To Whom It May Concern,
Maybe I’d better start by establishing whom it concerns.
It concerns the gentleman I’m going to marry, who is at the moment a future part of my life. Even if we know each other, we obviously have yet to figure out that we’re going to get married.
Secondly, let me establish what this little piece of correspondence is.
It’s an open letter. Meaning that while it’s to you, it’s also “to” a lot of other people. Because we haven’t begun a relationship yet, it bears symbolic, not literal, relevance to you for now. In other words, today’s reader should not assume this letter holds meaning for him, because as it’s being written, “he” — “you” — has yet to assume the identity of “the man I marry.” Savvy? I sure hope so.
In short, the current purpose of this letter is to share some ideas, reflections, and a few things I’ve learned, not to actually communicate with anyone in particular. In addition, perhaps some of your counterparts will find it encouraging in some way.
Now that I’ve spent a lot of words trying to protect you and me and this letter from being misconstrued, it’s time to take a deep breath and start talking.
I do think of you often, very often, and sweet nameless you have filled many a prayer. I pray that you aren’t just planted in a relationship with God but deeply, immovably rooted in Him, abiding in His presence day and night. I pray that you love Him more than you love anyone, more than you ever love me. God (and many a friend) hears me use the words “wisdom” and “discernment” frequently because I strongly sense that those two things are going to be crucial to our relationship ever beginning in the first place. I hope that you are laying judicious foundations right now, because the proverbial house you’re building is the one we’re going to live in. Think about that one.
The standards are high, very high. You must put the things you believe into practice. I don’t mean in front of me, I mean that your beliefs and your actions must be consistent at all times, no matter who is (or isn’t) watching. There needs to be evidence that your words mean something. If you claim to love people, practice loving people. If you say you’re willing to serve, practice serving. I could continue endlessly on this point, but I won’t, because you’ve heard it all your life: words are persuasive, but not without actions supporting them. You don’t become musclebound by talking about it. Faith without works is dead. I am preparing to someday hand you my heart and take a perpetually binding vow to you. Do you understand the weight of a covenant? Are you living a life today that would indicate the ability to, by the grace of God, fulfill that kind of an oath?
You are not the only one being held to a high standard. Daily I cry out to God that He will graciously make me into not just the “kind of woman” but the woman you need. The woman who can stand steadfastly by your side, point your gaze to the Lord, and make your life passionately beautiful. If you are going to tether your heart to mine, I want to be worth the fight. I am choosing my role models carefully, looking for women who are wise, prudent, loving, and full of grace, whose hearts overflow with beautiful things. I was raised by one. I have one as a confidante and older sister of the heart. My close friends are young women who begin to display these characteristics. I prayerfully hope that these are the qualities you admire and seek out in women. May you be blessed with eyes for intangible, innate, ineffable beauty that carries into eternity.
It dawned on me recently that love is not a drug. I know, it hardly seems insightful. But the truth is, our culture’s formulaic treatment of romance presents love like a temporary antidepressant — McHappiness for a year or two until things go sour. But that isn’t a marriage. That isn’t the covenant I mentioned earlier. Love is not a set of feelings intended to offset other feelings until the inevitable relapse. No, love is sacrificial devotion. In my eyes, marriage is more than a liaison between consenting parties. It’s a divine institution in which two hearts join as one. Both hearts experience the same joy and sorrow. When one rejoices, the other rejoices. When one is cut and bleeding, the second does not let the first suffer alone. They stand in the breach for one another. When one heart cannot go on beating, the other beats hard enough for two. But they don’t do it alone. They lay their struggles before the very throne of God, because each was bound to Him before they were bound to each other.
Do I know how to demonstrate this kind of love? Not yet. Will I ever be able to love you perfectly? Not a day in my life. But the Lord is strong despite our weakness, victorious despite our failures, beautiful despite our imperfections.
He knows the ending, because He is going to write the story. His ways are mysterious, unspeakably higher than ours. He knows your desires. He listens to your dreams. He answers your prayers. He is going to make all things beautiful, overwhelmingly beautiful, in their time.
Time is no small thing when you’re young and restless. Everyone’s looking for a hand to hold. Please don’t act prematurely, but when the well-timed opportunity arises, don’t hesitate.
Every season has those whispers of wistfulness. I think about you whenever I’m in a beautiful place we should visit sometime. You inspire me already, as you might have guessed from the fact that I spent six hours writing to you. I hope lots of things: that you’re hysterically funny, that you like to dance, that you appreciate abstract musings on life and love and beauty, that you’re articulate and expressive. I hope you have a compassionate heart.
Live well the life God’s given you. Do what He created you to do. Pursue His calling with all your might.
See you soon. Have a ridiculously happy life in the meantime. Lead the way!
The Girl You’re Going to Marry
p.s. I highly value stellar organizational skills. If you have any weird collections of obscure objects that are going to be completely irrelevant in twenty years, feel free to get rid of them now. love, -n.