I was having a catch-up conversation with a good friend when she prompted me to come up with three things that I learned from my experience with love and heartache. At that time, I just came out of a relationship. The one that people around us were excitedly anticipating to lead to the altar in a few months, but was suddenly called off.
I conjured up the lessons below for my friend and summarized them afterward to hopefully inspire and encourage you whatever your current season in love may be. Whether you are joyfully single, healing from a breakup, in a relationship, engaged, or already nearing a wedding, these principles will help you guard your heart and prepare for future marriage, all according to God’s perfect plan.
1. It’s not about you, but God.
When the person I planned to marry called it off, I kept asking God why. Why did he allow that to happen when I did all the right things, prayed the right prayers, guarded my heart, followed His other commands (whether written on the Bible or by conviction), and sought to glorify Him above all? But He made me realize, “Anak, it’s not about how you want to glorify Me, but how I glorify Myself in You. Just trust Me, I have greater plans for You.” It was a hard pill to swallow.
I thought that our relationship was a great blessing to others already, but our breakup was probably a greater testimony in God’s eyes. Yes, it was painful, but when you embrace that it’s all about God and not about you, it gives comfort and assurance that everything would eventually all turn out for your good and for His glory. This applies not just to the broken-hearted but even to those who are happily in love. Your love life is part of something bigger than just your own happiness.
2. “The one” is the person you marry at the altar.
It’s not your current crush, not the person you are praying for who fits in your list of non-negotiables, and not that person in school, work, or ministry who likes the same things or serves the same way as you do. It’s not even your current partner, and definitely not that person who you are not with right now just because it’s “not the right time yet” or “God says wait”.
It’s either that person is the one or not. Period. And you will know it at present, not in the future. If you sincerely believe that God told you to marry that person, God would have also told you to take steps now – whether that step is praying, getting counsel, being accountable, getting the blessing of your authorities, courtship, dating, engagement, etc.
It must happen now, and it must happen for marriage. Otherwise, ask yourself why you are attached to that person in the first place. It might just be your emotions and/or your lust and not God speaking.
3. Convictions and safeguards are friends.
We live amidst a culture that promotes a pursuit of one’s passions and desires and accepts pre-marital sex. But if we dig deep and look back, God designed intimacy for marriage. It was meant to be a beautiful experience between a husband and a wife.
No matter how spiritually mature you are or how pure your intentions are, temptations are real. They happen to everyone, at any time. And the easiest way not to fall for them is to avoid them.
In the past, I used to just go with the flow. I loved the rush of spontaneity and not knowing what comes next. This had indeed given me the pleasure that I sought, but looking back, it has also opened doors for me to experience pain and shame that I could have avoided otherwise.
Ask God what convictions and safeguards to set – they will not be the same for everyone. Only you and God know yourself best, whether ‘marupok’ ka or not, what caused you to stumble in the past, what your current weaknesses are, what helps you focus and thrive. All of these are meant not to restrict you but to protect you. For some, it may feel like deprivation, but only when you reap its fruits will you realize how it was all worth it. Seeking to honor God is always worth it.
At the end of it all, marriage is not the goal of love and life, but just another step towards drawing closer to God and becoming more and more like Jesus. God’s best for you has always been and will always be Himself. If He ever does lead you to get married, it will be for a purpose that ultimately circles back to Himself.
May you find the greatest love in Him, God Who is Love Himself. As a testament of His unconditional love, He sacrificed His one and only Son to save you from the penalty of sin, and to be with you forever. Now that’s love like no man can ever give
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