This article was originally written for my Facebook weekly feature, called Sunday notes, on Sunday 10 October 2010
OK, I must admit that I have been simply *itching* to write something – a note – whatever – about relationships for a very long time. I think about relationships a lot, (seriously, *a lot*) and wanting to discuss it is partly about setting the world to rights, talking about things that I observe generally that make me shake my head, and it is also partly about wanting to talk about the relationship that I hope to have, in the hope that it might possibly resonate with someone out there handsome holy and available….
However I am so sorry to disappoint you, but this is not going to be that note.
So, this week I have heard a couple of amazing talks about Christian relationships. The first was on a Christian channel on TV, where the preacher said that a Christian marriage is not about “give and take”, but rather about “give and give”. It is not about giving the other person what they deserve, but about what they need. In a way, for a Christian, that should be obvious, but still it struck home quite powerfully for me.
This speaker also spoke about the fact that different people give and receive love in different ways – through giving of time, touch, gifts etc. Once again, I already knew that, but I relearned it more forcefully.
As for the second talk – (I should say series of talks, because it was actually 2 talks, but given by the same person) – it was emphasised that in the Redeemed church which I attend, the guy prays to find a wife, and then he hears from God, and proposes accordingly. Now please do not argue with this for reasons of sexism – it is simply an application of a Biblical principle. I am usually totally unashamed to interpret the Bible from the most feminist viewpoint possible, but even I do not bother to argue against “the guy finding the girl” ( at least, I don’t bother to argue against it these days). It just is. (She shrugs). It just is. (Although there was of course that….which a number of you will most likely remember… let’s not go there! (Plus also, I don’t think many people know about….and I’m praying that only 2 (ok, 3…hmm 4? Ten, tops!) people know about…but we are not going there!)).
What I did always have a problem with was the idea of just proposing outright based on what you have heard from God. Is this not highly subjective? Is there no space for getting to know one another before actually getting engaged? For instance, could you not initially indicate interest, then discuss about your future goals, plans, dreams, about who you are, about who you think they are….etc etc.
To which the answer was that the man had to make sure that he properly heard from God…This answer always made me feel slightly queasy, possibly because I have always felt that the question of “knowing God’s will” in anything is immensely complicated and subjective where it is not written in black and white in the Bible.
(BTW, the woman then goes off and prays, and if she also hears from God, then you can proceed. If not, then no it is.)
However, this Pastor that taught this weekend gave some fantastic messages about knowing God, the Bible etc etc, so I can finally accept that yes, someone can be 100% confident that yes, he has heard from God, and yes, this is definitely God’s will. So now, I can totally accept that this is how it could happen. And actually, I find that this removes a phenomenal amount of pressure from me as a woman. In theory, this is between a guy and God, so I do not have to try to indicate to anyone in particular that I might or might not be interested. If I discern any vibes from anyone I can try to ignore them or pretend I haven’t noticed and if he feels he has heard from God, he can say something, right? I don’t actually have to do anything, except be myself, and be friendly, and strive to be more and more like Jesus, without focusing on any particular individually. Woohoo! No complex or potentially cringey “Sunday Notes” talking about Tosin’s hopes in marriage. That is the theory. But then it suddenly dawned on me -could it be that what I could reveal could be part of his analysis about what God is saying? So it is not as if my name will drop from the sky on a silk scroll to my future husband, but maybe what I could say could confirm what he already knows is right for him?
Oh, confusion! Which is why I am asking for your answers please. OK there is the small fact that I would quite like to talk about relationships – I suspect I would soon happily forget the cringiness, and thereby embarrass my very long-suffering family yet further. On the other hand, if I don’t need to get writing, why would I? I think that the advantage of writing a note is that you can communicate what you want to say, without targetting it towards any particular individual, or having to start a conversation with any particular person for the sake of making sure that one particular person hears what you’re saying. If you never communicate what you want before he hears from God, will you ever get a chance to do this? Do you just accept that because this is from God it just will work out and you don’t need to analyse it or set mutual expectations – ok, that is a total over-simplification – maybe you can communicate etc in the confidence that this will reinforce your conviction, yours and his, – I should of course say his and yours! – that this is right and good and the correct choice.
But now the question remains, do I need to talk about what I want? I think we all know what I want to do (!) – but would this be right, or even necessary, or merely acceptable? – If – ahem – there might be someone out there, reading this, (which I would find unlikely, frankly) – would it be sufficient to reveal that I think so deeply about these things, or do I have to get into all the gory detail…. obviously I am not really going to get very detailed about what I want – please! I do have a small – very small modicum of shame you know!
PS, I know I did not quote the Bible today! 😉