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We all have one.

Come on. Admit it.

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone does it.

We all write “the list.”

To be more specific, we all write the list of what we want in our future spouses. Sometimes the list is long, sometimes it’s a little longer. I don’t know about you, but I started writing mine many, many moons ago.

[At 8 years old]
My future boyfriend needs to:
1. Not have cooties

[At 11 years old]
My future boyfriend needs to:
1. Be Zack Morris!
2. Spike his hair up like Zack Morris!

[At 15 years old]
My future hubbie needs to:
1. Be reeeaaally cute!!! πŸ™‚
2. And love the Atlanta Braves!
3. And, like, play guitar on the youth worship team!

[At 18 years old]
My future husband needs to:
1. Love Jesus
2. Be a youth pastor / missionary
3. Want four children (two girls, two boys)
4. Love the New York Mets

(Side note: Don’t ask about the change in favorite baseball teams. It involved a really cute catcher named Javy Lopez. Lord, have mercy.)

[At 21 years old]
My future husband needs to:
1. Love the Goo Goo Dolls (Don’t ask)
2. Know how to cook
3. Be at least six feet tall
4. Not be in a fraternity
5. Call me beautiful

[At 24 years old]
My future husband needs to:
1. Be a Nashville musician / producer with standard in-house studio set-up
2. Be willing to give me guitar lessons for free
3. Make enough to pay rent and take me out to dinner (i.e., book more than two gigs a month)
4. Believe that being a Christian means more than just going to church
5. Love my niece and nephew more than life itself
6. Actually think I’m beautiful

[At 27 years old]
My future husband needs to:
1. Want to travel overseas and care for orphans
2. Keep up-to-date on more news than just the latest football score
3. Support me in my writing career
4. Want to care for my parents (and his parents) when we get older
5. Reach out to hold my hand in public
6. Consider child adoption an exciting option simply because it’s a beautiful thing
7. Want to grow in faith together

And here I am, at 32 years old, blogging my current “list,” and thinking about all the things I used to want in a man, all the things I think I need, all the things I may actually need. And I’m confused. And I feel a tinge of loneliness. And a bulldozer of powerlessness.

I can’t seem to control my love life any more than I can control the weather. As this cold front rolls into the Capital City, I’m reminded of that. Because even if I found this man that aligned perfectly with my checklist — I couldn’t control whether or not he actually wanted me back, whether or not I filled any of the checkboxes on his list.

Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing the words ofΒ Dr. Dick FothΒ — a wise pastor and teacher from Colorado who visited my church. Somewhere in the middle of a great sermon, he recalled a conversation he had some 40 years ago with his then-19-year-old sister-in-law, Joanna.

Joanna: “I want a guy who’s good looking and has got it together and is rich…”

Dr. Foth: “And loves Jesus?”

Joanna: “Yeah, that too…”

Dr. Foth: “Joanna, rather than telling me what kind of a guy you want, why don’t you tell me what kind of woman you want to be?”

Ouch. So that’s what a punch in the gut feels like.

My list — which for many years grew longer and longer — is now quite simple. It has morphed into a Mad Libs format — fill in the blanks and I’ll take what I get.

My future husband needs to be (adjective)Β with (adjective)Β hair. He needs to (adverb)Β live in (place), and have four (noun, plural)Β and aΒ (adjective)Β job.

Oh, I kid! (For the most part.)

In all honesty, before yesterday, this was my list:

[At 32 years old]
My future husband needs to:
1. Find his passion in life and go after it with all his heart
2. Make me laugh like no one else can
3. Love Jesus, love me and love our kids
4. Be tall (So sue me! I never said I was perfect.)

But after yesterday’s church service, the wheels in my head just wouldn’t quit turning. If I only spent less time thinking about what this elusive man needs to be, and more about the woman I need to be, perhaps I might discover something along the way – about myself, about him, about God.

As I went to bed last night, as I woke up this morning, as I started writing this post earlier today, as I finish up this post this evening — the answer to Dr. Foth’s question eludes me. I’m hovering over so many things I want to be, to do, to achieve as a woman — but I can’t land on a clear, concise answer. And I wonder if this is part of the grand holdup.

So as I continue to wrestle with discovering what kind of woman I want to be, I ask you: What are some things that are (or have been) on your list? What do you think of Dr. Foth’s insight? And for my married readers, do your spouses match up to the lists you created back when you were single?

Learning more about myself every day…

~Ruth