Recently, I was at a young adult Christian conference. With a large number of young men and women, a fair majority un-married and seeking a spouse, the speakers mentioned from time to time taking a leap and talking to someone you’re interested in.
Fine, that’s all good. Talking to people is a good thing. When you’re romantically interested in someone, talking is still a good thing. And if you embarrass yourself? Yes, fine, that could happen. But as I tell myself as I’m about to embarrass myself thoroughly, today’s a good a day as any to grow in humility.
A conversation I overheard was not so good.
“Look at these odds,” a man, a friend of friends I know to authentically be seeking the Lord. “Twenty to one,” he estimated to his friend, a woman, as he looked around.
“Any prospects?” she asked.
As I walked past, I prickled at the word. Prospect. Prospect. PROSPECT.
Maybe it’s the large amount of job applications I’ve done lately. Maybe it’s all the prospective places to live I’ve been browsing. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve realized I’ve been dating for ten years (most of it not serious) with no real end in sight. Maybe it’s just the word choice.
But the word prospect has been under my skin.
It’s as if everything that has ever bothered me about dating was encompassed in one word: prospect.
I am not a prospect. I am a person.
Going to a bar, walking down the street, even at work, it’s quite easy to tell when a man isn’t looking at me as a person. My chest is more captivating than my eyes, my lips more interesting than my words, my overall appearnace more fascinating than my person.
I’ve experienced it for years. I know the signs. I’ve heard enough degrading comments to make a guess as to what certain men might be thinking. I get that they want something from me. I’m a prospect to them, not a person.
But I expected different from Christian men. I expected different from Christian women.
As Christians, we still look at each other as prospects. Sure, we’re hopefully not making degrading comments, but we’re still talking about another human person as if they’re some kind of emotional object. Christian men tell me about women and evaluate them like they’re evaluating a car. Christian women tell me about men and evaluate them like they’re evaluating a house. This is good, this looks OK, this needs improvement, this is adorable, blah blah blah.
You’re talking about a person here, not a car, a house, or even a prospect. A person is inherently imperfect, so they’re going to come with flaws, strengths, weaknesses, doubts, fears, and everything else you have. Are you judging yourself as harshly as you’re evaluating them?
Today’s as good a day as any to grow in humility, so yes. I’ll admit it. I’ve fallen into the same trap. Going to Mass, attending conferences, even on mission trips, I went for Christ, but more often than not, I went seeking a man. And I found some great men, men who really were seeking Christ, men who were more interested in Him than in me.
Thank the Lord for those men. They were so caught up in seeking the Lord that they didn’t seek me.
All of a sudden, those men were essentially useless to me. They weren’t a prospective husband. I couldn’t use them, even to extrapolate an unlikely scenario of them as a prospective husband. Those men taught me how to see them as a person, not a prospect, because they couldn’t do anything for me.
It took a lot of growth, frustration, introspection, and more embarrassment than I need to describe to start really seeking Christ in those events with Christ as the goal and not a man.
So, brother and sister in Christ, talking about prospects instead of the Lord, maybe reading this and likely procrastinating on something else, I just want to let you know:
The Lord did not need to create me. He was complete without me. He does not need me for His kingdom to achieve its full glory. He does not even require anything from me in order for me to live. I am unessential. I am impractical. I am useless.
And some day, your husband or wife is going to be useless to you too. I’ve been around enough married couples and in relationships enough myself to know that at some point, your other half is just a useless nuisance.
Case in point: dinner
Alone, it’s easy! I’m craving greasy Thai, so that’s where I’m going to go and it’ll be where and when I want to do it. I don’t care if it makes me bloated because if I don’t want to look good for anyone, I don’t have to. And if I get food poisoning, only I have to deal with smelly diarrhea.
With someone? Well, I’m in the mood for Thai, but I know you prefer Chinese, but we went for Chinese last week, so could we maybe do Thai? Oh? You’re feeling bloated? Ok, we’ll eat a salad instead then. Oh? You don’t want to eat yet? Ok, fine I’ll snack on something so we can eat together. Oh? You ate the last of my favorite snack? That’s a real bother. I want to eat the greasy Thai and that dark chocolate was going to be the highlight of my day, but you ate it and I love you, so I’ll self-sacrifice and starve before you’re ready to eat that bunny food. And, yes, I forgot the last time we had Thai, I got food poisoning. Thank you again for loving me despite the stench that came out of me.
A nuisance I tell you! A useless nuisance is what I’ll be!
That’s what I am to Jesus! A useless nuisance! I mess up, sin, and He cleans up after me. But however much I am a nuisance to the Lord, He loves me. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:8: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Brother and sister in Christ, if the Lord is calling you to seek a spouse, He’s asking you to love someone, some person, so much that you will wait for a salad instead eating greasy Thai now. He’s asking you to sacrifice continuously. He’s essential asking you to die, to die to yourself and live for another.
As you said it, brother and sister, “prospect” suggests that you’re seeking something for your own benefit. You’re seeking something from another person, whether it be happiness, sex, security, or whatever else. You’re looking for an earthly gain.
But brother and sister, in its original Latin, prospicere means “look forward.” If the Lord is calling you to seek a spouse, He has a prospect in mind. He knows who is capable of compelling you to look forward and seek Him in a new way.
That, that, is why He’s calling you to marriage: to purify you and bring you closer to Him. He knows your heart. He knows your mind. He knows who you will find attractive, who will can love you for you strengths and your weakness, who will challenge you in the ways you need to be challenged. He’s had a prospect in mind for you longer than you can imagine.
Brother and sister, He’s got it. Why are you wasting your time seeking someone when you’re ignoring Him who has pursued your heart at every moment of your life?
Do not seek me. Please. I’m a useless nuisance, a flawed sinner, and so are you. Seek Him who has created you first. He will lead you to His prospect for you.