It was a sweltering Sunday night in August 2003; the repairman couldn’t fix my a/c unit until the next day. I lay on my bed, watching the occasional splash of headlights melt down the wall. A sheet was tangled around my ankle; the ceiling fan spun with a dull hum that underscored the crickets outside. Sleep mocked me. The only thing smothering me more than the heat was my loneliness.
“Father God,” I whispered. “Where is she?”
This wasn’t a new conversation. “You know I hate this. Why are You making me wait?” I’ll never forget what happened next: He answered. In one of the clearest instances in my life, I heard His Spirit say to me, “I’m waiting on you.”
It was a heavyweight punch to the gut. More than the surprise of hearing a response, it was the simple truth of it. He and I both knew that, spiritually, I had been coasting for a while. I was bored with having the same first and second date for the hundredth time (okay, but “two-dozenth time” is a little awkward); I was exhausted with “the chase” (though it didn’t occur to me that I was chasing the wrong things).
My life felt flat and stagnant, so I found myself sleeping through my quiet time; I often found excuses to stay home on Sunday mornings. In all honesty, looking back, it was probably my subconscious, childish, passive-aggressive attempt to manipulate God, à la “You won’t give me my Eve, so I’m going to hold my breath until You DO.” (Yeah, good luck.)
When morning finally came, however, I just couldn’t dismiss the night before as the heat-induced, sleep-deprived imaginings of a desperate soul. So I made a decision. I wanted a Godly wife; likewise, I knew that goal was pointless unless I also was a Godly husband.
Therefore, I had to get back on track in preparing myself to be the husband which I wanted (and was called) to be.
Now, I do not claim to have anything in life figured out, but let me share a few things which helped me in this journey. I was a college student at the time, so I approached this as I would any other test. Mostly, I read a lot of books, because that’s my primary learning style (you may prefer talking with others about their experiences; I did a lot of that too). I found that these books mostly fell into five categories:
- Books on dating. Even though my ultimate goal was marriage, I first had to get past that second date, right? So I read quite a few of these. They may be a little dated now (pun certainly intended), but a few I read were I Kissed Dating Goodbye (1997) by Harris, I Gave Dating a Chance (2000) by Clark (as a counterpoint to Harris’s book), and Boundaries in Dating (2000) by Cloud and Townsend.
- Books on pre-marriage. I mean by this, the period from just prior to the engagement through the wedding day. I still have many of these on my bookshelf: Before the Ring (2004) by Coleman, Before You Say “I Do” Devotional (2003) by Wright, and 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged (2004) by Wright.
- Books on being a husband. These helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone in my quest and gave me great insights into who I should be and what qualities I was looking for in a wife; these were books such as Wild at Heart (2001) by Eldridge, The Mark of a Man (1981) by Elliot (there’s also a 2007 update), Discovering the Mind of a Woman (1995) by Nair, and Capture Her Heart (2002) by TerKeurst.
- Books written specifically to women. I also found it invaluable to get a woman’s perspective on being a Godly woman and wife. These books helped me to identify even more “must-have” qualities of a potential wife and also to see some red flags in a few girls which I might have otherwise missed or ignored; books I read: Creative Counterpart (1977) by Dillow, Passion and Purity (1984) by Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman (1977) by Elliot (side note: some people find Elisabeth Elliot’s writing style to be a bit stuffy, but I found her wisdom to be relevant and valuable, even 20+ years later), and Capture His Heart (2002) by TerKeurst.
- Books on marriage. I read a few of these, hoping I suppose to get a head-start on marriage, and they were moderately helpful, but these books are (obviously) geared exclusively for those who are already either engaged or married. Frankly, I found myself somewhat discouraged and depressed when reading these as a single. So save them for later.
Of course, I also combed through the Bible for any mention of marriage, husbands and wives. Paul, I’m sure you know, has a lot to say about marriage, and I found Proverbs 31 and Job 31 to be good checklists for Godly women and men, respectively.
Even though I wouldn’t meet my future bride for another three (long) years after that night, God has honored and blessed the investment I made at that time—and it has permeated every part of my life, even beyond my marriage.
What books, verses, or words of wisdom would you add to the conversation? (Help me to update my bookshelf!) Have you had a “burning bush” moment?
Daniel Wayde’s mild-mannered disguise is a job in the corporate consulting industry, but in the evening he prefers to sit on the couch with his wife and watch her browse Pinterest; some nights he even goes to bed early. He enjoys a good story (wherever it might be found), cooking without a recipe, and loves the theory of coffee more than the practice of it. His intellectual interests include linguistics, pop culture, and technology; yet, ironically, you won’t find him on the Twitter and you shouldn’t expect him to return your Facebook message anytime soon.
*Photo credit: alishav