This is written for all the single friends in my life whom I love with all my heart. If this offers any new insight or wisdom in selecting a spouse I would be eternally grateful.
Prior to my new identity in Christ, if I had any expertise in dating it would be that I was a professional at finding the wrong man to date. My natural sinful flesh has a Florence Nightingale, or rescuer, mentality. In the realm of AA meetings my tendency is towards a classic codependent approach towards dating and relationships. This writing however is not about that because I am no expert in codependency – though I could point you to some very good books on the subject. This is about my journey from ignorance and codependency to wisdom and discernment in selecting a spouse. I pray that it’s reader may find somewhere in these words a nugget of information that can help them unveil a blind spot they may have in their mate selection process and that they would be encouraged by it to seek fresh revelation from our Heavenly Father.
One of my Christian sisters once told me, “To catch the perfect fish, you have to be the perfect bait.” Be very careful about this statement because it can easily be taken out of context. At the time that she said this to me, I was newly divorced, broken, heaped in credit card debt, out of shape, depressed, and basically friendless. I had wrapped my whole life around my ex and when we divorced I was not only heart-broken but I lost all the connections I had when we were a couple. His infidelity had led to such brokenness that I wasn’t sure I would ever heal. Not to mention that my own irresponsibility had led to financial troubles and frankly I wasn’t taking very good care of my self physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Her statement was a wake up call that I needed to get my act together. How was I going to find someone who was physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally healthy If I wasn’t? I had to get my straighten myself out before I could even think of a new relationship. And honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d even ever want one again.
I crawled through my first two years of separation and divorce via the following schedule: on Tuesdays I attended a “Separation and Divorce Recovery” meeting, on Thursdays I attended a “Twelve Step Program (basically AA for codependents)” and on Sundays I attended church. I went through “Boundaries” training twice and enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) to study the book of John in the Bible. Why am I telling you this? I don’t want any friend of mine to have to crawl through their days the way that I did following a divorce. Hence, the list. I want to share what God has shared with me and pray that it blesses you the way that it has me.
It was during the crawling season of my life and through countless evenings on my face in prayer that God gave me a purpose, I was to tell my sisters about Him. With the Lord’s leading, I started a women’s bible study meeting at my house every other week and that practice still continues today. It was through those bible studies – book studies, video series studies, BSF, old and new testament studies and more that I finally got that I am the priceless princess to a mighty and loving king who wants the very best for His children. That includes you too.
I am now happily remarried to a prince and son, heir to the kingdom, of a mighty king and heavenly father. My Christian counselor taught me to seek a person with whom I would be “equally yoked” – which meant spiritually, financially, socially, and academically. One of the wisest things one of my Christian mentors ever said to me was “If you’re not sure, don’t” and “make a list of what you are truly seeking and pray for it”. So I made a list, and here are the most important things I would advise any Christian I know to seek in a spouse. This list works great in selecting friendships too.
- Christ – not just lip service but true evidence that this person is a follower of Jesus Christ. Look for evidence in their actions: do they pray, get into God’s word, are they actively serving in some capacity or are they involved with other Christians.
- Commitment – Can this person handle commitment, look for evidence – can they keep a job long term, do they hold true to their promises and commitments to you and to others.
- Consideration – When plans change does this person let you know ahead of time? Do they think to ask you before making big decisions? Does the person always talk about themselves, or do they ask and genuinely express care and concern for others? Do they remember what you told them.
- Character – Is this person trustworthy? Do they hold telling the truth to be an important value? Do you see evidence of fruit of the spirit? Is this a person you would trust to raise your children the way you would raise them should something ever happen to you? Think about what you value – do you want someone who is responsible with money? Someone who is timely (on time)? Purity and sexual integrity? Make a list of the important character traits for you.
- Communication – Does this person enjoy talking to you? Do they tell you about their day, the details and the big things? Do they make you feel included in what is going on? Do their verbalize and express their emotions? Do they reciprocate and want the same type of communication from you and do they listen to you, respond and alter activities and or behavior after talking with you.
- Conflict Resolution – When you disagree with this person are you able to do it with respect and courtesy? If there is immature pouting, blaming, violence, or temper-tantrum activity run the other way. Does this person say they are sorry easily? Do they truly seek harmony and agreement with you.
- Common Interests – Are there activities that you can enjoy together? Eating out, hiking, reading books, sailing, what-ever it may be, are there things you can spend time together doing? This also means the person can’t have activities that you detest – sort of a “can’t stand” pile. Maybe it’s smoking or drinking, or gambling, or gaming; make a list of your “can’t stands” too and make sure to eliminate any potential mates if they engage in the “can’t stands”.
- Chemistry – I’m not talking about super good looking or charming. Do you feel a connection with this person in a way that you find attractive? Do not let chemistry override the other things on the list.
When I made this list I realized that there were some areas I needed to work on. I wanted a mate who met this list so I needed to meet the list. When you’ve lived about a third of your life it’s hard to break old patterns, habits, and ingrained ways of thinking. It took three or four years to transform my thinking. It started with prayer and humility. I asked God for help. I prayed He would bring mentors into my life to show me how to live like a Christian and He did. I also got involved in a young adult ministry and participated in leadership because I wanted to be around the people I saw exhibiting these traits and I wanted them to rub off on me (you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with). I wanted to learn how to recognize these traits so I would know what to look for in a potential mate. I led a small women’s bible study from my home. What better way to improve communication and conflict resolution and build character?
I started to ferverantly ask God in prayer for help with my finances. How could I tithe with all the debt? Trust me, He worked it out and then some. I am completely debt free today. I stopped worrying so much about finding someone and focused on His plans for my life. I focused on telling my sisters about Him, and you know what… I learned a lot about myself. I came to value myself and see myself the way He sees me, and after all the work, I was no longer willing to compromise. I wasn’t going to accept anything less then His best for me and I stuck to the list. I was no longer willing to play the rescuer, Florence Nightingale, I was a new creation in Christ worthy of being pursued by a mate who had the same qualities to offer as I did. Talk about a total transformation.
Seek to be “equally yoked”, “if you’re not sure, don’t”; and “make your list and pray for it”. If you didn’t have a list before, remember: Christ, Commitment, Consideration, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Common Interests, and Chemistry. I pray you are blessed in your journey. Know that you are worthy and loved by a mighty king and father. Get to know Him and you’ll get to know yourself and what you need and how to find it.
In His Grip,