Alright, ladies, it is time to talk about “The List.” I am sure most of us have one, whether it is tucked away in the back of our Bible or the back of our minds. It is that checklist of what we are looking for in a husband, our perfect-on-paper Mr. Right. Prince Charming. Everything we’ve ever hoped for.
Items on the list can range from a requirement of height “he needs to be taller than me when I am in my favorite heels” to the depths of spiritual leadership “I want to marry a pastor or missionary.”
We hear love stories of women who wrote lists when they were 13, and then, ten years later, met men who perfectly fit those lists. It is a fun little aspect of Christian romance, the epitome of God giving us all the desires of our hearts because He is just so good like that. We call it trusting and faith.
Truthfully, I could write a whole series of posts just about that list, if it has a place in our lives, if it really is ‘faith’ and what qualities belong on it and which need to be scratched off. Right now, though, I want to talk about how lust can influence that ‘list.’
Bottom line: lust makes that list of desires into something I deserve.
Fantasy designs a perfect scenario. Pornography creates the ‘perfect’ sexual encounter. Hollywood, romance novels. It’s all about that perfect story. Masturbation allows for immediate release without intimacy. There are no flaws, no arguments, just perfection and a sense of wholeness and satisfaction.
Lust twists our view of romance. It makes it about me. Someone loves me. Someone is blessing me. Someone is choosing me. Someone is meeting my needs. Someone is satisfying me. Someone has met all the requirements I have on my list. Lust is selfish- bottom line.
Regardless of how it manifests, lust will always be an enemy of Romance because it will always be an enemy of intimacy.
Lust is ‘flawless.’ It is quick, easy, effortless, and perfect. Intimacy involves flaws. It is long-term, difficult, hard work, and beautiful. Our lustful hearts have been conditioned by years of instantly getting what they want exactly when they want it.
That sense of entitlement, especially sexually, can greatly influence our ‘list.’ Having a man who is taller than I rates more important than a man who loves God. Some rippled muscles quickly trump a God-honoring character. Any eligible man must meet every requirement on my list, because, after all, God will give me the desires of my heart. A lasting relationship cannot be based on lust. It is a foundation on quick sand.
Lust uses people. It does not love them. It does not know them. It takes what it can from them and leaves them. That’s lust and that is exactly what we are doing when we walk through life with a list of shallow goals and demands, disqualifying man after man from even friendship with us.
This plays off the recent posts about how to handle crushes. If you find yourself attracted only to physical qualities or distancing yourself from men for insignificant reasons, you need a heart check. Is it wrong to have preferences? No. Is it wrong to have comfort zones? Of course not. Is it wrong to walk through life with a list of demands? Yes. Please do not forget that you are not here for you.
I want to encourage you, as a sister in Christ, if you are single, evaluate that list. Shrink it down from a list of 20 physical (material) characteristics (blue eyes, brown curly hair, 6 feet or taller) and boil it down to 5 crucial things that are so important that you will not settle for them. The rest are simply preferences which will change and fade in importance over time. To keep lust from creeping into those 5 things:
Base them on characteristics of Godly people (not just men). Identify any traits you appreciate and respect in others (while you’re at it, try to develop those same traits in your own life).
Think about what you believe the role of a wife to be.
Consider the work of marriage. Marriage is not about two people having sex whenever they want. There are no white horses and eternal sunsets! It is about two people working together as a team, cleaning toilets, changing flats, paying bills, washing dishes, folding clothes, raising children. He can be as sexy as you ever wished, but if he has major anger issues, no amount of sex in the world will fix that teamwork.
Remember, he is not, and can never be, Jesus. He will not be perfect. He will have flaws. You could check off every item on your list, and he is still going to disappoint you. Your confidence today and tomorrow and forever is Jesus Christ, not your husband or your hope of a future husband.
I do have a ‘list.’ It has morphed over the years as I have grown in freedom and in maturity. I never really realized how deeply lust had affected my thoughts until I looked back and saw that all I once viewed as ‘important’ was actually not important at all. Focus on what is truly important, not simply what you ‘like.’2