If you need a little extra help picking a spouse, feel free to put this question to work:
“Would we accomplish God’s calling for us better together or apart?”
Sometimes it’s easy to slip into the mindset of marrying simply for what we will get out of it, and we forget that God is calling us to something bigger than just our own pleasure. Or maybe we feel like if we get married we’ll have to give up certain God-given passions. But if God is calling us to give to the world in a certain way, especially in ways that utilize our passions, we probably want to look for someone who is compatible with that journey.
In “The Four Loves,” C.S. Lewis says people moving along the same road can make very good lovers: “When the two people who thus discover that they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass – may pass in the first half hour – into erotic love.”
Sometimes finding our calling is hard. But knowing ourselves, and knowing that road that God has called us to pursue, is a better place to start just about anything. It is a huge task to find our calling. But do not dismay if you are still in-process. We are all at different stages of that process.
Six years ago my girlfriend and I broke up. Her parting words were, “You need to know yourself better.” I had pretty much lost myself in the relationship, so her words were helpful. Through a long process, with God guiding me, they helped me find a better “me.” Ironically I found that knowing what I like, what I want, and what my limits are helps me give to others better. And learning what I loved doing has helped me settle into my specific calling (which is what I’m saying can help me know what I’m looking for in a spouse).
Here is one method that has helped me find my calling: Look to where your passions, your skills, your opportunities and what your community needs — all overlap. That, a lot of prayer and some trial and error may help you unearth more specifically what God wants you to give to the world.
You may say: What if my calling is marriage?
Great! Marriage is a calling for most. Find somebody with whom that calling is compatible. Every situation is different. Loving one other person like a champ for the rest of your life is a noble calling. So is supporting someone else’s calling. Or raising a family. Maybe it is enough to learn that the values and thought processes between you and your spouse are so compatible that no matter what God may bring you in marriage will become God’s glory in your joint hands. And even though being “equally yoked” is important, perhaps a hard, long sanctification process for you or your spouse through the refining crucible of marriage is your calling. Only God knows the adventure He has written out ahead of you. So if you feel primarily that your calling is the adventure of marriage, dive in! Find someone with a compatible calling and I dare you to believe it will be good.
But for some of us, God may have another people group or activity he wants us to embrace, either for now or for the longer term. I think writing to struggling Christians like me is my main calling, and after 37 years, the trajectory has become clearer. My focus on writing has made it easier to evaluate if marrying someone will stunt my calling or energize it. And I am excited to find the ways I will be able to support my future wife’s calling and empower her to accomplish it. A wife who dreams of having a huge house with acres of lawn for me to mow every Saturday during my best writing time is probably not who God has in store for me.
If you are already married and think you and your spouse are failing at your calling (or still struggling to find it), please do not throw out the oars and abandon ship. Your new calling has probably become adjusting the direction of your shared ship. Not a small task, but it’s a very worthy one. It may be time to equip and call all hands on deck.
Being a single man, pragmatically oblivious to the mysteries of love and marriage and how God works through both, I understand that I have huge blind spots. So I give ample room for the mysteries of how God works. But if you find yourself with no anchor in a wild sea of decisions, I hope this idea of calling helps you evaluate potential matches and is a foothold to help you see the shore. It has helped me.
I am also quite happy being single (partly because I find a lot of fulfillment in my calling) so the question is the answer to my situation as well. Do I want to get married? Yes, if we can take more ground for the kingdom better together than Ross flying a long mission alone.