A 17 year old girl asked me for advice last night. She has found The One… she is sure of it…. at 17. She’s struggling with her relationship with God but putting 99% of her energy into her flawed relationship with this guy. Here are some of the things I shared with her that I’d like to share with anyone who is considering marriage.
1. Put 99% of your energy into improving your relationship with God.
Connecting with God through prayer, Bible reading, Church attendance, obedience and struggle will benefit every area of your life. Marriage is basically connecting every part of your life to every part of someone else’s life… so why wouldn’t you want to work on it all rather than just your relationship?
2. You both deserve the best spouse in the world… but you can’t change him nor he you.
Focus on improving yourself rather than trying to change the other person. If they truly love you, they will do the same for you… and you will be able to trust them to do it. Dating someone and committing to marriage is the ultimate acceptance. If you connect in such a way to a severely flawed person, you are accepting the flaws… they will be less motivated to correct and work through them. So many times I see couples focused on the other persons flaws, putting most of their energy into turning the other person into someone they don’t even deserve themselves. We must become a person who deserves the best rather than finding someone flawed and trying to turn them into what we want.
3. Your spiritual life will in many ways be duplicated in your future children.
Most of us would probably admit that though our spiritual lives aren’t perfect… they work for us and are better than they once were. So the question I’ll ask you… would you want to give one of your children your spiritual life? If you said no, then you’ve got work to do. Having our hearts focused on God is the key to every bit of raising a child properly. If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing… how can you hold a child to a standard you’re not even holding to yourself?
4. I don’t know what I’m eating for dinner tomorrow, much less if I’ve found The One.
We humans are so limited… we can’t even choose where we want to go to dinner on a date… but we’ll be 100% sure that we’ve found the person we’re destined to marry. The truth is we don’t know anything… but we feel everything. Much like a new pair of shoes that we love until they become flawed… the feelings of an exciting relationship can change in an instant. A real relationship is not based on feelings alone.
5. Pray for what you want… but be open to what God wants.
She asked me how she should pray. I reminded her of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was about to be crucified… he was stressed. He prayed something like this… “If there is any other way You can do this… let’s do it that way and leave me out of it.” But then he said, “But not what I want… Let’s do what you want.” That’s how I pray. I pray for the things I think I need in my limited understanding. I ask for solutions that will work out best for me and in my timeline… but then I pause and open my heart and life for God to meet the needs He wants in the way He wants. How many times have thought God wasn’t working in our lives because we limited ourselves to believing that he was going to do things our way?
I don’t know if my advice was heeded… time will tell. I hope so. She’s at such a pivotal time in her life. It seems unfair that a 17 year old has that kind of power. If the 30 year old version of herself could only make an appearance… I’m sure she’d listen to her. Or would she?