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Word to the Wise: June 15

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor

Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father, which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” - Proverbs 18:22

Few things are as important as marrying well. In this, you are choosing your one true life companion until death brings closure to that partnership. What a profoundly important choice!  I never prayed so hard for so long about anything as I did about marrying your mother. I sensed a deep love for God in her, and I knew that I would need that kind of a partner to draw me into his presence day after day. She has not disappointed; clearly, God answered these prayers.

Your generally casual relationships with several great girls have brought me much comfort.  I think you demonstrate maturity here, far more than I ever knew when I was your age.  Keep asking yourself the really important questions when you date: Does this person share my deepest commitments and values in life?  Does she really care about me? Do I really care for her, as demonstrated by repeatedly doing things for her and being lovingly present to her? Is this love or infatuation? What would hold us together, happily, for a lifetime? Would I care for her as deeply were she disabled or seriously ill? In other words, is there real substance here?  Will it last?

They say opposites attract, and I’ve seen that work in many cases. Whether you marry an “opposite” or not, marry someone who can bend toward you and your interests, even as you learn to bend toward her and hers. When your mother and I married, I was not an avid reader, not even an occasional reader, except for my love for scholarly works. But I noticed that she loved to read great literature and took some of her suggestions on books of merit. You know the rest of that story. We now share this common interest as I have happily “bent” toward literary treasures I’d never have known were it not for her good influence. In this way, I have allowed her to share a gift with me, and this has tightened our bond. People who give gifts need to see that they’re appreciated. It goes right back to the two foundational needs of all people: to love and be loved. There is nothing quite so devastating as the rejection of a gift, especially a gift from your spouse.

One other piece of advice. While we were dating I once said to Miriam, “I’ll never change.”  While I don’t recall the full context of that remarkable statement, it doesn’t really matter.  Dumber words were never spoken. I stand amazed that she married me in the midst of such stupidity. It was an act of sheer grace.

Lord, we come to you as singles, marrieds, divorcees, those who’ve remarried, and widows or widowers - all longing to please you right where we are in life. Give us everyone whatever we need at this moment: resolve, joy, peace, hope, love, lament, grief, or courage. Thank you for these needed gifts, Father. Amen.