Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The list

I spent the morning with a friend, having a meandering conversation that moved from kids to parents (the things that most consume me these days!) to books to the old days when we were looking for our 'one true love', and wondered if we'd ever meet him.  If God had one specific person for us.  Having spent years in ministry with high school students I've had this kind of conversation with teenage girls on more than one occasion, if every zip-code I've ever had--from here to the Netherlands, and that's no exaggeration.  I don't know as much about how teenage boys think but you gather a room full of adolescent girls, put a bowl of popcorn in the middle, roll out your sleeping bags around it, and two things are going to happen: 1. There will be a whole lot of giggling, and 2. the talk will eventually turn to boys.  (And the one thing that won't happen is SLEEP!).

Starting from when I was a teenage girl myself I must have had that talk about a hundred times in the last 35 years.  In large groups and small.  And often--back in my single days--alone in the dark with God.  And you know what?  God loves listening to us.  No matter what our concerns.  When I made that list in college?  After my heart was broken, and I thought I might just be single until the end of time?  He was listening.  I still have that list.  And let me tell you--after a couple of bad false starts, I wasn't about to leave anything to chance.  That is to say, my list of requirements for the man I wanted God to give me was long and comprehensive.  It was divided into five sections: Physical, Spiritual, Mental,Character and Miscellaneous.

I went looking for that list again this afternoon because I don't have it in the file cabinet in my brain, just those silly old telephone numbers.  But I remember some things.  Under Physical I said, "Tall--like over 6 ft.  Dark hair.  Blue eyes."  Those of you who know, might think I wrote this list with a certain person in mind.  And I did.     
This man.  My dad.  6 ft tall with dark brown hair and blue eyes.  He was the model I was looking for.  Or someone a whole lot like him.  God, of course, has a sense of humor (another trait on my list) since Beve is 7 inches tall than my minimum requirement.  Oddly, after we were married, I found a journal Beve had kept at some point in his single years (the only journal he ever kept and it was only about 40 pages long), and in it was a similar list.  A list that said he wanted a wife who was short!  About 5'6" or so. Pretty amazing, huh?

Also on my list as all important, of course, was not just that this man be a Christian but that we be like-minded.  There are a whole lot of Christians in the world, and a whole lot of differences between them.  And what God gave me was someone a lot like me in many ways, and enough different from me that life is never boring.  With that sense of humor I knew was essential.  One very much like the one the man in the grainy black and white photo above had.  A tease who never hurt people by his teasing.  That was my dream.

I asked for a leader with a servant's heart, even though I didn't know what I was asking for.  Honestly that was on the list, but for the life of me, I don't know what I was asking for back in my twenties.  I know what I got.  And I know I hadn't had it in earlier, aborted relationships. I didn't ask for a reader, though I think I couldn't imagine being drawn to a man who wasn't one.  However, I was--drawn to a non-reader, that is.  Married to a non-reader.  I mean, not that he can't, just that he doesn't much.  He doesn't live to read.  Not the way I do.  I kind of miss that sometimes.  I wish we could talk about books together.  But it wasn't on the list.  And...

Yes, God gave me my list.  I know, this sounds a little pie-in-the-sky-ish, which I really hate to sound.  But He did.  I carried that list around in my Bible for most of my twenties.  And even though I had my eyes peeled in a different direction for much of that time--toward a man who didn't have a servant's heart, nor dark hair and blue eyes, and certainly wasn't much like me in many and varied ways--God knew that that silly list was real and meant something.  That whenever it was that I'd written it up, probably in one sitting, late one night when I was mad or sad and couldn't sleep, I meant it, and He meant it too. Right there with me when I made it, leaning over my shoulder when I wrote the words. 'College degree.' That's a no-brainer, so I didn't recognize that as Him but  'How about athletic?'  came His whisper.  And it went on the list.  'Likes to cook!' came His nudge.  And so I wrote it down.  All these things that I'd sometimes look at and think, "Likes to cook? really?" but something would make me leave it on my list. 

Until there he was.  All the way across the ocean from just across the street, the living embodiment of that list.  No, I didn't notice it immediately.  Of course not.  He was too familiar, too well-known.  But somewhere along the way, not very long along the way, I began to puzzle it out.  Hair color? Check. Athletic? Double check.  Loves the Lord? Check plus.  And if I hadn't known what a servant's heart was when I wrote the list, once I saw it lived out, I understood what I'd wanted.

And God knew too.  So when ever someone starts asking whether there is one right person out there, or whether we just choose, I say, "Make a list."  Let God help you make a list.  Then step back, get on with your life, and let Him do the work of it.  He'll do it if you give Him room.

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