Let’s quickly review. I told you that through these blog posts I would explore 3 questions I’ve been asking about dating and 3 commitments I’ve made and upon which I have chosen to “double down.”
1. Why do you want to date?
2. How holy do you believe God’s grace will enable you to be?
In this post, we will explore the final question.
Maybe the way I struggle with this question is different from the way you approach it. Or maybe not.
I’m tempted to target this more to the gents who may be reading this, but I actually think it is equally appropriate for both men and women. Here’s why: Though I believe that it is up to the man to be the one who pursues the woman, statistically women have been shown to be “pickier” than guys. Therefore the question of the day applies to both genders:
Question #3: What are you looking for in your future spouse?
Seriously, I’m asking you. What?
Have you ever heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? If not, I’m sorry for your childhood. You can google it and watch one of the videos that pop up as a bedtime story tonight. Sometimes dating can feel like Goldilocks’ adventure in the house of the three bears where she is searching for the thing that is “just right”…or in our case, the person who is “just right.”
I’m not going to give you specifics because I think they could potentially interact with underlying insecurities, but I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous reasons given as to why a guy isn’t interested in a girl (or vice versa)…because they are “too _____________” or “too _____________.” As I’ve been re-watching Seinfeld on Netflix, there are more than a few ridiculous conversations along those lines. I’ve been guilty of it myself.
So what is “just right” to you? Or should I say, who is “just right”?
This question may be a little more challenging to address because of the perspective that you bring to the table.
Some of us are indeed looking for a person who is “just right”…perfect for us in every way. Others are looking for “just anybody.” And in between those extremes, we ALL find ourselves somewhere along the continuum of expectation.
On the one side, we struggle with being too picky and on the other we struggle with compromising legitimate standards. How do we reconcile the tension between having high standards and being too picky? What is non-negotiable? What needs to be negotiable?
By the way, if you are reading this and you are a young, hilarious, beautiful, billionaire heiress who has retired from being an astronaut and, out of your love for God, have decided to spend your emotionally stable life serving others by cooking gourmet meals on your yacht as you sail around the world in search of conquest and adventure, please message me. I think we should talk. You may be “just right” for me.
So…I tend to fall more on the idealistic side of the spectrum. But, as I said in a previous post, I go through phases where I’ll settle for “company” as my idealism wanes and the reality of being alone rises to the forefront of my thoughts. So I suppose you could say that I’ve made a road trip or two across the continuum.
Let me address you “just right” folks first.
Recently, in reading through Tim Keller’s Book The Meaning of Marriage, I came across this gem of a quote:
Both men and women today want a marriage in which they can receive emotional and sexual satisfaction from someone who will simply let them “be themselves.” They want a spouse who is fun, intellectually stimulating, sexually attractive, with many common interests, and who, on top of it all, is supportive of their personal goals and of the way they are living now. And if your desire is for a spouse who will not demand a lot of change from you, then you are also looking for a spouse who is almost completely pulled together, someone very “low maintenance” without much in the way of personal problems. You are looking for someone who will not require or demand significant change. You are searching, therefore, for an ideal person—happy, healthy, interesting, content with life. Never before in history has there been a society filled with people so idealistic in what they are seeking in a spouse.”
He is suggesting that the attributes of the person that fit our definition of “just right” may be attributes motivated by a desire to have someone who will conveniently fit into our lives and who will not require us to change.
Surrounded by a culture that places supreme value on ideations like “acceptance” and “tolerance,” could it be that we subconsciously embrace these expectations and unknowingly demand them from the people who get closest to us, pushing them away when we feel they demand too much? Or when someone’s issues no longer make a relationship convenient?
At this point, I want to go back to the passage from the Bible that I used in a previous post.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy… Ephesians 5:25-26
Gosh. When I think about that, I realize that Jesus loved us and gave himself up for us when we were not “just right” at all. When I am totally flawed JESUS LOVES ME.
The love that Jesus demonstrates for me is not earned by my ability to meet the qualifications of his checklist for his future spouse. Rather, the love He shows me actually enables me to become that which I wasn’t.
I wonder if, rather than focusing on the search for the person who is “just right,” we should fix our eyes on the love that God gives us when we are all wrong? As we become more aware of our own shortcomings, and even more so, the Father’s love for us in the midst of those shortcomings, perhaps we will have the capacity, with that same love we have received, to love a person who is “too _____________?”
You won’t find it. And, I hate to break it to you…you’re not it either.
So say hello to “Mr. or Miss Wrong.”
What about those of us who fall on the other side of the spectrum and are in a place where we are looking for “just anybody?”
There is a big difference between being picky and having Godly standards. There are certain things that the Word of God admonishes us to consider when entering into a relationship that could lead to marriage; primarily that we are spiritually compatible with the person we are considering entering into a covenant with. I’m not talking about someone who has “prayed a prayer” one time like you did…I’m talking about somebody who is walking down a firm path in the same direction that you are going.
Can I encourage you to search God’s Word and use it as the filter of not only how you see your own value but in establishing values that help you determine what you are looking for in a future spouse? If you don’t, your standards will be shaped for you externally by our culture or internally by your own unmet desire for companionship.
So, what are you looking for in your future spouse?
It’s not bad to be specific. In fact, specifics can be very helpful. We all need to decide upon and commit to our own list of non-negotiables (standards) and negotiables (preferences). But I want to check myself to make sure that my “specifics” are not unknowingly skewed by selfish, idealistic expectation on the one side or pessimistic desperation on the other.
So that’s why I’m making this commitment:
Commitment #3 – To be Practical in Pursuit
To pursue a relationship with Godly standards.
Want to join me?
Will you do me a favor and leave a comment stating the 3 most important qualities that you are looking for in your future spouse? You know you want to. The comments box is right there…