Dear Single Girl: What The Bible Says About What Matters in a Man

There is nothing sweeter and more innocent than a couple in the blossoming stages of young love.  The other day my 3-year-old asked me why I was smiling so big, and honestly it was because I was reading a text from a friend who is in the throes of it.  She was experiencing what almost every young woman hopes to experience.  Sadly, though, as the years inch ever forward, I still find myself with many, MANY single friends still aching to experience that and marry the “man of their dreams”.

I don’t think their singleness is their “fault” by any means, and I absolutely do not think that marriage is the end-all goal for a woman.  But I do know the growth and happiness it’s brought me, and I know that many of these single women do long for and dream of marriage.  Yet, there seems to be a general pickiness that is throwing road blocks in their path to love and marriage.

Sometimes the pickiness comes from their own high standards and expectations.  Other times, the pickiness stems from their parents and friends having too high of standards for them.  Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing wrong with having high standards!  Only, sometimes I wonder if these standards are really biblical…and whether these women might be much happier and much less single if they stopped holding fast to man-made “spouse shopping lists” and relied instead on just the Bible.  

Another friend of mine, who is very happily married, shared with me the three things her father and her thought were important in a spouse for her.  In almost every case, if the answer is “yes” to these three things, then there is very little that wouldn’t be able to be worked through.  I think these things are highly biblical and I share them with you today:

1.) Does he love the Lord and have a real relationship with him?

Frankly, I think this one should be an obvious necessity.  Why would you want to be married to someone who didn’t serve your Savior, who will not be a spiritual leader in your home, and who will not be nodded and prodded by the Holy Spirit?

But if you need more convincing than that, look no further than 2 Corinthians 6:14:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 

If marriage isn’t a yoking together, then I don’t know what is.

But, really, if he’s seeking the Lord first and you’re seeking the Lord first, then what can’t be worked through?

But how do you know he has a real, active relationship with the Lord?

Obviously there are a lot of fakers out there (Josh Duggar, anyone???).  But the Bible is pretty clear how we know the truth from the lie…look at the fruit.

Luke 6:45-45 says:

“For each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Sometimes a lack of fruit is the sign that something isn’t quite right.  A guy can talk a great talk, and even talk up his Bible reading and memorization…but what fruit is there in his life?  What ministries is he involved in?  Furthermore, does he not just attend a local church, but is an active member in it (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31)?

Finally, watch for the little signs of fruit.  One of the biggest assurances to my heart of my husband’s salvation is after we’ve had a fight.  I know that the times when I hold my tongue and just pray, he will undoubtedly come back to me and apologize and make things right.  The Holy Spirit is constantly tapping on his shoulder, and he’s listening.

2.) Does he love you?

Again, this seems like an obvious one, but it means so much more than that feeling of being in love that’s a crazy mix of emotions and hormones that people call “being in love”.  That’s usually what starts it, but from there it becomes a daily choice to love and cherish you, no matter what.

But let’s look at what the Bible says.

Ephesians 5:25, 28-33a (and I love these verses in the Amplified):

“Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members (parts) of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become [e]one flesh. 32 This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. 33 However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness]…”

The Bible doesn’t say, “Husbands, make sure you have an amazing job for your wife.  Husbands, be perfect for your wives.  Husbands, be able to stand on your own two feet without your wife.”  Its merely says love your wives, sacrificing yourself for her daily.

No man can love you perfectly as Christ does, but if he’s genuinely trying and loving you out of a love for Christ, then you’ve got a catch indeed.

3.) Will he take care of you always?

I’m not talking about providing a big house for you and making all of your dreams come true in that area (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing either!).  I’m talking about he will always work hard to provide the necessities plus some for you and your family.  Titus 2:5 says that the older woman are to exhort the younger women to be “keepers at home”.  It would follow, then that a husband is supposed to be able to provide so that his wife can do that.

1 Timothy 5:8 says that:

 “…if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

So, obviously there has to be a balance.  He can’t just sit on his rear end all day and expect money to fall off of trees, nor should he expect to be able to provide for all of his families needs by working a minimum wage job his entire life.  Yet, providing isn’t the same thing that most equate it with today.  The Bible says absolutely nothing about a man having to be ambitious, have high aspirations, or have a “good” job.  (Because we all know a “good” job means nothing more than a very well paying one.)

Look closely at other verses in the Bible as well.  The Proverbs 31 woman is bringing in money for her household  (I’m not advocating that every woman has to work, just that her bringing in money didn’t make her husband “lazy” or a “bad provider”).  The Proverbs 31 woman blesses her husband and he gains because of her.  He is lifted up to a place of honor and respect because of her.  My guess is that he wouldn’t be where he was if he didn’t have such an amazing wife standing behind him, helping and supporting him.

There’s also Matthew 6:25-34, that tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat or wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God.  And the qualifications for church elders and overseers in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus mention that he must not be a lover of money or greedy for gain.  1 Timothy 3:3 says specifically that he “must not be a bully, but gentle”.  How many “successful” men in the world today could be considered “gentle”?  Are we looking for men that are successful in the world’s eyes, or God’s?

Finally, I would add a fourth standard…

4.) Do you love him and want to marry him?

He may be a great guy and he may be crazy about you, but don’t even think about marrying someone unless you feel the same way about him too.  Make sure you know your heart.  Make sure you know that you could honor and respect and love him.

Furthermore, think carefully about whether the dreams and callings in your heart line up with his.  If he feels called to be a missionary in Africa and you feel called to raise a family in your local city, then there’s a problem right there.  Do your God given missions line up?  Can you serve God better together rather than apart?

Think of Priscilla and Aquila in the Bible.  They were an amazing husband and wife team that served the Lord together (how many women in the Bible are mentioned by name alongside their husbands?).  They were a team in occupation (Acts 18:3 says that they were tentmakers), they were a team in their knowledge and proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 18:26), and they were a team in their sacred calling and mission.  Do you feel like you could serve together in that way?    (This article is a really interesting read for more on them.)

So think hard about whether you want to marry him.  Going all the way back to Genesis 24, Rebekah was given the ultimate choice whether she wanted to go and marry Isaac (a man she had never met) or not.  Her parents wanted her to stay longer, but she agreed to go right away.  It was her choice.  Her heart.

Your friends and parents and even the guy you’re dating may love you dearly and want what’s best for you, but they aren’t you.  They don’t know the secret things God has laid on your heart, and they certainly can’t know what’s in your heart.

So don’t marry a guy just because everyone thinks you’re “perfect” for each other.  Don’t marry him even because he’s crazy for you.  Marry him because you love him and want to marry him.  Marry him because you know without a doubt that God is calling you together, for His ultimate glory.

 

 “Then Adam said,

‘This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’

 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:23-241936213_10209013585717488_7295882737241859114_n

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Dear Single Girl: True Love (and Real Men) Wait

I grew up in the area of True Love Waits pledge cards, Brio magazine, and Superchick singing about princes starting as frogs.  Saving sex for marriage was practically drilled into my head.  Looking back, one strange thing I remember was that there was a huge emphasis on “if he loves you, he’ll wait”.  Notice, the idea is that he’ll wait because you want to…not because he sees the value in it or wants to wait himself.  Over and over I read lists of ways to tell a guy “no”, tactics for making sure you didn’t “go too far”, etc.  I remember distinctly feeling like the overarching message was that guys, even good Christian ones, had no self-control.  It was up to us women to set and stick to standards…up to us to not let our raging hormones take things too far.

In certain Conservative homeschool circles, this idea has been taken as far as to include both sexes.  Apparently nobody can have convictions and standards and stick to them…hence the need for these people called “chaperones”.  Because, we all know that when we get married all temptations and the need for self-control suddenly disappears.  NOT!!!

You know what, though?  It doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it.  Ladies, I want you to know that before my husband and I were married I never had to tell him “no” or “stop”…never had to argue to him the merits of “waiting”.  You see, the truth is that if a guy actually has a real, active relationship with the Lord and is pursuing Him daily, he won’t be some brainless, hormone-controlled, sex-obsessed ape.  A guy that’s really seeking the Lord will have his own convictions and standards.  A guy worth giving a second glance will be actively fleeing temptation on his own.  Sure, we all slip up and make mistakes, but a man who has the Holy Spirit living within him will never pressure you, rely on you to keep things in check, or be unable to control himself.  A man after God’s own heart will not just submit to your convictions in this area…he will take the lead himself.

Bottom Line: A man worthy of your heart will be controlled by the Holy Spirit living within him…not by his hormones.  Don’t settle for less, Ladies.  

Dear Single Girl: There’s Always Another One Coming

My grandma always told us girls that “men are like buses…there’s always another one coming”.  During whatever current heartbreak we were going through, her words weren’t terribly comforting.  Looking back, though, I realize how much truth lay in them.

My freshman year of college I was on the hunt for a man.  I was lonely, my heart ached for love, and, frankly, I thought that meeting and marrying the man of my dreams was the highest goal of my life.  It should come as no surprise to you that my search for a man fogged my vision and caused me to make more than a few mistakes in the boy department.

The first was a guy that didn’t even like me as more than a “friend”.  In my head, however, I’d decided that he was the guy for me.  I made up this fantasy world in my head where he was exactly what I was “needing”, that we would soon admit our love for each other, and that that would be the end of the story.

All I can say is I am so glad he didn’t show an interest in me.  In reality, he was all wrong for me.  If we’d ended up together we’d have made each other miserably unhappy.  The fantasy in my head did not line up with reality, and dealing with reality would have been an unbearably hard pill to swallow.

The second was a guy who really did like me.  He was a really great guy with a heart for the Lord and I liked him too.  Only, I never had peace about the whole thing.  Something just wasn’t right.  I decided to tell him, but then reconsidered when my hunger and aching for a man tried to sway me otherwise.

In that situation, the only thing that stopped me was God.  Out of the blue, I heard Him tell me two things: a very firm and resounding “NO”, and a very clear directive (and desire, strangely enough considering my former negativity) to join homeschoolalumni.org.

At the time, I wanted to fight Him.  There were no other guys in my life that I was even remotely interested in.  I didn’t even know how I’d meet other guys.  Furthermore, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this guy.  When I say he was a great guy, I really mean it!  What I realize now that I didn’t know then was that he was a great guy, but he wasn’t God’s best for me (nor was I God’s best for him).

And so, with His leading ringing in my head I broke things off with this great guy, joined HSA, and clung to the words of my Grandmother.  Little did I know that a month later I’d meet this other great guy named Andy Baker, or that I’d be engaged to him 9 months later.

My friend, don’t lose heart, and don’t let your hunger for a man cloud your vision like it did mine.  My grandmother was right…you never know what great guy is just around the bend.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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We Waited

wewaited

Hilary (my sister): Did you see what T___ wrote on her friend’s Facebook wall?

Me: Yeah, I guess she and her hubby actually waited to have sex?  It surprised me a bit.

H: Yeah, me too

Me: That’s sad that it’s so surprising when a Christian couple actually waits to have sex.

My youth group years were spent smack dab in the midst of the “True Love Waits” campaign.  I signed the pledge, bought the purity ring, and watched the Joshua Harris videos, along with countless numbers of my friends.  Sex, or at least the saving of it until marriage, was talked about almost every Wednesday night.

Some years have passed and those friends and I find ourselves in our mid-twenties.  Some still single.  Many more married.  Some with kids.  The sad reality, however, is that of all those friends, I could probably count on one hand the number that actually ended up waiting to have sex until they got married.  My otherhand could probably be added to include those that ended up having sex, and then later waiting (claiming their “secondary virginity” the term coined by former-Bachelor-now-married Sean Lowe).

In light of that saddening fact, trying to save sex for marriage would seem pretty hopeless and futile for those that are unmarried, whether they be weekly youth group attendees or thirty-something and not-yet-married .  But it’s not.  I know it’s not…because my husband and I waited.    

I’ve been dreading writing this post.  I’ve had it on my heart for a very long time, but I’ve been too afraid to actually share it.  I just know that someone, or perhaps many people, will be offended or take it the wrong way.  I worry that people will think I’m prideful or judgmental or haughty.  Please believe me when I say that that’s not at all how I want to come across or what I want to portray.  My purpose in sharing my heart is not to make anyone feel guilty, but instead to bring hope.

My husband and I waited to have sex not because we were saints or prudes or not attracted to each other.  We waited because we firmly believed that that was God’s best and, by His miraculous strength, we stuck to our commitment.

It’s been over five years since our virginal selves said “I Do”, and I can tell you without a doubt that it was so worth the wait.  Sex is a beautiful, unifying, transforming blessing within the safety and confines of marriage.  Yet, so often, waiting to have sex gets a bad rap.  People’s motives are questioned, the term “legalism” is brought into play, and those that did end up waiting, like myself, find themselves almost embarrassed to admit that they did.

Now, before we go any further, let me be very clear about something: In proclaiming the value of waiting, I am in no way saying that if you didn’t wait your marriage won’t be as good as it would be had you waited.  The good Lord knows that, while I may have saved sex for marriage, my own past is full of its own set of sin and regrets.  Do those things play into and effect my marriage and my future?  Of course they do.  That’s just life…but that doesn’t mean that my marriage or my future is destined to be any less glorious than the next person’s.  On the contrary, the depths of my past mistakes only serve to illuminate the glorious redemption of Christ’s sacrifice.  However, that doesn’t mean that I want my children to repeat my mistakes.  I know that someday they’ll look back with regret about their own set of mistakes, but my hope and prayer is that they won’t be repeats of my own.

So, please know that if you weren’t a virgin on your wedding day, I am in no way condemning you or trying to shame you.  I just want those coming behind me to know that waiting is possible…and that it is very much worth it.


Waiting Is Not a Punishment

My husband is currently building the coolest treehouse for our soon-to-be 3-year-old son.  It already has three towers, a tunnel, a tube slide, a swinging bridge, and a bomb crows nest.  And this thing keeps growing.  The other day my husband asked me if I thought our son was too small for a complete-with-a-harness zipline from the top of the crows nest down to our shop (100 yards away).

“Andy,” I said (probably in a less-than-excited way), “You do realize that every other dad is going to hate you for completely out doing them?”

“Yeah, so?” was his response.  “Miles is going to love it.  The Bible does say that a good father knows how to give good gifts to his children.”

Touché

He was totally right.  In our day and age waiting to have sex is often seen as an arbitrary rule made by a god who doesn’t want us to enjoy ourselves or have fun.  The truth is that that isn’t our God at all.  Our God loves us…and He knows how to give good gifts.  Sex happens to be one of them, but you cannot fully appreciate and accept that blessing unless you enjoy it solely within the confines of marriage.

Bringing it back to my children again,as a parent I really truly want them to be happy.  Sometimes, though, that desire comes across as me being mean.  For instance, my infant daughter may see her brother’s legos and want to play with them.  You better believe that she thinks that playing with those legos will make her happy.  And you know what?  Playing with legos would be really fun for her.  As her mom, though, I don’t let her play with legos.  Why?  Because she currently puts everything in her mouth and she could choke on them.  I know that the thing that she thinks will bring her happiness and joy could in fact hurt her.  If it hurts her, the happiness that it brought will quickly dissipate.

She doesn’t understand that.  She thinks I’m just being mean and don’t want her to be happy, but you know and I know that that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  A few years from now, when she’s not trying to eat everything in reach, I’ll gladly let her play with the legos and I will enjoy watching her enjoyment of them.  I will be confidant in the fact that her enjoyment of the legos won’t dissipate with one getting lodged in her throat.

It’s the same way with God.  He created sex as this beautiful blessing, but He knows that if that blessing is enjoyed before the right time or in the wrong setting, then the enjoyment and happiness we experience from it will be incomplete.  He knows that sometimes that thing that was meant to be a wonderful blessing could, in fact, hurt us.  He doesn’t create arbitrary rules to steal our fun and make our lives miserable.  He sets specific parameters for the blessings He has given us so that we may experience and enjoy them to their fullest.


Waiting Isn’t Antiquated

In the culture we live in, saving sex for marriage is seen as an old fashioned notion.  To forfeit pleasure until you’re married is seen as a ridiculous and near-impossible idea.  Everybody has sex before marriage these days.  It’s a normal and healthy way to get to know someone.  How else are you to know if you want to marry someone if you don’t know if you’re sexually compatible?  And if you know you’re going to marry your partner eventually, why deal with the stress and tension of waiting any longer?

Of course, all of these are selfish reasons born out of a self-centered culture.  In her book Passion and Purity the late Elisabeth Elliot writes:

What do women want today? What do men want? I mean, deep down. What do they really want? If ‘times’ have changed, have human longings changed, too? How about principles? Have Christian principles changed? I say no to the last three questions, an emphatic no. I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot well do without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.

The sad fact of the matter is that we can’t actually find true fulfillment when our lives are so self-focused.  Momentary happiness, perhaps, but that soon fades.  You see, when we are so consumed with self-gratification, we actually miss out on true love.  True love is self-sacrificing.  True love wants what’s best for the other person.  If we really loved our partner, wouldn’t we a) recognize that God wants us to wait to have sex for our good and that b) if we really wanted our partner’s good, we would wait for their sake?

Waiting to have sex may be antiquated in our culture, but the reasons behind waiting are not.


Waiting Is Possible

To be honest, everyone who didn’t wait has an excuse.  Usually those excuses are completely understandable and relatable.  Things got out of hand.  We were hormonal teenagers.  We had a long engagement.  We knew we were going to get married.  All valid, but all overcome-able excuses…and I can say that from experience.

The truth is, my husband and I didn’t have chaperones or a short engagement to keep us from straying.  We were alone together a lot, and we were engaged for 13 long months.  Yet we were still able to wait.  You see, excuses may explain the temptation, but they don’t validate the sin.

And we are not alone.  They may be hard to find, but there are others that waited too.  You don’t have to be in a fundamental courtship to be able to save sex for marriage.


Waiting Is Worth It

Don’t get me wrong…saving sex for marriage isn’t easy.  Far from it.  When you love someone, are intensely attracted to them, and know you want to spend the rest of your life with them, withstanding the temptation may not seem worth it.  But I can tell you, it is.

My husband and I have a special bond because we have something that is sacred and special to our marriage.  We may have loved each other and enjoyed being with each other pre-marriage, but marriage knocks dating and being engaged out of the ball park.  Our wedding day brought to a close a very long time of waiting.  So, instead of the world’s view of marriage as a ball-and-chain that ties you down, our marriage has always symbolized freedom.

Furthermore, by waiting to have sex, we avoid a myriad of issues that come with having sex.  Birth control, unplanned pregnancies, regret…these were not problems that we had to worry about until our wedding day.

Finally, there’s also something incredibly unifying about knowing that you were tempted and overcame temptation together.  You enter into marriage without regret, and with an ability to persevere through adversity together that those who didn’t wait lack.  It really is a beautiful and peaceful thing to experience a blessing of God exactly as He intended it to be experienced.


Waiting Starts Now

But what if you’ve already had sex?

The point in all this is not to shame.  We “all have sinned and fall short” [Romans 3:23], remember?  But you know what the wonderful thing about that is?  Christ died for us and washed our slates clean.  If you’ve chosen to accept this gift, then you are a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17] and no longer a slave to the flesh [Romans 6:15-23].  This doesn’t mean that we will no longer be tempted, but that God will give us the strength to withstand temptations when they come [1 Corinthians 10:13].

We may not be able to erase our pasts, and that’s where God’s glorious grace comes in, but we do get to choose how we go forward.  We get to choose whether to let our flesh or Christ’s righteousness reign in us.  Just because you’ve already had sex outside of marriage doesn’t mean you have to again.  It’ll be hard and take some guts, but let me remind you that nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  Saving sex for marriage doesn’t have to be a one-time-and-you-blew-it thing.  It’s not something that you already lost the ability to do.  Waiting starts now.


Sometimes, I almost feel embarrassed to admit that we waited to have sex, because I feel like I will be singled-out…seen as a judgmental prude with above-average self-control.  That’s really, really sad.  If you and your spouse waited to have sex, whether your entire life or just for a time before marriage, I’d encourage you to join me in sharing that.  Share a picture of you and your spouse on Instagram with the hashtag #wewaited .  Let’s show our unmarried friends that waiting can be and has been done…and that it’s worth it. 

This is a touchy subject.  Feel free to comment and discuss…but please be respectful and kind.  

Dear Single Girl: Think Outside the Box

As long as I could remember, I was encouraged by youth leaders and well-meaning mentors to make a list of what I “wanted” in a husband and to stick to my standards.  While some of the things on my list were good, like “Christian” or “honest”, I’ve come to believe that we girls all too often put our future husband in a box.

If you want to homeschool, you look for someone who was homeschooled.  If you don’t want to homeschool, you look specifically for someone who wasn’t.  If you’re Baptist you look for a Baptist.  If you come from a stable family, you look for someone who comes from the same background.  We assume that a guy meeting these criteria will mean he’s a good fit for us.

The only problem is, all of those things are outward.  God doesn’t look at the outward appearance…He looks at the heart.  Marriage is meant to balance us out.  The perfect person for you may have an opposite personality or come from a completely different background.  Also, having the same background as you doesn’t ensure that they’ll have the same convictions…or the same heart.  I’d venture to guess that not every homeschooled guy wants to homeschool, or that every public schooler doesn’t want to homeschool his kids.

I believe that girls limit the pool of potential husbands too much by assuming that the guy for them fits in a certain box.  I’m not saying you should settle or throw all caution to the wind and get rid of all your standards.  Know your convictions and your standards…just don’t write off a guy just because he’s not who you pictured marrying.  Sometimes the best diamonds come from the roughest places.

 

In Search of a Spouse: Before You Go Looking

With as many single friends and family members as my husband and I have, we’ve been thinking back on our own single and dating years a lot.  We’ve talked about the things that we think we did right, and we’ve discussed the things that we wish we had done differently.  It’s funnier how much clearer things are now.

We both firmly feel that, before you ever go looking for a spouse, you need to sit down and figure out who you are and what you believe.  Here are some steps you can take to do that: 

1. Figure out what your core convictions are.  What are the things that you believe that there is no compromising on.  These are the “big deal” things.  These can be broad (such as that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all), or minute (such as the King James Version is the only accurate current English version).  They can also be about doctrine or about lifestyle.  For instance, being a strict Calvinist relates more to your religious walk, whereas how women should dress is related more to day-to-day living.  Whatever the case, these are things that you will not compromise or be swayed on.  Your spouse will either have to agree with you or compromise themselves.  

2. Figure out what you believe that is open to compromise.  For instance, you may think that all moms should be stay-at-home moms, but it’s more of a preference than a conviction.  This is a “not so big of a deal” thing.  Again, these can be broad, minute, doctrinal, or related to lifestyle.   

3. Analyze your lists.

-How long are your lists?  Ideally, your core convictions should be much shorter than your “not so big of a deal” list.  If it’s not, then you need to figure out why.  You are either a.) Very, very firmly convicted, b.) Legalistic, or C.) Too set in your ways.  Conversely, if you have hardly any core convictions, why is that?  Have you really had the time to sit down and figure out what you believe? 

-Why are these your convictions?  Think about your core convictions especially…why are these so important to you?  If you believe all women should wear skirts, or that Christians should never drink alcohol, why is that?  Do your convictions actually come from fervent prayer and searching of the scripture, pressuring parents, or being too steeped in legalism?

4. Keep those lists with you.  As you go looking for a spouse, use these lists as a guide.  Keep them in the back of your mind as you evaluate 

Look for some more thoughts on finding a spouse from my husband and I soon!

Searching vs. Desperation

Marriage is a very beautiful and wonderful gift.  There is nothing like going through life and serving side-by-side with your partner and best friend.  It is a rich blessing, and something that should rightly be desired.

I talked last week about how dangerous and damaging desperation can be for a single woman.  I’d like to clarify, however, that seeking a spouse is not the same thing as being desperate for a man.  If we as women truly desire marriage, then sitting back on our heels and waiting is not the wise alternative to desperation.  I don’t feel that it is wrong in any way to put yourself in positions were you’ll meet nice, godly guys with similar hearts for the Lord.  God has put desires in your heart for a reason.  While we have to wait on his timing and trust Him, sometimes we also have to actively seek…and there is nothing wrong with that.

There is a big difference between seeking and being desperate.  When you’re desperate, you’re eager to find just about any guy.  When you’re seeking, you are actively looking, or at least keeping your eyes peeled, for a man who you’d be a good fit with.  Desperation consumes your time and your life, whereas seeking merely takes up a small portion.  With desperation comes a willingness to compromise who you are to “snag” a guy.  Searching  involves finding out who you are and what you believe, and looking for someone who matches that.

Here are some ways that I have found for single women to seek a spouse without becoming desperate for one:

Don’t hide away at home.  When I was a teenager, I worked with a guy who took a Pilates class in college.  He was quick to admit that he was only taking the class because he wanted to meet girls.  He knew something that a lot of single Christian women miss: getting out there, being social, meeting people, and making friends is one of the best ways to meet and get to know nice guys.  Shocker there, I know.  Aside from the plus of meeting men, I don’t believe God called us to lock ourselves away in service to Him.  He called us to be lights in the darkness, a city upon a hill, and He also emphasized the importance of fellowship.  So go to the young adults ministry, take a class in something you’re interested in, or sign up for a mission or service project. 

Take pride in your appearance.  Disclaimer here: I am in no way trying to say that you need to dress a certain way or weigh a certain amount to get a guy.  I don’t believe, however, that we are doing ourselves any service by dressing frumpy or carelessly.  As Christian women, we are daughters of the King.  As such, we are representatives of Christ to this world, and we should dress accordingly.  Balance is key.  The term “modesty”, while skewed slightly in modern thinking, merely means to not draw attention to ourselves.  We can draw attention to ourselves in more ways that one.  What are we portraying when we are dressing showily, revealing too much of ourselves, dressing legalistically, or masking the beauty that God has given us? 

The other benefit to all this, of course, is that a man who is truly seeking and following the Lord will notice your confidence, dignity, and true modesty of dress.  Let your dress and your appearance reflect who God created you to be…a unique and beautiful follower of Christ.

Be joyful.  Have you ever met someone that was incredibly beautiful, but whose critical or angry spirit made them entirely unattractive?  Conversely, have you met someone that is far from beautiful physically, but whose joy, compassion, and love made you want to be around them?  We must learn to be joyful and thankful every day, in every season.  Guys aren’t looking for a woman who’s dramatic, whiny, or depressed all the time, and acting that way only demeans the wonderful blessings that God has given us.  Our outward attitude should mirror our inward redemption.

Pursue interests and be diligent.  No guy will be interested in a boring girl, or especially one who doesn’t really do much.  Laziness is very noticeable.  If you find yourself lonely or bored, chances are you’re wasting a lot of time on frivolous, self-centered activities.  Instead, try your hardest to become a well-rounded, diligent woman.  Take the time now to carve out and develop the passions and talents God has given you. 

Portray the best version of yourself.  With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever to portray yourself as something or someone that you’re not…even if you’re not meaning to.  If you want to be seen as the mature, confident woman of God that you are, portray yourself accordingly.  Don’t post your life’s drama or your constant loneliness on Facebook.  Don’t act ditsy or write with pseudo-babytalk slang (mature guys are not interested in girls who act like babies).  Don’t post 5 million selfies.  Avoid long-winded posts full of unnecessary facts, and steer clear of petty controversy.  Don’t overpost, either…this makes it seem like you don’t really do much all day except Facebook stalk.  If the most interesting part of your day is seriously what you ate for breakfast, then chances are you’re not living to your full potential anyway.  

Consider actively seeking.  There are more websites out there for adults looking for a relationship than ever before, and I’ve known many happily married couples that have met that way.  While Andy and I didn’t meet through an official “dating website”, we did meet at a conference put on by a social networking site.  There’s no shame in that!

I love the line from Win a Date with Tad Hamilton where the one gal tells the other that her dad always told her, “Your odds go up when you file an application.”  It’s so very true.  You may think that actively seeking a spouse like that is taking things out of the Lord’s hands.  I don’t.  I firmly believe that if you’re meant to meet someone online, you will, and if you don’t, then at least you learned something about yourself.  The same goes for just about any other way of trying to meet someone.  Ask friends and family to be on the lookout for you (hey, my parents met on a blind date!).  Join a singles group.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  While God can bring you a spouse in the most unlikely of ways, if you’re never in places where there are eligible young men, then you may find yourself waiting awhile.  The more people you come in contact with, the higher your chances are of meeting just the right man for you.    

God has a very special plan for you during this season of singleness, no matter how long it lasts.  Know, though, that if your heart’s desire is to be married, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong in seeking a spouse while you’re doing what God has for you at the moment..  Search out what the Lord has for you in this season of singleness, but don’t cloister yourself away.  Become the best possible version of yourself, put yourself out there, and then let God do the rest.