Toy train wreck

Single, male train wreck – any takers?

If there’s one thing that married folks quickly forget after they tie the knot, it’s this: Singleness often hurts.

The most frustrating part for a lot of single people who desire marriage is the mounting pressure to get on with it, to find (or be found by) someone now. The unspoken judgment seems to be that the single man or woman would be married if there weren’t something wrong with them.

Accordingly, the single person is subjected to advice from happily married folks whose perpetual concern is whether the single person is seeing anyone. Yet in the same conversation, these married folks contrarily advise the single person not to worry about it because “God will bring your mate along when you’re truly ready.”

I’m not sure how helpful that kind of advice is, nor is it a reflection of the way I stumbled into marriage with my wife, so it doesn’t really resonate with me.

My wife was in a relatively good place to meet me when we said hello at a hat-themed party on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Two weeks before that, she told a group of women from her Bible study that she felt certain she was about to meet her husband. She wasn’t bragging, she just sensed God using scriptures, conversations, sermons, and the spring weather to awaken love in her. And then there was me, the mess.

My walk with Christ was in shambles, and if there was one thing of which I was certain, it was that I was in no shape to meet my wife, let alone go on a date with any decent woman. In fact, the very day I met my wife, I took the time to write in my journal that this was, without a doubt, “one of the darkest periods of my life,” adding at the end this prayer: “Jesus, if You ever loved me, please send help now.” And later on that night at the hat party, help walked into the room, confidently wearing a red, velvet cowboy hat with white, fuzzy trim.

When my future wife and I talked that night, she shared her belief that God was working out a beautiful plan in her life, practiced Spanish with me, and taught me how to salsa. I walked away with her phone number and an uneasy feeling that I wasn’t good enough for her. Nonetheless, it was only four months later that we sat on the veranda of the Kennedy Center and I asked her to marry me, uncontrollably laughing with relief after she said yes.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that romance would find me at my worst – after all, this blessing came from the same God whose modus operandi is to love the foolish klutz in the middle of his humiliation (Luke 15:13-20, Romans 5:8). But I was floored, and I’m still floored that He loved me – that she loved me – when I had nothing to offer but brokenness and a promise to be the man that only God could make me.

I mean, it certainly would be nice if we could all waltz into marriage like my wife did; but that’s just not going to happen for a lot of folks who are struggling like I was. And to those folks, I would say this: Maybe you’re not an ideal candidate for marriage right now, but no one ever is. Regardless of how you meet your future husband or wife, remember that the gift of your marriage won’t be something you deserve or earn. It, like your salvation, is a gift of grace, and it can find you right in the middle of your messiness.

Photo by Rob Friesel, licensed under Creative Commons.

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