My Twitter feed and Facebook timeline are full of articles on dating and marriage. I’ve read everything from what girls should be looking for in their guys and what guys should be looking for in their girls to articles written to future husbands and articles that talk about allowing God to write your love story. Most of what I’m reading is spot on.
I absolutely do believe it’s good and necessary to keep an open mind when it comes to dating and not limit yourself to a long, lengthy list of must-haves and can’t-haves. I tore up my late-90s youth group “boyfriend wish list” a long, long time ago. I’ve quit looking at men through my flawed, human eyes, and I’ve started looking at them through my “Jesus eyes.” No longer do I care if he’s taller than me or if he shares my taste in music. He doesn’t have to wear cologne and he doesn’t have to love Mexican food just because I could literally eat it every day. I just want a man who loves Jesus more than himself, a man who loves Jesus more than he loves me. A man who’s committed and actively growing in his relationship with Christ and doesn’t mind letting me grow along with him. A man who sees the value of ministry and serving within the local church.
I believe character counts. Not eye color or hair color or height or build or any other smattering of physical characteristics. I’m not knocking physical attraction. I’m truly not. But a man’s character? His heart? Man, that’s sexy. And it lasts.
I’m pretty sure my Father knows what I need to worry about when it comes to dating checklists. He’d rather me partner with a man of great character than a man with great style. He’d rather me focus on the eternal rather than the physical.
If age has taught me just one thing, it’s this:
God’s best does not always fit your preconceived idea of what you think you need.
I’m in complete awe of the ways the Lord has shown me different facets of His character through my interactions and friendships with men. And guess what? None of the Godly men I admire and respect would probably fit my former dating checklist completely. There are men in my life today that have shown me characteristics and traits I admire and desire in a partner that were not even a blip on my radar back in 10th grade. If I was still holding that list tightly to my chest, I’d be missing out on a whole lot of good and a whole lot of God.
(And guys… I’m sorry I’m writing this from a female point of view. Feel free to swap out the nouns and pronouns. It works just the same. I know this is what you believe, too. I truly believe our hearts are the same.)
I used to devour those dating articles about what we should be looking for in a potential mate. I’d read them and think “Man, if only so-and-so would read this and GET A CLUE… Let me just post this on Twitter or Facebook and hope he reads it.” (Girls… you and I both know you’ve done this. Guys, I’m not one hundred percent certain, but I’m pretty sure you do the same thing – in one form or another.)
We live in a generation that puts our best social-media-self forward. And sometimes it’s not just self-preservation and pride at play. Sometimes it’s simply an effort to make ourselves more desirable to the opposite sex. We make sure our lipstick and the lighting is just right and the angle is flattering before we snap that selfie and post it. We put our best “Man, I’d make a good wife” pictures on Instagram, showcasing our ability to make a perfect four-course meal or bake beautiful, Pinterest-worthy Christmas cookies. We craft Tweets with a specific person in mind, hoping he or she will read them and think “This girl LOVES her some Jesus!” We’re so concerned about fostering that best image of our outer selves that we lose sight of what we know truly matters: our character, our heart.
These things go hand in hand. Do you see it? Do you really get it? Because after years of making jokes about my singleness in an attempt to deflect attention from my real feelings and after years of heartache from feeling like I’m not enough, I finally get it.
I’m not enough.
I’m not enough, but Jesus is.
Instead of trying to put my best self forward, I need to put my best Jesus inward. I’ve realized I can’t be the good, Godly woman a man desires to do life with if I’m not yet that woman.
I cling to the promise that He’s not done with me just yet. He’s still shaping my heart. He’s still molding my thought processes. He’s still showing me what Love looks like – His love. He’s still building my character. He’s still imprinting His truth on my heart and in my mind. He’s still teaching me more and more and more. He’s patient and loving and gentle and kind – even when I wrestle against Him. He wants MY character to count. He wants ME to fit His list of what a Godly woman looks like. He wants me to be the woman he intends me to be.
This is what I now fully know in the deepest parts of my heart:
Ladies, if you want a Kingdom man, you have to be a Kingdom woman.
Men, if you want a Kingdom woman, you have to be a Kingdom man.
We can’t get so caught up in looking for that Godly man or woman that we forget to be a Godly man or woman.
More than anything – more than dating or marriage or a family – we must desire beautiful hearts that look more and more like His each passing day.