I still have a couple of journals from my high school/college days. I am embarrassed at some of the things I chose to write about in those journals. I laugh at moments of pure teenage angst in them, and then I cringe at the stupidity of my boy crazyness that I had for far, far too long.
Last night during the Cross Point College event I was reminded of something I had in one of my journals. It was a list. You know, the list. I put pen to paper on all the things the man I would marry had to have (or not have) in order for me to take him seriously. It ranged from “work hands” to never being married to taller than me with four inch heels on. I was all over the board, and sadly I have to admit, the list was somewhere around 50 points. I was a dreamer back in those days it seems. For years I clung to that list of expectations and would not budge for anything on them. They were my non-negotiables.
Unfortunately, those non-negotiables were also far too ridiculous. At 31 I look back at that list and see about three things on there I still hold to for any man that I date (or consider dating). But I do realize that those three are musts for me. They don’t have to look a certain way but they are a must. Far too often many of us don’t see true blessings of companionship because we are too quick to find the faults or mentally run down our lists. I’d be the first to admit that, and that I was skeptical for many years of my 20s because a guy didn’t fit the mold I had selfishly built for him.
While musts in any relationship are there for obvious reasons, for me I finally have let go of the expectations associated with what I believe they should look like in that person. Here’s what I mean: He’s a Christian? Then he should be quoting Spurgeon and talking theology after each sermon. No, reality is that we are all at different points in our faith journey. If I wait for the man who is spiritually mature at the point I desire, then it will be vastly difficult to find that. Instead I understand the reality of faith and that it’s varied among believers. I have to be open to where God is placing me in that timeline, as well as where I am at on my own faith journey.
Let’s be honest about what is a non-negotiable in our partners, but burn the list. If truth be told, and we all had these lists that we held to with such strict regard, none of us would be married or happy. We’d all be criticizing one another for how we don’t meet expectations rather than loving one another for who we truly are. Relationships are seeing people as people…we’re not perfect, we need grace, but most of all we need the other person to not have that list either.