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An Open Letter to Donald Miller on Your Engagement


Jun 23 2011
First, congratulations. Second, let's talk about that list of qualities we should want in a spouse.

Dear Donald,

First of all, I'm a fan. I'll admit I'm not young enough or hip enough to have discovered you on my own, but the college students I teach help me to keep up with the times, and they introduced me to your work some years ago. I love it all, especially A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I wish I'd had your books when I was languishing in youth group hell many years ago.

I'm thrilled to learn of your recent engagement. As someone who's been married for 26 years—to the same man, no less—I can fully rejoice with you and Paige in your anticipation of the blessings, challenges, joys, pains, and memories this covenant relationship will bring.

In addition to two and a half decades of marriage, I bring the second-hand experiences of a fair number of hook-ups, break-ups, engagements, broken engagements, marriages, searching, longing, and questioning on matters of love and marriage: when you work with college students, you get to live through a lot of this with them. I've had the chance to watch a lot of young people make good decisions and bad. (And I made a few of each in my day.)

So when I heard about your recent post, "What are You Looking for in a Spouse? Why not Create a List?"—I was intrigued. It's a good thing to know one's self well enough before entering a lifelong partnership to be able to identify in a potential mate a handful of deal-breakers. For the Christian, of course, the first of these non-negotiables is being equally yoked. There are likely a few qualities that are essential to one's being and therefore non-negotiable. One such non-negotiable for me would be a love of animals. Not an abstract kind of love, but the kind that turns pets into family members who share the furniture with the humans. A spouse who didn't share this value would doom one or the other, and therefore both, to perpetual misery. I encourage my students to identify such non-negotiables when they seek my advice, as they often do.

But upon reading your post—which includes a list of qualities that your fiancfamp;copy;e, Paige, sought in the man of her dreams long before she had met her future husband—my intrigue grew into concern.

You see, a list like the one in your post—a list of more than a dozen traits the dream husband should exhibit, most of them self-centered, focusing on how a future spouse will treat "me" and make "me" feel—doesn't leave a whole lot of room for God to bring a partner who can meet needs we don't even know we have, needs God knows more intimately than we or our spouses can ever know.

Related Topics:Doctrine; Marriage
From: June 2011
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An Open Letter to Donald Miller on Your Engagement