|TruthQuest: Am I the One? Clues to Becoming and Finding a Person Worth Marrying|
James R. Lucas
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James Lucas takes a different approach to the question of finding a spouse by focusing on the reader. The book is divided into four parts with a total of 12 chapters. He helps the reader build a solid foundation, face the realities of relationships and marriage, recognize the right match for a good marriage, and take a serious look at life in the now.
|It’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it.
Do everything you want to do; take it all in
(Ecclesiastes 11:9 NLT)|
Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator
(Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT)
“I JUST WANNA HAVE FU-UN”|
You’re young, and you want to have a good time. You don’t mind being serious when you need to be, but you really just want to enjoy your life. You’ve got a chance to be and do in a way that will never be quite the same, never be yours, again.
And you like the sound of the opening bible verse above. Never heard that one before! It is wonderful to be young! God is telling you – unlike a lot of “church people” – that it is perfectly all right to “enjoy every minute of it.”
And more: He tells you to “do everything you want to do.”
Wow! You don’t even know what that “everything” is or means – it’s hard to “take it all in” – but it sure does sound terrific.
In other words, it’s okay with God that you want to have fun.
The first thing we’d better do is say again that God isn’t against fun. In fact, he created fun. The fact that there is anything at all on this earth to enjoy is because God put it here. And he put a lot of it here.|
So if religion and church aren’t fun, it’s not God’s fault. If true fun gets spoiled, it’s people rather than God who do the spoiling. Why? Because most people don’t know how to have fun, including most “church” people. Many of them are really skilled at hating fun and judging fun and stopping fun. Don’t blame God for the unpleasant, un-fun things that people who claim to be Christians do. They can make us very sad. God is the one who turns our “wailing into dancing.”
So what is “fun”?
The dictionary defines “fun” as “something that provides mirth or amusement.” Wow, that is really boring! Not to mention shallow.
So what kinds of things are fun? Well, movies are fun. Music is fun. Good food and stuff to drink are very fun. Scary rides and scary sports can be great fun. Driving a car and being able to go where you want to is fun. Getting to make your own choices is scary at times, but it is also a boatload of fun. Having someone genuinely compliment you is so much fun that Mark Twain said, “I can live for three months on a good compliment.”
|      But more fun than any of that is to be with the right kind of people. There are people who will make your heart sing. There are people who will bring you closer to God. There are people who will make you laugh and there are people who will make you cry – the good kind of cry, the cry that says you’re finding out who you are and what life is really about.|
You want a significant relationship? Now that’s fun. It is really fun to be with someone who likes you, who thinks you’re something special, who makes you feel like no one else makes you feel. And God is totally for this kind of relationship. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and this is when God himself was hanging out with them, “walking in the garden in the cool of the day”! In life, it can’t be just “me and God.” God said that wasn’t enough, God himself said that “is not good” for a human being to be without close relationships with other human beings.
We all want at least one or two of these special relationships. Just don’t assume that a relationship with someone of the opposite sex or that marriage will automatically provide it. Marriage doesn’t automatically provide anything, except for “trials of many kinds.”
So what kinds of things aren’t fun? Well, movies and music that leave you feeling empty or dirty aren’t fun. Overeating and overdrinking can seem fun at the time, but the results are very un-fun. Getting a ticket, wrecking a car, or hitting a pedestrian are very much not fun. Making choices while stubbornly ignoring all advice is guaranteed to lead to anywhere but fun. Having someone put you down or make fun of you is, ironically, no fun at all.
But less fun than any of that is to be with the wrong kind of people. There are people who will make your heart weep. There are people who will pull you away from God. There are people who will make you laugh at others and cry when you don’t get everything your way (or theirs).
There are people who will offer you significant relationship but not really mean it. Now that’s not fun. They might not even intend to harm you, but they are so broken or confused that they don’t know how to love you, don’t know how to care about you, don’t know how to do anything but hurt and wound and tear you down. And there are people who really will intend to harm you. They won’t advertise it – in fact, if they’re really good at destruction, they’ll put on an act that could win an Oscar.
|      We don’t want any of these relationships, but that’s what many people will offer you. That’s what the Enemy will offer you. A lot of people don’t see these people for what they are until they marry them, which is way too late to do them any good.|
We need to talk about one more category: Things that ought to be fun but usually aren’t. Like a lot of the time we spend at school. Most homework. Many discussions with parents and older people in general. The great majority of jobs. And a big percentage of stuff that goes on at church, which should be a road to fun and joy but is way too often a road to judgment city and boredom. Teachers and parents and bosses and pastors have a lot of explaining to do for the fun they have missed or destroyed.
The least boring person in existence is God. He knows how to have a good time. He knows how, which means we have to learn how. So here’s the biggest news: The only way to really have fun, and to continue to have fun, is to do it God’s way. You can’t even start to have real fun unless you’ve got God in the middle of it all. Anything else is just illusion.
Paula had never seen anyone as cool as Travis. He didn’t say much at the Bible studies, but when he did – wow, he sounded so smart! And wise. And sure of himself. He was always doing interesting things, and everyone seemed to listen up when he described them. And he was really cute. Best of all, he only wanted to spend time with her. He was the most talkative and open guy she had ever known. His cockiness and focus on his own activities bothered her some, and he seemed a little condescending and judgmental when talking about some of their friends, but overall she couldn’t imagine a better guy.
Paula might have a chance, right now, right at this moment of possibilities, to mess up the rest of her life. A tremendous chance. In fact, she could be a heartbeat away from making the biggest mistake of her life.
Every day she is getting more and more involved with him. What if his cockiness is really arrogance and a sense of superiority – even toward her? What if his self-focus will one day mean he isn’t interested in the details of her life at all? What if his condescension turns into full-blown nastiness, and his judgmental orientation gets turned in her direction?
Then, after they’re totally involved or engaged or married, will be a very lousy time to get the answers to those “what ifs.”
The price of having fun, of enjoying your life, of continuing to receive the best that life has to offer, is vigilance. Paying attention. Making good choices. Picking up the clues that all is not well. Not being a fool who rushes in where angels fear to go.
You have the right to have fun and to enjoy your life. Because of that, you also have the right to be miserable and to wreck your life.
The price is high. But you get what you pay for.
What an exciting time of life you are in right now!
When we watch a movie that has a good “love story” in it, we can almost always see who the “bad guy” is – the person the heroine should avoid like acne. For the Princess Bride it was Prince Humperdink, who intended to kill her after their marriage and then frame Gilder for it. In Ever After/I>, Danielle sees Pierre le Pieu for what he is and ends up with good Prince Henry. In The Princess Diarie?s, Mia has to see past not-so-hot Josh to find the amazing Michael.
Even in real life, some of these bad choices are still obvious. But it’s important to remember that things are not always what they appear to be. How will you know what’s real, what’s a lie, and what’s just confused?
The only way is to get past the “dream” view of other people. Nobody is really a dream. Everybody has pimples and warts and flaws. The prettiest girls can be the creepiest. The “hunks” can turn out to be hunks of slime. The “coolest” people can be the most insecure, the most jealous, the most demanding, and the nastiest if they don’t get everything their way.
Beautiful girls that are a little wild can seem very exciting – they are very exciting. But God’s assessment? “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” You see the gold. But look a little farther. You go that way, and you’ll be rooting round in the pen with the pigs.
Guys who are good-looking and self-confident and look like they know what they want can look like a dream – they might be a dream, by becoming your nightmare.
One of the hardest lessons for people to learn – most grandparents still haven’t figured it out – is that other people can put on a good front. They can be great actors, who cover up their nastiness and selfishness with a mask. The worst people can appear to be the best people – for a while. And the very worst is when they pretend to be serious Christians, “masquerading as apostles of Christ.” God tells us we shouldn’t be surprised:
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.”
But the truth is that most people are surprised. Paul admonished the Corinthians, “You are looking only on the surface of things” and told the Galatians that “God does not judge by external appearance” – although people do all the time. If you end up being surprised, it’s probably because you were only looking on the surface of people, and judging by that appearance.
The lesson is not to avoid trusting anyone. The lesson is to be careful whom you trust. The only way to learn by relating to a lot of people of both sexes – spending time, talking about life, probing values, understanding souls. But the lesson of the Bible and life is that you always, always, need to have your guard up. The person you might be able to trust the most might have just slipped into sin and they don’t know how to hide it, while the person you should trust the least may hide every sickness in their soul and present themselves to you and others as “the super Christian.”
How will you know this person? They are hard to unmask, but here are a few clues:
1. They will talk about “higher standards” a lot, and the standards will be made up by them rather than God. (God has written a special warning passage about this for you, which would be a great one to not only read but to remember. It is Colossians 2:16-23.) They are very insistent that other people respect and admire them.
2. They refuse to accept responsibility for their decisions and actions, and for how those impact other people. “I was just being honest,” they might say, when you thought it was rude and you saw how much it hurt the other person.
3. They will seldom admit mistakes or sins, and if they do their confession will be designed to make them look even holier. Their usual course is to blame other people instead. They are not very open to constructive criticism, and may react strongly when they receive it.
4. They will be arrogant – they won’t be able to hide it, because “the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Listen to their talk, listen to see if the words, no matter how sugary, are condescending and judgmental.
If you see any of these, be suspicious. If you see two or more, run for the hills.
So there’s a problem, something between you and your goal.
Let’s get at it by picturing a large meteor, a mile across and red hot, still at a distance but heading toward a small red convertible with leather seats, first-rate sound system, the works. If the car isn’t moved, it’s toast. What do you do if you own the car?
Yep. You’re going to jump in, put the pedal to the metal and power your way out of there. The meteor can cause some damage, but it won’t be your little beauty.
The car is you.
God designed you to be beautiful and powerful. He also designed you to flee when the bad stuff is coming at you. If you get out of the way, you’ve got years of happy driving ahead of you. If you don’t, it’s squash city.
What is the meteor? It’s a composite, a blend of new attractions, newly alive hormones, seductions from the movies and television and internet, temptations from other human beings, bad teaching and bad thinking. It’s being powered in your direction by enemies who do not love you, enemies who would love to smash your life to pieces. And they will. Unless you move.
That’s your job right now, to take care of your beautiful life, to drive it out of harm’s way and down the highway on a sunny day. Let the meteor wipe out somebody else.
Friends will tell you it’s your life, that you can make your own choices, and they’re right as rain. It is your life and nobody else’s. It doesn’t belong to your parents, so there’s no use in living it just to please them or just to annoy them. It doesn’t belong to your teachers, or the leaders at church, or your supervisor if you work. It belongs to you, and you can make your own choices.
|      But many of these friends and others will tell you that you’re free, and then do everything they can to get you to live your life their way. If you do it wrong, though, those people won’t have to live with the consequences. Only you will. It’s your life. The blessings of it are yours. And so are the calamities.|
That’s the problem.
So you want to have fun. You see that God is for it, but that you have to pay the price by making good decisions or it won’t be fun for long. You want great relationships, but you know that no one is perfect and some people are really rotten. And God allows all of these people into your life, but wants you to escape from a bunch of them. What’s the deal here?
Well, here you are at the very start of your life – a young person with friendships and wonder and excitement stretching out before you. Adventure and love await! But what you might not see clearly (because it’s so hard to see) is that victory in personal relationship – the high point of love – lies just beyond the minefield of disaster.
The reward of a successful journey and good decision-making – if marriage is for you – is someday finding and enjoying the love of a lifetime. But as with all great rewards, there is equivalent risk – a huge risk, a monumental risk, of making the biggest mistake you will ever make. Just like in a computer game, you’ve got to figure out how to get past Disaster Minefield.
And that’s the deal. If you do it, if you get past Disaster Minefield, you can end up with great relationships and (for many of you) a great marriage. If you don’t do it, you can end up with twisted and broken relationships and (for many of you) a very ugly marriage indeed.
“I’m not ready to think about commitment and marriage,” you might be saying. The problem is this: by the time you’re ready, you might already be up to your cumberbund in commitment and marriage. Or your wedding veil.
So what should you do?
|      You’ve got to be smart enough – street-smart enough – to take time. To learn about who you are. To find out who other people are – really are. To find out what kind of people celebrate you and what kind of people decimate you. To learn which people will liberate you and which people will dominate you.|
If you take long enough to learn these things, you can get the best of the deal. You can make it past the minefield and not be blown to bits by explosive relationships. There’s no magical age for knowing this, but you can be sure of one thing: No matter how smart you are, it’s not now.
Together we’re going to win.
We’re going to win by taking a very different approach to this crucial life decision. Instead of beginning with questions of dating and courtship, compatibility and relationship “tools,” we’re going to start with you.
Who have you become? Who are you becoming? Are you about to fall victim to one of the 12 lousy reasons to get married? Are you taking steps to becoming a person worth marrying? In order to find the right person, you have to first be the right person.
Then, and only then, can you make clearheaded decisions about the rest of your life.
Only then should you move to the second set of questions and issues. Who is this other person? Who are they becoming? Are you about to fall into one of the 12 problems to avoid marrying? Are you looking for the subtle clues that a person is really worth the risk of marrying? In order to find the right person, you have to know what “right” looks like. It’s not as easy as it might seem. They can be attractive, intelligent, spiritual – and still make you a loser.
So here they are. Even if you’re ready and the other person is ready, does that automatically mean you’re ready for each other? Have you really evaluated the “match”? Do you have all of the right reasons to get married in place? Have you thought through the 12 things to be sure of before you marry? Are you skilled in the 10 secrets of knowing you’ve found “The One”?
|      In the last section, we’ll talk about what you do “in the meantime,” while you’re becoming and finding and evaluating. We’ll talk about singleness (puts you in neutral?), sex (puts you in overdrive?) and adults in your life (puts you in reverse?).|
Issues related to dating, courtship, and marriage are too complex to "sort out," at least very well, as we go along. Only the God who made us can give us the principles to make good decisions, and then make the good decisions "work." Only the One who created all of us single and invented marriage knows how to make it all work. And only people who are choosing to be dumb will try to do it without God or without thinking.
I’m going to tell you the truth in this book. I might make you mad, but I bet you can handle it and keep reading and thinking. I’m here to bother and annoy you, because I really want you to have it all, and you can’t unless you give up the baloney you have stored in the freezer.
Unfortunately, most adults won’t tell us the truth. Why not? Well, it can be really hard to tell the truth. Some people just don’t know it. Maybe they made it up as they went along, and now they’re just trying to sort out the damage. Some may want you to live a life different than the one they lived, but they don’t have the personal honesty and courage to tell you how they lived, and that they were seriously messed up at times (here’s a truth – everyone has been seriously messed up at times). Some just want to “play God” and take control of your life.
And most of the books and other “help” out there won’t help you, either. Most of it is useless and much of it is contradictory. Do date. Don’t date. Have a courtship. Courtship is a relic of the past. Go find your soul mate. Don’t do anything but wait. Marriage is the answer to your needs. You can’t expect marriage to meet your needs. Love at first sight. Grow into love. Give me some aspirin.
My goal is a simple one. I’m going to tell it like it is, because I want to help you think well and live with excellence. I will tell you the truth. But not all of it. Some, you’ll have to dig out for yourself. Get ready to go on a quest for relational truth.
1. To Each Other – “Tell me what you think “fun” is. And why? Why are relationships important?”|
2. Girl To Guy – “Here’s what I think is fun. Would you rate them on a 1 to 10 scale? And would you tell me why?”
3. Guy To Girl – “What would make you the happiest? Why?”
4. You To Your Parents – “What were the most fun relationships you had when you were my age? Why? What would you change about how you related to the opposite sex? What are 3 clues that you should avoid seeing someone?”
5. You To Your Pastor – “Would you tell me 3 positive things you see in my friend? 3 negative things? Who in our youth group would you say I should keep at a distance?