A funny postscript to last week’s post: Someone asked me whether my prayers had worked yet! While yes, I believe my prayers are working, I have not got a spouse yet because I only recently started praying in earnest! I do anticipate that this might take some time…
This post concerns the possibility of trying to remould your spouse or your future spouse, after your own long held dreams rather than praying for them what God wants them to be, and within that giving them the freedom to be who they truly want or need or aspire to be.
As usual, I was thinking through various Huggie-Wuggie issues, and it occurred to me that the man I eventually marry might be totally different from the mental image I have always cultivated of my spouse. It occurred to me that “unconditional love” means a few things here:
1. It means praying in line with God’s dreams for him, and who God wants him to be! This means asking God to reveal these to me and to him, to enable me to pray it with all my heart, to pursue it…
2. It means allowing the guy to be who he is, and who he wants to be (in Christ) rather than attempting to mould him after my own mental image of “my husband” that I have happily nurtured and cultivated
3. It means encouraging and supporting him in this, rather than trying to thwart his own aspirations for the sake of asserting my own
4. It means praying in line with his own desires and dreams for himself, rather than trying to use my prayers to assert my own desires. This fourth idea is quite complex – but I will go into more details about it.
I believe that God created each one of us with particular abilities, skills, character traits, and attitudes. On one hand, yes, it is often up to each of us to develop each of these aspects in our own selves. Sometimes, we can see in ourselves and in our spouses clear deficiencies in some areas. For instance, one spouse might be late for simply everything. I believe that unconditional love from the other spouse in this case might mean that we continue to love our spouse despite their lack of punctuality, and we will continue to love them even despite this trait, no matter how long it lasts. We will practise patience and kindness, we will try to plan around this characteristic, we will hold back from lashing out even when their lateness causes us tangible losses. (Easier said than done – especially for me!) All the same we can be praying for this tendency towards lateness, that God would empower our spouse to overcome this failing… We can give ourselves to praying as fervently and passionately as we like regarding this because we know that it can only be in line with what God wants for our spouse’s life to be punctual.
“Being always late” is quite an innocent example of this. The same could also be said of less benign examples like anger issues or vindictive streaks. These issues are quite simple, and black and white. Does God want anyone (including our spouse) to not be punctual? No. Does He want anyone (including our spouse) to wallow in anger or other negativity? No.
This post is more concerned with issues which are not black and white like these. The issues I am thinking of in this post might be legitimate choices that God allows people to make, just not choices that we would have necessarily made ourselves, or chosen for our spouses, if the choice had been ours.
So it’s like this. Here I am, dreaming away of a future husband and future marriage, in that happy way common to people who have not actually had to encounter reality about this! I am also starting to pray, to look around….
In the course of my prayers, it might well happen that along comes someone, and between us we eventually decide to get married, and we believe that this is from God, even though he would have been the last person that I would ordinarily have expected to marry.
This is where human nature comes in. I am so aware that so many spouses do this – especially women, actually. It is so easy to attempt to change him or to twist him into being what I have always imagined as a “husband”. However, if God has “OKed” and empowered our marriage, then what God wants is for me to be married to him as God has created him to be. I believe that even within this God has left us lots of choice to develop as we personally choose. I believe that the primary person to choose who he wants to be is the man himself, not his wife. That is, personally, I very emphatically reject it when people try to tell me that I have to be a certain way, I have to be a certain person. I make it very clear that I know that I don’t have to correspond to anyone else’s idea, but I am free to choose to be who I want to be in Christ. So it follows then that I have to offer the same freedom to my husband.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”