We’ve all made it. You know what I’m talking about.. Whether in our heads or written on paper – we’ve all made “the list“. The list that makes up all the details of our someday Mr. (or mrs.) Perfect. We have held onto this list in the back of our minds and anytime we met someone new during the dating phase we compared them to our wishlist. Are they everything we want?
Perhaps this is controversial, but I don’t believe in “the list”. Maybe it’s not all bad, but I definitely think it does a lot more harm than it does good.
Sure, the people in our lives who encourage us to make this list have good intentions. They want to see us happy and with someone who loves us well. They don’t want us to settle. And don’t get me wrong, I would never settle and that is not the message I am sending in this post.
I’m just saying, if dating to you feels a lot like shopping for a new car, then you’re doing something wrong.
Here is what I know about love..
We are called to love our spouse like Christ loves the church.
Christ doesn’t love us based on if we meet his standards. He didn’t come up with a list of every credential we have to meet in order to be His bride. In fact, he did just the opposite. He loved us where we were at, took us at our worst, saw potential in us, and lived His life to serve us. This kind of love is what enables us to become that potential He saw within us in the first place.
I just wonder how the world would change if we all made it our goal to love this way. Can you imagine a world like that?
Of course attraction and similar goals and whatnot is important. But what dating and marriage has become in this day is outrageous.
We live in a narcissistic, self-serving culture that moves onto whatever is new and shiny. This is how we handle iphones, cars, and unfortunately, even people. We make lists of what we want in a significant other, we search until we find it, then a year into a dating relationship or even marriage we aren’t happy and we realize they aren’t quite as shiny as we thought. What happened to the person who met every requirement on my list?! At this point we throw them out like our old iphone 4s and move on. Maybe the 6 plus will be everything I want and never get old.
Maybe that is a cheesy comparison, but can you tell me I’m wrong?!
What I am sure about, is that I will never teach my children to make a list of everything they want in a spouse. Instead of teaching our children to find the perfect person, let’s use that time to take our best stab at teaching them how to love an imperfect person perfectly.
I will do this because I know the power behind being loved like that. I have been loved the right way before – the way Christ loves the church – and it has changed my life.
I think back to when I was at my very worst. One of my best friends stuck by my side through the depths of my depression as I was anxiety ridden, bitter, and emotionally unstable, and he walked with me every step of the way. He loved and forgave me even when I got distracted. He took me in my most unlovable state and somehow loved me anyway.
I cannot help but think that the person who loved me like this knew a secret that I had yet to learn. Love isn’t about finding the perfect person for us, its about learning to lay our own life and desires down in order to love an imperfect person to the best of our abilities. It’s about loving that one person at their highest as well as their lowest – and walking with them through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“People need love the most, when they deserve it the least”.
You see, this is the way Jesus loves us. It is the way God pursues every one of us. Therefore, the beginning of loving someone this way is entering into an intimate love relationship with the Lord and learning it through Him first. He is the perfect teacher when it comes to love – no one does it better.
Although that friend I told you about was nothing but a good friend to me through every single bad day, at that time I did not recognize the beauty in this. I ended up walking out of his life. Really at this time I walked out of the lives of a lot of people who cared about me.
Sidenote: I believe this is what a lot of us do to Jesus at times. Thankfully, His love is perfect and goes beyond condition. Even when we wander away from home he never stops setting a place for us at His table. He invites us back in, relentlessly, in eager anticipation for the day that we will finally say “yes” and return home.
To continue with my story..
At this point in life, that friend who stuck by my side is now in a pretty bad place himself. Life has handed him a few really hard blows which has left him in a bottomless pit of depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and isolation.
All I know to do at this point for him is what he did for me – and ultimately what Jesus does for me. I will refuse the urge to jump ship even when it’s hard to love him. I will do my best to continue loving him through every single second, even when he doesn’t know I’m loving him. I will try to love him in a way that has become so foreign to this culture.
He refuses to do anything more than talk to me on occasion, or anyone on occasion really, but I wont give up on him. Think what you will about it. Maybe you call it insanity or a waste of time, but I only have one word for it: I call it love.
I will love him until he finds freedom in Christ from everything that’s robbing him of so much – or I will die trying. I am determined to love him more than he loves his sin.
Really, I am determined to love everyone around me in this way.
I submit this to the One who loves perfectly, and pray that He teaches me to love the way He loves. I pray He teaches me to love beyond conditions and without restrictions. Teach me, oh God, how you relentlessly pursue and love me, never closing your heart to me even when I bring you pain.
This is how I intend to love. Wether it’s the man I marry, or the friends that are around me.. I want to love like this. I no longer am focused on what people have to add to my life, but rather what I can give to them. Maybe that’s what love is all about.
I love love. It’s scary, exciting, fufilling, difficult, exhilarating and courageous. It is what makes us human – it makes us alive.
And here is my absolute favorite thing about love – it never fails. (1 Cor. 13:8)