Cory, one of my happily married friends, was annoyed with some of his single, male buddies.
“Joshua, it’s so irritating,” he said. “I suggest a woman to them, but they say ‘she’s not attractive enough,’ or she’s lacking in some other area. And here’s the crazy part: In every case — without exception — the woman is way out of their league.”
I shook my head. “I know. I used to be like those guys, always finding a problem with every woman I dated. I didn’t realize I was the one with the problem.”
And my problem was pride. I measured women against a vague standard of perfection that eliminated each woman almost as soon as I met her. It was a pageant of sorts, where women were scored in a number of categories. And somehow I had gotten it into my head that I was worthy to be their judge.
The Perfect Christian Girl
I was like a lot of single, Christian guys. I just wanted to follow God’s will in finding a wife — that’s all — oh yeah, and I also wanted a modest version of the Cosmo girl. And, well, I didn’t want her to be too needy. Oh, and she also needed to be smart — really smart — but not, like, so smart that she made me feel stupid. And, of course, she needed to be spiritually mature (you know, like me). And one more thing: I wanted her to have a cool and fun personality (whatever that meant).
In other words, I wanted to date the perfect Christian girl — not a real woman.
Of course, I knew what a real woman was like. I grew up in a Christian home with lots of real women around, each of them imperfect in one way or another, yet fully feminine. These women had opinions, unshakable faith, curves, feelings, hormonal surges, weight fluctuations, talents, wrinkles and a regular need for affirmation. It didn’t bother me: It was part of who they were, and I loved them for it.
But when it came to prospective mates, I wasn’t so gracious. I figured I deserved to have the best qualities of every woman wrapped into a nice package, waiting at the end of a rainbow. And yet, despite meeting dozens of women in my quest, I could never find that perfect, Christian girl. But that didn’t stop me from looking for her — until I discovered that, in fact, I wasn’t the perfect Christian guy.
Dealing With Reality
Just before meeting my lovely bride, a series of unfortunate circumstances and poor decisions collided, bringing out my worst (seriously, trust me, it was ugly). When the train wreck was over, I felt I would be lucky if any Christian woman would take me. Though it may sound like it, I wasn’t suffering from low self-esteem. I was finally dealing with reality.
Before, I assumed my future wife should have the perfect intellect, teeth, personality, body type, people skills and past. But in the face of my brokenness, it occurred to me: An imperfect guy can’t demand something from a woman that he can’t give.
Around the time of that revelation, I met my wife at a party on Capitol Hill. Unlike before, I didn’t think, I’ll consider taking that girl out. I thought, I wonder if she would go out with me. I cautiously introduced myself, and as we talked, I found myself focusing on her qualities, rather than mentally trying to ferret out her deficiencies.
We eventually began dating, and I continued humbling myself — indeed,enjoying myself — leaving her feeling comfortable, honored and beautiful. As our relationship progressed, I found myself looking up at her, seeing her as a daughter of the King rather than looking down on her as another prospective contestant.
Essentially, I was loving her for who she was, leaving behind my job as a self-appointed judge in an impossible-to-win pageant. I pursued her all the way to the altar, and I’m still pursuing her today.
Are You Man Enough?
To those single guys out there who are trying to find the ideal woman, do the world a favor and give up. You’re not the ideal man — not anywhere close. And you would never get married if women held you to the same standard you apply to them.
But maybe you insist that you’re not going to settle for a woman who’s not everything you’re hoping for in a wife. Settle? Whatever the circumstances, believe me, she will be the one who settles for you and all your deficits. And until you realize this — through humbling circumstances or otherwise — maybe you should take a break from dating for a while and spend some time asking God to make you man enough to love a real woman.