It’s no shock to my friends that I’m a man with particular tastes. While those particular tastes often happen to be broad, there are some things about which I like working or living in a singular style. In other words, I can be picky. And while that has some upsides, there are plenty of downsides, especially when in a relationship.
Like Barack Obama, I, too, will evolve my thinking through the course of a relationship. (cough) But in all seriousness, I will change in many ways when I make that lifelong relationship with the future Mrs. Michael. But between now and then, I sometimes grow concerned I can be too picky. I should think about these things because I don’t want to miss out on someone great because I mistook an issue for a value. Values shouldn’t be compromised, but all issues are up for grabs.
To that end, I’ve prayed about myself. I like my beliefs, but I don’t want to get caught up in them so as to miss out on an actual relationship with my wife or with God. Religion is bad for the relationship. (I should coin that.) But while praying one night about this topic, God said very plainly (for as plain as God gets), “Always focus on keeping her free.”
Keep her free.
And so I thought about it. Yes. Keep her free. While I have a few must-haves (however potent they may be), with everything else I should keep my “particularness” away. If she’s to be my wife, she’s already going to want to be with me. We need to focus other’s needs above our own to help keep each other satisfied. Passion will come and go, fights, too, but keep the focus and the effort on supplying the other’s needs. It doesn’t mean you subserviate yourself, but in a relationship, you’re dedicated to each other and what each other wants and needs to do in life. By ever focusing on each other, it’s harder to get selfish. Not impossible, by any means, but it provides some security.
And so after thinking about it, I realized I have much more to learn as to how to accomplish that, but for a man like me, knowing the principle begets all successful effort.
Then, like a single cloud upon the wind, I realized something rather profound about the relationship between a man and his wife, and that of God to us.
There’s an old saying that if you love something enough, you’ll set it free, and if it comes back to you, it’s meant to be. This scratches the surface of why God does not always rush in to our rescue.
No one likes to acknowledge that we humans actually a bunch of children, because we are exactly that. We whine when God won’t do things for us, won’t take care of us, won’t kiss our ills, and then we grow furious he won’t let us do whatever we please and live like we want. It’s how all of us behave at one point or another.
And we’re all children from that point from of view.
However, from a different point of view, God loves us like a bride. (You’ll have to dissociate the two elements). In the regard that we are to build a lasting and loving relationship with God, he approaches us, his Bride, in much the same way he wants me to approach my future wife — with freedom.
You see, real love doesn’t commit enslavement. For all we might willingly bind ourselves to our spouses and loved ones, we may not enslave them to that point, else the love is shaky and cannot be trusted. Can I trust a slave who says she loves me? Perhaps she thinks she does. Or loves me because I provide her food, clothing and shelter. Or, most likely, she says that in order to prevent my ire.
But God, in all his many facets and faces, wants to love us first and foremost, and by that token, he wants to see surely that our love for him is free and full in kind. Because of that, He will not rescue you from your every mistake, whisk you away from every tragedy, or keep you from the reality of your existence. No husband, in however hopeful a mind, could responsibly bottle up his wife away from the world and expect that her continual love remains founded on the belief that she chose him over other suitors, other lovers, other situations. And for however much we pledge eternal love on our wedding days, such words are meaningless against the hard truth that real love requires a daily, hourly, and sometimes moment-to-moment commitment if it is to remain strong, healthy and pervasive.
God chose to keep us free. God chose to love us employing the most powerful tool he had — freedom. By freedom, he validates our choices my making them ours. By love, he comes in from the other side and draws us toward Him with compassion, strength, and the hope of change — the kind of change on inside, the kind you need more than lower taxes or better government programs, an easier life and less stress.
So, if God kept me free, how could I ever ask any differently of my future wife? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a fine, fine goal.