My online friend Lore writes things that are beautiful and profound, and this last week was no exception. In her post Birds and Lilies and Beards and You: on why a girl should never settle, she reflects on a single friend’s question: if the pickings are slim and dating is tough, how can a girl avoid settling?
Lore’s answer is this: don’t settle. Not in the sense that you may have hoped for a man who was bearded and wouldn’t date a nice, kind, clean-shaven man (as in her case), nor in the case of asking God if you could please, pretty please, find a man taller than you (in my case… and really not an issue for the very petite Lore. God knows our prayers are personal.) No, instead, she writes:
The question of settling is not attached to a man at all, but to the God whose job alone it is to give you the gift of a mate. So the question is not “Should I settle for a man who is less than what I envisioned?” and really, “Should I settle in the belief that God doesn’t hear or care about the desires of my heart?”
She goes on to describe the little ritual she and her husband of six months, Nate, have developed; where at the end of the day they head for the lake and reflect on their days. They process their days, and whether in quiet or in conversation, reflect together. Lore waited a long, long time for her Nate—a blessedly and bountifully bearded man— and the relief she feels at thinking that God knew all along the good he intended for her, is palpable and beautiful. See? He cares about the lilies and the birds and beards… and he cares for you.
But I’ll confess this: I sighed and then I grumbled as I read, for I’ve been married twenty four times as long as this couple who literally head off into the sunset each day, and there was part of me that wanted to moon over her post as one does over the perfectly packaged romantic movie, but then dispatch it into the world of make-believe. They’re in the honeymoon period, I thought. Just wait until marriage starts to get REAL.
Because honey, marriage gets hard. And there may come a day when the last thing you feel like after a long day is heading off to the lake with your husband. There are seasons in marriage when the tears don’t come because the world is hard (and then you cry together), but because togetherness is hard (and then you cry alone).
It did not take long, though, for me to stop short and hear the cynicism in my voice, and to begrudgingly admit that while this couple’s marriage may be new, the question she raises about settling is still deeply and profoundly true; even for married people. For even when one is long-married, one still needs to pause and reflect on whether you’re settling. On the days when things are not all idyllic and tucked-into-your-loved-ones-back-as-the-sun-sets, the question is STILL “will I settle in the belief that God cares deeply about the desires of my heart?”