Have you ever heard the saying: True Love Waits?
True Love Waits was a phrase that was popularized during the purity movement of the early 2000s, which promoted sexual purity in dating and romantic relationships. This phrase continues to be used in youth messages, books and inscribed on purity rings.
Although I really do commend and support this message, I think this phrase doesn't tell the whole story. Let me explain. The message within the phrase, True love waits is catchy, but what the phrase doesn't draw attention to is this—true love waits... for whom?
Remember our context, I am not talking about the love we need to have for other human beings that Jesus is talking about in Mark 12:31, "love thy neighbor." I'm talking about romantic love that leads to marriage.
I think this is an important discussion to have because although you want to pursue purity within a romantic relationship before marriage, you also want to find the spouse that God desires for you.
You see, the discussion around relationships in Christain circles almost always comes back to purity. Believe me, I think that's important to talk about, but what I think is often left out of the conversation is this idea of what kind of person you should be pursuing.
Yes—True Love Waits, but what kind of person should you wait for?
As I try to unpack this question and give you the answers that follow, I want to remind you that I'm not suggesting that you have to use my specific character quality checklist or that the checklist must be filled out by the person you are interested in before you can move forward.
However, I want to give you some biblical principles, as well as, some of my own encouragement, as you move forward in any romantic relationship.
That's the setup, now to find the answer to the question
To answer this question, I could just start listing godly characteristics: loving, selfless, humble, diligent, and I could go on and on and tell you to just find someone who possesses as many godly characteristics as you can find, however, I don't believe that this would be very helpful.
Instead, I want to help guide you with 4 key characteristics to look for as you seek a spouse. By the way, no one does any of these things perfectly, so don't panic if you don't see these things in you or the someone that you're in a relationship with, but take this opportunity to grow and move toward a more God-honoring relationship.
What To Look For in a Potential Spouse
1.Look for someone that doesn't depend on you for their self-worth
The converse of this is to look for someone that has his/her self-worth firmly placed in God and His word, especially when he speaks of him/her as being wonderfully made and of great worth to Him. In my blog post 5 Things to Remind Yourself Every Day, I wrote about the fact that we are unworthy of God's grace, yet we are of great worth because God has placed that worth within us because He made us in His image.
This is a very common problem within relationships when one or both people depend on the other for their sense of self-worth. This might sound sweet on the surface and verbalized through sayings, such as "You're my everything." or "without you I'm nothing". However, when this occurs within a relationship, it creates an extremely unhealthy relational environment. This is often what people mean when they talk about someone that they're in a relationship with as being "clingy" or "needy".
Therefore, it is important to seek someone who has developed their own sense of self-worth in light of biblical truth and are able to have self-worth apart from you.
2. Look for someone that sees a relationship as an avenue to understand and love you, not to control you
This is a BIG one. One of the big reasons relationships fail is because of selfishness. People too often come into a relationship with their primary goal being to have their desires met.
When this does not happen, they result in trying to control or change you in order to hopefully have you fulfill their expectations. This kind of relationship often revolves around one person trying to control and the other person feeling guilty for not meeting the expectations that the other person has put on him/her.
As you look for a potential spouse, find someone that is not consumed in his/her own desires and expectations of you, but instead is genuinely curious to understand you and love you.
3. Look for someone that is committed to the relationship for the potential of marriage, and not just in the relationship to get rid of loneliness.
Relationships look really appealing to lonely people, it's just a fact. Many of these people look at a relationship as a quick fix for loneliness. Is this a bad thing? Yes, yes it is.
I realize that a big part of marriage is the aspect of companionship, but if you go into a relationship only looking for this aspect of it, you are going to be caught by surprise at just how much more of a commitment a relationship is. It's not just about hanging out all day and having someone to talk to all the time.
Believe it or not, married people can feel lonely. This may surprise you; I was surprised too when I heard this from a married couple. It is important to understand this because many people believe the opposite.
That's why I think it so important that you look for someone that's in it for "life" or at least the potential of "til death do we part", and not just seeking to get rid of loneliness.
4. Look for someone that loves God more than they love you
This is the last one I have for you and it's another biggy.
I really want you to think about this, do you really want to be with someone who loves you more than the God of the universe?
Someone who is more focused on your wants and needs or more typically, someone who is more focused on his/her own wants and needs rather than their Creator's commands and desires?
If we want to have Christ at the center of our relationship, we must not put another person or ourselves ahead of our love and obedience towards God.
If we do, there are often many other misplaced priorities within the relationship.
Look for someone that sees and wants what God wants more than what you or he/she wants. Moreover, someone that loves God so fervently, that his/her love for you, even though it does not equal his/her love for God, will be enormous.
To Wrap It Up
True love waits... for whom?
This week I want you to think about this question. Write some things down and search the scriptures for the principles that will guide your thinking.
My list was not extensive, not even close, but I hope I covered some issues that maybe you hadn't thought of before in regard to looking for a potential spouse.
I just want to encourage you—to seek wisdom in discerning the person to seek for a spouse.
Song of the Week - NEEDTOBREATHE - "COUNT ON ME"