We sat across the small corner table from each other one frigid January morning when I was home for from college over break at the bagel shop we always had breakfast dates at when I was growing up.
‘You know Meredith, this may have less to do with God’s will for your life than you are making in hinge on. For me, I believe there were other godly women I could have married and still been living out God's will for my life, but I loved your mom and I chose to marry her.’
I’m sorry, what?
My mind was swirling.
Not only did my dad just give me the best piece of relationship advice/wisdom I’d ever received but he also just broke the news that he, as the man married to my mom, essentially didn't believe that there was one person you were supposed to marry.
Over our everything bagels with plain cream cheese I had gushed about my boyfriend problems to my dad.
Justin and I had been dating for four years by the time our junior year of college rolled around and rather than busying ourselves with weekend road trips, dancing at frat parties or getting engaged and planning a summer wedding (like the other half of the private southern christian school we attend were doing) we spent our junior year trying to figure things out like;
How do you know the person you’re supposed to marry?
What do you do when there are things you don't like about the other person?
What are the deal breakers?
When do you cut your losses and get on with your life?
How do you determine if you’re just staying in a relationship out of codependency and fear?
What happens if you marry the wrong person?
How do you figure out God’s will for who you’re supposed to marry?
After talking continuously for an inordinate amount go time about my boyfriend woes and my God’s-will-for-my-lifel confusion, my dad responded to all my questions, rabbit trails and crazy thoughts with a questions.
‘What do you want to do Meredith, do you want to marry him?’
Nearly interrupting him before he could finish his sentence I answered quickly ‘Yes! Yes of course I want to marry him, I’ve only been dating him for 4 years now!’
‘Ok then’ he said.
‘Ok then what?’ I thought to myself, waiting for him to continue with some more foundation-shifting, earth-shattering insight and wisdom.
I waited for him to respond. He has a way of pausing before he speaks it probably has something to do with the fact that he raised four daughters and we hardly ever gave him a chance to get a word in or that fact that a strategic pause often led to the confession of our mischief.
‘What do you think the will of God is for your life?’
It is seriously so annoying when someone answers your questions with a question.
Literally, I was asking these questions to get some answers, not have to figure out the answer to more questions.
‘In terms of who I marry, where I live, what I do for a living, I have no freaking idea. But what I do know is that it’s pretty explicit in 1 Thessalonians, ‘this is the will of God, your sanctification.’
Being made holy.
Being created into something sacred.
Set apart for a purpose.
‘So I think all those other things are secondary’ he said. ‘If you’re walking in the truth, the truth that the will of God is your sanctification, then it sounds like you get to choose the rest. Who you marry, where you live, what you do for a living, all of those things’
‘So there’s no right person to marry then?’ I asked for clarification
‘No, it’s not the black and white’ he said ‘maybe the questions for you to start considering are ‘Who do I want to marry? Where do I want to live? What do I want to do for a living? Start there.’
It rocked my world, the foundation of my faith, and my tiny little understanding of God’s will for my life that day sitting across from my dad over bagels and coffee.
I could not have fully understood then, but after 5 years of marriage, looking back on that conversation, I understand more clearly.
‘I do’ means I will. ‘I do’ means I choose you.
And it’s in God’s great kindness that he bring that person into our lives, our person.
It’s in his providence & by his provision that he gives us exactly what we need. More that we could ever ask or imagine.
There’s no right person to marry and thank him for that because left to our own devices, we’d screw it all up.
It’s not all black and white.
There is a grayness that is exceedingly beautiful when we are walking in God’s will for our lives.
There are beautiful hues of grey even in the big things in life like who you marry.