I went through a really long season in dating where I would only date a certain kind of guy. He had to have blonde hair, blue eyes, be at least 6”2, love the outdoors, be older than me and have no intention of being an engineer.
And I stuck to what I said.
My first boyfriend in college and most of my boyfriends in high school fit that mold. I was a health and fitness major at the time and was by far one of the most superficial people I knew. I needed to be with some who fit my “aesthetic” (I.e. those really hot people on Instagram who travel for a living).
I couldn’t bear the thought of being with some engineer who would expect me to be a housewife. I’m not really sure what brown eyes and hair had to do with anything, but it mattered to me.
After a lot of heartbreak and unrealistic expectations, I realized I sought out the most superficial people I could find because I was too afraid to be known. I was afraid that if someone saw the not so attractive parts of me, they would leave. I intentionally sought out superficial things because I was superficial. I didn’t want anything real or raw. I cared about what everyone thought of my relationship. If the guy I was dating wasn’t the best guy in the room, then why would I date him? ( I’m awful I know).
The thought of someone seeing the broken parts of my soul and life gives me some serious anxiety. It’s terrifying. But that’s why I’m so excited about this blog! Now that those superficial chains have been broken, I am hoping that this post will be an encouragement to anyone who reads it. I hope this helps break down superficial walls and any fear or anxiety you may have about being known and loved for who you are.
I couldn’t imagine God giving me someone who would love me instead of making me look good.
Before I start here, I would like to go ahead and state that God not only affirmed that I would be married one day once, but twice. So, you’re pretty much about to read a bunch of stuff about my lack of faith. Yay. How fun.
I just finished this book called The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler and OMG y’all this book is seriously amazing. I don’t care if you’re married, single, dating, engaged or whatever else. I would highly recommend that you get this book. You can even borrow my copy if you want to.
Quick disclaimer: I’ve only had two boyfriends in college and when I did the math, I realized that I’ve been single for four out of my five years in college. To be honest, being single isn’t something that inherently bothers me. Yeah I love romance and being in love, but it’s not something I’m obsessed with.
Recently though, this wave of loneliness swept over me and it wasn’t like anything I’d ever felt before. It really started to bother me that I was single and it hit me how much I longed to be known and loved by a man for who I ACTUALLY am. Not who I am on instagram.
So, I started praying about it and of course, when I was asking the Lord to literally give me the name of the person I was going to marry ( lol sarah), all He said was “Look up”.
Not only was I annoyed by that response, but I immediately interpreted this as one day, I was going to be in a coffee shop and when I looked up, my Noah would be there. Now, I’m more of a Jack Dawson kind of gal, but I feel like people resonate with The Notebook more so that’s what I’m going with.
Obviously, I was wrong and began to get more frustrated. I got to a point where I just quit praying about it all together and went on with my day.
You still with me? Good.
Now, back to this book. In one chapter, Matt was talking about the fact that at Bible studies, he was the guy who would just flat out say that he didn’t believe there was a woman out there for him. There wasn’t anyone who would see his dirt and issues and dare to take him on.
I’m right there with Matt and I think a lot of us are. We don’t really believe that anyone will hear our testimony, see our wounds and scars and still say “Yep. That’s the one I want”.
A lot of us believe that once someone meets our family, hears about our sexual past or knows that we used to have quite the reputation, they’ll just up and leave. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes the case. Not many people know my testimony, but some of the ones who do are still having a hard time making eye contact with me.
So here I am, praying again. Asking God to maybe send me another affirmation because I’m not believing that someone will see me and like it. But again, apparently I just needed to “look up”.
So I did. I literally wouldn’t touch my phone and tried to pay attention to everything around me- seeing if there was some magical sign that I was missing. Nothing. I got nothing. No quote painted on the walls of the little cafes I like to read my books in. No billboard with some secret message on it just for me. No songs that could speak straight into my soul. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I was beyond annoyed at this point. But I just kept going.
When I’m on the coast, I go to a church in Ocean Springs called Mosaics. It’s the church that baptized me over three years ago and it’s my favorite place down here. It’s under a new pastor and in a new building, but I still call it home.
One Sunday, I went in with the expectations of simply worshipping the Lord and hearing a good, theologically correct sermon and I did. But what was different about that Sunday was that the guy preaching wasn’t the lead pastor. I’d never seen this dude before. He was fairly young and to be honest, I immediately went to see if he had a wedding ring on. He did. It wasn’t because I was attracted to him, I was just curious. I think deep down I secretly wish for a single pastor so I won’t feel like the only single person in the world.
I think it was this guys first time preaching here, so he was breaking down his preaching style for everyone so we all knew what to expect. Before he got the sermon he just said “You know, I come from a broken family. My mom and dad didn’t care about going to church. I gave my life over when I was sophomore in high school and been on my own with this whole thing ever since”.
Immediately, everything started to make sense. The whole “look up” thing started to become crystal clear. God wasn’t telling me to look up because there would be some man in front of me who I was just destined to be with. He was asking me to look at the people I was surrounded by.
This guy, coming from a broken home which I’m sure caused a lot of wounds and makes holidays difficult, was married to a sweet, kind woman who saw him and wanted him regardless of his family’s mess.
The lead pastors of my church in Starkville, The Orchard, are two very different people. He has quite the past and it’s not always easy to here about, but his wife is absolutely crazy about him . ( she’s my mentor and she always talks about it. Too cute).
A pastor from the church I am looking to work for for a year was engaged before he took the job as the associate pastor there. I don’t know even know how it came up, but apparently this girl broke it off with him because she couldn’t accept certain things about him. But now he has a beautiful wife who saw all of his dirt and mess and still chose him.
I know some married couples in Starkville who come from wildly different backgrounds and still chose each other, despite all of it.
I searched through my little library of books and began to read and research the testimonies of the authors. Every single one of them either had a devastating sexual past, came from a broken family, were heavily abused, struggled with deep insecurities, spent their entire college career getting drunk and having causal sex, experienced severe depression and wreaked havoc on the hearts of many young men and women.
But someone still chose them and what’s funny is that a lot of their spouses were those rare souls that had never kissed anyone or held hands with someone until they were like 25.
Now, remember that by the time these people met their spouses, they were turned away from their sin and full of repentance and hard work. I seriously encourage you to not over romanticize your brokenness and become lazy and passive about your sin and still expect someone good and godly to love you anyways. You have to do some hard work. There just no way around it. Trust me, I’ve tried.
The Lord was trying to speak through the people who He blatantly put in front of me. He was trying to show me that yes, someday someone will choose me and you- despite all the dirt.
I think in college, a lot of the dating sermons we hear are good and full of wisdom, but are very surface level. So I’m just going to give it to you straight. The person you end up marrying is going to have some dirt, whether you like it or not. They are going to have wounds and they aren’t going to be perfect. It doesn’t matter how good or bad their life was or wasn’t, something or someone hurt them at one point and it’s going to show up eventually.
The person you marry is probably going to be the last person you ever expected and the exact opposite of your “type”. I’m sorry if that hurts you, but just look at and examine the people in front of you and it’ll probably become more clear.
You’ve got dirt. I’ve got dirt. Everyone’s got dirt. That’s just a part of life.
So here’s my advice:
Married couples, pay attention to the single people around you. Encourage and remind them that marriage is a beautiful thing, but it’s covenantal. It’s full of sacrifices and it means choosing someone regardless of what they did two years ago. Encourage single people to humble themselves before the Lord and ask Him what He wants for them, not what they want for themselves. There are some serious biblical commands when it comes to marriage. Don’t be afraid to get deep and real with the single people around you.
Single people, look up. Look at who’s in front of you. Are you only looking at the people who are aesthetically pleasing to your ego? Are you looking at the men and women are following Christ, but maybe aren’t your “type”? Who are you giving more attention to? The people that speak life into you or just make you feel good about yourself? What are the married people in your life like? Do they ever get real about the fact that marriage is about choosing someone, regardless of their mess, or do they judge people who have sinned more than them? Are your friends in your life superficial and refuse to go deep with you? Or do they get real about their scars and wounds and create a space where you feel like you can expose yourself and not be judged for your mess?
Are you walking through the wild, messy parts of your life with people? Or are you just pretending that there’s nothing wrong with you and cover up all your wounds?
Y’all, I understand that being vulnerable is terrifying. But because Jesus Christ was vulnerable on that cross for us, knowing that we could walk away at any minute, is proof that we too can be vulnerable and expose ourselves to the people we love and trust most.
There have been so many people that the Lord has blatantly put in front of me and I chose to look over them. Sometimes for superficial reasons. Sometimes I was just oblivious to the way He wanted to speak to me through them.
But I can tell you that I regret that. Obviously, grace did its thing and God planted other people in the old ones place, but I think Bob Goff had it right when he said “When we ask God to answer our prayers, He usually just sends friends”.
What’s funny is that God doesn’t need to send us a bunch of verbal affirmations because they are most likely already in front us. Preaching to us on Sunday mornings, having coffee with us on Thursday night and sitting around us during small group.
I could honestly care less about who I marry. Blonde hair, tall, short, younger or older it doesn’t matter. What matters is what God wants for us. Who God has deemed the best fit.
So seriously, just look up. Who’s in front of you? What’s the lesson there? Who’s on your heart? What’s God trying to say to you through them?
You’ll never know until you look up.
All my love,
Matthew 6:25-34 (the message)
( the mingling of souls series with Matt Chandler is on YouTube :))
PODCAST: Girls Night with Stephanie May Wilson- How to Know Gods Will for your Life