I used to have a three-page, front and back list of what I wanted in my future husband. He had to be 6’3” tall, dark, and handsome, musical, slightly muscled, a leader in his church, love working with youth, marry me by the time I was 20, and have a certain name, among many other things. Well, I found that guy. My list fit him perfectly – I’m talking down to his name, height, everything. I fell head over heels in love with him and trusted the butterflies in my stomach that he was the one for me.
Only problem being, I didn’t give him a reason to stay. Yes, my three-page, front and back list described exactly the boyfriend I told you about in the beginning of this book. He was everything I thought I wanted and nothing I needed. On the surface, he was perfect, but underneath the exterior, we were completely wrong for each other.
Shortly before I turned 19, he wanted to propose. He designed a ring, we were looking at apartments and talking about time frames for the wedding (so I could be married by the time I turned 20), and we asked for my parents’ permission to be engaged. My dad said, “I can’t stop you from marrying him, but I can’t give you my blessing.” Boy did that make me mad, but now I am eternally grateful.
I had a choice. I felt like God was holding out two hands to me. It was as if He was saying, “You can choose your dream of marriage by the time you are 20 to a man by this name, this look, and everything on your three-page list. But that’s not my dream for you. You’ll have to let go of your dream to grab hold of mine.”
He was the ladies man, the band boy, the church leader…but when it came down to it, what did those things mean? Unlike faithfulness and integrity, being the ladies man, band boy, and even church leader had nothing to do with what kind of husband he would be; they were just status things that should have made me feel good about myself for being able to catch his attention. But I couldn’t keep his attention and I didn’t feel like I had ever really caught it. Dating him wasn’t all it was cracked up to be…
Today as I’m sitting at my computer writing this chapter, I’m single and I’ve thrown out my three-page list. I just have a few simple criteria for my future husband: I have no idea what he will look like or what he will be doing with his life, but he will be serious about his walk with the Lord, a hard-worker, and I will enjoy the everyday moments I spend with him. My Aunt Joani once told me, “If you don’t enjoy everyday life with the guy, then don’t marry him. I don’t care who he is or how wonderful he seems to be, your life will be miserable if you don’t enjoy spending daily life with him.”
Who cares what his name is. Who cares whether or not he’s not the hottest guy around. Do I really want other girls flirting with him all the time? Does having society’s definition of a “good-looking” boyfriend prove my worth? No. Not anymore.
Sometimes I get caught up in the world’s idea of success, which involves hooking up with as many good-looking people as possible. I think that dating attractive guys proves something to the world. You know what? I need to get over my shallowness.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying to date someone you’re not attracted to. As I told my friend Kim, I sure hope you’re attracted to your husband because – I don’t know about you – but I want to enjoy getting in bed with him! But you can be attracted to someone who isn’t the most gorgeous guy out there, just like guys can be attracted to us, even when we are not the prettiest girl in the room. It’s like what Wm. Paul Young wrote: “Being transcends appearance.”1 Have you ever gotten to know someone so well that you can’t even tell if they’re good-looking anymore; all you can tell is that they’re completely amazing and attractive in every way? As you get to know someone, what they look like matters less and who they are matters more.
I am so excited for the guy God is going to bring into my life. I know that he will be a hard worker, faithful, and someone who loves the Lord with all his heart and loves me with all the love God gives him in return. But I am not expecting a model or Mr. Perfect. He will be just the right fit for me, but I know he won’t be perfect, just like I’m not perfect.
In fact, this is something I wrote as a replacement for my three-page list of what I want in a future husband:
He doesn’t have to be strong enough to bench press 200 lbs… but his character should stand the test of time. His face doesn’t have to be so handsome that every girl stands in awe… but his smile should light up my world. He doesn’t have to wear the latest namebrand… but I want to see his love for the Lord written all over him. His past doesn’t have to be perfect… but I want his present and future to be filled with love for the Lord first and foremost, and second, love for family and for me.
As I said, I’m a work in progress, but slowly I’m letting go of my shallow prerequisites. I’m focusing on the things that truly matter in a relationship and eventually a husband. I’m trying to notice the guys that would have been invisible to me before, get to know them, and find what it is that God loves about them. A good relationship can’t be built solely on a good-looking man in the limelight, and charisma won’t provide a solid foundation; a good relationship is built on things like trust, faithfulness, and integrity. Who knows, my future husband may be right in front of me only I don’t recognize him.
If I am really free from my insatiable quest for beauty, that means I am free to appreciate not only myself for who I am, but also others for who they are. It means I’m not looking for confidence in my own beauty or in having gorgeous dates or friends. I already have my confidence in the unshakeable love of God. That is more than enough for me and spills over into the way I love others.