Who is My Neighbor? Part I : The Man I Respect
My husband, he is my neighbor. I need not go to extremes in search of one of my most profound opportunities in this life. No, it is right here before me. Before I share of the significance in loving my husband as my neighbor, I have to tell you about life before he and I became one.
So, …I had never really been a person who longed to date. It simply didn’t interest me. Of course, as a youth, I had crushes through the years. I am human, and God had given me an interest in the opposite sex.
Dating however, was an entirely different concept. In many ways, I saw “dating for dating sake” as an on-going rehearsal for a grand and future divorce…something I was not at all interested in! And divorce is far from neighborly. I had seen enough homes and hearts broken in my primary and adolescent years to know that brokenness doesn’t just leap upon your life from out of nowhere. No, it’s rather an integral part of each of our stories. Some of it comes by way of simply living in a fallen world. Some of it is self-inflicted. So in attempt to steer clear of the latter in this particular area of my life, I simply did not engage in dating activities in my teen years.
While this was working, it left me (unknowingly) with a huge, unanswered question. “How would I know what I want and desire in my husband, if I had not tried a few men at the dating game?!” I simply did not know.
The Turning Point
Inevitably, the time came, at age 22, when seemingly everything in me, my heart, my mind and my body was burdened with a strong desire for my life-time partner. I was ready to be joined with my life-time neighbor. At the time, I was living in the home of a wise woman. That day, I came running down the stairs with such confusion and angst, that tears had begun to roll down my eyes. I found and looked into the eyes of my spiritual mother and expressed in the calmest voice that I could muster, “ I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I feel like it’s time for me to have a husband.”
She prayed for me and then asked me a question that I think every woman should be asked at a time like this. “Is there any guy that you respect…?” I thought for only a few seconds and someone came to mind.
The Issue of Respect
It was a no brainer. I mean, you know right off the bat when you do or don’t respect a man. I had not thought of his looks, his social or financial status, his career path (To be fair, I didn’t really have a clue as to what he wanted to do with his life. We weren’t even friends). One thing was for sure. My mind had no problem sifting through the young men that I knew of and thought of at the time, to find the one for whom I had sincere respect.
Merriam-Webster defines respect as: high or special regard. I want to add a bit of context to this definition.
The special and high regard, or respect that I had for this man was my response to what I had previously observed of his character. It was not a response to how dating him or being around him made me feel. As I said before, we weren’t even friends, much less dating at this point.
The Bible speaks clearly about the respect that wives should have for their husbands. And so, any woman who desires to marry and live a joyful life, rooted in the satisfaction that comes from abiding in the protection and instruction of her Creator has NO CHOICE post-wedding on whether or not to respect her husband… whether he deserves it or not.
For this reason, it is critical for the issue of respect to be a “non-negotiable” in the premarital phase of our desiring a man to love.
All That and Then Some
Now, all praises be to the Lord that I found this particular man to be attractive and witty…Hah! However, a part of me fell in love with this guy from afar, when I realized that I had genuine respect for him. As to how we ended up becoming friends, spouses and parents to 4 children is another story of God’s intimate hand in my life,… and for another post.
For now, I go to be with this great man of God, whose shortcomings are outshined by an overwhelming respect that I have for him. I watch him lay himself down for our children and I. The way he desires and strives to correct his wrongdoings, prompts me to ask God to search my own heart. Furthermore, he holds me accountable in my own shortcomings and fears… Yes! And most noteworthy,
He first won my respect, and subsequently a lifetime of marriage that neither of us had seen growing up.
And so, I have to end with this (and I am lecturing to myself): the word of God is rich and true. Therefore, heed it’s instruction to navigate the brokenness of ashes into the beauty of Truth.
Of Ashes and Beauty