Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finding Mr. Right

After talking with a young lady recently regarding the relationship issues she is having with her current boyfriend (and I say that term in the loosest sense of the word), I am compelled to write this blog post.  It is my strong desire and prayer that anyone who reads this will walk away from it feeling free, empowered, and content in whatever relationship situation they currently find themselves.  

From the time we are little girls, we are told as women that we need a man.  We are inundated with those underlying messages via all media outlets and even our young friends at a very early age.  I recall being told in Kindergarten by a girlfriend that I needed to pick out a boyfriend from the pool of boys in our class, and she clearly pointed out who was "off limits" to me since she had dibs on them.  Five years old and I'm being told that I need a boyfriend.  Ay, yai, yai.

In high school, I recall that anytime I didn't have a boyfriend, everyone was constantly trying to fix me up with one.  I, in turn, would torture my own friends in the same way.  Sadly, this behavior was "normal." Being older and hopefully wiser now, I am convinced that this mentality was extremely detrimental to us as young women.  Our focus was so out-of-line and sure didn't do us any favors.  Instead of honing our time and energies on school, real friendships, and growing into the women we needed to become, we wasted an immense amount of time thinking our value was based on who we dated (or the lack thereof).  Instead of being more concerned with coming to know Christ and gleaning true wisdom and help with our ever-shifting identities, we allowed ourselves to succumb to societal pressures and the world's ideas about what a woman's purpose is.  If guys weren't interested, there must be something wrong with us.  What a joke.

You hear people say that they wish they could go back to their teen years with the adult wisdom and experience they have now and do it much differently.  I would agree that though futile, I have thought this many times.  High school and college can be pretty rough though--it is easy to talk big when you aren't truly facing the same pressures and uncertainties.  But if I could go back with my current experiences and wisdom, I'd like to think I would do many things differently.  There is a famous quote that says, "Smart people learn from their own mistakes.  Wise people learn from the mistakes of others."  In an honest effort to perhaps help some young girl out there who is in her quest for, "Mr. Right," or perhaps even to encourage an older woman who is starting over in life and unsure of what exactly is in store for her relationally-speaking, I want to share the things I have hopefully learned from my own mistakes, as well as, in all my dealings with mentoring women, counseling young girls, and in reading numerous books on dating and marriage.  I write this blog with much fear and trepidation because even I know that in life there are many uncertainties. God very well could give me an opportunity to use what I'm preaching.  There are no guarantees that my husband will always be faithful or living until the day I go home to be with my Lord.  So perhaps even I will need to read this blog post again one day to remind myself of the things God has told me over the years on this subject.   Here goes, in no particular order (and please, this is not suited or appropriate for young women under 13 years of age):

1.  If you don't have a walk with God through Christ and what He did for you on the cross, strive to find that truth for yourself.  You cannot fully know, understand, or appreciate who you really are or what your real value is until you understand that.  Date God.  He shows up on time, is polite, is a total gentleman, won't use you for sex, and knows you better than you know yourself already.  He always listens, always encourages, and loved you first.

2.  Hang around other women who make you feel good about you and who love you just as you are--you deserve it and you ARE worth this.  If they are constantly badgering you to, "find a man," they aren't your friend.  If they make you feel like your life has to be a carbon copy of theirs, RUN.  Nothing will put you in bondage to incorrect living quicker than being bombarded constantly by people who want to run your life for their own purposes.  Your life is as unique as you are---God made you differently and He gave you different stuff in life to handle and manage.  Be okay with it and spend time with others who are also "okay" with these truths. The last thing you need in your quest for God's will in your life is someone else telling you what they think you need.  God's voice gets trumped enough in the noise of our busy lives.

3.  Get to know you.  What do you enjoy?  What are you good at doing?  What excites you and makes your heart sing?  About what are you passionate?  Take time to get to know yourself through God's eyes, as well as your own.  This will only make you a better, more ready person for whomever God brings, if He chooses to do so.  Become the person you want to find in a companion.  What does God truly want for your life?  Is a man even a part of that plan?  What kind of man will fit that plan and those desires of your heart?  There were many women in the Bible who are used as an example for model-living in Christ who never had a man.  Do not feel pressured that your life is empty and void if you aren't serving a man.  Serve Christ--He is your first husband and always will be.  He is a faithful One and you can always count on that.

4.  Pray constantly about this matter of, "finding a companion," but ultimately for contentment to just serve Christ and enjoy your life to the fullest for as long as it takes.  Let GOD bring the man HE desires for you, when and if He desires it.  When we push, strain, and strive for things in life, whether it be relationally or otherwise, they tend to disappoint.  When we, "let go and let God" so to speak, it is then that God is given control and tends to move on our behalf in ways that astonish us in utter gratitude.  He goes far beyond our expectations when we give Him utter control.  Don't bend rules, push lines, or overlook things that you know aren't exactly in-line with what God wants for your life just to get what you want.  You'll end up with something that looks nothing like what you initially wanted--and probably with a great deal of hurt, as well.

5.  Make a prayerful list of what you want in a man--and here's the hard part:  stick to it with a vengeance.  Do not bend or think that anything God laid on your heart to put on that list is at any point unnecessary or invalid.  Again, do not bend for anyone.  Of course, I am not talking about silly things like, "I want my future husband to be a good dancer."  I am talking about big stuff--Godly stuff.  Stuff like, "I want my future husband to be honest, to handle money properly, and be God-fearing."  Do not bend on the big, prayerful, "deal-breaker" items on that list.  God can do it.  He doesn't belong in a box.  He is a miracle-worker and He wants nothing more than to lavish His perfect will on patient, worthy recipients who endured, prayed fervently, and looked to HIM for their purpose and meaning in life.  He loves us far more than any person on the planet.  So it follows then that He can be trusted and He can give you His perfect will for your life.  If He can create the universe in 6 days, He can be trusted to take care of your deal-breakers.  Never stop praying and if God sends someone to court or date you, keep praying the entire time for red flags and closed doors if it isn't His will.  He will show you the way if you're truly serious about looking and following His guidance.  He knows our hearts and our heart's desires.  If you're praying all the right things, but deep down you're doing it YOUR way, He knows this, too.  You can fool everyone--even yourself.  But we never fool God.  Seek Him with all your heart on this matter.  It has been quoted and researched by many Christian marriage counselors (and others) that women get upwards of 90% of their identities from their fathers, and then 90% of their happiness from their husbands.  Who we marry is a huge life-decision and choice--it literally can make or break us.  So choose wisely, carefully, and prayerfully.

6.  If a guy gives you ultimatums on any level, run like the wind.  Any man who tells you that you would, "do this [whatever "this" may be] if you loved me," can move on down the road.  If he truly loves you, he won't want anything from you but your committed love according to God's laid out plan for courtship and marriage.  He will treat you like a goddess and will love you so much he won't want to hurt you or any part of the relationship.  If a man honestly loves you, he won't make you bend your rules because he will be smart enough to know that you are a prize to be had.  If a guy is pressuring you to have sex or move-in together so he can, "try you [or the relationship] on for size," tell him that you are a human being and this is not a car dealership.  There are plenty of used cars out there that he can go test drive (he probably needs to be pushed back into his proper league--did I say that out loud?)!  You are a person and don't need test drove.  Dating is to be looked upon as courtship for marriage.  Anyone who tells you, "Let's just have fun and see where it goes," probably isn't seriously looking for a long term commitment and they may end up breaking your heart.  Better to be safe than sorry.  If the guy can't tell you on date #2 or 3 that he is looking for a lifelong partner, RUN.  He is probably up to no good and your heart is not even on his radar (he actually may not even have one himself)!

7.  If you EVER, even ONCE, have to ask yourself whether the guy truly loves you, RUN.  Any woman who is honest with herself knows the answer to that question.  When a man truly, fully loves you, he would lay down in traffic for you and buy you the world.  Your past, your present, and your future don't really matter to him.  He just wants you.  We all know this, but somehow at times there is a disconnect for us as women with this truth.  Don't fall prey to the games by the "players" in the world who seek to convince you that YOU owe THEM something, and that YOU should be glad to be with THEM.  Men who are worth giving yourself and your life (because who are we kidding--as women, we take care of them forever), act utterly honored to be in your company.  Anyone who doesn't is no one you're going to want to share a bed with for 50 years, clean their toilet, and do their laundry.  Get real, girls.  Yes, the "players" have great curb appeal.  They're charming, handsome, typically talented, and maybe even remotely intelligent (obviously, if they get us to thinking they are worth all the trouble we go to just to please them).  But walk inside the front door to their hearts and lives, and buckle-up.  The needed renovations are more than you have time, energy, and money to handle.  Their love is superficial, selfish, and conditional.  You don't need any of it and your heart won't be able to keep up with their nonsense.

8.  If a guy doesn't know God or have a steady relationship and walk with God, RUN.  Nothing more needed here.  (This probably should have been #2 on the list)!

9.  If sappy chick songs and movies make you desire the love of a man more than you typically do, don't watch them or listen to them.  As girls, we already have enough of these needy emotions.  Don't add to it.  You might as well go buy a gun and shoot yourself in the foot--you're essentially placing yourself in harm's way by arousing feelings that could get you to bend your rules.  Don't be naive--even the subtleties in life can sway us.  No one is immune to frailty.  Listen to music and watch things that make you feel like an empowered, God-fearing, God-trusting woman--because that is who you actually need to be and who you were designed to be.

10.  Court, date, and marry a man who makes you feel like a queen, but who you know your love and passion would be so stirred that you'd feel like a "girl for hire" in the bedroom.  That is pretty forward, candidly brazen, and perhaps even crudely stated.  But ladies, our desire for our husbands ebbs and flows throughout life's different stages and seasons.  The child-bearing years can be horrendous--we are so exhausted at day's end that the only thought we have is, "Give me sleep!"  Therefore, if you don't have the serious "hots" for the guy, RUN.  Sometimes "hot" is all you got.  "Hot" can be all that is holding your marriage together at times, and you're going to need it.  Marriage is tough.  If while dating him, you don't pine or croon much for the guy, and you never have to pray to God for self-control or for your thought-life about him, you probably don't have the hots for him.  Better to find someone about whom you DO feel that way.  This needs to be on your prayer list and it is a deal-breaker.  Do not feel superficial for this.  God intended marriage and sex for pleasure--not just companionship, duty, and child-rearing.  Anyone who tells you differently or gives you the whole, "that kind of love will grow in time" bit, is a liar or they've fooled themselves into that marital martyrdom and now want to hold you captive to it, too.  Don't overlook the "hot" factor because the guy is a good Christian, kind, funny, or rich.  They may make a great dad and provider, but if you don't want to seriously suck their face off, you have no business dating or marrying them.  If there's little to no chemistry, you're going to eventually want to shove his money, his theology, his etiquette, and his jokes down his throat.  Every woman I know who has "settled," is in a loveless marriage today and feels in total bondage to it.  They are miserable, lifeless, and dead.  Society makes "hot" seem superficial and dirty.  But God actually created it first, and He meant it for good.  He made Eve look pretty darn good to Adam--that was the very first "hot" factor.  If we handle it properly and do things His way, "hot" blesses your marriage beyond your wildest dreams.  And you don't need a stupid "test drive" to know that.  God promises it in Solomon and He always keeps His promises.

I want to close this overly-lengthy post by saying to you from the bottom of my very heart:  Sister, you are worth it.  You are worth your fairy tale.  God wants it for you.  He wants to be your Knight-in-Shining-Armor, first and foremost.  He is all you need anyway, so you can properly view your, "Mr. Right" quest, as icing on the cake of your life.  Finding a man isn't the cake.  The life you have in Christ is your cake.  And you can have your cake and eat it, too, when you follow Him and give Him all control.  No games, no lies, no finesse, no guile.  God is real, He is yours, and He is there--always.  He can be trusted and He'll never leave you.  He will never use you, lie to you, or break your heart.  You aren't incomplete--you are already whole in Him.  There is nothing wrong with you because no one "cute" is interested.  The cute guys can be mostly jerks, and that isn't me wooing a female audience with fake stats. Studies show that the hunks aren't always very bright or emotionally adept, and if anyone has a problem with that they can take it up with research (or better yet, work to prove it wrong)!  Studies also show that, "players" (as they are frequently called today), typically have so much relational baggage (i.e., "pasts"--you know, all those other "cars" they thought they had to test drive), that you'll be dragging around more gawky, heavy luggage than you ever wanted (and it's luggage you never purchased on sale at Macy's)!  So don't waste your time on the pointless thought that there is something wrong with you, even though the "players" typically have this sly way of making it seem this is the issue.  Actually, if you aren't attracting handsome jerks or they are leaving you, you're doing everything right!  You deserve someone who doesn't have so many knots in his rope that you'll never undo them all.  You are worthy of someone cute though, and God can bring one that is also Godly, kind-hearted, and good to you.  He did this for me and then some--and I am eternally grateful.  God, your Father, wants your love and passion awakened by a deserving man who doesn't use and abuse it, but instead heightens it safely and richly in order to bless your life.  You are valuable, you are lovely, and you are worthy of a happy life--with or without a man.  Life is good either way because we already serve an amazing Man, ladies--and His name is, Jesus Christ.  Give Him your heart first and let Him take care of the rest.  May God bless you all richly and abundantly!  Joy to you!

Isaiah 54:5, "For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called."

Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."