On Finding a Spouse

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This past week, I stumbled upon a list I wrote in my journal my senior year in high school: “Qualities to look for in a guy,” I titled it. And on the opposite page, “Qualities to avoid.” Basically, my perfect guy was a patient, loving, honest, good-with-money, servant-leader who attended church weekly and had never drank, smoke, done drugs, dated a “bad girl” or watched an R-rated movie (I only exaggerate a little).

I’m sure I wasn’t the only Christian millennial female who did this. Looking back, I know I was encouraged to make such a list in several different places-church youth group, the summer camp I went to every year, and even Bible studies into college. I understand the point-Christian young ladies shouldn’t lower their standards when dating, should look for a fellow Christ-follower, should guard their hearts until they meet a person worthy enough to win their heart, should pay attention to potential red flags to avoid heartbreak later.

Though I didn’t date much throughout high school and college, I had a pseudo-relationship with one of my best guy friends my senior year of college. He broke my heart. And not only did he break my heart, but he left me in a state of confusion for months that could have easily been diffused or avoided completely had he only communicated with me. I was shocked and befuddled. He had matched every quality on my list. He had none of the qualities I was supposed to avoid. Where did it go wrong?

Fast forward about a year to meeting Carlos. He was (and still is!) kind, charming, handomse, sweet, caring, and friendly, but glaringly different from me. There’s the obvious difference of him being Mexican. He wasn’t raised going to an evangelical church and all that comes with it-the aforementioned youth group, Bible studies, summer camps, and making of qualties-to-look-for-in-a-spouse lists. He’s also older. And had never heard of homeschooling. The list goes on.

Though Carlos always made his intentions with me very clear-within days he told me he liked me and within a couple of weeks, asked me to be his girlfriend- after a few months of dating, I tried to break up with him for some pretty selfish reasons: He didn’t match my list. I thought he wasn’t good enough just because he was different than me and practically every guy I had known in the past 23 years. I was worried about what people would think about me. While I tried to manipulate things and justify my self-righteousness and break up with a guy that I was in love with just for appearances’ sake, God was there, whispering over and over, “Look at his heart, Emily. His heart.”

So I did. And since then, God has taught me an infinite amount of things through Carlos, such as how to be more genuine and how to make the most of every day, and that, shocker, I have character flaws too. Most importantly, I’ve learned that though our differences make it hard to agree and even love each other sometimes, figuring things out while offering the other grace is making us more like Christ.

I’m not necessarily saying that you should choose a guy the same way I did, or that the type of guy you’ve always dreamed about and hoped for and made lists about will end up breaking your heart like mine did. The point is to let God handle things. He’ll amaze you, like he amazed me, like he still amazes me every day that Carlos and I are (mostly) happily married and learning to love each other more every day. And to think that I almost missed all of this because of that stupid list.

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