WANTED: A Truly Beautiful Wife
Pastor Mark A. Paustian
What to look for when choosing the woman you want to marry.
I married the most beautiful woman I ever met. She was charming and funny, lively and loved by all. Her greatest personal gifts were with children — an excellent sign. And her face I could look into for the rest of my life. Her heart (to say nothing of a second date) was not easily won. But when she gave it, she gave it completely.
Just a few months after the wedding, everything changed. She was diagnosed with a chronic disease I’d never heard of. Her hair fell out. She could barely walk without an arm to lean on. Many times I held her trembling body as she shrieked with pain. Children were out of the question. Tears were never far away. Heavy medications bloated her body and face. The final insult was being denied a purchase by an ignorant clerk because of her photo ID.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but this just isn’t you.”
And as much as I’d love to paint myself the hero in her story, I can’t so easily forget the selfish young man, lifting my invalid bride’s legs up over the side of the bed, thinking, “So this is how it’s going to be.”
Then everything changed again. It is now seven years of remission and two children later. Beauty and brightness returned. And — how delightful to say it — the woman still cracks me up. Yet the experience of those first two years is not one either of us would exchange.
She found her soul’s Hero there in the dark, in deeper ways than she had before. And I found out how well I had chosen.
Now, in all humility, those painful days qualify me to speak to all the selfishly romantic men out there — I who was once your king — about the woman you will one day want to have married. “Charm is deceptive; beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). I don’t know what trials God has planned for your life or for the marriage you hope for. Here’s what I do know: You will want to have married a woman of faith! You will want to be spending your days as I do, with a true Christian friend of character and depth. You will want to raise children, if God is willing, with a daughter of Christ and with a human being worthy of their imitation.
May I tell you about my wife, and paint a picture of the kind of woman who will bless you? Better yet, may I ask you a few important questions, not only about her, but also about you?
Will You Guard Your Heart?
Do you have any idea how much the quality and outcomes of your life will depend on the woman you choose to marry? Do you have a deep, healthy suspicion about your own judgment — how it is clouded by beauty and charm? Do you think you are immune to misery, should you decide to marry a body or mere personality? Will you withhold your commitment and guard both your heart and your conscience while “red flags” — especially unacknowledged flaws of her past or present character — are still flying?
Are You Attracted To Spiritual Beauty?
The apostle Peter wrote about that other kind of beauty, “that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). Do you perceive that beauty? Will you appreciate it when it comes? Does kindness turn your head? Does goodness make your heart pound? Are you drawn to a woman’s joy?
I am not saying that you look for perfection in any woman! But, do look for this: does her sin sometimes break her heart? Is she more easily bothered by things she sees wrong in herself than in others? Does repentance come to her, sudden and sincere?
And does she know what grace is?
Have you sat beside her in church and felt her spirit soften and her mind made quiet by the word of Christ? Does absolution ever make her cry? Can she speak openly and warmly of him who loved her first?
Does she forgive you freely and completely? Does she submit herself to the Word? Would she refuse to live a secular life: to ever be drawn into a life lived without the means of grace? Will she depend on you to be her happiness: a subtle idolatry that will surely become an ugly demand? Or does she already have a Savior?! Then the Spirit’s fruit is already being formed in her.
Will She Help You Be a Godly Man?
Is that what she wants you to be? Does she want you to be, before anything else, a faithful Christian man? Or does she perhaps want a pleasant coward that she can lead around . . . or a worldly man so that her worldliness stays unexamined? When you are faced with a moral dilemma affecting your advancement or the income you bring home, what will she want you to do? And will she, in turn, compromise her conscience for you . . . or won’t she?
Does she long to be able to respect you? Does her influence tug in the direction of Christ’s example? Does that influence come by means of a critical spirit or by the admiration she wants to be able to show you?
“Follow me as I follow Christ” — is that just what she longs to hear from you? Is it easy to imagine her coming to you, her head, and putting the Word in your hand, whispering, “Read to me, sweetheart”?
But Will Such a Woman Be Attracted To You?
Ah, there’s the rub. There’s more to choosing a wife than just choosing a wife. Give your attention to becoming a man of such faith and character that a woman of faith and character would choose you. That means daily repentance that takes you back to the means of grace. That means worship and spiritual growth through the Word. That means living the new life as a single Christian man, as it springs up from the soil of forgiveness in Jesus. Then you prayerfully wait and watch for this woman. And you do this out of a new and holy desire to bless someone, to learn to love one person, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.
She made her way slowly, painfully across the chapel in front of an aching congregation, to play her Lord Christ a song on the piano. That was eight years ago. Now she comes into my office fighting back tears. She happened to overhear our twoyearold, sitting alone outside, a hotdog in her lap, praying all by herself.
“And she folds her hands and starts to pray, ‘Come, Lord, Jesus. . . .’ Isn’t it beautiful?” she barely manages.
“Yes, my bride . . . it is.”
Men of the church, choose well. And may you be so blessed.
October 19, 2017
May 7, 2018