Marriage is the most wonderful and closest of all human relationships, especially when God is leading both partners on their spiritual journey to grow closer to their Creator.
This is the story of how I almost made a big mistake. You see, I had fallen in love. It was the dreamy, he’s-so-perfect, now-my-life-makes-sense kind of love. And we wanted to get married, Patrick (pseudonym) and I.
But through all my elation, all the giddiness, I began to sense a problem, ignored at first, but growing. It was becoming increasingly clear to me that I was breaking the greatest commandment of all, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
For though this young man seemed to be everything I ever wanted mentally, physically and emotionally, we were not aligned spiritually—and God says not to marry in such cases (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39). Patrick was not even convinced God existed. We were on entirely different spiritual paths, and there were few intersections that I could see in our future.
Here’s where the justifications began. I felt there was something wonderful laid out before me, and I didn’t want God or anyone else to tell me I could not have it.
I started begging God to call Patrick, to make him a believer. After a time, these prayers seemed answered when Patrick was willing to attend church with me. He went once and intellectually dissected what he saw and heard. Still, it was a start. I began to tell myself it would only take time. He thought we should get married first and then let his relationship with God develop as it would. This sounded quite reasonable, I thought.
I was also dealing with pride. I thought I was strong enough for the both of us, that I could be his teacher and he my disciple. I thought I could lift him up without falling down myself.
But little compromises started to occur, so subtle at first. I don’t know if I ever truly lifted him up during that time, but I felt myself sliding down that slippery slope of spiritual dying.
I was still going through the acts of praying and studying, but a sense of guilt kept washing over me: I could no longer look God in the eye. I knew, deep down, I was making a huge mistake. The little voice within me told me I was getting myself into a heap of spiritual trouble.
I reacted by getting angry at God. How could He “make” me fall in love with someone, then tell me I could not have him? Didn’t God want me to have good things, including marriage? Didn’t God love me?
I am fortunate to have a very loving, solid family. I opened up to them at that point. I heard them say the words I would tell anyone else in my position, but which I myself had been blocking out. God does want good things for all of us, the best things, but not things that compromise our relationship with Him. I needed patience. I needed faith that God knows best.
And furthermore, we do not do the calling. All my tearful prayers could not change Patrick’s heart and relationship with his Creator. And were he to be called, it would take time for this calling to be sure and solid—how would I be able to tell if it ever became real? And how much would I lose of my own beliefs, through compromise and doubt, in the meantime?
Going through the Passover season, along with seeing a friend being baptized, helped the words of my family finally sink in.
I had made my own commitment two years before, and I had told God I was now His, bought through His Son’s blood. Yet my relationship with Patrick was based on what I wanted, not on God’s will for my life.
Proverbs 3:5-6 came to mind: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
I knew I could not both marry Patrick and follow this scripture. So Patrick and I broke up.
And one of the strangest things is, I felt immense joy after making this decision. There was heartache to be sure, but overarching it all was peace. I felt the positive feelings that come from doing the right thing. I was able to look God in the eye again. It was more than I thought would be possible, and I thank God for His mercy in giving this to me.
I learned more deeply that God has to be first in all of our relationships or they will not work. The husband-wife relationship is the most wonderful and closest of all human relationships, and to enter into this without God leading both partners would be a huge mistake. It might have been the biggest mistake of my life.