How do I know if he's the one?

Recently this week I was reading through the blog that Diane Comer (wife of Phil Comer who pastors our old church, Solid Rock) writes called, "He Speaks in the Silence." She shares some beautiful and honest thoughts and encouragement for women (and I suppose men, too), and came across one that caused me to reflect on my own life and my own marriage a lot (as many of her entries do). 

One is particular is called "Q+A: The One" (you can read it here), and is a dialogue about "How do I know if so-and-so is 'the one,'" or "what if I miss 'the one' because I'm too (x, y or z)..." or even, "I just know so-and-so is my soul mate but they don't see it yet. How can I convince them what they're missing out on or should I keep praying that God will change their heart?" 

and finally, the one most women are guilty of:

I just KNOW 'the one' for me has these qualities: 

(here's where you fill in the blank with your preferred features of choice for your future-soul-mate-partner-who-will-adore-you-and-smother-you-with-attention-and-affection-and-be-totally-hot-and-perfect...and did I mention perfect?...)

Here's what my list looked like a few years ago:

  • Tall (like over six feet)
  • Athletic (muscular, buff, football-player-like)
  • Loves to read & write
  • Plays guitar
  • College graduate & ambitious
  • Financially stable & responsible
  • Loves the outdoors
  • Makes me laugh all the time
  • Hot (come on, don't pretend like that isn't important...)
  • Fashionable
  • Cultured
  • Loves to travel
  • Affectionate & compassionate
........among a few other qualities. Basically I turned down anyone I felt like didn't meet the criteria above because they were obviously not "the one" for me.

When T. Love and I went out for the first time, (and I use the term "went out with" loosely, because it definitely was NOT a date. We literally went out to breakfast because we were going to talk middle school teaching tips & tricks), a previous relationship I was in had recently ended and I was no place even close to considering dating someone else. And definitely not someone who didn't make "the list."

What I'm about to say is meant with the most sincerest flattery, respect and admiration, so please don't misinterpret: Going out on a date with T. Love was about the furthest thing from my mind, because he only had a couple of qualities on "the list," and therefore I wasn't interested. He was a nice guy, well-liked by everyone, but kind of annoying and definitely not my type.

However, it wasn't until we sat down, ordered food and began talking that my heart began spinning and twisting inside of me. It was as if I were talking to my future and a new chapter of my life before it had even begun. Slowly, over the course of our dating relationship, qualities from my list were being peeled away and replaced by new ones that I didn't even know I needed. I realized that my previous "list" was created to just be a comfortable extension of myself; it was one in which I knew and could predict and could relate to-- not necessarily one that challenged me to overcome or that taught me things I had never known before.

I didn't know I needed someone who was incredibly tight on the little things financially so that we could afford the big things later on (vacations, furniture, a new home...); I didn't know I needed someone who told me what he was feeling exactly when he was feeling it so there were no games, no confusion, no misunderstandings; I didn't know I needed someone who was just a tiny bit taller than me so I didn't have to strain my neck kissing him; I didn't know I needed someone who can't play any instruments or sing on-key, because he enjoys being blessed by my musical abilities instead; I didn't know I needed someone who doesn't like reading books but instead subscribes to Time Magazine in order to stay up on current events; I didn't know I needed someone who is a brilliant illustrator instead of a brilliant writer so that we could partner together writing books; I didn't know I needed someone who loves the art museum and loves interpreting the meanings behind sculptures and paintings so that I can learn from that too and apply it to my own art-- I thought I just wanted someone who enjoyed three-hour lunches in Paris cafes and who knows a fine wine when he tastes it.

Basically, I had no idea I needed someone like the man I married, because he defied nearly every quality on my "list" (except for a few-- he is definitely affectionate, hot & hilarious!). While I knew he was someone I could spend the rest of my life with, it took marrying him to realize all of the things he had that I didn't even know I needed (which is nearly an every-day discovery!) and to realize that he really was perfect for me.


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I write this because I was so guilty in going off of "the list" in every date and relationship I considered. Sometimes, you've gotta go with your gut instinct and if the chemistry or attraction isn't there, it just isn't. However, I'm sure I turned down a handful of guys that could have been really great relationships or even just learning opportunities because I didn't even give them a chance (which I'm of course embarrassed about now...). 

My encouragement to anyone reading this who isn't married is not to just throw your list away; however, don't define what your next relationship is going to be like by your list like I did. Let God surprise you by being open to what might come your way. It's like trying to tell your family members exactly what to get you for your birthday and Christmas, and you won't be happy or enjoy it if you get anything less. In fact, you won't even open the present unless that's what it is. Trust in the fact that God knows you intimately; He knows what you need, He knows what's best for you, and He knows who will fill your heart in marriage someday. Give Him the opportunity to do His work and in the meantime, enjoy the season that you're in because it is definitely a special time that goes quickly. 

I heard someone reference something that John Mark Comer said this year: "The minute you say 'I do,' they become 'the one.'" (or something along those lines). Don't worry about what a soul-mate looks like or not knowing who 'the one' is yet. God does.

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