As a member of the 30somthing singles demographic (one that I didn’t think I’d belong to, but find myself in nonetheless!), I often get asked about questions related to dating, singleness and how the two relate to a life of faith. I recently spoke at a retreat for my good friend who is a campus minister outside of Atlanta and we covered many of the “Christian Dating Myths” that seem to float around within the Christian singles subculture, particularly among younger Christian singles. (You can listen to a talk he and I gave in the podcast link at the top of the page on this very subject if you’re curious!)
I also had a conversation with a friend recently about me being single and dating and whatnot and I shared the following regarding what it is I’m looking for in a potential spouse (which is what I believe dating should be about determining):
“I’ll be honest, when it comes to a relationship, the kind of girl I’m attracted to is one who:
loves Jesus (rather than just loving being with someone who loves Jesus),
is smart (or at least loves to learn),
is funny (or at least can laugh with me rather than just at me),
is athletic (at least as physically active and in shape as I am),
is physically attractive (to me at least, regardless of what others think; someone I would enjoy kissing on a regular basis!)
If someone doesn’t have these qualities then we could be friends, but probably not much more. It’s tough because most girls who have the first three qualities usually don’t have the last two…and most who have the last two usually don’t have the first three…and the ones who have all of the above are dating someone else or are married! Thus my singleness at 33! 🙂”
Now before I get inundated with angry letters from my women readers let me clarify that, yes, I know that I’m over-generalizing a bit in my last paragraph (this was a conversation between friends, not an anthropological study of the female gender!) and, yes, I know that a number of these qualities are quite subjective (it’s my list, though, and I have no intention of speaking on behalf of any other guy out there).
So why have such a list? Should all Christian singles make “the list” and meticulously scrutinize every member of the opposite sex accordingly? Or is such a list a waste of time and an exercise in “unspiritual” daydreaming at best? I can only offer my opinion from my own perspective and experiences. So here goes.
I’m not a big proponent of “making a list” by any means, but these seem to be the qualities that I’m drawn to and that, if missing, lead to me simply wanting a friendship with someone rather than a romantic relationship. God is, of course, a God of surprises, so I would not be the least bit surprised if whoever He ends up leading me to in marriage (if indeed He ever allows me to marry) is different than what I could imagine; but I also know that the deep desires of my heart have been put there by Him and He absolutely does not want me to ever “settle” simply in order to not be alone. (Those who believe otherwise and are married, let me just ask you…did you “settle”? If you didn’t, then why should anyone else be expected to??)
So I find myself waiting and trusting that these 3 decades (and counting) of singleness have been preparation for something despite the pains and heartaches that have accompanied them. This is often, for those of us who are single, the hardest thing to do and many well-meaning married Christians flippantly downplay the very real and very deep pain of loneliness that we often feel crushed under (as lifelong bachelor, and one of my theological heroes, John Stott has put it: “Any single person knows more about loneliness than somebody who is sharing his life with a [spouse] and family.”)
I have no desire to do that, so I hope that in sharing my “holy discontent” with being single–especially during the time in life when most of my friends are now married or will be soon–gives other single Disciples of Jesus some hope and perspective that helps them in some way. Of course, should I die today my life will not have been empty by any means, but the joy of marriage is something that I really would like to experience this side of the Great Wedding Banquet.
What about you, fellow single Dojo readers? What are you looking for and praying for in a spouse (those of you who are wanting to get married, that is)? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on it. And while your thinking about it, let me offer the following to encourage you in where you find yourself right now:
“Most of his boyhood friends were probably married by the time they had reached thirty, but not him. He had friends of both sexes, but no wife or children. He was able to relax in other people’s homes, but he had no home of his own. He knew what it was like to care for an aging parent, but he never knew the joys and challenges of being a parent himself. He know who he was, where he was going, and how he wanted his career to develop, but he also knew what it was like to be considered different, a threat to other people, and a misfit. He was a healthy young man with all the sexual urges and temptations that human beings experience, but he never had a wife with whom he could be sexually intimate. He knew how to laugh, how to hold his own in heated debates, and how to play with little children, but there were times when he cried and sometimes he felt very lonely and alone. Usually we don’t think of him in this way, but Jesus was a single adult.” [From: Bob Vetter and June Vetter, Jesus was a Single Adult (Elgin, Ill.: David C. Cook, 1978).]
And to the rest of my readers:
Sorry married people, this post isn’t really aimed at you…
…unless you know of a young lady who loves Jesus, is smart, funny, athletic and pretty, and who is also into redheaded art/martial arts/Bible geeks!