Dear Nate & Matt,
Lissy's away at camp this week, so it's time for a letter to my bestest men. We just finished a mighty round of mini-golf and celebrated the birthday of the hot fudge sundae. The summer weather is perfect, but I'm fighting a monster head cold, so we're just doing simple day trips rather than our planned hiking and camping.
Someday in the not-too-distant future, you two will be bringing home young ladies for us to meet. I'm sure we'll all be a little nervous, but I want to reassure you that we have only three things we "require" in a future daughter-in-law.
First and foremost, your young bride-to-be must have surrendered her life and will to Christ.
We'll ask questions to determine if you both have a common life goal. Does she dream of serving the Lord in Africa while you have a burden to work in a local church? Does she want the American dream (or a slightly sanctified version) while you have plans to head to Papua, New Guinea? We'll be looking for a heart that desires to serve the Lord whether he calls your family to corporate America or the bush of Kenya.
Is she willing to live where God calls you, or is she expecting to live within a certain distance of her own family? If her parents have expectations, is she willing to follow you even if it disappoints them? Are they willing to let her - and their grandchildren - live far away, or will they keep pressure on you your whole life?
Is she willing to live on the salary God provides, or does she have expectations of a certain lifestyle? Do her parents have expectations that may be disappointed by your choices? Are you both willing to honor her parents' requirements for marriage?
Secondly, we'll be looking at whether or not your chosen one has been faithful to live within the structure of authority God has placed in her life.
You can tell how a young lady will follow your leadership by looking at how she interacts with her father, bosses, peer leaders, and teachers. Does she pout, yell, or use the silent treatment to get her own way? Is she outwardly compliant and then complaining or deceiving them behind their backs? Does she honor the limits we and or your college have set for you while dating/courting? Is she honoring her parents' wishes regarding you, even if they aren't saved or she doesn't agree with them?
Does she love you or the idea of you? There are some girls who dream of a husband and home and seek only to fill in the blank with a breathing male. If she appears to be "in love with love", or more excited about the wedding than about a lifetime with you, she's going to have a difficult time following God's plan for wives. That's already a challenging role, and it will be far more difficult if you're a faceless Disney prince rather than her beloved.
Is she willing to serve in and be a vital part of a local church? Christian young people are deserting the church by the thousands, even though it is God's vehicle for growth and service in this present world. We are unlikely to approve a young lady that embraces the home church movement or a personal spirituality that eschews the church. Is she obedient to the commands in God's Word, or does she regularly substitute the words of science/psychology, her own (or her parents') experience, her education, or her feelings?
Lastly, we'll be looking for a young woman who doesn't think of herself. Her confidence is in God, and she seeks to love and serve others with a Christ-like spirit.
Does she have a teachable heart? We don't care if she can cook, run a home, sew, decorate, write, play an instrument, or complete a marathon. What we do care about is if she is willing to learn the things that are important to you as her husband and head of her home. Nate's wife is a lucky gal: if she can manage to heat a frozen pizza or pick up cheeseburgers at a drive-thru, he'll be a happy man. Matt's wife had better be able to keep pace with Rachael Ray -- he likes good food! (She'll also need to appreciate being wrestled down and tickled -- she is going to be a spunky and extraordinary woman, I am sure!)
Is she modest in dress and demeanor? You have a sister who loves to dress boldly and be the center of attention in any gathering. We've spent the better part of eight years teaching her to be aware of others. She will not be allowed to enter a dating or courtship relationship until we are confident that she consistently has a heart for others, even if she's of age. Your chosen young woman will most definitely have a personality and personal preferences, but we will be looking to see if those are expressed withing the boundaries of godliness.
What service opportunities has she already pursued? Has she served in her local church? Is she on a Christian Service or Mission Prayer Band team? Has she completed any service at a Christian camp or on a short term mission trip? Does she have any experience with community service? Does she quietly encourage and pray for others within her church and circle of friends?
How does she interact with others, especially family and close friends? There's a reason you won't be going on a lot of "single" dates at first. We'll be asking you to carefully watch how your sweetheart interacts with other close friends and family. How does she respond to good natured teasing? Is she kind to those younger or less fortunate than herself? Does she pitch in and help out or sit waiting to be served? How does she interact with the elderly or toddlers? Is she patient, or does she become condescending? All of these will become vitally important when you're living daily life with someone.
Ultimately, we are far more concerned with who your love is than what she is.
We don't care what nationality or ethnicity or IQ your chosen beloved is. We'll welcome a Southern Belle or a little Japanese girl that would fit in a golf bag with room to spare. Indian or African, Midwesterner or Middle Eastern, she will be loved!
Love you both dearly,
Linked up at Raising Homemakers andWomen Living Wisely