A Foundation Worth Building On: 6 Things to Look For, pt. I
When I was in high school and college I was a stone wall. Seriously. If you get told you’re intimidating by guys more than a handful of times over the span of a couple months, that might be something to think about. I was so afraid of being fooled, rejected and hurt because someone might find me lacking, less than or not ____enough. These fears and insecurities led me to be most attracted to the guys who were magnetic - people gravitated towards them, knew them and respected them. I looked for someone I would feel proud to be seen with, someone who had out-of-this-world high potential, and someone who was smooth and articulate in the way they spoke and presented themselves.
I thought that if I was chosen by the guy who “had it all together;” who was adored and wanted by many, then I would be seen that way too. I thought that if a guy had the image and confidence I craved, it might rub off on me and make me feel more valuable. If a guy like that saw me and chose me over everyone else….that would make my insecurities disappear. Because that would mean I was worth it.
My idea of the person I needed was borne out of my insecurities, rather than out of my security in Christ, who I was created to be, and what I have to give in a relationship. My insecurities were healed only when I started being more vulnerable to God, letting him into my fears and believing His truth about my value as my affirmation and identity. I am so thankful that He’s done His work in me since, but until I recognized my issues and opened my heart up for Him to heal, my insecurities would take charge and send me running towards the wrong kind of people.
When I graduated from college, one of my best friends challenged me to start going on dates with the guys who asked, no matter what my initial thoughts were. And when I stopped ruling out guys who may not fit the type I thought was best for me, I started learning more about who I was. When I took the pressure off myself to find a spouse, and started going on dates for the simple joy of getting to know myself and others better, I found that what I really wanted was someone who, when stripped of his platform, his friends, his success, and everything but his heart, displayed solid character and deep devotion to Christ - a solid foundation on which to build a relationship and a life. And I realized that if I wanted to find a guy like that, I needed to first look closely his character - because it’s the state of his heart (that foundation) that will prove his surface-level behavior trustworthy and consistent. I know that no one is a finished product and lives this perfectly. We are all human. But we serve a God who redeems and restores and transforms and calls us to holiness.
So, here are the things that I believe speak most accurately to that kind of man (or woman, for the guys reading this):
1. He lives a resounding Yes to God.
There’s a difference between the people who live that way and the people who long to live that way. I've met a lot of people who truly long to live their lives for Christ. They talk about it. They dream about it. They write about it and preach about it. However, when they get into the nitty-gritty of actually living that out, it becomes less of a priority because of the cost of saying yes to God. They haven't built that muscle of obedience because of what it costs, so the foundation beneath them crumbles every time they try to build on it. The cracks in their character are too significant to uphold the person they long to be.
When I meet someone who lives his life saying Yes to God, this means he is living in intimate relationship with Jesus, seeking Him, talking to Him, listening to Him and obeying what God is asking of him. Now. Not in the future. Regardless of his feelings, his circumstances, or the opinions of others, he is committed to seeking God first and responding with obedience to whatever God asks of him. If this is true of him, I can trust that when it comes to making decisions in marriage, we will both submit to seeking Him first and then walking in obedience together, rather than trying to fight for our own agendas.
2. There is fruit in his life now.
The beautiful thing about this one is that it indicates that this guy does say yes to God and lives his life for Him. If we live in obedience to Christ, our lives, our homes, our workplaces and our communities reflect that. The Bible is pretty clear on what kind of fruit to look for: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. When someone is living surrendered and his life has been transformed by Christ, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in the way he treats others, the way he speaks, the way he works, the way he builds and engages community and the way he spends his time when he’s not being "watched". And this fruit should be a natural overflow of his heart, not something he talks about doing or does only when there’s some kind of social return or recognition.
3. His "future glory self" excites me and I want to invest myself in his journey of becoming that person.
In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes:
"Within this Christian vision of marriage, here's what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and say, ‘I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to His throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!' Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse should then give him or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.”
Oh man, I love this thought. One caution I would have, though, is that some of us tend to get caught up in being attracted to the future potential we see in someone rather than their present reality. If that’s you (it definitely has been me), this is where the first two points come in: If they say yes to God and there is fruit in their lives now, you can trust that they truly are on their way to becoming this person. They are submitting themselves to the work of the Spirit in their lives. It is in this kind of surrender and devotion that we "can be certain that God, who began the good work within them, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Phil 1:6)".
Hannah is a global citizen - born in the Northwoods of America and raised in the heart of Europe. Upon graduating from Biola in 2015 she has worked in the world of marketing and branding and is now pursuing work in vocational ministry. She believes that story has the power to create positive impact and rich cultural experiences. So, through her work she hopes to empower individuals, teams, and brands to tell their stories, make meaning out of them, and connect to a greater narrative.