Should You Pray For A Spouse?

One of the things I did a lot as a single person is pray for a spouse.  That took a lot of different forms.  Sometimes it was simple and relaxed.  Other times it took the form of crying out (read begging) for God to bring me The One.  Often when I really thought someone could be the one it was praying for God to “make it happen”, sometimes before I’d even been on a date (that hurts a little to type – Ha!).

But over and over again for years, it never happened.  God didn’t “answer” my prayer.

This really begs two different types of questions.  First, should we, and if so how should we, pray about gaining a spouse.  Second, why is it that God doesn’t seem to answer this prayer or as I like to say, why doesn’t God just “poof” us a spouse.

Before I give my feeble attempt to answer those two questions (the first one in this post and the latter in an upcoming post), let me remind us of a few things that we need to clear out of the way.  Platitudes that we know aren’t true and that I’ve debunked here before.  Those include but are not limited to: There is not a Christian Soulmate; God does not owe you a spouse; God is not holding out on you; God Has Not Changed His plan for marriage; It might not be God’s fault; and You don’t earn a spouse.

Ok, now let’s get to it.

First of all, I think it is absolutely a great thing to pray for a spouse.  Why would you not take your desire to God.  You don’t need to try to kill that desire (ignore the whole “it’s when you don’t want it it will happen thing” – that is sort of good advice if it means, don’t be desperate, but pretending you don’t want something is called avoidance, not dealing with it).

We need to take our heart to God.  But I think how we pray can really help us here.  Let’s get very practical.  Here are some things I’d encourage in prayer about a spouse.

  • Avoid praying for THE ONE as there isn’t the one.  This also decreases the pressure when you do meet someone and makes hearing God less pressurized as well.  Maybe pray of A One or something like that.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment.  “God show me what to do and who to pursue further.  God show me what you want me to do.  Do you like this relationship?” etc.
  • Submit to God.  This was huge for me.  I finally quit praying for a spouse.  I took a step back and said, “God, I’ll do whatever you want (You’ll probably need to at least mostly mean that), Just tell me what to do”.
  • Understand that there are different forces at work.  So pray for protection.  Both in searching for a spouse and also for protection of your heart, mind and will from spiritual attack.
  • Pray for God to show you (through others, directly, or in any way) the things that you are doing wrong in this process. “God show me my sin,”or maybe “God show me where you are working on me right now.”
  • Also ask God to show you lies you are believing.  Lies about Him, yourself, the opposite sex, marriage, singleness – you name it.  Ask Him to help you not believe them.
  • Ask Him to heal wounds that you have in this area.

This seems like a lot of prayer.  But I think too often we get wrapped up in the wrong prayers.  We pray for The One because we’ve made marriage an idol.  Or we pray for a particular One because we’ve made that person an idol.  We might pray for a spouse and not pray for anything else – therefore essentially basing our whole prayer life with God on finding another person.  I’ve done all of those things.

Finally as we pray we need to be willing to hear anything.  We need to be willing to hear yes or no.  I think a big part of what makes listening to God hard is that we are afraid of what He will say.  What if God wants me to marry a person I’m not attracted to?  What if He wants to me to remain celibate for life?  What if He calls me out on a sin?  What if He tells me not to marry this person I really want to?  It’s the old, “What if God calls me to move to Africa” fear.

But here’s the thing; If we aren’t fully submitted to Him, it will  be hard first to hear and secondly to trust what we hear as coming from Him.  This is of course true of all prayer not just prayer in this area of our lives.  But it can be especially true in areas of prayer, including this one, where we have a high emotional involvement.  It can border on anguish sometimes, and I want to acknowledge that if that’s where you are at, but we can’t stay there.

In summary, we should absolutely pray about this area of our life.  We should do it in submission to God, while at the same time avoiding false submission sounding platitudes and being open and honest with God.  Heck maybe the starting point could be, “God, right now I want what I want.  Help me to step back and be submitted to you.  That’s what I want, to do what you want.  Help me do that.” Then go from there.

Get Out Of The Friend Zone

friendzone

When I was an teenager in school, one of the things that I heard constantly from girls that I wanted to date was something to the effect of, “You’re a great guy, but I just see you as a friend.”  In other words over and over again, I entered what has become known as the friend zone.

This is a terrible place to be.  We get there a whole lot of different ways.  When I was younger, (at least in my experience)  there were some times when I really was friends with the girl before I decided I wanted to date her.  But as you get older this is less likely.

Many guys when they like a woman start being really nice to her.  We go out and try to meet her needs, help her out with anything she wants, buy her considerate gifts etc.  I once bought a girl a birthday present that I wasn’t even dating.  I was a 30 year old man.  WTH was I thinking?  I liked her.  I should do nice stuff for her right?  Yikes!

Many guys think that this is a way to get in with a woman.  Rather than ask her out, I’ll simply get to know her as a friend.  After all, this is way less threatening.  The idea is to be safe and a friend first.  But this is a terrible strategy and frankly it’s intellectually dishonest anyway.  Friending someone in order to get them to like you is manipulation just as much as any of the “evil” dating game moves.  Just way less effective.

The funny thing is, women know all of this. Some of them are even mad about it.  I saw a blog (which I can’t seem to find or I’d link it) where the women were basically saying, “There is no friend zone.  Guys shouldn’t be mad about this.  You could be my friend or not.  But if I tell you that I don’t want to date you and want to be just friends, take a hint.  I don’t want to date you.”

When a woman says I see you as a friend, 9 times out of 10 it means they don’t want to hang out.  And if they do, it’s for some other reason other than being interested.

So the question is, how do you get the heck out of this cycle.  I want to offer a few frank suggestions.  Some of you won’t like them.  That’s fine.  Do you man, but don’t whine about it.

Stop Using This As Strategy

Just stop!  Now!.  Stop trying to get a woman to like you by being her friend.  Stop it.  And most of all, stop being self righteous about it.  I’m a nice guy and I want to be friends with the girl first.  I care about her and if I can be friends with her with the hope of more, so be it.

It’s totally ridiculous, completely dishonest and chicken.  It’s hiding what you really want behind the guise of platonic friendship or worse in the church – ministering to her.  Ugh that makes me want to vomit.  It won’t help her.  It for sure does not help you.  And it won’t end up with you together.

Quit Agreeing To It

If you want to date someone and they say that they want to be just friends, just say no. Stop feeling like you have some sort of responsibility to be friends with every girl you’ve been on a date with.

A few years ago I went on a few dates with a gal and I actually thought we had some real chemistry.  But when I called her after a date she didn’t call me back.  Now by this point in my life I had learned that there was always someone else and I just sort of moved on.

About three months later she called me.  I was sort of in shock to be honest.  I had written the whole thing off. We were sort of chit chatting and I said, “Look, I enjoyed our dates and I’d be willing to go out again and see where it goes.  I’m totally open to that.”  She then said, I kid you not, “Well I’m not really interested in that, but I thought we could be friends.”

After laughing, I said, “Look, we are friends in the sense that we like each other as people, but I don’t have time to just hang out.  I have friends.  I’m looking for a wife.”

Change Your Mentality

In high school I was always the “friend”.  But when I went to college I made a conscious commitment.  I was not going to seek out girls as friends.  Now this didn’t mean that I had no female friends.  But I was not going to be “that” guy.  And you know what happened?  I had a lot of dates.  Most of them went no where.  In an ironic twist my best female friend in college by far was girl who I met on a date.  We both decided it wasn’t going anywhere.  But you know what? She respected me and our friendship because she knew I wasn’t “just a friend”.

This leads to my final point:

Get Out Of Any Friend Zone Relationships Now

If you are friend zoned with someone, just end it.  Stop being a buddy to the girl you want to date.  It takes way too much of your time, energy, thought life, and heart.  It’s unhealthy, keeps you from pursing other women, and it’s not going to suddenly change.  You’re worth more and frankly so is she.  Move on.

People have asked me, how do I get our of the friend zone with this particular person.  My answer every time is simple.  Just stop doing it.  Walk away.  In a sense, break up.  It is the only way.  There’s an outside chance (extremely remote) that it might eventually make you more attractive to her but that can’t even be the goal.  Move on.  Just do it brother.  It’s not complicated.  Do you want her respect or her acceptance?

Do what it takes.  If that means switching community groups do it.  If it means taking her number out of phone or de-freinding her on FB, do it.  If it means not talking to her at all, do it.  Whatever it takes.  Do it and do it now.  You don’t owe her or anyone else the self flagellation.  You really don’t.

Picture from Coloring From Grown Ups

Avoid The Nice Guy Trap

One of the complaints I hear all the time from men (and that I used to make all the time) is that women, and in our case Christian women, always seem to choose the bad guy over the good guy.  If you are a consistent reader hear then you know that I would say that is the wrong view of a real issue.

Here is what women do – they choose the guy they are attracted to over the one they aren’t.

There are a lot of men who say that women should date them because they can be a great husband, are trying to be godly etc, even though they are not, for whatever reason attractive to women.  I would ask that guy, are you asking out women you know to be godly that you are not attracted to?  I’m guessing no.

So rather than sit around and complain, maybe we should think about what is attractive and work on it.

This leads us right back into something that I’ve written about before but I want to address in a different way.  If “nice” guys are not attractive, why do we continue to be nice and how do we keep getting into that spot.

If we are the nice guy, chances are that we will keep getting friend zoned by women.  Maybe eventually a woman, after being with enough “not nice guys” will decide to choose the nice guy, but usually that leads to a marriage that isn’t super successful either.

Today I want to talk about why we think we should be or need to be nice.  Later I want to talk about how to get out of it.

There are lots of reasons that men, especially Christian men, fall into the “nice” trap.  Here are a few.

We think that if we are nice, that it will be reciprocated.  

This of course isn’t actually being nice for niceness sake.  It’s being a player in it’s own way.  In other words I like the girl so I’ll be really nice.  I’ll meet her needs.  I’ll buy here stuff.  I’ll listen to her problems and “minister” to her.  And if I help her enough, surely she will want to be with me.  Except that she won’t.  And if she does it won’t be because you did those things.  Forgetting the fact that this is just as manipulative as any other “game” move, it is not typically effective.

The Church has taught men that if they are nice (or Godly or servants or . . .), women will be attracted.

Making matters worse is the fact that most in the church teach their men this.  They say, serve the woman, protect the woman, rescue the woman, listen to the woman.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do those things.  But what I am saying is that those things will not make you attractive to her.  And getting mad about it won’t change that.

You cannot serve your way to attraction.  You cannot buy your way to attraction.

I know you’ve seen the romantic movies (made for women) where the guy buys the flowers or rescues the damsel.  But go back and re-watch those movies.  When was the girl attracted?  Seriously.  Think about it.

Often we think that we can “save” the girl and if we do then she will want to be with us.  I know I thought this a lot.  But it just doesn’t work that way.  Look, the hero isn’t attractive because he is nice – he’s attractive because he is strong, brave, and doesn’t need anything back from the person he’s saving.

We equate being nice with being good.

This is a false dichotomy.  Nice does not always equal good.  You see someone doing something wrong.  What’s the nice get along thing to do?  What’s the right thing to do?

Jesus was not nice . . . at all really.  He was for sure good.  He called out stuff.  He was fully confident in who He was.  He didn’t need anything from anyone other than God. Remember in The Chronicles of Narnia? Aslan (the Jesus character) was a lion for heaven’s sake.  Not safe, but good.  There’s a difference.

We are scared.

Finally the reason a lot of guys are nice is because they are afraid.  Afraid of rejection.  Afraid of not being liked.  Afraid of conflict.  Afraid of tension.

This fear causes many men to not approach women at all.  It causes others to do it extremely poorly.  It also causes husbands to not lead their wives.  Avoiding conflict and tension with women is a terrible plan.  I had a mentor who said that most men are afraid of their wives.  Look around you and tell me it’s not true.  Happy wife, happy life right?  Really what we mean is don’t deal with crap and then we won’t fight.

I’m not saying be an a-hole.  What I’m saying is that being nice while expecting reciprocation is not really nice.  Being nice to get the girl is horrible plan.  Being nice and being good are not the same and being nice to avoid “trouble” is not healthy.

Gentlemen I get it.  I really do.  I was the nice guy to the women I liked for almost two decades.  What’s funny is that I’m not really that nice.  But I was nice to them.  You know what that did for me?  Nothing.  I honestly don’t think it served those women.  It for sure didn’t help me get married.

Should I Give That Guy One More Date?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about chasing vs. pursuing.  I’ve already decided we need some new language to make all of that more clear, but that is not the topic for today.

I received a note from one of my female leaders asking a good question in response to that post.  In actuality she asks a much more important question, perhaps without knowing it.  I don’t typically write specifically to women here because, well I’m not one, and I don’t come from that experience.  But I think this is important and merits an post.

Her question

In follow up to the post on chasing vs pursing, may you write a refresher on how women should appropriately response to being chased or pursed? I think that for the well liked, popular Christian single lady, it may be easier to differentiate the two and act accordingly, perhaps due to exposure or experience. For other women, especially when requests and invitations are few and far in between, or even non existent, it can be hard to tell what is a good and noble pursuit versus what is simply a chase because we are a woman. Sadly, I have fallen for this one, and I would appreciate insight on how a woman should respond to such encounters in the future.

This question brings up a few very important points that we need to consider.  So let me take a crack at them here, while hopefully helping answer the intent of her question.

I think what she is really asking is not so much how to understand the difference between knowing when guy is chasing vs pursuing, but instead how to know who to respond to. How do you know who is noble regardless of their approach?

This is a vitally important thing for women to get a hold of.  Because here is a gigantic truth.  Ok ready?  Both noble and ignoble men can be chasers and both noble and ignoble men can be pursuers.

This is what I’ve been telling men here for four years.  Being a good Christian guy or even being a guy who would make a great Christian husband does not necessarily help you attract the girl you want.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not typically what causes or doesn’t cause attraction.  It doesn’t get you in the door – it should help you seal the deal.  It’s the difference between marketing and managing.   Two totally different skill sets.

In the Church we only teach one skill set – that’s being a married person. It’s killing us.

So let me actually answer the question as best I can for the ladies that are interested out there.

First, you need to understand that initial attraction, while nice should always be checked with some qualifiers.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to figure out all the qualifiers before you go on a date.  But it does mean you are looking for some things. And you are looking for them quickly.

I say quickly because if you let attraction grow with someone who isn’t qualified you can end up in a bad spot in a hurry.  Pretty soon you are saying things like, “I know he’s not a Christian but I can’t help what I feel“.  Bad.

What you need to have clear in your head is that for most women, what is attractive about a guy initially is how he carries himself, how he talks to you, how he “makes you feel”. Again there is nothing wrong with feeling attracted, even to the “wrong” person.  But that attraction does not make the guy noble or not.

There are a lot of guys who would make great husbands who come off less attractive at first.  But if you want a good marriage, then you need to think about not just how you feel, but what kind of man this guy is.  Is he deep?  Does he lead others?  Is anyone following him?  Do people respect him?  How does he treat people?  What does he do with his time and money?  Is he a hard worker?  These are all good questions that show you more about him.

A great example happened recently to a gal I know pretty well.  She came to me after being on a few online dates. She said that one of the guys seemed like a really good guy, with a really good background.  She “wanted to like him” but she didn’t “feel” that attraction.  Now realize this is after one, maybe two dates.  She asked me what I thought.

I said, if you want to get married then I would maybe give this guy another couple of dates.  The truth is that a lot of Christian guys aren’t super comfortable and confident right out of the box.  There are many reasons for this (which we’ve talked about ad nauseam here) but if you think he is a high quality guy, then I’d give it another go.

She did and they are well on their way to marriage.  As they dated more, he got more comfortable and therefore she grew more attracted.

Now that won’t happen every time.  I’m not suggesting here that you marry someone you aren’t attracted to – although you could.  What I’m saying is that how someone pursues you has to do with attraction, not how noble they are.

Bottom line, if a good guy seems awkward at first, I’d give him another chance.  See if after a couple of dates you feel different. If he stays weird then yeah, maybe you bolt.  And if a guy charms you and you are paying attention and figure out that he isn’t a good guy, forget what you “feel” and bolt.  In a dream world, you are instantly attracted to a good guy.  But we live in the real world.

 

 

We All Need Touch

About 15 years ago my brother and I went to a Rick Springfield concert.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  You have to understand that I was a child of the 80’s and Rick, was well, sort of awesome.  He had 17 top 20 hits.  He was smooth with the lines and the ladies.  So anyway in 2000 or so, long after he was cool, he was in concert to promote a new album that of course no one actually bought.

At any rate there we were at Station Casino and it’s packed (meaning there were like a thousand people there. . . maybe).  Rick steps up on stage, and forgets the words to his opening song.  Haha. Then he says, “I sort of forgot the words there, but it’s ok.  I feel I’m among friends tonight.”  The “crowd” roared.  From then he was on fire.  Flawless as he belted out the tunes as we sang along.

At one point, he starts to sing one of those top 20 hits called The Human Touch.  “We all need the human touch.  We all need it. . . I need it too”.  Then he went out into the crowd and began hugging people and giving high fives.  My brother and I died laughing as we watched a 40 year old woman run screaming to a friend, “He touched me! He touched me!.”

I know at this point you are wondering why I’m sharing this story, but I share it because I think we actually do need human touch and as a single person it can be hard to come by.

Touch is a powerful thing.  It starts when we are young.  As infants we need to be held, rocked, and physically moved.  If we don’t get those things our development goes bad in a hurry.

Growing up we test out our strength against our parents, siblings and eventually our friends.  Did you know that your family is supposed to be the safe place to test all of that? The family is where you first learn about being touched and touching, what is ok and what isn’t, and about the warmth of embrace that makes you feel safe.

And that is just the first place.  We next take it to our peers be it at school or in the athletic contest.  We test our strength and begin to find out what our bodies can do.  This is all before (or hopefully before) we even get to any sort of “romantic” touch.

It’s of course a whole new ball game when it comes to the opposite sex and our first touch experiences with them.  The first embrace, the first kiss, the first. . .

You can see how many ways this can, and often does, get messed up along the way. There are all sorts of good touch and all sorts of bad touch.

As a single person, the older you get, the less places there are for the right kind of touch.

We live in a culture that is more and more individualized and isolated.  50% of America is unmarried.  50% of those people live alone.  That’s not a recipe for good touch.

But it gets even tricker as a follower of Jesus because you are of course trying to avoid sexual immorality.  So we are told don’t look, and of course don’t touch.  In truth, there are a lot of people living in so much fear of bad touch that they don’t have good touch.

But we need it.  There’s a new study out for example that says people that sleep in a bed with someone else sleep better and actually live longer.  Touch has all sorts of therapeutic benefits, not to mention that it’s one of the five love languages.

Somehow we need to fight for this in the church.  Jesus is constantly touching people. Almost always when he heals someone he touches them.  How do we do this right?

For starters we need to own it.  We need to re-establish good, kingdom touch.  We can’t live in fear of bad touch to the point of not offering this kingdom touch.  What does it look like?  Should we run around touching people?  Should we hug every stranger?  Should we drop all of our boundaries when dating someone?  Should we cuddle with random people? Um, no.

Here are a few thoughts on what we should do (I’m talking here non-romantically – I’ll come back to romantic touch in a different post).

We need to recognize our touch history.  Where there has been bad touch in our lives we need to recognize it and seek healing.  Where we have been the one initiate wrong touch we need to repent.

We also need to think about our present touch situation. What physical touch is in my life? How do I react to touch?  Why?

Finally, we need to learn to both receive and initiate the right touch.  I’m talking about the quick hand on the shoulder of the friend you know is hurting. It might be the arm around the crying friend. It’s the hug of a good buddy.  The high five with the opposite sex friend. Heck even the fist bump would be a step for some of us.

Our culture offers a lot of the two extremes – inappropriate touch and isolation.  Neither of those represent the Kingdom.  But we have the chance with how we handle touch to be different, to stand out, to offer the ministry of the right kind of touch.

So, what do you do with the lack of touch?  When is a time when the right kind of touch has ministered to you?

 

Attraction Before Rescue

Back in 2001 there was a book called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.  It was a book that sort of came out of left field for me and there was so much in it that as a man I resonated with.  In it, Eldredge talks about many things but one of the key premises that he shares is that men are tying to answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?”

I really do believe that in some form every guy is asking that.  It’s a value question.  In other words, as a man, I get my value from the answer to that question.  The book goes much deeper into that question and how it was or wasn’t answered by our fathers.

As Eldredge dives into that question he further shares that men desire three main things.  A battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. It’s this last desire that I want to talk about today.  As with all of these desires – there’s a lot of ways to mess this one up.

When I read that book, I was 29 years old and single.  I was going after my full time ministry work hard.  I was living the adventure and fighting the battle.  No doubt about it.  But as a single guy, I thought, “What do I do with that last desire?”

I think the desire is real.  I say that because it’s ingrained everywhere.  It’s in movie after movie, story after story.  Hero guy sees girl in distress.  Hero rescues girl.  Hero gets girl. But like most things in life, it’s not quite as simple as a 90 minute movie.

In real life, not every girl in distress wants to be rescued.  Not every girl in distress should be rescued by you.  And, just because you rescue the girl (or have a part in it) doesn’t have much to do with getting the girl.

Right now a lot of good, nice guys are thinking, “Damn straight!” I hear you.  I lived it for far too long.

Here’s how it works.  You are attracted to a girl.  You see her beauty and you see that she needs rescued – usually from dating someone other than you – the “bad for her” guy.  You are there for her, listen to her, give her advice, and in the Christian world “minister” to her. You of course tell her how great she is and that she deserves better.  She’s not into you, but you want her to be and if you can just “rescue her” she would be.  In some circles this is called The White Knight Syndrome.

But it gets worse.  “Christian” dating advice to men just exasperates the situation.  You’re trying to be a Godly man and do things right.  So what do they tell you?  To man up of course.  Be a good guy.  It’s your job to protect women even from yourself.  Guard her heart.  Be clear about your intentions.  Be nice.  She’s the victim of the last bad guy she dated (or in some circles the guy she was married to).

No where are we called to do this in the Bible by the way.  I’ve heard people say (and I’ve said) that wives submit to your husband does not mean girlfriend submit to your boyfriend. Fair enough.  But neither does it say, boyfriend love your girlfriend as Christ loves the church . . .

We teach people who they should marry but not how to meet them. We tell people what not to with their date, but not how to get a date. We tell men to man up and women to dress up without explaining why that matters. We can help you break up with the wrong person, but we can’t seem to help you learn how to approach the right one. We tell men to guard girls’s without telling them how to win them to begin with.

Here’s the reality.  The desire is good, but there are only two ways you can help rescue a girl so speak.  The first is if you don’t want to date her and you just want to help her. Sometimes in ministry this actually happens.  As a strong male leader, you can have impact in women’s lives.  Nothing wrong with that.

The second way is to get the girl and then rescue her.  This is what Eldredge, and for that matter Ephesians 5 is referencing.  It assumes you are married to the beauty – and for that matter that the one you are married to is the beauty.

We don’t rescue the girl to get the girl.  We get the girl to rescue her.  And then you fight for her the rest of your life.  Sometimes that fighting for her will mean fighting with her and you can’t do that if you are constantly trying to get her to like you.  And get this, sometimes you’ll have to do it even when you don’t feel like it.  Crazy.

Here’s what we need to get a hold of.  Attracting the girl and rescuing her are not the same thing.  They aren’t even in the same sphere.  Learn to do the first, and you’ll have a chance at the latter.  You don’t rescue her with the goal of getting her because then what?  Get her and then spend the rest of your days trying to figure out how to love/rescue her.

The thing about the hero in the movie – the girl already liked him.

 

 

 

 

Paralyzed By Choices

Just over a year ago, I was driving home during a huge storm with wind, rain and some hail.  I remember thinking, “Man, I hope my car doesn’t get hail damage.”  Then as I turned onto my street and headed towards my house it happened.  I hit what I at first thought was just a huge puddle as I saw a huge splash.  But then all of a sudden I realized that instead I had driven directly into a flash flood.  It was up over my bumper and my engine stalled.

It’s amazing what goes through your head.  At first I tried to restart my car – um that wasn’t happening.  Then I rolled down my window to survey the situation.  It was not good.  I shut the window because we wouldn’t want the leather to get wet.  Water started seeping in. (For free – if you’ve ever wondered how long you would have in your car if you drove into say a lake, before water filled up the inside of your car . . . answer. . . not very dang long.)

All this to say, my car was completely totaled.  Water got in everywhere.  I was sad as I really liked my car (which was paid for) and planned on driving it for about another 100,000 miles.

Fortunately Nationwide really was on my side and gave me a very fair amount for my car. But now, I needed to find a new car.  So I of course had to set up some qualifications for this car. I wanted a car similar to my old car with the same features (heated leather seats, v-6 engine, sporting looking, lots of leg and head room, moon roof, at least 30mpg, etc). But I had some restrictions.  I was committed to not having a car payment for example.

So I set out to find “The Car”.  Shopping for a car is sort of crazy these days.  Almost all dealers have multiple locations and websites.  You can go online and search cars, values, compare and contrast.  But of course you need to go test drive it.  This is a big decision.  I mean whatever I get, I’m planning on driving a long time.

I did it all.  I booked marked cars online.  I went to a ton of dealers.  I gave my number to dealers who would call me if something came in close to what I was looking for.  I test drove easily 15-20 cars.  I almost pulled the trigger a couple of times but decided no, or the car was sold.  Once I had one that I really liked but I couldn’t afford it.

Finally, at a dealer two hours away, I found a car that worked and a dealer who worked with me.  I had my car.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid choice.  I still like my car a year later.

Friends, that was searching for car.  Now find go and find a spouse.

We live in a world with a ridiculous amount of choice in all categories. Groceries, restaurants, items at restaurants, Cable TV, hundreds of channels.  Really there is a choice for everything.  We’ve bought into the idea that more choice is good. But with more choice comes more confusion, indecision, panic, regret, and anxiety*.  No where is this more true than our current dating culture.

When you go back in history, our choices for a spouse were much more limited.  For most of history you had basically no choice.  You married who you were arranged to marry.  But even in recent history, you married who you knew.  You grew up in one geographical area, met someone you were attracted to, and tried to make it happen.  You maybe had a few choices and comparisons.

Today because of travel, technology and urban explosion, we live in a world where there is always someone new to meet.  You could literally spend your life going on first dates.  And if there are all these choices, then there must be the right choice.  That one perfect choice.

Our Christian dating culture just exasperates this whole idea.  You are looking for the right one. Not only are looking for someone you are attracted to and get along with, but there are all these criteria.  Do they love Jesus?  Are you equally yoked?  Are they THE ONE God has for you.  Talk about pressure.

Throw in the fear of choosing wrong (this is for life after all) and we often end up paralyzing ourselves.  We have so much choice that many of us can’t choose.

The question becomes how the heck do you know?  How do you choose?

Am I suggesting we throw out our qualifiers and criteria?  Not exactly.  Am I saying attraction doesn’t count?  Heck no.  But what I am saying is that we can’t live in fear of choosing wrong.  We need to hold it loosely to be sure.  Its to our advantage to know that we can walk away, that we don’t have to choose a person.  But at the same time there is no perfect person and no perfect decision.

I want to talk more about how to choose and what I think a couple of qualifiers that I personally think everyone needs to consider.  But for today I want to leave you with a couple of questions.

How has this plethora of choices affected you?  Have you ever been paralyzed by the fear of choosing wrong?  Have you accidentally convinced yourself that there is the one perfect choice?

Do you want to know the craziest part?  Love itself is a choice.

 

* For a great article on choice in our culture read this from The Economist.