It still blows my mind today when I hear people say, "I'm __ years old and I'm still not married. As if marriage is a bucket list item or a life goal. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that it's not okay to plan to be married as a part of your life. However, that's kind of my point in this chirp session. Marriage is a character trait. It's your life.
When Fish and I married, quite a few people asked me as politely as possible how did it feel to have gotten married so late in life. Well, I had only just entered my 40s, and it didn't seem late to me at all. Now, that's not because I didn't have an issue with my age (and I didn't). It was great to enter my 40s and feel right about who I was marrying. That's what was most important. By then, I had been through enough to appreciate where I was in my life and my decision.
Let me give you a bit of a detour so you will not assume that my choice was some sort of virtuous decision. You see, my story started out as a single mom, and I lived most of my life as such. So much so, it felt like a scarlet letter tattooed on my forehead most days. Back when I entered motherhood, single mothers were not as accepted as they are today. They were not looked at as one-parent household heroes, and they certainly did not have the favor of the church body if they happen to be a member of one. I can remember being passed over for jobs or promotions once managers knew I was a single mom. You know, we couldn't be trusted with managerial positions because we had children. We may have to call out for illnesses, probably won't be able to work the hours needed, the school may call and we have to leave, and so forth. (Believe it or not, these reasons were actually said to me interviews.) Not to mention, I did not grow up around healthy marriages. In fact, that was on the level of finding a unicorn in my family. So, this little Birdy knew early on in life that I was never getting married. EVER! As you can see, that didn't last. However, it lasted long enough for me to understand something very important about marriage and why it is not about when you do it but who with.
This is not the covenant talk. This is straight, practical talk. Marriage is an extension of you. Yes, that's right! Your marriage is part of your character. Marriage demonstrates who we are and that also involves the person you are married to. When we choose a mate, the priority should include how this person personifies you. Will this person be able to mirror who you say you are? Can they manifest your best version of you in their own life? I'm not saying marry a carbon copy. I'm asking will your choice prove (demonstrate the truth or existence of you by evidence or argument) you? And... Will their behavior motivate you to maintain who you are after you met them?
I didn't even think about risking getting married until I found someone who could answer yes to those questions. Not verbally, but in their own lifestyle. You see, marriage becomes an additional extension of your character. If someone is not able to carry your character in the way you see yourself or desire to see yourself, why entertain the relationship in the first place? If you get involved and marry someone who is living less than what you accept for yourself, then you are already risking a heartbreak. When you are involved with people and having to constantly convince them of your value, then you have to ask yourself how much do you really value yourself. Often times, our mates are simply reflecting the way we see ourselves within. I didn't like my life for many years. That eventually translated into understanding that the real issue was I didn't like myself. Too much of my past had been dictating my current actions and perspective, and I was dating all of that. Repeatedly.
Then I decided I was worth more. I was worth more to myself first. This was due to a wake up call that I was now an adult and responsible for what happens in my life TODAY. It came with the realization that I can never go back and undo the things that hurt and damaged me in my past. Even if I could, I would lose all of the wisdom that I had gained going through it. A lot of what I lived through makes me the unique person blogging before you and the interesting wife my husband has today. There are things in my life that did hurt, but my life itself wasn't hurt. It was still waiting on me to live the remaining 60+ years I had left. Believing that the first 18 years of my entire existence doomed the whole of it made me waste a lot of time, energy, and relationships. But God.
This testimony always makes me think of 1 Cor. 13:11. I realized that even as we numerically become and progress as adults, we can still be immature in areas of our lives. This can be confusing. We tend to think immaturity shows up everywhere all the time when in fact, it can be a cunning little character flaw. Small and yet destructive. We can get to a place where we are tired of the destruction. We will allow the mature characteristics to seek out and identify what area that bit of immaturity is thriving on and remove it. How? By allowing our vision to change. Understand how difficult it is to see the world through eyes that are no longer suitable for the job. You can not use the eyes of a child to navigate the life of an adult or you will continuously grow weary or run off the path.
Once you allow your adult vision to navigate your life, you will not be so quick to partner with or ride shotgun with someone using their childhood eyesight. Would you get in the passenger seat with an inexperienced driver at the wheel? Yet that is what some of us do when we date, become seriously involved, or even marry. Then we scream from the pain and damage of constantly running off the road in our lives. No shame here. We all have off-road scars to show. The good news is you don't have to get new ones. Be the adult and take the wheel by putting away immature or childish perspectives and responses to adult situations. When we apply immature reasoning and skills to a problem, we can only expect results that are fit for kids. You know, the ones who are characterized as not "knowing any better".
Choosing a mate is more like adding someone complimentary to who you say you are today. It's not a task. It's not a goal per say as we tend to think when we're young. It's reinforcing you. Why go back to school? Why have good credit? Why buy a home? What's with swapping the college beater for a luxury vehicle? Just like other decisions in your life, this decision is an extension of who you are. And if it takes you until you are 40 to figure out who you are, so be it. So, do some of the choices I just mentioned.
Dating, becoming seriously involved, or being married at a younger age to someone who is not representing you well and even lives opposite of who you say you are simply isn't healthy. In fact, it's draining because you spend most of your energy making up for or covering up their behavior that doesn't match yours. That's what I unknowingly waited for, someone to compliment my character and growth. So, I share this story today in hopes of helping someone else to marry when your time is right, even if it's not right now. Use this time to discover or refine your character. Build it and he or she will come.
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Just a little birdy and fish about the Father's business. Helping to better the world one blog at a time.