A letter to myself on the one:
I’m gonna go ahead and skip the small talk, and hurry, in typical fashion, to the main point. I’m writing you (and me) in an effort to prepare you for the next 365 days. This could turn in to a book real quick, but I’ll focus in specifically on the relationship you’re about to begin. I’ll try to keep it short because I know you (I) won’t read a letter all the way through that’s too long.
Since we (you and me) love to eat, this letter will come to you in sandwich form: two important portions of bread and the main event meat in the middle.
Top Slice: You don’t fall in love at first sight. You won’t get butterflies each time you see her or swoon when she leaves the room or cry yourself to sleep after not seeing her all day. That doesn’t mean she’s not the one. Trust the leaders in your life that tell you she’s a good woman. What on God’s green earth could be more important when deciding on “the right one”? Plus, you have no idea how many different things you have in common with her. Just keep following the plan you made for yourself, even though she could be the one you walk said plan out with.
Speaking of the plan, let’s slap some cheese on this thing before the protein. It is always a good idea to have the leaders and best friends in her and your life on the inner circle of the relationship. I’m not saying tell everyone before you tell her, but you’re going to need these people on your side. Do not hesitate to call her mom. She’s going to love and want to hear from you and her daughter more often. The key there is to ask for permission and blessing; in that order. With that said, the next part is so good, like any meat, it can stand on its own.
Meat: You may know what you want to do in the first month, and even know that the goal is marriage, but let’s be clear: you have no idea how to get there. Especially since you’d like her to be at the finish line beside you when you get there.
You need help.
You need wisdom.
You need prayer.
Both of you do.
Growth is not optional, it’s the only way you’ll make it. Without it you’d never learn the anatomy of love (insert good read: Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts). There are three sides and each one is required simultaneously, yet in different measures depending on the instance.
Passion, intimacy, commitment.
You’ll find the passion comes easily. Your desire for her is going to be strong. However, this desire can be self-seeking. You must keep that in check. If not, you’re going to get dominated by temptation and put her and yourself in compromising sexual situations that may not result in sex, but will lead to regret. Balance passion with intimacy. Not sexual intimacy, not yet at least, but getting to know her intimately: listening, observing, learning, adjusting.
Put what you know about her and what she loves before what you desire for yourself.
The problem then comes on the days when you just don’t feel like it. The monthly visitor comes with its “challenges”. Stress. Not enough sleep. Not enough money. Not enough results at work. All the puppy love in the world isn’t enough to keep you from responding in anger or shoving blame on someone or something else. This is where commitment comes in. Enduring when you don’t feel like or even really want to. This is what separates the men from the boys, the husbands from the lovers. Commitment is where the fight is won. Rejecting the emotional advances from other women that “mean well” with their encouragement or joking. Putting in the hard work to gain more skill in the relationship—it will be a breath of fresh air, a light in the confusing darkness, a pathway through the treacherous mountain of disagreements and fights. Remember: the issue is not the issue. What you’re fighting about most likely doesn’t matter in the long haul.
Are you staying passionate for her? Are you getting to know the real her? Are you determined to push through and last? That’s a heaping portion of meat for you. But not the last word.
Bottom Slice: The foundation. JESUS. You love this, but maybe not as much as the meat. You truly can’t expect this to work without it. I know you know Him, but now you’re going to know Him with someone. You’re going to pursue Him and His plan with her. You both must hear from Him. You both must follow Him. One can lift the other up, and even carry the other in a moment of need, but no relationship can be built without two people being able to walk with God. Scripture memory, books, dinners with mentors—it’s not just what you could or should do. It’s what you must do.
Dessert: His grace is sufficient. This one's on the house. No you don’t deserve it. No you haven’t earned it. His love got you here. He’s ready to fill you with it: all for the purpose of loving her.
Chin up, Jones. You are dearly loved, doing better than you think, and more important than you’ll ever know.
I’m proud of you and proud to be you.