He’s tall, dark and handsome. Witty. Intellectual. Smart. Well-read. Spontaneous. Motivated. Masculine. Good hair, good dresser. Musically talented. Organized. Creative. Responsible. Strong handshake.

He also hates cats, but loves chocolate and talking about feelings. He spends most Saturdays volunteering at the homeless shelter or rescuing stray kittens. He’s working toward his MBA.

And when he isn’t fishing, hunting or running a marathon, he’s playing his guitar and writing songs. He doesn’t eat McDonalds.

He makes loafers look good. He doesn’t drive a Prius.

I haven’t even mentioned the “super spiritual” stuff.

He leads a bible study. He’s respected. He can’t wait to lead his wife spiritually. He’s like the Apostle Paul on the inside, and Bradley Cooper on the outside.

Lists like this are being made regularly by well-meaning Christian women my age all across the country because they strictly adhere to this mantra:

“You need to decide [at 13] what qualities you must have in your husband. You will save this list, and enjoy looking back on it later.”

No, one day you will be almost 23, have added 32 other characteristics to the list, and wonder who in the world you think you are to demand such specific perfection.

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7).

God used this verse to tell me that if I’m not careful, I could end up with a list of attributes and miss out on the man he has for me.

So often young women are told to make a list of “negotiables” and “non-negotiables.” The problem with this is that the “non-negotiables” could fill up about one sticky-note, and the “negotiables” could fill about three journals.

I have a great relationship with my dad. We’re besties. We’ve always gone on dates –just the two of us. Dates with dad mean having my door (car door, too) opened on the way into a fancy restaurant. We get appetizers, a big steak, then a walk to the nearest frozen yogurt shop for dessert. And at dinner, we get to talk all about me – everything from what’s new at school to how that one guy asked me to coffee and he didn’t pay for it. You name it. He tells me I look pretty. He tells me I’m smart. He points me to the Lord. He encourages me to work hard to reach my goals. He’s basically Superman.

Here’s the thing, though. As thankful as I am to have had my dad affirm me, I can’t compare 20-something men to my 50-something father. (I also can’t make dinner conversation on an actual date all about me). My dad was once a wild, clueless 25-year-old guy. He’s grown, produced fruit, and become the amazing man he is today.

There is value in recognizing that my future man will have room to grow – just like I do. However, ceasing to search for Bruce Wayne doesn’t mean settling for Two-Face. Then again, would Hosea have described his idea of the perfect wife to be anything like Gomer?

So, how do we decide where to take the scissors to our poster board sized lists? If I’m honest with myself and with God, I realize that I can throw out my list, and write my five “non-negotiables” on a sticky-note for the inside cover of my Bible.

Fervently seeking the Lord. Secure in masculinity. Respectful. Honest and ethical. Brings out the best in me.

The next time I’m tempted to write a guy off because he’s missing number 325 (“Isn’t afraid to wear pink”), I’m going to give the guy some grace and ask God to show me the next step.

But let me ask you: what were/are your “non-negotiables” regarding a spouse? I’d love to see your list.

-Libby Nicholas

Libby Nicholas is completing her summer as a Focus Leadership student. She is from Enid, Oklahoma, and she graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Multimedia News in May. She loves coffee, Mexican food, and power walking.

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