I'm a young Christian man, a late-bloomer, and I'm kind of in a pickle. I am in my second year of college. Getting married and becoming a great man are top goals of mine.
I know it's important for men to prepare for marriage. Yet, how does a guy even begin to start the journey of courtship?
At this point in my life, I have the role of only a passerby in the lives of most of the women I know. I have no substantial friendships with women who aren't related to me, and I have no idea how I might become a friend of the opposite gender. Naturally, I'm not just looking for a friend, but I have to start there, don't I?
This young man is on the right track. He wants to know what he can do to prepare for marriage and become the man God wants him to be. The two go together. You can't adequately prepare for marriage without first seeking to be the man God desires you to be.
Here is how I would respond to these questions.
How does one begin the journey of courtship? It begins with you. You are the only person you have any control over, and so you have to concentrate on becoming the man, the husband, and the provider you need to be. This begins with understanding God's will for your life. Take a look at Romans 12:3-8:
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (NLT)There is much that could be said about this passage, but I want to focus on; Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves... Take a look at your talents, passions, desires, and dreams, but the key here is to be honest. These are the guideposts God sets up to help show us the direction we are to go in our lives. Then the next step is to figure out how to harness these things so you can have a vocation that will help provide for the needs of your family.
Not only do you have to develop your skills, harness your passions, and deepen your faith, but you also have to deal with the junk in your life. You have to admit that you are a broken individual, we all are, and become serious about handling the problem areas of your life. The writer of Hebrews wrote:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1; NLT).Remember the junk in our lives is greater than our sin. The writer of Hebrews tells us to get rid of every weight that slows us down. This includes sin, but it also includes our habits and personality traits that we have developed to cope with life. For example, not only do you need to get rid of the pornography addiction, but you need deal with the reason it became an addiction in the first place.
The last thing I will mention is that you need to invite the young lady to be a part of your life. When it comes to dating we often try to project a false image of ourselves. You take her out to a fancy restaurant and to try to answer her questions with what she wants to hear rather than what you truly believe. When we do this we try to be the man we think she wants rather than being the man we truly are.
Don't try to be someone who you are not. If you enjoy bowling invite her to go bowling with you. If you enjoy hiking ask her to go on a hike with you. You want her to fall in love with the real you, not a fake version of yourself that you have no hope of maintaining. Be yourself. Let her know what you are passionate about, what your goals are, and how you enjoy your free time. When you are real it will pay of in the end.
The bottom line is that you have to be true to who God created you to be. Don't be ashamed of that, but develop your strengths, deal with your weaknesses, and invite the young lady to discover the real you. In the end this will help you discover marriage the way God intended it to be.