I was a freshman in high school when I met the woman I wanted to marry and spend the rest of my life with. As a 14-year-old, I had everything figured out… so I thought. I was sitting at a picnic table minding my own business when a cute, I mean really cute, 16-year-old brown haired girl walked by. I noticed her right away and loved what I noticed! She was wearing a simple white t-shirt with red and black checkered Umbro shorts.
It was the summer of 1995. Heather was and still is two and a half years older than I am. After spending a week with her, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I just had to figure out how to actually make that dream a reality.
We lived two and a half hours apart and the internet wasn’t what it is these days. Dial-up ruled the day! Napster wasn’t even invented yet. In order to make my dream a reality, I decided to attend as many events that Heather might be at. I started attending church camps and other events hoping Heather would be there and …she was. My plan was working. I finally got up the courage to ask her for her address so I could write letters to her. We wrote via snail mail for several years. I still have some of those letters.
We finally were able to spend time in the same space in the fall of 1999. I graduated high school and attended the same college Heather did. The fact that she was there, legit was the main factor in my decision-making process of what college I would attend. The problem was that when I finally showed up, I realized I wasn’t the kind of guy Heather would want to date, let alone marry. When I was finally honest with myself, I could see there were habits and characteristics in my own life that I wasn’t proud of.
At some point during my freshman year of college, I created a list of characteristics that I wanted my future spouse to be like. This list included characteristics such as loving, caring, maturing follower of Jesus, fun, faithful, funny, and attractive (who wants to spend the rest of your life with someone you can’t stand to look at?). The purpose of the list was to help me identify ladies who might hold these characteristics. This list became more important in just a few months.
Eventually Heather and I started to hang out. I quickly realized why Heather was the one. I realized that my integrity and maturity or lack thereof would hinder me from ever being the kind of guy Heather would want to date.
I have journaled my prayers since I started following Jesus. That list I created was in my prayer journal and during my sophomore year of college, I read back over it. God spoke to me that day like never before. The message was clear. “If you want your future spouse to be loving, caring etc., when will you become those things?” “When will you start the process of becoming the maturing follower of Jesus I created you to be?”
After my “conversation” with God, I intentionally started the process of maturing as a person. I quit smoking, started reading my Bible and doing more to learn about God.
In order for me to find Ms. Right (pretty sure that’s a myth we’ll unpack some other day), I had to become the version of Mr. Right my Ms. Right was looking for. Andy Stanley says it best, “Are you the person the person you’re looking for is looking for?”
If not, maybe it’s time you start that process for yourself. Make a list of those characteristics you’re looking for. Be honest with yourself. Are those characteristics in your own life? Here’s the great news, your story isn’t over. You’re not defined by your dating history. You’re not defined by your past. Allow God to write another chapter in your life. If you’re married, you might want to do this as well. You’d be surprised how this might benefit your marriage.
I pastor RE.THINK Church and 80% of our people are under the age of 30 years old. Several of these people are single. Some have been married before and are now looking for what’s next, or better put, who’s next. I’ve encouraged our people to stop looking for Mr. or Ms. Right and become Mr. or Ms. Right first.