Dating is a little more complicated when you're following God's list of deal breakers.
I've been told that physical attraction is often faulty, and that instantaneous sparks can be deceiving and extremely messy. I try to ignore initial chemistry, too. Right from the beginning, my analytical mind asks: Why make it complicated when we can make it very, very simple?
Unfortunately, this rationale always seems to make me very, very single, because I have a lot of deal breakers. Even though I hate to think of it that way. I wish I could give any guy a chance, but I can't.
My lengthy list of deal breakers is what I'm always thinking about when I meet a guy. That's what I was thinking about when I was sitting next to ... let's just call him "John." To briefly set the scene, we were outside on a perfectly picturesque fall day, having a perfectly pleasant conversation. He wasn't hiding his interest in me either, so I knew where this was headed. Naturally, I pulled out my mental litmus test — the list of deal breakers.
Now, I could go on and tell you how we got there. I could tell you what John looked like, what he sounded like, what he was wearing. But none of that matters, because it only took two words to bring down any potential relationship possibilities: "I'm Jewish."
It was over on that same day, because I forgot to tell you: My list of deal breakers is also God's.
Religion is just the first in a long line of other deal breakers based on my Christian faith. "You aren't called to missionary dating," writer-and-minister Max Lucado writes.
Essentially, what he's saying is that I shouldn't date someone from outside my faith and hope they will convert. Then, Lucado advises, "Marry someone who loves God more than you do."
So, not only do I need a guy who calls himself a Christian, I need one who walks the walk. I need a guy who helps me love God more fully. It only gets harder from there.
Next, we have a verse from 1 Corinthians: "Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body" (6:18, NLT). Premarital sex? God isn't having it.
God also isn't an advocate of other modern dating staples like alcohol, as it often distracts from a purpose-filled life: "What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning looking for a drink of alcohol and spend long evenings drinking wine to make themselves flaming drunk" (Isaiah 5:11). Ouch.
Then, there's that tough bit about husbands being the head of the household and wives honoring that: "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:23). If I'm supposed to follow my husband, I want to know he will lead my down the right path. If I feel that's not going to happen with a certain guy, then I'm not sticking around.
That's a lot to think about during a first meeting, or even a few dates after, while also trying to bat away feelings of attraction and figure out if you share common ground.
Are you thinking, Why the hurry to figure it all out? I've thought about that, too. I can explain it with one verse. I remember being fixated on it from the time I was a preteen. It's the voice in the back of my head when I'm tempted to forget it all and fall for an agnostic.
It's the words that keep me a single girl: "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" (Song of Solomon 2:7, NIV).
I've chosen to forget about all the "just having fun" that comes with dating when you're younger and I'm not necessarily even looking to get married yet, because when it's not right, love is incredibly messy. It blinds us. It can cause us to make a ton of mistakes and hurt God. And it just might happen if I adopt an only-for-fun attitude.
So, unless I know the relationship can go somewhere someday, I'd rather not waste his time or mine. Even if that leaves me single and waiting, which I can't say I'm always happy about.
Frankly, sometimes this whole complicated tangle of deal breakers makes me frustrated with God. Um, hello? I'm down here ready to do do Your will, Lord. So will you please send Mr. Right my way already?
I constantly have to remind myself that God is already taking care of it. When I see a coupled-up pair on the street; When I meet a guy who's great, but isn't a practicing Christian and doesn't want to be; When I'm growing seriously impatient, that's when I repeat to myself, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
I know God will send the right man my way in His good and perfect timing. The hope of the future is what keeps me searching for the Lord's match instead of settling for an earthly one. I don't know when I'll find him. Maybe I'm not ready yet.
Whether I think I am or not doesn't matter; I have to accept God's opinion, even if that means I'm waiting 10, 20 or 30 years for love, which is a hard pill to swallow. But even still, I believe it will happen. And I know that when it does happen, it will be worth the wait.