More often than not, I’m a pretty quick decision maker. I don’t need much time or many resources to choose an option to move on with whatever it is that’s in front of me. It’s likely because I’m a feeler, making those moves based on intuition and sense, rather than by fact and logic.
It has never made much sense to me how to make decisions based upon pure logic, and when I do that, I find myself more off balanced that I ever care to be.
But what happens when you make the most significant decision of your life to another person, a decision that requires both head and heart? How do you choose who you’re going to marry? What do you look for and how do you know when you’ve dated long enough to say “yes” to another human for the rest of your life?
As an unmarried single person, I wondered about this a lot. On occasion, I asked a handful of trusted souls the one question we all ask at one point: “How do you know?”
I never did get my answer.
Because the one I got was this: “When you know you know.”
But without context, there’s no weight. There’s really no way to understand how to know what you don’t know by just eventually knowing. It makes no sense, never will make sense, and won’t make sense until you’re in the situation to make sense of it.
So eventually I dated and said yes to someone I will know for less than a year by the time I marry him. Really, I know the smallest fraction of the world about him, yet I’m committing to him for the rest of my days here on this planet.
How did I know?
Well, friends. I don’t. I don’t actually know everything I need to know about Seth to be sure that my decision is the very best decision I could make. I haven’t really weighed all my options to see if there’s maybe a better one out there. I haven’t really had the chance to ask all the married people how they made their decisions on the person they married.
Because when it comes to this, you never actually know. And you can’t know. And you never will fully know.
So why did I make my choice?
Truly, I know just enough. I know Seth’s character and his personality. I know how he carries himself and how he makes decisions. I’ve had enough experiences with him to know that he is the person who I want to spend the rest of my life with. And what I really know is that I love him. So I made the choice to commit.
And really, much of life is like that. When we commit to a grad school, or even a school for a bachelor’s degree. When we commit to a job. When we commit to a small group at church. The thing is we don’t actually know. We don’t know what we’re really getting into before we get there, and we don’t quite know how it’s all going to work itself out in the end.
And that’s the key word here. Commit. We commit to people, place, and things. We choose to dive in fully, then work out the middle while we’re there.
It really never was our head knowledge that got us anywhere up until this point. With all the information accessible and in the world today, we will never know everything there is to know to be able to commit fully, and yet, we do.
Isn’t that what makes our life the richest anyway? When we commit to people – whether in friendship, in work, in organizations, in neighborhoods, in a relationship – the beauty of life unveils itself to us. We communicate to another person they’ve arrived at a safe place to be fully and truly themselves. To be seen and heard and cared for. They’re accepted in that place.
And I think that’s really what makes the institution of marriage so beautiful. Two people saying a hearty “yes” to one another, knowing just enough and having experienced just enough to know that commitment (and a healthy dose of love) will take them to the finish line. Daily commitment is what helps them run the race and run it fully. It isn’t knowing all the details, the complete life story. It isn’t about weighing out your other options of people to consider.
It’s about knowing just enough, then committing the rest of the way to another person. That’s truly knowing. Think about it as a deposit into your future, one that commits to continually learning about and growing with your person, the one you’ve committed your whole life to being with.
So friends, know enough, then commit with your whole heart. I can assure you it won’t always be easy or pretty or packaged neatly, but it will be rich, full, and ever-evolving.
In case you’re wondering Seth’s opinion on the matter: “When people tell you that you’ll just know when you know, tell them no, I don’t know, ya know?”