How Falling in Love Blew Up My Passivity

13 Jul

Young happy couple have fun in the park

This post started life as a more general challenge to give up passivity in favour of growing in character. In a way it still is that, but it has morphed a little.

I’ve recently fallen somewhat in love with a charming lady.

She shot me the most dazzling smile during a brief encounter at my workplace nine months ago, and my world has been different ever since.

We’re not in a relationship yet, and we haven’t been on any dates, although we do see each other regularly. In spite of a clear lack of Actual Romantic Involvement, something wonderful is taking place.

This situation has challenged me in all kinds of ways. In particular, monitoring my own thought life over the past nine months or so has been fascinating. (To me, anyway…)

I have noticed how many times I’ve been thinking of quitting. How many times I’ve heard an inner voice say that I wouldn’t be good enough for this highly-qualified, talented, and classy woman. Or that I was barking up the wrong tree. That I was getting out of the will of God by pursuing someone who isn’t right for me.

Now I’m not saying that God has shown me that I have met The One – indeed I’m not sure that God really deals that way with many of us. I do, however, feel encouraged to press on, and that what we have, or might have one day, is something good. What is far more revealing to me is that at every stage, this simple business of being attracted to someone of the opposite sex has turned into a series of opportunities to develop character and to ask God to work in me.

Never have I been so challenged to ask God to make me good husband material. 

Never have I been so serious in asking God to change me and deal with bad attitudes and poor character traits that would hinder love and affection and undermine the quality of a marriage. Not that I had a bad opinion of myself to begin with, but I have asked God to raise the bar!

Never have I felt such a desire to improve my own personal circumstances and performance in order to be a good husband and provider.

It strikes me how different this is from simply sitting back and asking God to bring me Miss Right in His time, as many Christians are wont to do.

Of course I still pray for God to make His will clear, to warn me of any red flags, and to open and shut the doors of his choosing. I want to marry a woman about whom God is saying an enthusiastic “YES!”

But at the same time the onus is upon me to cooperate proactively with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in making me good marriage material: in dealing with all of those hidden areas of selfishness and ignorance which would cause hurt and disunity between me and my wife, and also in being everything she would need me to be. This covers not just me earning a living, putting up shelves once in a while and remembering how she likes her tea, but how I act towards her when she’s ill. When she’s scared. When she’s grieving. When she doesn’t want to have sex make love. When she needs me to be the man she relies on to get through life together.

And do you know what? It’s thrilling! I find the idea that God is working in me to improve my marriage relationship and even my (future!) sex life, right now, as an unmarried man, incredibly exciting! I like the idea that I am storing up treasures for my wife and me to share, and catching and killing many of the little foxes that ruin the vineyard (Song of Songs 2:15) before they get the chance to cause problems.

When we sit back and just hope God is going to bring us The One, we often end up missing out on the process of development of character that God wants us to go through. We can hide our negative thought patterns, our fears, our unhealed hurts and baggage from previous relationships, and our bad attitudes, and let God carry the blame for our unchanging single status.

Asking God to change us and make us ready for marriage – and developing those right attitudes around those we meet – gets us in the driving seat. We don’t seek to usurp God’s sovereignty, but we do take responsibility for changing and growing, with an end goal (relationship leading to marriage) in sight. Just this by itself is empowering and encouraging!

Along the way, I’m reading some great Christian blogs on marriage and sex (e.g. this one and this one), which are teaching me loving and giving attitudes. We think we know all that because those are things that Christians are just supposed to do, but it’s how we walk these things out in the details of daily life, and in the kitchen, and in the bedroom. We all know the headlines, but it’s in the details that I’m finding all of the revelation!

I look back over the nine months since I first met “Her”, and think how different life could have been. I thank God that I was so blown away the moment I met Her, because that initial attraction gave me the necessary drive and impetus to pray we would meet again, and the determination to get to know Her.

What if I had judged that she would turn out not to be a Christian and never bothered to find out who she is? This was one of the first fears I had to face. I didn’t hear the truth from her about her faith until a number of months had elapsed. What if I never saw her again, or never figured out a way to see her? What if I had decided that she would never be interested in me, or that it was all too much effort?

I am recovering from a long period of illness, one which frequently sees me lacking in energy, and which gives me every excuse not to turn up. To quit. To deem Her out of my reach. Naturally this has had quite an effect on my dating, with the result that I’ve had very few dates in the last ten years.

Guess what? Fairly early on after The Day of The Dazzling Smile, I realised that if I was going to be married – to Her or to a different Her – quitting would no longer be an option. When you’re picking somebody to date, or are still clinging to your singleness, you can quit as many times as you like. Don’t feel like making the effort to date someone? Don’t ask her out. Job done! Don’t fancy working on being a good date? With luck she’ll never know to what extent you copped out – although you may pay the price for your passivity somewhere down the line.

When you’re married, however, you can’t pick and choose the days or moments at which you decide to be a husband or a wife. You just are – and you have to pick up your cross daily and act accordingly, or risk making your spouse regret they ever married you.[1]

So instead of quitting, I decided to show up. I made “being there” my default mode. “Her” sings in a band. I go to almost every gig. Most of them take place within a half-hour’s drive from my home. That’s good. I’m working on getting to those which are further away.

I consider myself fortunate that Her is always pleased to see me (otherwise this would all sound awfully stalkerish!) and that she invites me to hear her sing. If she needs support, I’m there. If she needs help, I step up. If she needs encouragement, I give it. She wants me around – on her terms. She feels safe that way; it’s how she feels comfortable, and my only chance of winning her round is to honor her wishes. My wish to hide myself away and Just Be Ill comes a distant second, if it comes in at all – because ultimately there’s nowhere to hide oneself away and quit making an effort on board the tiny two-person ship that is a marriage.

I’m practising for marriage by doing my best to take my standards in dating to the same level.

Of course, this is currently a deal in which I’m the one doing the wooing. For good reasons – she was divorced a couple of years ago and is still recovering. So it’s down to me to prove both my good character and my good intentions, and to move towards her rather than expecting her to move towards me. But it’s working. From just a smile at my workplace one day, we’ve gone to knowing each other’s names. We each ask how the other is doing. We notice what the other is wearing. We hug when we greet each other. We’ve spoken on the phone. She texts me out of the blue to ask about stuff we’re working on. We smile at each other while she’s singing, or when we share a private joke. She has asked me to work with her at events she organises. I’ve been paid for some of them (as a self-employed/freelancer, that’s a big deal!). She asks my opinion on things. She laughs at my jokes. Not only is “Her” a Christian, but her two senior bandmates are as well, and they have become good friends. They too are giving me work opportunities. One of them comes to see me regularly at my workplace and brings me incredible blessings every time with his humour, his anecdotes, his fatherly advice, even just his presence.

The whole thing is a series of blessings and opportunities, none of which would have come about had I decided to sit back and be passive. There have been all kinds of fringe benefits, such as discovering other bands and new music at the events I’ve visited, and taking friends with me to gigs. Yet it hasn’t been without challenges. There have been times when I wondered if I would ever get through to Her. I feared I had scared her off for good, and wondered if she really cared about me. In many cases, I’ve prayed and asked God to intervene (and to be my peace) and the next wonderful thing has happened that has built our friendship a little further. She sends me a text message, or tells me of answered prayer, or replies to one of the silly jokes I send her via email.

Through it all, I’m asking God to help me to understand her. To be patient with her. To feel her heart and to hold it gently. To make me able to be the man she needs me to be. If that man is currently just a friend who smiles at her during her gigs, that’s fine with me. Because we’ve built something that wasn’t there before, and that something is good.

And meanwhile, God is building me.

Will “Her” be The One? I don’t yet know for certain, but I do know that meeting her is making me a better man.

Above all, it’s making me into a man who no longer wants to let passivity rule.


  1. “Must Be This Tall To Ride” contains lots of strong language and isn’t written for or to Christians in particular. It’s brilliant. And yes, you should still read this series of posts, which may very well save your marriage or prevent you from wrecking a future one.

2 Responses to “How Falling in Love Blew Up My Passivity”

  1. Matt July 13, 2017 at 11:37 pm #

    This is cool, sir. Thank you.

    Part of me doesn’t like to apologize for my word choices, because I’m rather intentional about it. However, as I more than understand that no two people react the same way to the same thing, I do care about NOT making others feel excluded or uncomfortable because of my subject matter or word choice.

    It means a lot to me that, despite my efforts to not write specifically for Christians (or any specifically labled group that isn’t “human”), it means a lot to me that you shared anyway.

    Love. Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Patience. Fortitude. Humility. Integrity. Gratitude. Wisdom. Praise. Joy. Peace.

    All hallmarks of Christianity.

    All fundamental to loving, respecting and serving another person in such a way that “Forever,” can be achieved.

    I do struggle with my faith. Probably evident to you.

    But I do pray that in the final analysis, I will have been judged a person who loved people and wanted their lives and homes to be full of light and meaning, and gave what I could to that end.

    Thanks again, sir.

    • cookiejezz July 13, 2017 at 11:52 pm #

      Hi Matt! Thank you for reading and commenting – both much appreciated!

      I made that little comment purely because there are some Christians who literally won’t read an article if it has one vulgar word. Heck, there are some Christians who won’t read somebody’s writing or listen to their preaching if they use a different version of the Bible from the one they think is best.

      I’m trying to encourage them to get past that because there are some truths we can learn from other people, regardless of faith or theological expertise – or writing style. And very often (in my experience) these things illuminate Christian values wonderfully, just from a different point of view. (Check out a blogger called mrmoneymustache – he pulls no punches and has some great things to say about dealing with debt and sorting out one’s finances.)

      I love the fact that you write from a background of faith, and I’d like to encourage you that Jesus is real, the Word of God is true, and the power of the Holy Spirit exists to help us all be better people and better husbands and wives. He’s there for the asking!

      There’s no judgment here, and you know I like people to read your writing.

      Keep up the good work – you’re making a difference! :o)

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