Runner in starting blocks

I was wondering… about being ready

Are you there yet? Completed the non-negotiable, God-breathed decree of all that must be achieved before you are Ready For Marriage™?

Contents vary by individual but these spiritually-infallible checklists often include… Reaching a particular age, and a certain point in your education or career, probably earning a certain amount; undertaking travel / obscure mission trips while still responsibility-free; being ready to ‘settle down’ and become a parent at a designated future point (or NOW depending on biological clock); drawing up a list of stringent requirements for your future partner (because, y’know, desires of your heart and all that) and submitting said list to God while reminding him of it on a weekly / daily / hourly basis (no comment). All done? You, my friend, are the finished article, materially, spiritually and emotionally. You’re READY. Bring on Mr / Miss Godly Spouse. It’s time to crack open Song of Songs.

Small note of caution though. If you’re not RFM yet don’t really get to know someone. Date, maybe, but don’t get serious. Why bother? Hold back emotions and commitment until the readiness process is complete and can be verified by angels (yes, I’ve checked – that’s what happens). Except… what if that’s not how it unfolds? What if you don’t get the dream career or it pays buttons or takes up every waking minute? What if the idea of being – or needing – ‘the provider’ is unrealistic? What if the pieces don’t fit together? Or what if you get to that mystical point in the future when everything you’d planned is in place and you don’t feel ‘ready’ after all? I mean, what does ready even feel like?

We might start telling ourselves (and prospective partners) we’re terrible at relationships. We might say we don’t know how to be with someone or we just haven’t met the one yet and that’s why we can’t commit. We wait for a magical encounter when we’ll cross paths and just know. Years can roll by while we hold back, repeatedly exiting promising scenarios because the time isn’t right and we’re not there yet, or avoid relationships altogether. There is, of course, genuinely ‘not ready’. A difficult past, hurt from broken relationships, emotional issues that can keep us from being good for anyone. That’s the kind of ‘not ready’ to spend time putting right so we don’t sabotage our futures, but it’s not a place to stay. God heals so we don’t have to live hurt and hurt others. What we need to watch out for is the not ready that keeps us making excuses, supressing feelings, avoiding intimacy. That’s the ‘not ready’ with no time limit.

I suspect love’s great adventure doesn’t start with conditions. I’m intrigued by couples who set out without the pieces in place. Who don’t rush in without thinking, but also don’t allow hypothetical standards to determine the future. Who allow themselves to feel and risk and be open to possibility and to seeing it through together. I wonder if they are the ones who are actually ready because they commit, mature as they go, grow into love, and become the husbands and wives God intended them to be, through vulnerability, trial and error, prayer and perseverance, falling down and getting up again.

When you ask yourself if you’re ready, don’t aim for some distant spot in the future when everything will be perfect. Instead ask yourself if you’re ready to make time and space while you’re still a work in progress. Because that’s as ready as we get to be.

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