An essay from a twenty-year-old, Bible-college student from 1982—my mother, Peggy Sue.
This coming February will mark 30 years since my mother passed away. I was only two years old and have no memories of her. As this significant anniversary draws near, I have begun to study her life through the memories of her closest friends and family as well as her her belongings. I was recently given some of her yearbooks from high school and college as well as an album of notes, cards, and newspaper clippings. In this album, I found a handwritten essay from when she was a student at Washington Bible College entitled “Ten Characteristics in My Mate.”
Not only does this essay provide me with an inside look into a twenty-year old, Bible-college student’s hopes for marriage, but it provides me with a better understanding of my mother as a person—the systems of beliefs, values, and commitments in her heart. Although this is a rather simple essay (in content and form), I was struck by her spiritual insight and maturity. Her priorities were spot on. I was encouraged to see her emphasis on qualities such as spiritual leadership, compassion, vulnerability, as well as a commitment to the local church and conflict resolution. Far from being overwhelming and unattainable expectations, she had the wisdom to look not for the highest perfection of these characteristics, but growth in them, and to apply them to herself as well.
Though I spent only two years of my life with her and have no memories, I know she may have had the most profound impact on my life. This is something I did not understand until I witnessed firsthand the relationship between my firstborn and his mother. I wrote about this in an earlier post. I am thankful that even 30 years later and ten years into my own marriage, she can still minister to me and challenge me to be a better husband, father, and man of God. Whether you are a young twenty-something looking for a spouse or a seasoned veteran of holy matrimony, I hope you find encouragement in my mother’s words from over 35 years ago.
I have typed out this essay exactly as she wrote it—
March 1, 1982
Ten Characteristics in My Mate
When I think of marriage and my life partner, I have a list of ten characteristics which help me in choosing my spouse. These characteristics I expect to also have in myself. The Ten Characteristics are these:
1) Spiritual Maturity and Leadership
I have always wanted my husband to be a man of God—that loves God with all his heart. A man that knows God’s Word and that can take on the role of a leader of me and others. Someone who will pray with me and share what God is doing with me. Someone who would start devotions with the family and realize its importance. A man who is full of God’s wisdom to guide me and our family.
2) A Man Who Would Respect My Opinion
When something comes up that will affect the family, I want my husband to come and share with me. I would like him to ask my opinion and to weigh it and then decide on the best choice for the family. I know that my husband has the final say, but he would come to me and ask my opinion and respect it. He might not agree with it but he would still respect it.
3) A Man Who is Caring, Loving, Understanding, and Sensitive so That I Can Go to Him with My Problems
When I am not feeling well or if I have a problem, I could go to him for advice. He would try to understand and put himself in my situation and help me out.
4) A Man Who Would Feel Free to Come to Me with Their Problems
A man that would not feel weak if he came to me for help. He could feel free to say, “Hey, I have a problem, could you help me?” Recognize that we are a team and we help each other out. Along with this is a person who would feel free to cry. I’ve always admired a man that cries. I don’t like it when men feel they are weak if they cry.
5) A Hard Worker
I’ve always wanted a man who is not afraid of getting his hands dirty. Someone who is known as a hard worker in the church, at home, and anywhere else. Not a quitter, but does the job and does it right.
6) Loves Children
A man who works well with and loves children. Who has had experience with children and who would want to work with them later on in his life. Who would want to have children of his own and would devote time and effort in working with them. A man who would be loved by children around the neighborhood, in church, and mostly in his home.
7) Involved in the Local Church
A man who gets involved in the church either as a teacher, a deacon, or even a bus driver. Someone who has a ministry in the local church as a family.
8) A Creative Husband
A man who would do little things for me. While dating he would do things
—little surprises and activities, but still keep that in marriage. To come home on a Friday night and say, “Hey, pack up—we’re going away for the weekend, just me and you!” To be creative!
9) Trust in Me and Be Honest with Me
That my husband would trust me in all that I do and that he would be honest with me and in return I would be honest with him. He would trust me to know that I will always tell the truth.
10) When a Problem Comes Up Between Us, to Talk It Out
Whenever there might be conflict to bring it out in the air right away. To talk as soon as possible instead of letting it get heated or letting the mind wander. I would like to talk everything out in full every time something comes up.
These are 10 characteristics that I would like to have in a mate, but if the one I love does not have them all, I’m not going to drop him. These qualities are a guideline in choosing a mate. God will develop these in me as well as in my husband.