified by [God’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
We also know that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Even more encouraging, Paul promises that with respect to sanctifying and glorifying us even in our inadequacy, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
As I said, I don’t know the details of your situation. I don’t know what has happened to you or what you have done in your life that may be giving rise to your feelings of inadequacy, or if, as your question suggests, you just have a natural disposition toward such feelings. In any event, as I mention below, I would encourage you to find a more mature brother or elder with whom you can talk about what might be causing these feelings to come up.
What I do know is this: Your question doesn’t suggest any unique inadequacy as it relates to being a husband, and every man who pursues Christian husbandry is hopelessly underqualified apart from the help of Christ and the Holy Spirit. No matter who you are or who your wife turns out to be, you will be a sinner marrying a sinner. God’s grace covers over a multitude of “inadequacies” in marriage for His glory’s sake.
Remember God’s Priorities for Husbands
Be careful as well that you don’t misunderstand what God prioritizes in Christian husbands. I don’t know what exactly you are picturing when you think you would be inadequate, but God’s priorities for Christian husbands are not material wealth, hyper-intelligence, or an effortless romantic sensibility. On the contrary, God’s call to husbands involves personal qualities and acts of the will that are, with God’s help, accessible to all of us: faithfulness, self-sacrifice, love, care, understanding, basic physical provision, prioritizing of our wives’ spiritual good and growth, servant leadership (see Ephesians 5:25-30, 1 Peter 3:7).
In short, God calls us as husbands to the same thing He calls all of us to as we live the Christian life in a fallen world until Jesus comes back: faithfulness, not perfection.
Now, I’m sure if we sat down and had a conversation, you would not say that you feel inadequate as a husband because you believe “perfection” is the standard. Fair enough, but I’d encourage you to take a second look to make sure you have appropriated practically and emotionally what you know to be true intellectually. As a practical matter, you may be underestimating yourself — or at least overestimating a lot of other husbands.
I have a couple of practical suggestions in addition to thinking and praying about what I’ve written above. First, if you’re not a member of a solid, Bible-believing church, join one and get really involved. When you covenant together with other believers in that way — and assuming you pursue discipleship relationships and are transparent with others in the church about your life — you can find encouragement in seeing how others live the Christian life and having them speak truth to you about your own life and feelings. If you’re not part of a good church or haven’t thought about membership, Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is an easy read that will be really helpful.
I would also encourage you (hopefully in the context of such a church) to find a more mature brother or elder who’s married and talk through some of the feelings and questions you have. A good counselor (I mean that in the sense of a mature married brother, not the professional type) on these issues will not only take you back to the Gospel but will also be transparent about some of his own failings as a husband and God’s work in his own life. Talk to him in particular about your desire to be a godly husband and the feelings you describe in your question.
I will pray for you to have wisdom and grace as you think through these issues and ultimately pursue marriage.
Copyright 2015 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.