I really like a guy at my church. He is a great guy, is a genuine born-again Christian who has a heart for people and missions, is very intelligent, and possesses great leadership qualities — all of the things I'm looking for in a potential husband.
We have become friends, and I know that he respects me; however, I'm hurting because even though I know I have a lot of the qualities he is looking for and we really get along, he has a very narrow type of girl that he pursues: thin and blonde. He seems to be attracted only to these types of girls, even if they are otherwise average or less than average in terms of appearance, intellectual stimulation, etc.
He is almost 28 ( I'm 23), but he has continued to search for a girl that fits this description even though most of his friends are now married (and not to thin blondes!) to the point where he is now searching for random girls online and has encountered a couple of girls who were less than stable.
I'm hurt by this because I feel like I have so much to offer (not of my own doing of course, but God's. I've been blessed!). I'm an exceptional cook/ baker. I am young, healthy, take care of myself and my presentation. And I am considered quite attractive (I've been asked numerous times if I model and do pageants, and I have delicate facial features and an average-sized figure). I'm very articulate and intelligent (I'm studying to be a doctor at one of the top 10 most prestigious universities in the country) and am very feminine and "classy," for lack of a better word. I'm waiting for marriage and don't have a sexual past or baggage.
I also happen to be of African-American descent with medium brown skin and long black hair. However, it seems like my lack of blonde hair and stick-thin figure is what is holding me back as far as his not being able to see me as anything more than a friend, even though we share so many of the same interests and our personalities seem to complement each other.
Is there anything I can do to make him open his eyes and see what he has right there in front of him? What can I do to make him take me seriously without being the aggressor? I definitely don't want to be the initiator of a relationship, but I'm very frustrated, especially because I receive a lot of attention from non-Christian men all the time. If being equally yoked wasn't so important to me, I would probably have been off the market for a long while now. However, the single Christian guys I've met (and I know a lot) seem to be more shallow and picky than the non-Christian guys I know, and all seem to want a girl who is a virgin Christian but has the thin, blonde, porn star look. Because of this, I've never had a boyfriend, and if I'm honest, it has started to affect my self-esteem and make me wish I could look like that.
We've been friends for less than a year. Do you think that eventually he may change? I like him so much, and I don't want to set myself up for heartbreak. What should I do?
Your question has given me much cause for reflection and prayer as I've searched the Scriptures for wisdom to answer it. Sometimes I need extra wisdom because the questions are outside my experience, but in this case, I need wisdom to answer because I recognize it all too well.
If you could have listened in on a conversation I had with Steve Watters back when I was still Candice Zouhary, you would have heard me extol my virtues and all the reasons I knew I'd make a good wife. I was heartbroken that a guy I'd thought was "the one" had just left town. In an effort to cheer me up, Steve took me out to talk. At the time, we were just friends, and as my friend, he listened to me share my frustration that this other guy had been unable to see me as marriage material. When we recall the conversation now, 17 years later, we laugh about it. I was making my best case to my future husband without knowing it. But what I saw as honest assessment of my best qualities was also less-than-attractive boasting.
Hence my need to think before writing this answer. I want to be sure I'm not writing out of my own insecurities and past pain, but from Scripture, the Word of God that is sufficient for all of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I can relate to your frustration, having spent much of my 20s well aware that I didn't fit the cultural standard of beauty and thinking I was passed over for that reason on more than one occasion, but mere commiseration won't help you. What will help is the freedom that comes with knowing what's true (John 8:31).
Here's what I wish someone had told me back when I measured myself by the women around me, the standards of culture, and my lack of dating success:
You are made by God, in His image, for His glory (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-14). As the Westminster catechism reminds us, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Whatever beauty you have is from God. He made you, and because He made you in His image, you are beautiful. All of what He gave you — all of it, whether it's praised by others or maligned by them — is for His glory.
God's plans for you are good, even when they are hard. Sometimes when we look back on our lives we can see God's hand at work on our behalf, using our difficult circumstances for our good (Romans 8:28). But even when we can't see a reason for suffering, we can trust His promises that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (emphasis added).
The evidence that this remarkable promise is true and trustworthy is given a few verses later: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). If you are in Christ, this promise is true for you. This means when the man you desire and think is a perfect fit for you doesn't feel the same way about you, even if he rejects you for another, God is working even that together for your good.
Do not desire the beauty of other women. The book of Proverbs finds Solomon repeatedly warning his son to avoid the snares of the adulterous woman. Proverbs 6:25 says, "Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes." Even though he was writing to his son, when I read that verse I hear a warning to my own heart and mind: Don't desire the beauty of other women. Don't wish you looked like someone else, especially when that someone else looks like a woman on the hunt for sexual sin.
And now for some things I did hear that were very helpful.
Seek first the kingdom. When I used to call my mom and cry from heartache over loneliness as an unattached single woman, she would encourage me with Matthew 6:33, reminding me that the heavenly Father knows what I need before I ask, and that if I would seek His kingdom and His righteousness, I could trust Him to supply my needs (see also Luke 12:22-23). She wasn't saying marriage was a guarantee, but that God is trustworthy and His plans are good. Even the ones that puzzle our finite minds.
Comparison leads to sin. My parents said this a lot to my siblings and me when we were growing up. When you compare, either you feel better than the person you're measuring yourself against (pride), or you feel worse (discontentment). Both are contrary to the law of love (Galatians 5:14). It applies among brothers and sisters in a family, as well as in the church. This man you like is your brother in Christ, and depending on the women he's dating, if they are in Christ, they're your sisters. It is deadly to your soul to be forever comparing yourself to them.
You are not your own. First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." That passage is talking about fleeing sexual immorality. We are called to conduct ourselves differently than those who are not yet trusting in Christ for salvation, in part because those who are His are "temples of the Holy Spirit." We must, by God's grace, guard against the temptation to make ourselves look the part of the temptress, the seductive woman that our culture holds up as the standard of beauty.
You say your friend prefers women with the "porn star" look. That should be a matter not of envy but of concern. May the Lord give you the ability to pivot from hostile, jilted thoughts, to praying for his soul, as well as the souls of the women he is pursuing. What of those women? If they are not in Christ, they are in need of salvation. If they are in Christ, they are hopefully on a path toward spiritual maturity and increasing holiness (as in fact, we all ought to be).
You also say all the Christian guys you know prefer this look. Either you don't know very many Christian guys, or you know a lot of guys who claim the label Christian but aren't striving to be like Christ, or you are overreacting, accusing a whole group of men of something that isn't true. It's probably a combination of these factors with hyperbole born of frustration playing a large part.
I remember thinking every guy I knew was shallow because he chose to date someone other than me. It wasn't an objective observation, but frustration and insecurity born of dashed expectations. I wanted them to like me, and when they didn't, I blamed it on some perceived shallowness on their part. It may have been that I needed to lose a few pounds. But I believe it was, more importantly, a matter of timing and God's sovereignty. He had someone else in mind for me. I needed to stop blaming them for dating other women and start trusting God's sovereign plan for my life.
Practice makes perfect. In your present state of mind, you are practicing building yourself up by tearing others down. This is a habit you shouldn't want to perfect. Romans 12:10 says we are to get good at doing just the opposite, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." You opened your letter praising this man, but by the end, you're condemning him for what you describe as his pursuit of a very narrowly cast wife.
This situation calls for prayer. Pray for him and the other single men in your church, that they will desire a God-honoring marriage and a prudent and virtuous wife. Pray for the women in your church, your sisters, that they will love the men in your church enough to walk with integrity and modesty with one another. Pray for yourself, that God will fill you with love for the other singles in your church, with humility (Romans 12:3), and with contentment (Philippians 4:11-13). If this man is acting selfishly and sinfully, what's needed is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. So, too, with your own heart. That comes with prayer.
When Jesus prayed in John 17, He was praying for all those who would believe in Him, saying,
For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.…
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:8-9, 14-21).
Our unity as believers in Christ is a testimony He uses to lead others to faith in Him. It is, therefore, no small thing when we bite and devour fellow believers (Galatians 5:15). We are not the only ones who suffer from such conflict.
Pray for humility. Submit to God's refining work and don't obsess over this man. God is able to bring good from this, to use this hardship of disappointment, as well as any turn of events, to make you humble and more like Christ.
The solution to the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5) is to define yourself not by what you don't have, nor by what you do, but by the grace of God. Theology professor Joe Rigney says, "God’s glad-hearted approval of us in Christ is what frees us from being defined by the blessings and opportunities of others. God’s warm-hearted embrace of us in his Son delivers us from petty enslavement to the gifts and abilities of our friends and family. The soul-enlarging grace of God enables us to say: …I am defined by the grace of God" (from "Envy Hunts in a Pack").
May God's soul-enlarging grace transform you.
Blessings in Christ,
Copyright 2013 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.