So lately you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as much. Part of the reason is that I’ve had a couple of different speaking engagements. And since, like most of you, I have a real day job, my time has been limited and I wanted to speak and share well which takes prep time. But one of the benefits of this is that whenever I get to share with groups, it makes me think about things in new ways. It also leads to new questions from people who are smack in the middle of singleness. So I’m looking forward to sharing some new thoughts, as well as some new angles on old thoughts.
One thing that got brought up at each engagement was the idea of who it is that we are looking for. This is kind of an interesting question. I know for me, that sort of changed at different times. The basic questions are things like, “I don’t want to marry someone I don’t love.” “I can’t seem to find a ‘real’ Christian.” “Should you marry some one that you can live with or someone that you can’t live without.” Those are all upcoming blogs but I want to start with something more simple today.
I asked each group to give me a list of things that they were looking for. Now understand that these were mix gendered groups with diversity of age and experiences so there were a lot of answers. Here were some:
- A Christian
- A leader
- Someone who is compassionate
- Someone that likes athletics
- A gentleman (lady)
- A guy who knows his bible
- Someone who loves their family
- Someone who has a plan
- Someone who is driven
- Someone who wants a family
- Someone who sees finances the way I do
- Someone who sees politics the way I do
- A guy with a job
- Has a balanced life – work/life balance
- Respects people
- Interested in me – wants to know me
I could go on, but you get the idea. We all have some sort of list. We have things that we want in another person. Some are a big deal to us and others are kind of negotiable. But most of us have a list.
But here is the truth about our list. Most of the things on it are qualifiers not attractors. What I mean is that we can say, “I want someone who is a ‘real’ Christian” but what we mean is “I want someone who I’m attracted to who also is a Christian.” I know this is true because if it wasn’t then everyone at my church would be married, but as it stands only about half of them are.
Now your list is actually important. The list is what keeps you from marrying someone just because you are attracted to them. Or at least it should.
But you can meet someone who has everything on your list but it probably won’t matter if you aren’t attracted to them. A woman can say I want a Christian man who is serious about his faith, who is a solid guy, who is smart, has a job etc. The thing is I could introduce you to fifty of those people right now. As I said to one group, “If that is what you are looking for, look around the room, pick someone and get married.”
That might be ok, but the deal is you’ve got to own it. Because if you don’t you end up running in a circle and basically sort of start becoming dishonest. You can say, “Well I just haven’t met anyone who has this of that quality.” – But you have. All the time actually.
As I’ve said before, at it’s base level, attraction is not a choice. The good news is that we are attracted at some level to all sorts of people. But we aren’t attracted to that list. The list should help us decide what to do with the attraction.
This has huge ramifications both personally and corporately in the church.
We spend a lot of time telling people that they need to be the things on the list, which is fine. But we spend about zero time talking about how to deal with attraction – both how to be more attractive, and how to handle it when we are attracted. Continually beating us over the head with what should be on our list (i.e. “don’t settle”) isn’t enough. Neither is telling people that if they are those things that they will be attractive – because that’s false.
We also end up hurting people. We say things like, “well you have all these great qualities, someone will want that” or “you’d make a great husband (wife)”. While a nice compliment it doesn’t help anyone get married. It also can cause more pain when we interact with the opposite sex.
In one group I was teaching at we asked people why they thought they were still single. One woman said, “It’s tough to meet a Christian.” I smiled and kind of cringed because really this woman just disrespected every guy in the room. She didn’t mean to, and she doesn’t have to. What she should have maybe said is “I haven’t met a man who I’m that attracted to that is a Christian.”
Now this of course raises many questions including can you marry someone you aren’t attracted to? That’s a post I’ll write soon but we need to begin to get ahold of this idea. We need to own our attraction issues which can be complicated. We need to understand that just because we would make a great spouse doesn’t get us married. They are different skill sets – not opposing skill sets, but different.
There are all sorts of people that can get married that would make horrible spouses and vice a versa.
Some things to think about:
What is really on your list? How much does your list matter vs. attraction? How honest are you with yourself and others about all of this? What is your attraction measurement?