Our relationship was unusual from the very start. I came from Mexico, and Brian lived in the United States, but we ended up meeting in Hong Kong (his native city) while working in ministry at the same church. Along with romantic interest in each other, our attraction sprung from a mutual pull towards missions.
Three months after our first meeting, we prayerfully entered into a relationship. The next nine months were full of falling in love, facing hardships that come with an interracial and cross-cultural relationships, as well as experiencing immense spiritual growth. We prayed about our love for each other and our hearts for mission, and realized we were ready for the next step in our relationship. So it came as no surprise when he asked me to marry him. And I replied with a joyous “Yes!”
As wonderful and exciting as it was when Brian proposed, there was a lot to process and consider before we committed to marriage and a life together. How did we know when it was time for us to take our relationship to the “next level”? We had to really press in to hear God’s voice, and ask Him to help us understand the purpose of marriage, the grounds for it, and whether we should pursue it together.
These are several tips that helped us confirm our decision to get married:
1. Seek the Lord in Scripture
It may be easy to set the Bible aside and make our own decisions since the Bible doesn’t seem to say anything about engagement. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible talks heaps about marriage (Colossians 3:18-19, Ephesians 5:25-33), family (Joshua 24:15), sacrificial love (1 Peter 4:8), and our future (Proverbs 3:5-6).
As Brian and I studied these and other passages, we were reminded that marriage is meant to reflect the relationship between Christ the Groom and His Bride the Church. Christ’s sacrificial love unites us to Him and gives us access to the Father (Ephesians 5:25-33). As we contemplated marriage, we had to ask if we were ready to love each other sacrificially. Were we willing to take on the privilege of pointing and spurring each other on towards God as a couple?
It is well worth taking time to study what Scripture has to say about love, family, and marriage. By studying these things and allowing the Lord to show us whether or not we were ready to embrace these responsibilities, Brian and I were able to make an informed commitment to each other, with an understanding of how significant marriage truly is.
2. Seek the Lord through prayer and fasting
Throughout Scripture we see fasting as way of drawing near to God. When we fast, we let go of physical comforts in order to depend entirely on God. Traditionally, this has been done by forgoing food for a period of time, but can also be done by temporarily giving up social media, entertainment (e.g., movies, video games, shopping), or anything that might take up our time, so that we can focus instead on prayer and listening to the Lord.
While we were dating, Brian and I made time to fast and pray both together, and on our own. It is a discipline that gave us space to listen to God without earthly pulls distracting us from being near to Him and seeking Him specifically about the marriage we wanted to have together.
3. Seek the right counsel
When we first started dating, we had friends who committed to supporting us as we navigated our new relationship. It was important for us to listen to these people who were a part of our lives—people whom we knew loved us, who had provided godly guidance in the past, and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again.
For Brian and I, the Lord used our parents to help us grow by considering their perspectives on marriage from our varied cultures and traditions. It proved very helpful and necessary for us to seek our parents’ counsel about the future of our relationship, and to do so with a willing heart, free of pride and full of humility.
Of course, there have been those who have tried to be discouraging and even demeaning of our relationship (one of the reasons being that Brian and I come from extremely different cultures). But through this, we really learned to recognize who God had placed in our lives that knew us and truly cared to invest in us. All this was key to our growth as a couple.
We found that in seeking advice, it was important for us to go to people who loved Christ, and had produced fruit that showed it. These people were well-equipped to offer us Kingdom-focused advice instead of getting caught up with worldly concerns.
4. Make sure it’s a relationship that drives you TO Christ
At the end of all this, we had to take a step back and ask ourselves, has our relationships drawn us closer to the Lord? Have we matured in our faith during our time together? Will we be able to work well for the Kingdom together? Our answers to those questions helped us move forward into engagement together with great anticipation.
If the answer to any of these questions is, “not really”, this might be a signal to slow down and revisit the guidance we can get from Scripture, prayer, fasting, and fellow believers. It would be worthwhile to ask God to guide the relationship and give wisdom for the decisions that need to be made in the relationship.
Marriage Is A Lifetime of Faith Together
I am encouraged to know that God’s grace and forgiveness—which Brian and I have placed our faith in—is evidenced in the continued transformation in our hearts. We don’t walk into marriage blindly, but we walk by faith with boldness, expecting God will do great things in our lives together.
We remember the finished work of Christ on the Cross, and that our lives are defined by that work because we are saved, we are loved, and we are called to share that good news with all nations. The idea of getting to share this kind of life with another like-minded, passionate worshipper of God is unspeakably beautiful.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a two-part series on dating and marriage. If you’re considering entering into a dating relationship or are currently in one, you can read the first article here.