I saw an article over the weekend with a link to a video of young Christian men talking about what they’re looking for in a future wife. I didn’t have to watch the video to know its purpose or what the young men said. Essentially, it was meant to encourage young women to pursue holiness and purity in their lives because, well, husbands.
When I was growing up, we may not have had links to online videos, but we were handed the same checklist of virtues every Christian girl should possess in order to attract a good, godly husband. The checklist was chock full of great characteristics for any person – male or female – to possess. The checklist wasn’t the problem.
See, it’s not the suggestion that a woman should pursue virtuousness that troubles me. What I find so disturbing is the suggestion that this list of virtues is the gold standard for winning a good husband, and if you fall short, you’re flat out of luck.
Twenty minutes before I saw that article and the video that I didn’t need to watch to have already seen, I’d yelled swear words and laid on the car horn in a spectacular episode of Valentine’s Day traffic road rage. All with my 7 year-old in the car.
Yeah. Those guys on that video and that I grew up hearing about? That sort of behavior is not on their list.
In fact, I’ve spent more years living the antithesis than I’ve spent living their ideal. Which means I also spent more than a few years believing I’d lost my chance at having a good husband, at deserving a godly man and a blessed marriage. I used to believe that my singleness was proof-positive that my love life was utterly beyond redemption.
I don’t believe that anymore.
What I’ve come to believe and know is this: I am worthy of a good man (because Jesus), and if I never end up with said good man, I can still live life whole. Complete. Fulfilled. Joyful. (Also because Jesus.)
So it breaks my heart and raises my ire that we continue to teach our daughters that they have to become the kind of girl a godly man will want to marry. Sure, there’s a heap of well-meaning behind that message, but here’s the translation:
Only the best girls get the best men. Oh, and by the way, being the best girl is impossible but you’re sure gonna try and maybe by some miracle you’ll end up with a good man anyway and you’ll learn to live with the fact that you’ll never quite measure up for him. And if you don’t end up with a good man, well, you know why. Sinner.
It seems ridiculous, but when you really break it down, it’s the message we’re sending.
But the message I wish I’d grown up with? The truth I’m desperate for my daughter to hear?
You are loved. You have value. You are counted worthy in Christ, whose blood speaks a better word than the blood of the very first sacrifice and that is the Word that counts. No word of any mortal man – and no checklist for that matter – can define your worth. You are pursued by the Creator of the universe and He loves you with a fiery everlasting love and any man who steps in line to capture your heart is laying foot on ground where angels fear to tread.
You have a calling. You have a destiny. It may include a husband, it may not. Your calling is dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you and not on any external set of circumstances, 2-carat bridal sets included.
You are beautiful. You will become even more beautiful as your story unfolds. Some of this beauty you’ll earn the hard way – by passing through fire and handing over what’s left of your dreams, your hope and your dignity in unrecognizable piles of ashes and somehow having your soot-covered hands cleansed and your head anointed and your face uplifted and finding yourself and your story more beautiful than it ever was before you chose wrongly or someone wounded you or life just happened.
But most of all…very, very, very utmost-most of all, there is Someone who’s already said what He’s looking for in a woman – in every single one of us.
He wants the women who are captives. He wants the women who are broken-hearted. He wants the women who have been stripped of their dignity. He wants the women seeking, the women wandering, the women serving, the women struggling. He wants to free us, to heal us, to comfort us, to restore our dignity, to lead us and show Himself to us.
Yes, He wants us all – and He wants all of us.
And this is where we see just how intensely He cares about our character and the state of our hearts. This is when we have the joyful privilege of beginning to see the women He created us to be. He wants us to seek Him and know His Word and as He refines us He wants our faces to reflect His glory for His glory.
And that is your purpose, daughter. That is why you were made in His image, the most beautiful image of all images: for His glory.
Let yourself be wooed by the Father. Hear and believe that the King is enthralled by your beauty. Seek His face. Run to Him for shelter. Walk with Him because He is oh, so worthy, and you need Him oh, so much. Delight yourself in Him. And yes, He will give you the desires of your heart, but daughter, you haven’t even begun to imagine what those desires will become once He has become your delight.
Can we teach our daughters these truths? Can we live them ourselves? It’s not too late for them, for our daughters. And hear me when I say this, married friends and single, hear me pleadingly say this:
It’s not too late for us.
Hear and believe that the King – the King eternal, the Lord, mighty in power – He is enthralled by your beauty. You come to Him in rags and He clothes you in salvation. You come to Him barren and rejected and He covers you with a robe of righteousness as resplendent as any bride’s jewels and when He looks upon you He is not just mildly impressed, He is enthralled.
Hear, sisters. Hear and believe, and in our believing let us show our daughters just how much they are worth.