That question tormented me all through high school…and college…and my twenties.
“What if I miss him?”
“What if I marry the wrong person?”
“What if I never meet ‘the one’?”
And then it would all come back around to: “How do I know if someone is ‘the one’?”
I’m not even going to pretend to know the answer to that question. I may be married, but that “knowing” still feels very much a mystery.
However, I do want to share the things that made me feel incredibly confident that I wanted to marry my husband James.
I never thought I’d feel confident about getting married; I was terrified of the prospect with the guys I previously dated! And yet…I walked down the aisle without fear. Full of excitement.
So this blog is about why I was quite sure that James was “my one.” And how meeting “the one” three times helped me find “my one.” You might be surprised to learn that I have met several “the ones” throughout my life.
First there was Eric. (Not his real name.)
We dated freshman and sophomore year of college. My first boyfriend. He was everything on my three-page wish list for a future husband. The right height, right hair color, played the right instruments, was in the right ministries, and…oh yeah! Had the right name. (Sadly, I’m very serious.)
You could not have found a more perfect match for my Husband Wish List. Nor could you have found a more awful match for me.
He may have been a romantic, handsome worship leader and youth leader, but he was also manipulative, controlling, and even told me that he sometimes felt that I was “worthless.” We were planning to get engaged when my dad broke it off, since I wouldn’t. Or couldn’t.
I learned a LOT from dating Eric. Like the fact that outward descriptions of a person, including the ministries they are in, mean nothing when it comes to being a good spouse. Just because someone is a youth leader, doesn’t mean they’re not CRAZY. Just because someone is cute and charming, doesn’t mean they’ll be faithful or hard working.
I started developing a new list of the things that TRULY mattered in a husband. (I can’t remember what I did with the original list. Probably burned it.)
- Someone who loved God with all his heart, and treated his family like gold.
- Someone who worked hard, and showed faithfulness and integrity in his daily life.
- Someone I found funny, and enjoyed spending the monotony of every day life with.
- Someone whose future goals seemed somewhat compatible with mine. However, we don’t really know what the future holds, so there’s only so much credence we can put on that. (I grew up dreaming of being a missionary and martyr in China with my husband. According to that dream, I would be dead right now.)
- Someone I was attracted to. But he didn’t have to be the most handsome man in the room (or 6’3″ tall with dark hair) in order for me to find him attractive.
I was single for several years after Eric, because every time I liked a guy, I felt like I was going to throw up! I was terrified after the relationship with Eric. I wanted to get married, but did I have to actually SEE the guy and LIVE with him? I also felt so strongly in my heart like God was saying “no” to each guy I met.
Enter Matt. (Also not his real name.)
I met this guy a couple years after graduating college.
I immediately KNEW I was going to marry Matt. I’m so serious. He was PERFECT. Not only had God so graciously provided a 6’3″ dark haired man for me, but he was also in ministry, and from the moment I met him, I felt it. There was a spark there! He was definitely the one!
(I actually called my mom right after meeting him to tell her this. She was like, “You just met him! We’ll see about this.” I was sure she’d be pleasantly surprised by my accuracy.)
Okay, so apparently you can’t KNOW if someone is the one, until you know him. Matt was not right for me. He was a great guy, but we did not mesh. (That may have been in part due to the fact that I was so interested in him that I couldn’t be myself. I was just super awkward and laughed all the time. Which is still kind of embarrassing.)
I also learned that our feelings can be deceitful. After all, Proverbs says the heart is deceitful above all things. Apparently those “attraction hormones” can make you think God is speaking…even when He’s not!
I decided to stop trusting my immediate gut reaction. It had been wrong too many times.
Enter Travis. (Again, not his real name.)
We dated on and off for a year and a half during my mid-twenties. He was different. Shorter. Blonde hair. VERY Italian. (Then again, all these guys had been Italian.) And he was SO sweet.
He wasn’t involved in any ministry that put him on a stage, but he served behind the scenes at church and with his grandparents. He was so kind. He loved me past many of my insecurities, and I realized that all this time…I’d been walking right past so many great, godly guys as if they were invisible…simply because I was still filtering the world through the lens of ministry and height.
Travis and I had a really wonderful relationship. I learned about the importance of communication. It’s the essence of everything in a relationship. If you can’t communicate well together, then what’s the point in pursuing a relationship?
I also learned about the power of my “clicker.” (That feeling in your spirit that says, “Yes, this is it!”) You can’t believe it immediately because that feeling could just be “attraction hormones,” so you have to let it be tested by time. But when your clicker consistently doesn’t “click” over a period of time, then we need to figure out why, and trust God is guiding us. My clicker was just not clicking with Travis. The relationship just didn’t feel right.
I also realized that just because a guy is a GREAT GUY, doesn’t mean we’re right for each other. There are lots of great guys! (Even though sometimes it seems like only a few are left.)
Travis and I wanted very different things from life, and I could never say I loved him, because I didn’t feel like I did. At first I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t fall in love with this great guy, but I kept feeling like God was putting in my heart that He had someone else for me, the kind of person I’d prayed for all my life.
So I broke up with Travis. At first I wondered if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life, but then…he met a girl who is the most PERFECT fit for him (they’re engaged now), and I met…
James. (His real name. Finally some honesty!)
I’d known James my whole life, from afar. We’d been on the peripheral of each other’s lives since we were born, but I’d never REALLY known him. We started dating a year and a half ago. We got married two months ago. We felt pretty sure, pretty quickly, that this was IT.
I didn’t feel that immediate “this is the one” that I felt with Matt. In fact, when we first met, it was very anticlimactic. He thought I was a hipster (he hates hipster things — sad, I know), and I thought he was boring and had no sense of humor. We were both wrong. (Well, I was wrong anyway.)
I almost broke up with him the first weekend we were dating, and he had no idea if he liked me! He kept asking himself, “Would I like to go out with her again, or not?”, because he couldn’t figure out anything beyond the next date for the first month.
But then we started seeing the signs:
- We communicated really well together, talking through disagreements and arguments, and about life in general.
- We loved being together. My aunt once said, “Don’t marry someone if you don’t enjoy spending everyday moments with him.” I looked forward to everyday moments with James.
- I didn’t sense that God was saying “no.” In fact, the weekend I thought about breaking up with him, I felt like God was putting this on my heart, an idea coming from Hosea 2: “Let go of the past, so I can write a new story for you.” In the absence of His clear “no,” I felt a “yes” beginning to emerge. But it wasn’t like God was instructing, “This is the person you are to marry.” Instead, it was as if I was asking my heavenly Father’s permission and blessing, and He was saying, “Go for it!”
- Our families were both totally on board, as were our friends. They thought we were great for each other and were in full support! That meant a lot because when I’d liked guys in the past, my dad would always say, “Yeah, he’s nice. But you can do better.” With James, my dad started making marriage-directed comments BEFORE we even started dating!!
- We could be ourselves together, and felt very comfortable with each other.
- We had compatible goals for our futures.
Even with all these things going for us, it takes time to know you want to marry someone.
Though I started to feel very sure of it after just a few weeks, I still had to get to know him to make sure what I was feeling was truth, and not just those confusing “attraction hormones.”
And at the end of the day, it also takes faith.
Marrying someone is like stepping off the edge of a cliff (as cliché as it sounds). You can do all your research on that cliff and what lies beneath it, but until you step off, you don’t fully know what awaits you. I prayed about it, got to know James, and asked for feedback from mentors, family, and friends. It all seemed to line up.
So I jumped.
And I’m so glad I did.
And now, he IS “the one.” He’s MY one. Because I promised to be with him until death do us part.
And until you promise your life to someone before God, you can keep searching for “the one.”
But once you say “I do,” he or she IS your one.