The information was second-hand, but soul-stirring nonetheless. Because I know it’s true. I know it firsthand.
More than a few friends have brought it up as they’ve gone on dates with guys they hardly know and come home to bemoan the fact that they cannot determine whether or not enough attraction has formed to accept an invitation to a second or third date.
“I just don’t know if I’m attracted to him. What about the chemistry? Shouldn’t I feel something by now?”
For all Hollywood would tell us, this seems to be a legitimate concern. And surely, as Christian women, we’ve all been concerned we might lead a guy on if we accept too many invitations. The pressure builds and we freak ourselves out trying to determine if we could be happy staring at wedding pictures shared with him for the rest of our lives.
When we go out with someone we’re extremely attracted to, yes, the chemistry is quick to accompany. Excitement reaches a fever pitch every time he calls, our friends are all goo-goo-eyed with us, and we cannot stop thinking about what may come next.
But nine times out of ten, the chemicals we call butterflies are fluttering our judgment just as much as they’re fluttering our stomachs.
When a man is easy on the eyes, we’re much more prone to disregard the ways he’s harsh on our hearts, grinding friction against the Gospel, and slowly, even if unintentionally, alienating us from the goodness of God.
What if we appreciated, dare I say prayed for, the clarity of mind that comes by not falling head over heels for his face or physique on the first date? What if we asked our good Father for the grace to look for Jesus in the men who pursue us before we look for anything worldly at all?
I think about Samuel. He was given the job of finding and anointing Israel’s new king. The people chose a beautiful king named Saul, but he quickly proved unworthy, unwilling to yield his will to that of God. So Samuel obeyed the call to Jesse’s house and, beginning with the oldest and biggest and strongest, sought to anoint the new king.
As the Spirit rejected man after man, He whispered into Samuel’s confusion, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
As Samuel looked for the one who looked most like a king,
God was looking for the one who loved most like the King.
Not the one who stood the tallest, but the one willing to bend and serve the lowest.
Not the one who was too important for sheep, but the one who devoted his whole being to their tender care.
Not the one who would cower in fear before giants, but the one who wrestled lions and flung stones of trust at the enemies of God.
Because this king was so much more than a king. He was a forerunner, a promise, a vision of the King who would come. The King who would love and serve and care and then wrestle sin on a hill where He took all the wrath.
And the King? He was not beautiful either. “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2)
Beloved, when we go on first or second or third dates and find ourselves awed by his heart but oddly unimpressed with his outward features, let’s humbly recognize we would feel the same if Jesus were seated there instead. It’s the love of Jesus for us that draws our hearts to lovingly find Him beautiful. Can we really ask more of our brothers in Christ?
Can we demand they offer us more than Jesus Himself was made incarnate to give?
How hopeless would we feel if we were asked to be Mother Theresa and Scarlet Johansson all at once? Let’s not put this impossible and fickle expectation on our brothers.
Go on dates with him anyway. If he’s fit to be someone’s husband, he may very well be yours. Ask God for the grace of loving his face only because his heart is so much like the heart of Jesus. Men after God’s own heart can handle the disappointment if the dating ends. They’ll assume the risk and pursue you anyway and entrust their own hearts to the Father.
If this is a man God would have you marry, attraction will come with time. And how much sweeter it will be when you can say it was all the work of God in your hearts rather than the fast and furious infatuation the world is so eager to applaud.
And after all.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)