Love for the Lord. Humor. Spontaneity. Kindness. Empathy. Consistency.
These are just a few of the things on my checklist of what I look for in a potential relationship. For years and years, I prayed for this ideal man. I knew that any relationship I entered into would be because I see potential in them as a future husband—I wasn't going to date someone for the fun of it. And the few times I met guys who checked off all these items on my list, I prayed that God would let him be The One.
All of these years, I have never been in a committed relationship and it wasn't until recently when I realized where I was at fault when I had come across this post on social media that said,
Many pray "Lord, send me a husband or wife," but so few pray, "Lord, prepare me to be a husband or wife."
Wait, what? Woah.
I wanted someone who would sweep me off my feet yet help anchor me down when I need reassurance. I had expected a guy that would text me good morning and good night. One who would take me on spontaneous adventures. One who would listen to all my thoughts, fears, and dreams; who would encourage me, push me to be better, and pray for me. He'd bring me a tub of ice cream on my bad days and hold me as I cried. He'd show up at my doorstep with flowers and a bright smile. He'd never say no to hanging out and would always be down for fulfilling my wants and needs. His sole purpose was to serve me.
After reading that social media post, I was so glad I hadn't started a relationship because I had a very twisted perception of how they should be. There's no way that a man could fulfill all of these needs, God is the only one who can truly satisfy. The whole time, my focus had been on finding the perfect someone and evaluating how this picture of perfection could serve me but I never ruminated over how I could be a better person to serve my future husband.
I began to understand that it's okay for us as single individuals to have standards and be examining potential to keep us from ending up in messy relationships. There's nothing wrong with having checklist and praying for a relationship, but that should not be the main focus.
What we should really be concentrating on is trying to be the best people we can be. We should be learning how to be patient, humble, gracious, kind, and gentle. We should be pursuing Christ and trying to nourish the most beautiful romance to exist—the one that we have with Him. Then, when we are ready and if it is God's will, he will bring that someone into our lives for us to serve and minister to; the someone that we will grab by the hand and continue to chase God alongside.
If we meet someone where mutual interest lies and our mindset is:
"This person isn't texting me back fast enough."
"This person isn't making an effort to see me every single day."
"This person cancelled plans and I can't believe they're not constantly putting me first."
Then our hearts are not in the right place. Yes, we should all look to be treated with respect and there should be effort being made on both sides. However, if our only focus is what we're gaining out of the relationship and how this someone can serve us, then we need to step back and examine ourselves.
We have to realize that, just as we are, no person is perfect and will live up to all your expectations. Everyone has scars, struggles, and pasts that they battle every single day, just as we do. We can't just expect this person to come along and pour their whole selves into serving us, we have to be prepared to serve them too. We have to show understanding when they forget to text back or can't hang out. We have to show up with a tub of ice cream and allow them to cry on our shoulders. We have to encourage them, push them, and pray for them. We have to be willing to selflessly give to the relationships, even on days when we know that they can't give anything back. Relationships aren't always 50/50, some days you have to give 80% when you know the only person can give 20%.
And the only way that we will be able to selflessly give and serve in a relationship is by obtaining that capability from God. Willingly studying the Bible to understand how God served the people around Him and humbly approaching Him in worship and prayer, asking for guidance, will do wonders. When we put effort into reaching out to God for help, we are guaranteed to grow as he will guide our hearts and teach us to be selfless.
Until we're able to be patient, gracious, kind, unselfish, humble, and focused on striving for a better relationship with God, then we're not fully ready for a relationship with someone else. It's important for us to have practice in serving God, the only one who loves us unconditionally, so that we can learn to selflessly give to our other relationships.
'True love' is often mistaken as finding someone who can fulfill all your wants and needs, who gives you what you want out of a relationship. When, in all reality, true love is finding someone that you can give to and serve. It's a common misconception that you give to those who you love, but truthfully, you love those to whom you give.
After learning all of this, I want to always be down for serving my future partner. I want to always show up at his doorstep with a bright smile and a willingness for adventures. I want to be there with a tub of ice cream and a listening ear when he's had an awful day. I want to listen to all his thoughts, fears, and dreams; to encourage him, push him to be better, and pray for him. I want to be willing to be the best partner I can be, ready to give 80% on the days where he can only give 20% because I realized there is more to a relationship than what I can gain out of it.
Addendum— This was a comment on the post from one of the wisest people I know, Pepper Basham, and I had to insert it in here for everyone to read: "The only ‘person” who will ever fulfill your needs is Christ, but through his outpouring of grace and love He brings that other ‘someone’ in human skin to show the intimate beauty of relationship. 🙂 A servant’s heart is one of the most beautiful expressions you can ever wear, for any relationship, but particularly for the man of your heart." Pepper will be joining us July 28th for a guest post, so keep your eyes out for that when it comes!
My challenge for you this week is to strive to better yourself and focus on serving those around you. Ask God for guidance and pray continually.
Meghan and I will be taking turns every Friday, talking about Love Life & Literature! Keep an eye out for her blog post at www.northernbellemeg.com next Friday! Until then, read her post from last week: When Dating A Man . . .
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