“Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I don't mind the other things so much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I CANNOT imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, 'Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing.' But all the time I KNOW it is just plain red and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow.”
So quoth Anne of Green Gables to the long-suffering Matthew at the beginning of the first book. And while I disagree with Anne and have always secretly longed for red hair, I have a feeling there other girls out there who, like Anne and me, have quibbles about themselves. “Do my friends notice my lack of a rose-leaf complexion?” “Does that family really think we are disorganized and chaotic?” “After that bomb of a conversation, has that person realized I am an ignoramus?”
Even worse, we girls often fall into the trap of imagining that when God brings the right man into our lives, the one we have been waiting for, that our discontentment and desires for black hair or rose-leaf complexions or sinless perfection will disappear—our own self-worth miraculously validated by true love. I doubt that most of us think this falsehood out loud, but if we are honest we will have to admit that it often permeates nonetheless, simply buried deep under the surface.
The danger of imagining love will solve discontentment and doubt
Marriage is not about self-satisfaction. It is not about boosting my self-esteem, and it is not about validating my lifestyle. Marriage is about glorifying God, sanctification, and selfless love. If all I am looking for in marriage is someone to sky-write “You are beautiful and perfect!” on the blue horizon every day, then I am already on the steady path to missing God’s best for me!
Furthermore, current discontentment and doubt will not disappear because I put on the white dress and take a new last name. I will still be the same person after the honeymoon is over, and discontentment will still be there. It will still make me so miserable over the same old issues that I am ready to wriggle out of my skin, unless I reject it altogether.
Poor Anne could not be happy with her red hair until Mrs. Lynde gave her the hope of it darkening into a beautiful auburn. But even if my flaws will never change, I have been realizing lately how important it is to thank God for them! I Thessalonians 5:18 says,
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I need to realize that my so-called flaws are just like Anne’s: unique and beautiful because that is how God made me!
Concerning my foibles of character, growth should always be my goal. Becoming more and more like Christ every day must be my daily motivation that I wake up to and live by from morning to evening. But I also need to understand that I will never arrive until I arrive in Heaven. Others will always have wisdom from which I can humbly learn, and their greater wisdom or maturity is not a dent in my armor, but an extra layer of protection for me. I cannot become more like my Savior without first humbling myself and losing all pride.
In the end, I must find contentment in how God has made me now, not look for validation from others in the future. I must take joy in spiritual growth as a single young woman or risk carrying unrealistic expectiations and immature attitudes into life as a married young woman. It is thrilling to realize that I am part of the church, Christ’s bride, and it is in Him that I find my worth as His beloved! The earthly symbol of that relationship may come in God’s timing, but it must be second to my special, sweet place in Christ.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.