One of the amazing things about Jesus is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, what our story is, He loves us. In the famous hymn’s words he loves me Just As I Am. I can come to know Him just as I am, receive His grace as I am and start to follow Him right from where I am now. I don’t earn it. In fact I can’t earn it. God loves you and me right now, no matter what.
The truth is that we all long for that. We long to be fully known and fully loved. We look for it everywhere. As a believer we realize at least intellectually and theologically that God is really the only person who can fulfill that in our lives. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to experience that with another person or people. It also doesn’t stop us from feeling hurt when we don’t experience it with other people even though again, we know intellectually that no one else can do that perfectly.
What’s really interesting is how this gets twisted up when we think about looking for a spouse and frankly later in marriage itself if we get married.
One way that it gets twisted is with the idea that people of the opposite sex should just like me. If they don’t like me then it’s God’s fault of their fault. In other words if I ask out twenty people and they all say no, there still is no reason to look at myself. Women should like me for me after all. Isn’t true love about loving the person no matter what?
Here is where we really fail our people in the church a lot. We forget that getting a date is different than being in a dating relationship is different than being married. They are three almost completely different skill sets. We confuse attraction and love which really aren’t the same at all.
This is where the nice guy who is intimidated of girls he is attracted to says, “but they should like me for me.” or the person who is overweight or doesn’t dress up says, “I just want someone who will love me regardless of what I look like.”
But when it comes to getting a date, attraction matters. There’s just no way around it. For most of history there were no dates. Attraction still mattered obviously. But in most cultures marriages were at least somewhat arranged. But that’s not where we are now. And I don’t really hear very many people clamoring to go back to that. So if we don’t want to back to that . . . maybe we need to think about what we can do to actually get a date.
It’s sort of like when you need a job. You have to apply. And most of the time you need to interview well. Not always to be sure. But typically. So what do you do when you interview? Study up. Dress up. Speak up. Show desire for the job without acting desperate for the job. Now obviously you could interview well, get the job and then be terrible at it. No doubt this happens all the time. The same is true of marriage. People get married and then have no clue how to be married. But this doesn’t change the fact that you have to pass the interview stage to get the job, you have to get a date to get married.
But here’s the good thing about all of this. Most of the things (not all) that help you get a date are pretty good for you to consider anyway. I shouldn’t be desperate for a girl. I shouldn’t be insecure just because I like someone or I’m afraid of rejection. I should get in shape physically anyway. The list could go on. Why not improve?
Now a couple of caveats that should be obvious. I’m not suggesting that you have to be perfect or a perfect 10. Not at all. I’m not suggesting beating yourself up. I’m not suggesting that if you do “everything right” that it will happen for you. Heck I’m not even suggesting that you should marry someone that you think doesn’t love you for you. No way!!
What I’m saying is that you can’t expect the person who doesn’t know you yet to do that. And if we’re honest here, you’re probably not doing that for anyone else either. You’re not thinking, “I’ll marry someone that I’m not attracted to” or “I’ll marry the first guy that asks me out no matter who it is.” Basically our message is typically, “You should love me for me – even though I won’t do that for you.”
I’m also saying, why not work on this stuff. Why not look at the things that hold me back and deal with them. What I’m saying is that if you “stay as you are” then you most likely will keep having the same results. What I’m saying is it’s a good thing to actually grow and develop – even if that means growing and developing in relating to the opposite sex.
The thing about Jesus is that while He loves each of us just as we are, He loves us too much to leave us there. He’s constantly moving us forward, not because He loves us more if we move forward but because He loves us enough to want us to be free of our sin, fears, insecurities, and wounds.