Mr Right

Stop Looking for Mr Right

Mr Right 

Today a friend took the gutsy step of publicly posting that he was back in the dating game, and thought that with his large pool of friends on Facebook, he might have better luck making connections by announcing to a wider audience. Sure, why not? What are friends for if not setting you up on your next blind date?

But here’s the kicker, the thing that got me to write this. He added, “for those seriously interested only.” And there it is. I see it a lot in my Christian guy friends. The desire to skip right over the dating process, and go straight into betrothal and marriage. Some of my friends have even taken to the old term “courting”. As in, “I don’t want to date. I want to court someone and then marry.” But it’s the same idea: that dating, spending some time with someone new, drinking coffee, going to movies, having dinner … getting to know someone … is a waste of their time and energy unless there is a specific guarantee that it will result in rings being exchanged.

Put more bluntly (though I’m sure most of my friends would never consciously think this), “people are not worth my time unless I get exactly what I want from them.”

Don’t be so picky…

As the older guy friend, I want to smack them up side their heads (kindly of course), and tell them, “you’re missing the whole point!” I know because I’ve been there. It’s like walking into an upscale restaurant and refusing to look at the menu because you already know you want meatloaf.

Meatloaf is great. But have you tried the lobster? Or maybe the shrimp scampi with angel hair pasta? Or that wonderful Teriyaki steak, marinated in a ginger, soy and pineapple sauce?

That’s what dating is. It’s sampling the menu. Trying out new flavors, discovering things you never knew existed — things you might absolutely love. And yeah, along the way you’ll sample a few things you don’t like. But it opens you up to a world of new possibilities — ones that may never have even occurred to you. How will you know you’re not a fan of oysters if you’ve never tried them? Or think of all the wonderful evening meals you would have missed out on because you didn’t know you absolutely loved pasta puttanesca. So many guys have such a restrictive list of what they’re looking for in a mate, that they refuse to date anyone who doesn’t match perfectly. “Why should I? I know I won’t marry him.”

Meatloaf is great. But have you tried the lobster? … That’s what dating is. It’s sampling the menu. Trying out new flavors, discovering things you never knew existed — things you might absolutely love.

Because dating isn’t just about finding Mr Right. It’s about discovering more about yourself. It’s about broadening your view of the world around you. It’s about meeting different kinds of people, trying new experiences with them, exchanging ideas, learning something new about the world, about life. It’s exposure to the wide variety of humanity out there — the richness of God’s creation. Kinda like that prayer the Apostle Paul wrote for the Ephesians, “so that you might know the glorious richness of his inheritance in the saints” — so that you can experience the beautiful richness of variety in the types of people God created. People even of different faiths. See? If you know in advance that you probably won’t end up marrying this particular guy, you’re free to spend time with him even if he’s not a Christian. You might gain a whole new appreciation for faith and God because he’s Buddhist and explained how he meditates. Or he’s Muslim, or Jewish, or even an atheist.

Let me say it again. There is so much freedom in dating when you know that you’re not gonna marry this guy anyway, so you’re free to enjoy him for who he is rather than what you want him to be.

The encounter is meant to enrich you. You expand your mind, your heart, your portfolio of experience because he introduces you to things not a regular part of your world. He might take you to a late night jazz session, or to an art exhibit. He may play selections from his vintage rock collection, and open new musical doors for you. He might take you to his church or mosque, to some place you’d never have gone to by yourself. New food, new wines or beers, new music, new parts of town you’ve never seen. New perspectives on God. If you’re lucky, he’ll share a part of his soul with you. You become a better person by dating.

Unless, of course, you’re completely self-absorbed, and not really interested in the men you date at all except to see if their initials will look good on your monogrammed towels.

That sounds a bit harsh, but honestly, that’s how some of you sound. “I only want to date someone whom I could settle down with” comes across very much like “you’re not good enough for me, and I shouldn’t waste my time on you.” Of course you don’t mean it. But you’re robbing yourself. Hell, you’re robbing them, all those guys you refuse to date, of seeing the kind of person you are, of the chance to learn something from you, to realize that there are people of your caliber out there in the sea for them to find, that maybe they don’t need to settle for the first “suitable” guy who comes their way. And you too. You’ll meet a variety of guys who might fit your definition of “marriable”, but you’ll discover that you don’t need to commit to him just because he fits what you thought you wanted. By dating a variety of men, your checklist may expand. You’ll add new desirable traits to your dream — and likely add to your list of characteristics to avoid. All because you learned something new by meeting a variety of people.

Open yourself up to guys outside your normal “marriage criteria,” just for the sake of greater exposure and personal experience. You’ll grow in ways you never imagined.

Let your heart get broken once or twice

“But I don’t want my heart to get broken,” you may be saying.

And yes, that is a very real possibility. But here’s the thing. You should get your heart broken. Because that means you had a genuine connection with a real human being. It is part of the authentic human experience, and you cannot isolate yourself from that and expect to be a healthy person. Real people have hearts. Their hearts become engaged with people they spend time with, who they grow to care about. You will not go untouched. But you will be a better person because you were touched. Dating changes you. Dating deepens you.

Dating has gotten such a bad rap in some Christian circles, especially among faithful guys who are “waiting for marriage.” But cutting yourself off from the people around you, just because they don’t match your checklist, actually cheats you.

So stop looking for Mr Right. Stop being so picky, so restrictive. Be open to dating a variety of guys. You’ll have a lot of first (and only) dates. That’s fine. That’s part of the discovery process too. And when you do encounter that guy who really makes your head and heart sing, you’ll have a much broader basis of comparison to judge your suitability by. They say “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” But it’s because you kissed those frogs that you recognize who your prince is. And, realistically, you’ll get to kiss a lot of princes in the process too. You’ll just be better prepared to pick which one you finally settle down with.


photo credit: Fantasyland Station, cc.

My 2 Cents About Dating …

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My 2 cents worth about dating. To all you single Christians out there, gay and straight:

Before you put rules and constraints on yourself of who you can and cannot date, first figure out what your goal in dating is. If it is specifically/exclusively to get married, then yeah, you want a tight filter. Only date those who are likely spouse-material — all that “unequally yoked” stuff applies (tho Paul wasn’t talking about marriage there; j/s).

But dating isn’t just about marriage. It’s also about meeting a wide range of people, to learn more about yourself, to broaden your worldview and experience. It’s also about your personal growth. Not everybody you date has to be a spouse-candidate. When you date just for the sheer enjoyment of getting to know people — for who they are, not for who you want them to be — you can have a much richer experience. And those tight filters don’t apply. Date people who are really different from you, even those who believe differently. You’ll be amazed at how God uses them to grow you.
‪#‎CrazyChristianDatingRules‬ ‪#‎JustLovePeopleAndYouWillGrow‬


photo credit: Jhayne on Flickr, cc

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STEVE SCHMIDT is a Bible teacher at Expressions.Today in Oklahoma City. He is a graduate of the seminary at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and holds two masters degrees in Biblical Literature and Divinity. He did his doctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York.

He is editor of IMPACT Magazine, and blogs here on the Cafe Inspirado column. Plus you can find him making random comments about life on Facebook.

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Waiting on God for “The One”? Not so Much.

 waiting-for-god

Sigh.  Another coffee-date finished. Nice enough guy, good conversation, but no sparks. Not gonna happen. Cross that one off the prospective husband list. Next!

Sometimes this whole dating thing is exhausting. It’s draining, breaking the ice initially, generating  conversation, then the meet-up. Emotions jump into play at some point along the way. Excitement builds, anticipation. Even expectation. Dreams of what the future might look like.  A few dates later as the masks come off and the buzz dies down: reality.  Cold, hard, disappointing reality.

Okay. Not always. Sometimes it does work out. Sometimes you do meet the man of your dreams, and — amazingly enough — you’re also the man of his dreams.

But not today. And I’m thinking about throwing in the towel. At least for a while. Seems like everyone I know keeps telling me “it’ll happen when you stop looking for it.”  Boy, if I had a nickel for every time …

But is that really true? Does divine, mystical power suddenly explode when we step out of the way? I can see that could be the case in some situations, but is that really a good way to live your life? Just waiting for God to do something?

I sat there chewing on this thought while my coffee date was expounding at length about his ex-boyfriend. Yeah: I’m a great date.

Is that how life really works: things happen when you stop trying?

When I got laid off from my last job (excuse me, “down-sized”), I didn’t just sit around waiting for another job to land in my lap. I did what you gotta do. I networked. I talked to colleagues, friends, friends of friends. I got online, looked at job sites, looked at company HR pages. Of course I also prayed. Like crazy.  But I hit the pavement (well, if you consider the internet “pavement”).  And it paid off. It took a while, to be sure, but after several interviews, some good, some bad, some dead ends, some tantalizingly promising, I crossed the finish line at a nice little company who actually wanted my talent.

When a farmer wants crops in his field, does he “get out of the way” and let them just grow naturally? Does God do the work for him, while he sits back in his rocking chair on his porch, leisurely smoking his pipe?   Hmm.  I imagine he’s out there plowing up the ground, sowing seed, watering, fertilizing. And since he’s not organic, he’s pumping pesticides on them. Day after day, checking, tending, coaxing life from the ground. And then finally, harvest!  Even then it’s back-breaking work.  “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground …” says God in the creation story.

And speaking of eating, when you’re hungry, do you just sit down at the table and expect food to appear? Maybe if you’re at P.F. Chang’s.  But God doesn’t just serve it up on an oversized plate while you sit with hands folded.

camalsSo why would dating and spouse-finding be any different?

Well, yeah, God did bring Eve to Adam. He didn’t even know it was happening.  So it is within the realm of possibility that it could happen. But even the famous guys in the bible had to go out looking for wives.  Abraham sent his servant back to the homeland to get a wife for Isaac. Jacob jumped on a camel and drove to the old country to pick up Rachel.  Sometimes you gotta hoof it a bit to find The One.  (Oh, word to my lazy brothers who think dating out of town is too much work.  When’s the last time you spent two weeks on a camel in the desert?  The 3-hour road trip to Dallas isn’t gonna kill you. Maybe you don’t want it bad enough.)

Sorry. I just don’t see it.  It’s perfectly fine to see God as your wingman when you’re cruising for love. (Cue theme music from Top Gun.)  In fact, we should. If you’re a person of faith and you expect God’s blessing on the relationship, it’s probably a good idea to bring him in on it from the get-go. But we probably shouldn’t expect him to do all the work.

I had to jump on the internet to find a job. I had to network with friends. Finding a quality date works the same way. And yes, you can find love on Grindr.  It’s rare, true, but I have a friend who met his boyfriend on Grindr. They’ve been together for over a year, and are talking about marriage. Better than that, they are actually happy. They enjoy each other’s company, they laugh a lot, they make me smile just seeing them together — and they’re both over 50 years old.  (“Grindr: not just for the youngins”.)  They give me hope.

So yeah, jump on Grindr. Use match.com, pof, phone apps, whatever. Talk to your friends: they know you, and they know other singles. Maybe they can play matchmaker. Try someplace new. Get out there.  Do what it takes. Don’t give up, and don’t get all religious and spiritual-sounding about “leaving it in God’s hands.”  God gave you hands and feet; I think he expects you to use them.

So maybe this nice guy, sipping his mocha latte with the interesting story about his former boyfriend, isn’t going to be my Mr Right. But I’ve still got plenty of apps on my phone.

 

 

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STEVE SCHMIDT serves on the pastoral staff of Expressions Church in Oklahoma City. He is a graduate of the seminary at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and holds two masters degrees in Biblical Literature and Divinity. He did his doctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He blogs at CafeInspirado.com, and you can always find him skulking on Facebook.
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You Need Some Help!

"Adam and Steve" by Rahul Gabrielle
“Adam and Steve” by Rahul Gabrielle

 

As a single guy, feeling the full weight of taking care of the house, the yard, the laundry, the cooking, the dogs, a full time job …, I think I now know exactly why God gave Adam a “suitable helper”.

Funny, how every single person I know is focused on finding Mr. Right or Miss Right. The desire for companionship is strong in us humans. And with rare exceptions, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Unless you happen to be graced with the spiritual gift of celibacy, you’ve probably more than once quoted that famous passage from the creation account in Genesis: “It is not good for man to be alone …” (Gen 2:18). And your sights are usually zeroed in on finding a romantic partner, someone to love, to be loved by, to “have and to hold,” and to experience that physical/mystical bond of “the two shall become one flesh”. (Thank you, Genesis, for providing us with all those great images.)

But I recently became acutely aware of what was perhaps the original intent of that spousal description. The King James version of the Bible reads, “an help meet for him”, and thus was introduced into English idiom the term “helpmeet” (and not as some of my more amorously focused brothers think, “helpmeat“). God gave Adam the herculean task of tending a huge garden and all the wildlife in it. And practically speaking, there just weren’t enough hours in the day or strength in the body to do it all alone. Adam needed help — and a help specifically suited to him, to his personality and to his specific needs. A helper was needed to help him accomplish his task. Not just to be a romantic partner. That “becoming one flesh” stuff is all just a wonderful fringe benefit.

Without that help, it is likely that Adam would not have been able to successfully do the thing he was charged with doing.

And that’s the point.

You were put on this planet to do something significant,

something important,

something no one else but you can do.

You were designed to be that unique piece in the cosmic jigsaw puzzle needed to complete the picture. And without you, without you fulfilling your assignment, that puzzle will always remain incomplete. And guess what? You can’t do it alone. None of us can.

Two by two

Two-by-two2It is interesting and informative that when Jesus sent out his disciples to do the work of the Kingdom — to proclaim the message of Freedom, to heal the sick, and to break the power of the enemy — he sent them out two by two (Mk 6:7).

Like Adam, like those disciples, we weren’t meant to try to accomplish the work by ourselves. It’s too big for any one person. We need help. And based on these two important passages, it seems clear that that’s how God intended it. And if that’s the case, then we can also assume that it is God’s will that we have that help. He WANTS us to have our “suitable helper”.

And that’s good news for most of us:
God is right there in the mate-finding game with us.

But here is the kicker. You gotta look beyond the surface. You gotta get past your own romantic and sexual needs, and look at the bigger picture.

God wants you to have the love of your life, that partner who will be faithful in good times and in bad, in blessing and in trouble. Just make sure you find someone who will actually “help”.

Find someone whose heart will align with yours, who will cooperate with your purpose on this planet, who will come into agreement with the important things in your life, and come alongside to help. Make sure your prospective mate can actually contribute. You don’t need another burden, another weight to carry. You don’t need the distraction or the drain on your energy and time. You need someone who will share the burden and help you carry the weight, who will help you stay focused and will re-energize you. Make sure the person you’re considering will be an asset to you, and is of some earthly good — other than providing you some sugar.

Your pursuit of a life companion is a wonderful thing. And if you stay purpose-driven and mission-focused, you’ll have God as a recruiting partner. Because He wants you to succeed even more than you do.

You’ve got important work to do. And you’re gonna need some help! So choose your helper wisely.

 

[box type=”bio”]
STEVE SCHMIDT serves on the pastoral staff of Expressions Church in Oklahoma City. He is a graduate of the seminary at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and holds two masters degrees in Biblical Literature and Divinity. He did his doctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He blogs at CafeInspirado.com, and you can always find him skulking on Facebook.
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