And while a man's biceps, stature, blue eyes, tattoos, and quick wit (okay, I'm going on a tangent about my husband...) might initially catch your attention, what will hold your heart is the way he treats other people's hearts, sacrificing his time to ensure their souls feel safe, whole, and loved.
You will get loads of advice concerning the type of man you should marry. Odds are, especially in Christian circles, you'll hear:
"Make sure he goes to church. (By the way, which denomination is he? Which Bible translation does he use? How does he dress to go into the sanctuary? He better not wear a ballcap!)"
"He better have a good-paying job, one that's steady, secure, and leaves room for promotions and extra pay. After all, he'll have to support you, a house, and children."
"Watch out for a temper—if he can't control it, there's no guarantee he won't become emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive later, once you are married and possibly have children."
"Observe how he treats his mama... and the elderly. Oh, and animals! That's a good indicator of how he will treat you, even when you're feeble, helpless, and gray."
Let me stop here and say that these are healthy considerations a woman should weigh when she meets a man she desires to romantically tie herself to. He should value church, hard work, self-control, and treating women, the elderly, and anyone else with the utmost respect. However, I have an extra bit of advice to add to the list. Though vague, my tip is simple: marry a man who gives.
In a richer context, I suggest that you marry a man who gives his:
In today's world, we are constantly exhausted. Man nor woman is free of weariness. Whether it's work, extracurriculars, carpool schedules, or even church activities, we throw ourselves into reckless routines that, if not monitored, will leave us with little soul time, few spare minutes to stop and notice the value of ourselves, and the beauty of this world.
In my new book, Tired, Hungry, and Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, I delve into the glimpse of hope we can find in exhaustion, the mysterious yet magical character of God hidden in between life's "Ugh!" moments. And do you know where these snippets of heaven are nestled in the swarming chaos? They reside in a person's heart who rejects lifeless expectations in exchange for giving their energy to someone else.
My husband, Josh, is allergic to grass. He doesn't break out in dangerous hives simply strolling outside, but he wheezes for weeks if he cuts the grass. His breath is raspy, congested, and rather scary when he snores at night. Yet, the other day, when my dad couldn't cut his grass in Georgia's muggy summer weather, Josh spent nearly four hours cutting my parents' yard—front, back, and both sides. He even snagged the weed eater and trimmed all the property's edges.
He gave his energy to serving my dad, even when he had several big work projects to complete. He sacrificed his comfort, embracing the need for an inhaler for the next several weeks so my dad could rest. Josh gave up his energy and depleted his physical resources for my dad's sake.
When a man gives his energy, it mirrors Jesus' generosity. When you strive with a person who sacrifices his mental, emotional, and physical capacity for someone other than himself, you better understand how Christ exhausted his body to heal countless people. You better see how the blind, lame, and paralyzed clung to his pure nature. He gave all his energy to everyone but himself, and people—including you and me—love him for it.
One of the first reasons I thought, "I'm going to marry Josh," is because he cut my dad's grass (and wheezed for weeks) when Dad was sick with the flu (and Josh and I had only been dating for a few months).
Ladies, marry the man who gives his energy to others, even when the return on investment requires an inhaler.
We don't have time to do anything–and by that, I mean we are often so busy focusing on our to-do list that we get frazzled by the to-do list, freeze in fear and angst regarding the to-do list, and spend the day dodging the responsibilities of the to-do list. Instead of giving our attention to the stressful check boxes, we resort to scrolling on our phones, binging movies, or snacking and napping. Such monotony is much easier to process than anything on our blue-lined paper.
However, when a man faces the day's tasks head-on, takes care of his responsibilities, and still gives his free time to others, he's a man not only of sacrifice but bravery, steadiness, and reliance.
After a long day's work, most of us ladies would prefer to swing by the nearest coffee shop and grab an iced mocha and skedaddle home to sink into a bubble bath with our favorite book and candle scent filling the room. Well, guys aren't much different. They, too, want to return home from a hard day on the job and enjoy an afternoon show or sneak to the local lake to fish in the quiet. Humans, regardless of sex, desire rest. In fact, God gave himself as an example of how to rest after he created the earth (Genesis 2:1-3).
Rest is not wrong. I am a huge fan of bubble baths, and Josh enjoys hitting the golf course to defrag after a tough day. However, when a man can face the work day and still come home to cook dinner, wrestle with the kids, lead a church Bible study, swing by his grandmother's house to fix her leaky faucet, or cut firewood for the elderly neighbor across the street, his actions are silently saying one big thing: I love my wife, my kiddos, my church community, my grandmother, and my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31).
While a man's biceps, blue eyes, tattoos, and quick wit (okay, I'm going on a tangent about my husband...) might initially catch your attention, what will hold your heart is the way he treats other people's hearts, sacrificing his time to ensure their souls feel safe, whole, and loved.
Sis, marry the man who surrenders his time so others are free to rest in the moment of another's kindness.
Dollar signs are often the first examples that pop into our minds when we think of giving. We think of tithing, donating checks to local non-profits, and dropping loose change into the Salvation Army's red bucket at Christmastime. Giving finances is a beautiful, rewarding part of Christian obedience, and while God sets few boundaries on giving (outside the Old Testament's command to bring ten percent of earnings to the storehouse [Malachi 3:10-12]), one blatant command we can't ignore is God's requirement that we give freely, with a heart that's grateful to contribute (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
I recently visited a new coffee shop downtown and noticed a community flyer requesting donations for a local baby drive. I had no clue who was hosting the drive, where to drop off donations, if there were specific items they did or didn't want, etc. All I knew was in a day and age when I claim to be Pro-Life, this is prime time for me to walk my talk and aid women who are walking into motherhood with no security.
I came home and told Josh that I wanted to go to the store and pick up some items for a local baby drive, and his response was simple: "okay." We were on our way to the store within ten minutes, and he helped me select bibs, bottles, and pacifiers to donate. He didn't drill me with questions about why I wanted to give to this drive, nor did he question who was behind it or if I could guarantee this wasn't a scam. He simply allowed me to give our money away.
And while I thought nothing would make me drool more than seeing him put on his pilot uniform, gold sleeves and all, he melted my heart more by bagging baby supplies for strangers.
Girlfriend, marry the man who doesn't ask questions when giving his money to those in need.
Of course, I have plenty of other questions you should ask, character qualities you should consider when choosing a lifelong mate. But when you marry a man who gives his energy, time, and money for the sole sake of putting others above self, you have an image of God to do life with. And that's a true blessing!
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Vasyl Dolmatov
Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves helping others find beauty from ashes despite OCD, burned bridges, and perfectionism. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow, even in dry seasons.