So many times in life we have an end in mind, a desired result. For some things, we don’t have to wait long. For others, we spend half a lifetime dreaming and preparing and hoping and praying that the end will be like what we have seen in our hearts all this time.
Marriage is one of those things.
As a little girl I daydreamed about what it would be like: what he would be like, what love for us would look like.
It is not a weakness in a woman to long for her husband. It is her strength to embrace God’s original design and trust Him to bring the right imperfect person to make her life beautiful and fulfilling, yielding to God’s expression of oneness.
Marriage is God’s design to show us a complete picture of who He is. Early on in Destiny in Bloom’s history, Bob Hamp wrote an article called, “He Looked Inside the Man“. Adam (after God decided it wasn’t good for man to be alone), made in God’s image, fell asleep. God took his rib and made woman. He placed in her all the feminine qualities of himself , leaving the masculine. And when the two came together to be one, they would be fulfilled; because truly they were longing for the opposite expression of God in each other.
I love that. This picture was forever branded on my heart and resonated so deeply within me–that I (all woman) could find God in who my husband (all man) was created to be, and that he would find an expression of who God is in me. (Of course this is my paraphrase; the article is definitely worth going back and reading!)
Now, as a mother of four sons, I realize that as much as I love my boys and in this season have access to nurture and encourage their hearts, there is a key I do not possess. Only one out there in world (wherever she is) will have access to the places in my son’s heart meant just for her. These girls alone hold the feminine expression of God meant to unlock what ‘oneness’ will look like in my sons’ lives.
I remember praying over my two older boys while they were napping when they were just three and four years old. I was praying over their destiny and praying for their spouses, when the Lord began to speak to my heart: I could really love my boys by starting to love my daughter in laws right now.
Of course, I prayed for the right one, that God would protect her while she grew up. But loving her now … what did that really look like?
I rolled what He was saying over and over in my heart, continuing to ask Him, “How can I be a part of the answer to my prayers?”
It was then I realized that the answer was to love them–my future daughters. Yuri and I had to understand that we weren’t simply raising boys, we were raising … husbands. And just like that, our perspective changed.
We have come to honor the fact that as much as we love and adore our children, they are not our possessions. They are passing through our family on their way to becoming who they are called to be, and we get the amazing opportunity to steward their lives while they are with us. One day, God willing, they will be married to their spouse longer than they lived in our house.
So how have we started loving these girls we don’t know?
How do we take what can seem like a good ethereal prayer and make it practical and life producing?
We started by just talking about them (our girls). Acknowledging them before they get here. Talking about how they exist somewhere, or will soon. We pray for them. We talk about what challenges they might experience in today’s culture. We pray that God protects them. We talk about how they are not perfect, just like the boys aren’t. We talk about what “beautiful” will look like on them, and not the outward beauty. We simply talk about them and we anticipate them and we value them–before they get here.
I’ve been known around our house when they boys are getting grumpy about chores to say things like,
“Just do it for your wife!”
“If she loves you and she loves me … it’s a win/win … clean your room for the win/win!”
“Remember she is going to love me because you know how to sweep, do your laundry, and clean up after yourself!”
“Yup. She is totally going to love me and want to come to our house for Christmas!”
They almost always respond with, “Mommmm, stop it!” while they smile and are totally loving it. Of course, I will not require them to come to my house for Christmas, but it doesn’t hurt to make suggestions early.
We talk about restroom manners: it will make your wife love you (and me) if you can get your pee in the toilet, flush and remember to put the lid down … reminding them that it’s truly the little things that matter. With my younger two being five and six … ahem … we are still working on this, thankful we have some more years to love on those girls.
Which brings me to this: why am I writing this in the middle of the journey? I used to think I needed to overcome and have a perfect marriage or perfect children to write or speak about these things. Well, then I realized, that was just never going to happen! Because perfect doesn’t exist and the more you try to squeeze people into “being perfect” the more they resist you, and it comes at a high cost: their hearts toward you.
Honestly, my husband and I are still dreaming and hoping and training. We are in the middle of the journey of parenting a ten, eight, six and five-year-old–all of which are high octane, color outside the lines, live out of the box personalities. We make lots of mistakes. We ask for and give a lot of grace in our house. We pray that the love we give is greater than the correction we need to give.
I have promised them I will not be the perfect mom, My husband tells them he won’t be the perfect dad, and we know they won’t be the perfect child either. We get that. We tell them, “We are not asking for perfection, but we are asking that you live from your heart, being true to what you know is right. In life you will have opportunities to run from a lot of things but you can’t run from your heart. What is in it will always tell you what you really believe and who you really are.”
And then as parents who are also two imperfect people in love, we have to tell ourselves the same thing, both in marriage and in parenting. And, well, we get lots of opportunities to practice what we preach.
Knowing all of that, as a mom choosing to love my future daughters from the middle of the journey of raising their husbands, this is what my heart would say to them right now:
A LETTER TO MY FUTURE DAUGHTERS IN LAW
Dear future wives and daughters,
We love you and bless you, wherever you are!
May you walk with courage to accept and be loved for the real you, even in your youth.
May God give eyes to really SEE you to your parents and other key people in your life to affirm your God-given uniqueness while drawing out your gifts and talents.
May you know value and worth in the embrace of your father’s embrace; and if you don’t have one, may you find a double portion in the arms of your heavenly Father.
May you find the reality of God in His presence that sustains you in dark moments of disappointments, rejection, fear and insecurity. May you find the courage to love and forgive and give when you’re afraid–especially of what people think of you. May who you choose to be even when you fail be what makes you beautiful.
We are waiting for you, and we pray and bless and love you until we meet you.
I’d say to the wife of my oldest son: At ten years old he is extremely honest and loyal. He is a bit chatty, and it gets him in trouble in school because he loves expressing himself and being in relationship. We are working on the ‘in school’ part, but I’m pretty sure the other part is not going to change … I know it will be among the things you love most about him. He loves knowledge, history, facts and being right! (Aw man, sorry in advance he may have got that from his mother.) We are big on the idea that when you blow it, be quick to own it and repent … you’ll have to let me know how that goes. He is going to love going shopping with you (if you can get him out of his own section of the store first). He’ll even pick out your clothes if you let him; trust him–he has a good eye. He can be really hard on himself and doesn’t like to be confronted straight on, but if you go for a walk or clean a room with him, he will open his heart and you will be able to win it with gentle words. We dream about you together. He can’t wait to meet you! Until then, we continue to love you.
I’d say to the wife of my zealot (son number two): Be prepared to laugh so hard until you cry or pee your pants, whichever comes first. I have no doubt it will be his charming wit and humor that will win your heart. He will perform for you and entertain you. At eight years old, he already shows confidence and talent; but more than this, he shows great compassion to others. Be ready for and open your heart up to adventure. He lives hard and feels hard. Because he is a feel-er, there will be need of love and patience while he takes his time to process life. He loves and is gentle with children, little girls especially. He is going to be a great dad. If he ever tries to convince you with those big blue eyes that he is adopted, he is not! I have the stretch marks to prove it! We are waiting for you … we love you!
I’d say to the wife of my foodie (son #3): I’m pretty sure by the time you two get married, you’ll be used to him eating the food off your plate–maybe even used to him talking to it! He is our touchy-feely son, and he will love holding your hand and snuggling. Praise does wonders towards motivating him: remember to tell him how wonderful he is, and he’ll lasso the moon for you. He can be very tough and aggressive in sports, but is very tender hearted in private, like a gentle giant. At six years old he loves video games and it shows great character when he shares the remote … we talk about the day when he’ll share his heart. We love you, and we are waiting for you.
I’d say to the wife of my baby (son #4): He doesn’t let everyone into his world. Once you’ve entered it, the place you hold is very special, just for you. He uses few words, but his “I love you’s” are weighty. He has a quiet strength and leans toward internalizing life. I know that with love, you’ll learn to draw out what he is feeling. He loves his Papa and is a lot like him, a thinker more than a feeler. He is full of adventure and unexpected surprises, but very much likes structure and rules (he’ll be safely dangerous). At five, he loves you–when he is not begging to live at home forever! Can’t to meet you … we love you!
The mother of your husbands
To the reader:
Maybe you’re single, still waiting and loving with your life the one to come. Maybe you’re anticipating your own children. Or maybe you’re a parent, anticipating your children’s spouses. No matter where we are in the process, we are all challenged with how to steward the desire of our hearts. I pray with you for revelations about how to partner with God while you wait. I pray that He would show practical ways to prepare for what’s ahead. I pray for a heritage that is a legacy of great love. Whether you came from a great family or not, our God can show us how to sow legacy into our families.
For those longing for children, I pray that you will see the desire of your heart to love these little people come to pass, and that He would prepare your heart for the personalities that will forever change your life. I pray for miracles for those who’ve known hope deferred, that life would spring forth either in conception or supernatural open doors of adoption as the Lord leads.
In Jesus’ name! In all things, LOVE NEVER FAILS!