Jane Austen once said, “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
She ain’t wrong.
If you want the short version, I had StirringsTM (aka: a crush; aka: the precurser to FeelingsTM) for a dude in my church for a whole ten months and didn’t know what to do with myself and was forced to grow and rely on Jesus more deeply than ever. It was terrible but great at the same time. This series is me sharing the terribleness and greatness in hopes that people in the same spot as me are helped out with their own StirringsTM.
Let’s get part four of this party started.
All my life, the only requirement I heard that I would need to find in a husband was that he be a Christian. Preferably employed. Preferably not living with his parents. My parents probably had a few other criteria, but the one that stuck with me was the Christian part.
Naturally, I proceeded through almost my entire life thinking to myself, “So long as he’s a Christian, we good to go, let’s pick out the bridal party.”
As I grew up, I became a little more aware that a lot of people call themselves Christians who don’t actually love God. So I amended my Requirement Uno. He’s got to love Jesus. Then we good to go. Then let’s pick out the ol’ bridal party.
The Guy who I had StirringsTM for loves Jesus with more unabashed passion than a lot of people I know (which is remarkable in a church where everyone left everything because they love God; that’s church-planting for you). His obedience to everything God calls him to is quite admirable. His heart of worship seems akin to David’s.
After watching him for a couple months, I thought to myself, “Ah, such a deep love for God; let’s get married.” Yeah, my brain went there real fast; Jane Austen was, in fact, correct.
But, actually, him loving Jesus is the bare minimum, a passing grade, not the end all be all of what to look for/be attracted to in a boy I mean man I mean guy.
I was seeking council from someone very wise about The Guy (I’d been on the moon-eyed train for like eight or nine months at this point).
I was asked why I liked him. I explained some of my reasons. I was told, “Look for more.” Not because The Guy was morally or spiritually deficient in any way but because my vision was too narrow.
Raw affection for God is not enough. Even capacity for extreme obedience isn’t enough. Even spurring me on to Jesus more isn’t enough. It takes more than dynamite love of God to make a relationship work—especially if that relationship is a covenant between two sinners only to be dissolved by death.
He can’t just love Jesus; he has to be like Jesus.
Jesus: a Man of supreme character, grit, zeal, gentleness, wisdom, compassion, patience, and joy.
Jesus: a Man of such strength and goodness.
Jesus: One who even now anchors the entirety of his Church throughout all generations as its immovable Cornerstone.
That’s what I have to look for—not because I deserve it but because that’s what my soul requires for survival. There is so much sin in my heart that I require much much keeping and initiating and leading back to the cross again and again and again.
He can’t just love Jesus—as good as that is. He must heavily image the Son’s person. His very character must remind me of Jesus.
His goodness, mercy, compassion, holiness, strength, humility, devotion, joy, steadfastness, zeal for the kingdom, and submission to the Father must be echoes of Jesus.
Jesus is my first love. Why would I look or settle for anything less or anything different in my second, human love?
Now, you may be thinking, “Yeah, but gosh, Jesus is a hard act to follow.”
And you’d be right. And no man I mean boy I mean guy could follow perfectly in Jesus’ footsteps, that’s why we need Jesus. But while it’s a tall order, it’s not impossible. I’ve met so many people who love Jesus and are becoming more like him to the degree that when I hear them speak or watch their manner of living, I am reminded of the character of Jesus.
To be honest, I’d rather live out my days in the joys and challenges of singleness than marry someone who loves Jesus but isn’t like Jesus.
Questions to Soberly, Prayerfully Ask Yourself and Jesus
When I was praying through liking The Guy, the Holy Spirit stirred up many questions, then I found more in The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler, and then some more from some trusted friends. I had to ask them of myself and Jesus honestly, humbly, soberly, without rose-colored glasses.
So here are some of the recurring questions, which I now pose to you, dear reader.
- Why do you like the guy? What in him draws you in? Is it his personality, his faith, his character, his what?
- Is he part of and committed to (serving, giving to, involved in, etc.) a local church? Is it a healthy, spiritually mature (and maturing) church?
- Is his character known or unknown? If not, why not? If so, what has his character proved to be? Reckless or steadfast, flaky or faithful, bitter or forgiving, selfish or selfless, etc.
- How does he respond to suffering? Can he endure?
- How does or doesn’t he submit to authority in the church (this is an indicator of his capacity/willingness to submit to the Holy Spirit)?
- Why does your heart seek relationship with him? To put an insecurity to rest? To assuage loneliness? Or something else?
- Do you like him based on who he actually is? Or are you actually more drawn to a version of him that only exists in your head?
- Can he lead you spiritually—towards Jesus, through the trials of this life, through your own sin? Is he like Jesus in that his character is strong enough, steady enough, steadfast enough for the both of you? Is he one that can be depended on? Does he show forth the fruit of the Spirit?
And you have to actually want to know the answers because if you don’t, you’ll be closed off to the truth.
For instance, I could be honest and ask the Holy Spirit to search me and know me and show me if there were selfish reasons in my heart when I desired relationship with The Guy. It was easy to be open to anything there.
But all along, even though it was the first question I asked myself, I kept myself closed off to the answer of if The Guy could lead me spiritually, if our personalities and tendencies and giftings and maturities and all that jazz were such that I could not only submit to him but he could actually lead me like Jesus leads the Church—without passivity, with grace, with strength, with love, with action, with sacrifice. I made all sorts of unconscious excuses.
There’s no way for me to know that since I’m not in small group with him.
I have such a limited window.
It would be arrogant and prideful of me to say he couldn’t lead me. Etc..
But the truth that the Holy Spirit was pressing on all along was that no, The Guy couldn’t lead me. Not because there was anything wrong with him or because I’m ultra mature or anything like that. It’s as simple as me being a disaster, full of fear, full of sin, full of so many things that require a certain type of man I mean boy I mean guy to love and cherish and lead me through.
Yeah, by the grace of God, I’m bearing fruit, good fruit, Holy Spirit fruit, but there’s going to be sin in me until I die, and if I’m to run this race well—and if I’m to do it married—the dude has got to lead me like Jesus, has got to remind me of Jesus.
And, as I finally let the Holy Spirit tell me, The Guy isn’t that boy man guy. He and I don’t… fit together, if that makes sense. Neither is defective or better or anything, we’re just not fitted for each other. And that’s okay.
It’s so so so important to be honest with yourself and be open to the Holy Spirit actually answering the questions, even if the answer isn’t what you want to hear. Otherwise, you’re just deceiving yourself and living in a type of false reality of your own making, and the truth isn’t in you. Let the Holy Spirit lead you. Submit yourself—your heart and your will—to his wisdom and authority.
That’s all for this week. As per usual, if anything doesn’t make sense or you have any questions, feel free to comment or contact me directly! <3
p.s. – sorry for the late posting! Internet was down at my house so I had to wait until I could go to a coffee shop to use the free wifi and drink the not-free coffee.
p.p.s. – next week I think will be about who to talk to about your crush and why it’s important to be transparent with a couple of mature Christians about your StirringsTM.