I’m a recently married woman. I’m a wife. Getting used to being called someone’s wife and being handed a new last name is well… still new. The best kind of new, but still new.
What’s it like being married? I’m not a marriage expert. Like I just said, I’m new at this. But I do know that marriage can be AMAZING… if you marry the right person. Every day, I thank Jesus for bringing my husband, Ben, into my life. Over the years, I’ve dated a few guys, it got pretty serious a couple times, and I’ve been on my fair share of first dates. I dated some great guys and some interesting ones and frankly, some that were simply not worth my time. And one of the best things I ever learned was how to discern who was worth it and who wasn’t. That probably sounds harsh. Let me explain…
…We should approach every human being with love and respect. This way of seeing and accepting one another is possible because of Jesus’ perfect love made known to humanity. But we weren’t meant to merely love all, but to also love discerningly. It took me a while (and by a while, I mean years) to recognize that my time and my heart is a treasure, one that shouldn’t be squandered rashly but invested wisely in noble pursuits and healthy relationships.
The same goes for you. You, my friend, are a treasure. You are a gift. There is no one else quite like you. You are beautiful and altogether wonderful. You are God-designed, God-breathed, God-loved. So when it comes to romance, invest wisely. Don’t give your heart to just anyone. A man worth your time is not perfect, because well, none of us are, but He’s a real man of character and conviction. I don’t know what He will look like or when you will meet him or if you already have. I don’t know how long it will take for him to ask you out or when you’ll know exactly that he is the one or how cute your babies will be. But I do know a few signs that he’s dating material:
- He’s sacrificial. Let’s be real- we all have our selfish moments. We all have chosen to post the photo online where we clearly looked better than our friends. We’ve all cut in line. We’ve all chosen plans that accommodate us at the expense of the convenience of others. The man you marry will most likely dabble in some of these less than selfless practices. Yes, AND the man you entrust your heart to should be someone who puts the needs of those around him above himself. Yes, girl, he should serve at church and help his friends move and be generous with his time and resources.
- He knows how to bounce back. Life certainly doesn’t go as planned. There are disappointing days at work and phone calls with unexpected bad news and people who hurt and circumstances that are trying. How does your man deal? Does he retreat or blame others or give up or lash out? There are many things that attracted me to Ben, but one quality that made me feel secure in dating him was how he bounced back from setbacks. He’s an entrepreneur, and a great one at that. Any business owner will tell you that when building a business there are good days and bad days. I watched him navigate both with wisdom and resilience and character. Look for a man whose character shines not just on the sunny days, but the stormy ones as well.
- He follows Jesus. I didn’t say end up with a guy who never raises his voice, whose version of cussing is yelling out “Gee Golly!”, who dresses like a younger version of Mr. Rogers, and who would never watch a PG-13 movie. Maybe you are into that kind of man, and if so, great. But none of these many times de-masculinizing qualities are innately Christian. I think we forget that Jesus was not just the Son of God; He was a man too. Jesus was the manliest man that ever existed and embodied more fully a man of passion and conviction and strength than any other man that ever was or will be- more than William Wallace, more than James Bond, more than Indiana Jones, more than James Dean or any of the Hemsworth brothers. A man who follows Jesus is a man actively pursuing the heart of God; he is a man building His life on the reality that Jesus is both Lord and Savior; he is a man who is driven by destiny and eternity; he is a man with deep passion and conviction; and ultimately he is a man becoming more like Jesus. And that is incredibly attractive.
- He handles his stuff. Girl, please date someone who pays his bills on time and shows up to the things he commits to and is a hard worker. These things matter. And if he isn’t doing these things now, you can’t expect him to be doing them later in the relationship.
- He’s growing and learning. On a long flight headed to Thailand for our honeymoon, I woke up to find Ben next to me reading a leadership book. And he wasn’t just reading, he was highlighting portions that stood out and jotting down notes on his laptop. And I thought to myself, “Okay, that is hot.” A man worthy of your time is a man that is learning and growing and stretching to become a better version of himself.
- He has healthy relationships. Does he have friends? Do you like them? Does he have mentors? Who is actively speaking into his life? And how does he treat his mama? These are all questions worth asking and answering honestly.
- He celebrates you for you. You should be able to be yourself around the guy you give your time to. I know the first few dates might feel like an interview or an audition, but at some point you have to be able to let down your guard and be accepted and celebrated for who you are- for your sense of humor and quirks and sense of style and interests and dreams. Be with someone you can laugh easily and often with; someone who champions your ambitions; someone who doesn’t criticize your interests or try to change your personality. He’s worth your time when he can recognize your worth.