Finding the Right Kind of Romance
Turning twenty-six was the toughest birthday I ever had. It was the birthday when I could no longer say I was in my “early twenties,” and that hit me hard. I was facing a quarter-life crisis, and one of the biggest struggles of my life at the time was that I was unmarried, and had no prospects to get married. And after having seen my fair share of broken marriages among my peers, and having been in disappointing relationships myself, I had come to the conclusion that it would be better to remain unmarried for my entire life than to marry the wrong person.
Though I had no prospects, I still wished to prepare myself to be able to recognize the right person if she ever came along. And more importantly I wanted to prepare myself spiritually for this woman so that I would be the right kind of man for her. I began scouring the Bible for verses that would help me, and I found several that I wrote down on a sheet of paper. And every day for nearly a year I would unfold my paper and read through them and think on them. I want to share four of them with you, and some of what I discovered meditating on them for over a year.
Song of Solomon 3:5 – “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem … that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”
In the middle of this book primarily concerned with romantic love between a husband and wife, the Bride tells this chorus of other women to not be impatient when it comes to love. Love is likened to a sleeping entity. It will awaken when it decides to, and to try to hurry it along or push it to move faster is not wise. Or as it’s put in the 1978 Toto song: “Hold the line. Love isn’t always on time.”
This was especially important for me to meditate on. I think I had a tendency to try to push relationships too fast. To fall into infatuation and convince myself it was love. And the desire to awaken love before it is ready becomes even more of a temptation as you grow older and watch your peers (and even people much younger than you) get married, while love seems to pass you by.
But the Bride adjures you. It is important to be patient, to let love work in its own time, and to not rush things.
Genesis 29:20 – “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”
This may be the most romantic verse in the entire Bible. I just mentioned it to my wife Erin earlier this week, and she involuntarily sighed. Women love this idea of being so valued and loved in the eyes of their man, that he would do anything for her, and not just that, but that his love for her would propel him effortlessly through all difficulties to be with her.
The woman worthy of this kind of love is one that has to be worked for. The truly great and lasting relationships are built through work and time. And the right woman is worth seven years and more. If you want that, you have to be willing to work for it. But also, you need to find (and wait for) the person who makes that work all worth it.
Ruth 3:7-8ff – “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then Ruth came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! …”
Boaz doesn’t pursue Ruth as a romantic interest at all. It does not even seem to be in Boaz’s mind until Ruth proposes to him. But what made Boaz the kind of man a woman would propose to? First you find that Boaz treated Ruth kindly and righteously, not because he wanted to impress her, but because he was genuinely kind and righteous. And in Ruth 3:7, notice that Boaz finds full satisfaction in his life as it currently is. Boaz isn’t overly concerned with finding a wife and “completing himself.” Boaz worked, enjoyed the fruits of his labor, and was merry. Boaz’s life was already complete before Ruth.
If you have not found satisfaction in yourself and your life, a spouse will not fix that. Live the fullest life you can live right now. Find happiness and merriment right now. And when you are living that life, you will not only find it easier to be patient when it comes to love, but it will attract the people most compatible with your fulfilling life now.
Proverbs 18:22 – “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”
This verse and the one in Genesis 2:18 when God says, “It is not good that man should be alone…” and then he creates Eve, distressed me greatly in my teenage years and early twenties. If finding a wife is a good thing, and being alone is bad, then why does God allow me to continue to be single? It felt like a deeply unfair punishment God had placed on me.
But looking back now, I realize that in waiting for my wife, even though at the time it seemed to take longer than I wanted, I would not change the timing of it now. In all of the waiting, I discovered just how much of a good thing I found. If it did not take time, and work, and patience, and searching, then I do not know if I would have understood just how precious this other person is, how much of a good thing a wife can truly be.
I hope that these verses may be able to help you no matter where you are on your journey through life.