“Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said, ‘I will work seven years for you, if you will let me marry Rachel.'” – Genesis 29:18
Do you know where I can find a guy willing to work for my dad for free for seven years, just so he might marry me? My contact info is on the top right of the screen. Seriously though, Jacob worked seven years just so he could marry Rachel and, as Genesis tells us, that seven years Jacob worked seemed to him like only a few days, because he loved her. Aw. Sounds like the perfect love story, right? Wrong.
Jacob and Rachel’s love story should be titled the Real Housewives of Mesopotamia. Instead of a fairy-tale romance, their love story is drama-ridden with family dysfunction: Jacob loved Rachel; Jacob’s father-in-law tricked him into marrying Rachel’s sister, Leah; Jacob later married Rachel; Leah grew jealous of Rachel; then the baby-mama drama ensued once the kiddies came along. And yet, most Christian young women are still searching for a fairytale love story.
At my women’s Bible study, hanging out with my girlfriends, and on my lunch breaks with colleagues, I’m surrounded by young women struggling to find the perfect romance. How often do you and your friends wade through the messiness of dating, the grief of break-ups, the frustrations of singlehood, or the complexities of a long-term relationship? I’m betting it’s often. I’ll tell you a secret: guys struggle with the same relationship issues that we do. No really! Last weekend, I was having lunch with four guy friends of mine. I kid you not; 85 percent of their conversations revolved around how to find the “perfect girl.”
It’s normal to wonder about the person you will marry and what the search process might look like. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already established what you want your future to look like: a handsome husband, 3.5 kids, a black Labrador retriever and a two-story Victorian home with a front-porch swing nestled beneath a slew of magnolia trees. Ahem. Or something similar.
Unrealistic, I know. So in an attempt to shake myself from the fantasy land in which I’d been living, I started jotting down my questions, and those of my peers, about true love, dating, and marriage. My mission is to present these questions to my wiser colleagues who, lucky for me, are the nation’s leading experts on marriage and a wide variety of family issues. Convenience is such a blessing.
Last week, I nervously asked my first question, “Am I in love?” “Whoa,” was their response. Apparently, I’m jumping the gun, and it’s way too early to ask that question.
Instead, my colleague, Mario Diaz, Esq., CWA’s Legal Counsel and Washington Times contributor on the issue of marriage, suggested that before I try grappling with such a narrow question, I should first ask myself, “Can I love?”
Come again, Mario? As a starting point, he asked me to look up I Corinthians 13:4-13:
Love is patient and kind;
Love does not envy or boast;
It is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way.
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never ends. …
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Honestly, this was not the starting point for which I was hoping, because I already knew the answer to his question. No, I don’t love without irritation or rudeness (I’m working on it). I – we – cannot love perfectly like Corinthians instructs us. It’s impossible. Don’t be depressed, because there is hope for us single gals yet.
Your capacity to love does not depend on you. Mario explained that only God loves perfectly. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Our innate pride and selfish nature prevents us from loving perfectly.
Because we cannot love like God, the only way we can love according to God’s example is by setting Christ as priority in our life and obeying His commandments. Simply ask Him. Only then can we love without envy, boasting, irritation, and with absolute patience.
Without God’s guidance, so many young Christian women and men make the wrong choice in spouses every day. Missionary dating, anyone? I’m guilty. But this is how we get into trouble and disobey God’s commandment about being equally yoked and find ourselves married to a non-believer. These couples might have what they think is love, but that is not enough to sustain a marriage. Thankfully, through Christ, God can change the heart of the non-believer or give the believer strength to continue loving their spouse who is living an ungodly lifestyle.
The Bottom Line: Each one of us can choose to love, because we can choose to follow Jesus Christ and His perfect example of love.
So, what’s the real-life test to determine if we are following Christ’s example of perfect love? The Answer: Adversity. (Gulp!)
Deep breaths as we proceed with caution and delve deeper into understanding how love and adversity go hand in hand. So until our next blog, we encourage you to read the Bible’s account of Jacob and Rachel’s love story and pray a lot.