Every day of our lives, especially in mine, since I can remember, the world has painted this crazy picture of a ‘happily ever after.’ Every story ever seen or read since I was a little girl, has been about some ‘Prince Charming’ saving a princess, they fall in love, get married and end up living that ‘happily ever after.’
As a little girl I was always in two minds about this idea and my parents can vouch for the long time that I went through a perspective of, “I’m never getting married or even having kids…instead, I’m going to become a nun.” You can laugh and giggle but I truly felt that way. Later I fell into the other extreme of ‘serial dating.’ What I’m trying to say is not that there is something wrong with ‘happily ever after’ but that we must realise what pressures can also come with painting that kind of picture. I am not saying that that can’t be true and that we’re setting people up for some huge disappointment, because that isn’t true either. It is just that there is so much more to the whole dating picture and then marriage after that.
I was a serial dater until I realised how much I kept giving away, how much it was taking away from me and someone else’s possible future partner. I also just started seeing things differently as I got closer in my relationship with God and saw the way He loved and pursued me, and continues to do every day.
You might be thinking there is no way you have given into this idea in any possible way, but somewhere along the line, this idea of a ‘happily ever after’ does creep into your heart and thoughts, affecting them whether you choose to admit it or not.
I realised this before, during and after my serial dating and had to come to a decision. Because of it, I chose not to date again until I was absolutely sure about the guy and that we had been friends and so on. Even now, while dating, I have to constantly keep myself in check, so that I don’t let this idea of a ‘happily ever after’ become damaging to me, the other person or our relationship as it can cause unnecessary pressures and expectations that aren’t entirely realistic and based on God’s grace and truth.
The day I said ‘yes’ to dating, was also because I believed that is whom I would marry. But for most people this isn’t always the case and dating isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. You cannot constantly date people and throw them away at the first signs of trouble or when you get bored. This creates a false expectation in marriage, and proposes the idea, that if a marriage isn’t working for you, you don’t have to worry, you can quickly get divorced and start your search for the ‘PERFECT ONE’ again. Hey, I mean – ‘there’s plenty of fish in the sea’ right?!
Dating isn’t a Biblical principle, so I really think that when you do choose to date someone, you need to take that decision very seriously, just as you would with marriage.
Anyway, these big decisions and the idea of a ‘happily ever after’ can put a great deal of pressure on us and we can be made to feel a bit doubtful. Although you say ‘yes’ to dating and even though you may know deep down this is the person you’re going to marry, you too may have doubts or have moments of doubts as they are big steps and very serious times.
In the perspective of the world and what it tells us, the person we marry(or date) is the one who makes YOU happy. He/she is perfect for YOU. The proposal is perfect for YOU. The ring and the wedding is perfect for YOU. The honeymoon is perfect for YOU and the ‘happily ever after’ is perfect for YOU. It is all about YOU, YOU, YOU and YOU!
But honestly, that is what the world says and NOT what the Word says. In the Word it speaks of the covenant of marriage being about God. The journey of navigating through a lifetime of promise like this has everything to do with Jesus. It is about ‘US’ – an equation involving your partner, Jesus and you. And the only perfect thing in this equation for YOU is grace.
I was afraid of making the wrong choice, most of us are. But we make the choice, no one else and I need to believe I make the right one.
Marriage is the covenant, the promise, to God that you vow to love another person just as Christ had/has loved us first. The most intimate, challenging and all-inclusive way of loving is what this vow consists of and is what the vow of becoming one flesh with another person includes. To serve and selflessly love them in such a way, as Christ served us and selflessly loved us to and even on the cross. To carry their burdens, taking the lashings of their shortcomings and bearing the taunting of Satan and the struggles and challenges he may bring. To put them before yourself even to the point where you feel like you may be broken, but can ultimately rise, just as our Great King did and does, in love. Lifting your partner up to Jesus when they feel they cannot do it themselves. This, with a great understanding of the magnitude of the Gospel in which we come to realise a greater appreciation for the power and authority of what was done by Jesus on our behalf and because we are so loved by the Almighty King.
Marriage (and even dating) I have explained to a few people lately, is a tiny yet supernatural taste of God’s love for us. How He treasures and cherishes us. This is a promise not to be taken lightly, because it is ultimately, a promise to accept and love one another (including all versions and parts of one another), like God loves us, on a daily basis. Something we can’t even come close to doing on our own and can only come through natural relationship with God. That is the JOY of saying ‘yes’ in your heart to the covenant of marriage. Be it a choice you made when still dating or asked to date, a choice when proposed to or deciding to propose, it is a choice to be looked forward to and excited about, one to confess with joy in your heart, even on the day of marriage and every day after that. Although, a serious choice, it is one so profound and beautiful. It isn’t that you have found the ‘perfect one,’ but that we are a step closer to drawing back another layer and getting to see God’s perfect love played out in our lives in a rather magnificent way and that we get to share that with one another.
What is truly great about marriage is that, there is the sweetest of sweet joys in knowing that you don’t have to go at this whole thing alone and that God is with us, in this, every step of the way and through Him all the crazy, deep adventures and moments are MORE than possible. It is such an honour to be able to have the privilege of loving and caring for His child in this covenant the way He has loved and taken care of me. The great truth and grace is pure magic that comes with knowing that although we aren’t perfect for each other, we both are committed to making the choice every day to follow the King who showed us and IS the perfect example of how to love. It is a commitment to having our story become a ‘happily ever after’ but one, determined by the Word of God and not the world.