I’m starting to think that everyone needs to define for themselves what “Happily Ever After” looks like. Write it out someplace and refer to it frequently. Update it as you find new things and new contexts. Share it with those you love the most and let their own “Happily Ever After” story and your story influence each other. If you are married, you should have already done something along this line of thought already.

If you are unmarried, perhaps hurting, this is still important, but revealing your deepest longings to another person may need to come incrementally. And sometimes it might just come gushing out, leaving you overly vulnerable. But if you are going to reconnect with others, eventually you will need to share yourself with them. Yes, this requires you to open yourself to the risk of pain. But here’s the deal. You will never know if you can truly trust someone unless you open yourself up to them. To put it another way, you must trust someone to discover if you can trust them.

So how do you come up with your own “Happily Ever After” anyway? Let me take a stab at it.

Start with your non-negotiables. What are the aspects of life that make it worth living to you? These are the things that must be present at all stages of your story. These are also the things that any partner in your story must share with you if they will be joining you in your “Happily Ever After.” If you walk through life with someone who doesn’t share your non-negotiables, or worse if they work against your non-negotiables, you cannot be happy. And if you discover this after you have pledged your life to them, life will be difficult at best.

The non-negotiables of your “Happily Ever After” shouldn’t require another person, by the way. An abiding and growing love for Jesus is my number one description of “Happily Ever After” for myself. I do desire a partner in my walk through life. And this same love for Jesus must be present in anyone who I walk with. I have other non-negotiables, but I don’t need to share them all for you to get the idea.

The obvious follow up to non-negotiables are the things that you can negotiate. Life doesn’t always follow the plans that you make. In fact, it seldom does. Because of this, I currently have concepts in this category, not absolutes. And vague concepts don’t really belong in my definition of “Happily Ever After.”

I have also considered adding information of how I wish to obtain to my “Happily Ever After” but if I have solid instructions, they belong in the non-negotiable category and if they are vague concepts, I don’t want to clutter my “Happily Ever After.”

So that’s my take on how to define your “Happily Ever After.” And what is mine? I’ve only shared that with a few people, and I think one of them doesn’t even realize that I was sharing this with them. In fact, I’m pretty sure of it. I gave a heavily edited version, anyway, so if I share it again, I will need to share my current version.

I’m reading the Pilgrim’s Progress right now. And the allegory of that story goes well with my “Happily Ever After” theme. I could say that I have abandoned the City of Destruction and am on my way to the Celestial City. That journey provides the setting for my happily ever after, even as it includes the trials and heartaches I have been encountering and will continue to find. I want someone to run to that city with me through the difficulties and the joys. Hand in hand. As partners, as teammates. If nobody joins me, I will keep running.

But I’ve given as much of my “Happily Ever After” as I am willing to share in a blog post. There is more to it. And it is beautiful. And I am longing to share it in full with somebody. In God’s time. In God’s way.