Friday, March 4, 2011

on love, respect, and finding fulfillment.

  {date night, many moons ago}

"A woman can seek after her heart -- ample laundry, a house full of children, a husband to kiss home each day, success, power, poetry, beauty, but there will never be any woman more alluring than she who knows she's a daughter of God."

- The ever-quotable C.Jane, in this beautiful post


A couple of weeks ago, Jordan and I were having a heated discussion while out on date night (every Friday night is date night. Sometimes Saturday mornings too, if we’re lucky). Not an argument, mind you. Arguments are different. This was just a passionate discussion. I love having these with the husband. Not all the time, of course. That would get old. But the occasional debate, or thought-provoking conversation, with the person who probably knows you better than anybody else? Yep, I love those.

We were discussing this idea (it seems to exist primarily among believers, but perhaps it extends outside that bubble) that marriage is the end-all, be-all. That another person can fill the hole. That a separate soul can save me.

It’s a topic that seems to come up a lot in the circles we run in, and I’ve got to tell you: I am tired of it, because it is just not true.

My marriage to Jordan is one of the finest, most incredible gifts God has given me. I want every day to be thankful to Him for entrusting me with that kind of relationship.

But Jordan did not fulfill an empty hole inside of me.

He can’t. As wonderful, loving, smart, and funny as he is… He is not my savior.

And we look at the faces of people we love who are looking for another human being to fill up the emptiness inside of them, and I want to tell them: No! Marriage won’t do that.

It wasn’t created to do that.

This idea — the idea that another me or you can fulfill the soul of another me or you — puts so much pressure: pressure on those who remain unmarried, because they are living with “less.” Pressure on those who do marry, because they will grow bitter, trying to impossibly fill a spot designed for a perfect Savior.

My email inbox seems to be in a constant state of influx, so a lot of shop advertisements and articles get deleted in the process. Last month, though, one particular subject line caught my attention: “What Women Want.” It was, as most of these types of articles are, written by a man, which, I’ve got to tell you, diminishes credibility in my eyes. (I’ve got nothing against men, just men who claim they have women figured out. Because, let’s face it, half the time women don’t even have themselves figured out, so goodness knows most men don’t have a clue.) But I read anyway, skimming through the words I’d heard a million times before.

A woman’s deepest desire is to be loved. A man’s deepest desire is for respect.

I haven’t been married long, so I won’t claim to be an expert. But Jordan and I have known each other for almost seven years now, and in all the years I have known him, I have discovered: Yes, Jordan wants my utmost respect. But he also desperately wants my love.

Created in the Father’s image, we were designed to love, to be loved. To respect, and to be respected. This isn’t a gender thing. This is a human thing.

As I’ve watched my parents’ and grandparents’ marriages, I’ve noticed: There is always immense love, on the part of both the husband and the wife. And there is always respect. Husband and wife. Male and female. Both are needed.

Make no mistake: I want to be loved and nurtured by my husband. But I also want my husband to read what I write. I want him to listen to what I say. I want him to look at my work and our home and to tell me that it is good. In other words, I want my husband’s respect.

The desire of my heart—to be deeply and passionately loved—isn’t fulfilled by the man I share a bed with.

The desire of my heart is fulfilled by a compassionate, loving, powerful, all-knowing God and Creator.

Marriage, like male and female, was created in God’s image, formed carefully by His hand. Its example is one of the greatest images and analogies we have of an intimate relationship with the One who made us. I do not take that lightly. I do not take our marriage, or our commitment to it, lightly.

But I also know countless men and women who go into marriage—or who waste their singlehood—thinking true fulfillment will only come in the form of a mate.

They will always be disappointed.

As Jordan and I sat at that dinner table, smiling and laughing and quietly debating, I knew that I had been given a gift.

I have a husband who loves me immensely, who also deeply respects the person I am and am becoming.

More importantly, though, I have a husband who knows: He can’t fill the role God was designed to fill. And he knows that, because Jordan, too, has a hole, a hole I will never be big enough, smart enough, strong enough, loving enough to fill.

We both trust those places in our souls to the hands of a Father who loves us like no other.

And our goal now, as married people, is to represent Christ and his church in the best possible way.

By exhibiting true love and respect for each other, imperfect though we both may be.

No spouse, no child, no relationship, can take the place of the communion we were created to have with the King. 

For those who are single and for those who are married, that sentence should bring sweet relief.

Your soul can live a fulfilling, satisfied life outside of marriage.

And your marriage can bloom and grow and thrive despite your own imperfections.

Because our Lord fills those holes better than any of us ever could.


Julianne said...

Beautiful post, Annie!

*Priscilla* said...

So incredibly beautifully said. Love, love, LOVE this post!! :)

Inspired Kara said...

PREACH!!! My pastor always said marriage was not intended for happiness, but for holiness. The point of marriage is to depict to the world the type of relationship Christ has with his church. It's to be a manifestation of the Gospel lived out.

Elizabeth Dean said...

I think this emphasis on marriage is for a whole schlew if reasons but there are two in my mind 1) if part of a woman's purpose is to be a mother than by not marrying and having children she is somehow lacking and 2) that Christianity emphasizes that it only happens once.

One spouse.

One sex partner.

One chief relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

As holy as I think that is I also admit that it causes a lot of problems for many Christians. If you emphasize that there is only one person (because divorce is unavailable or whatever) on earth who can fill these roles it will put a lot of pressure not only on the individual but also on the institution itself.

There is so much to this. I'd love to continue it in real conversation.

Anonymous said...

love you sweet annie. great post!

monster cakes said...

Beautiful post. My eyes were definitely opened when I read the book Love and Respect, but I also agree with you that I think women want respect and men want love as well. When it doubt, give both. ; ) That's what I tell myself.

Anonymous said...

I love the part about wasting singlehood waiting on fulfillment to come. I spent so much time doing that and I have friends who are still doing it. It's so freeing when you realize that life doesn't begin when you find your spouse, it begins with an honest relationship with Jesus. Thanks for the reminder :)