Its an interesting dichotomy - I've by no means been relieved of the natural human longings for togetherness and companionship and so on. Yet, after a fashion, I've learned that these things are directly affected by the amount of active focus you place upon them. But only after a fashion. Togetherness is like air - you don't realize how important it is until you aren't getting any. Of course, having time alone can be the same way as well. Balance is the key.
If ever I do return to the state of Couplehood, these are a few of the realizations I've had that I hope to take with me - things I like to think I've learned pretty well, but I'll only know for sure when I'm tested to truly put them into practice. There are many more. But there's one that preempts most of the others, and that's the obvious - what I've gained in my understanding of what kind of person I would choose to invest in.
Shortly after college, I knew one thing: that the girl that would elicit any form of serious pursuit on my part would have to be a knockout. (Let the reader understand that I didn't/don't mean "knockout" in terms of simple physical attractiveness - although it is duly noted - but rather all of the aspects that compose a persona.) With the proper disclaimer in place, I revert to an example that focuses on the physical, but conveys my point, nonetheless. If you've ever seen Wayne's World, you might remember the scene where Wayne and Garth first walk into the donut shop and Garth sees the waitress of his dreams. Time stops and the light of heaven shines on her and the angels sing. And Garth goes flying backwards in his chair across the shop, and slams into the jukebox. That's the kind of experience I'm talking about. Sledgehammer to the chest type stuff. A knockout - an outrageous girl, in every way.
My standards had gone through the roof. To this day, I'm not really convinced that this was, in sum, a bad thing. Its not that I think I deserve or warrant a girl that is totally out of this world. Its just that I had decided that I wasn't going to compromise. Sure, I'd look around, take the time to get to know girls, etc. - I was realistic about things - but the nevertheless the standard had been set. And for nearly 5 years, no one has really come close to fitting the bill.
And perhaps no one ever will. And that would be ok. For a number of years, I struggled with whether or not I was really at the point that I could honestly say to God that I would be content with whatever He had planned for my life with regards to companionship. I think many people will say this to God, but I fear that many of us have trouble saying it honestly - really meaning it, understanding it, and being completely at peace with it. For it is something a normal person should struggle with - after all, we are relational beings.
Now, at this point, you may be, quite frankly, in stern disagreement with my no-compromises approach. This is the part where I bring in the Bible, so that you have to argue with God, not just me. I humbly present to you the man who had standards, and the one who didn't. Take your pick.
Samson was one interesting dude. While he's generally grouped with the Judges of the Old Testament, his story makes him a clear stand-out from the group, and not necessarily in the best ways....
Samson was raised as a Nazarite, and as such was subject to certain restrictions (no razor was to touch his head, being the notable one). God had big things planned for Samson: "He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him..." (Jgs 13:24-25). But sadly, Samson ultimately failed to accomplish all that the Lord had laid out for him. Why?
Those lusty Philistine women. They'll getcha every time. And it wasn't just a one-time-thing. No. Delilah was by no means his first tryst with a gal from the very nation God had brought Samson to fight against on behalf of Israel. Suffice to say the first relationship didn't end up so hot. Ok, that's a bad way of putting it - the girl and her father were burned alive in the Philistines' apparent attempt to get revenge on Samson.
That wasn't enough for Samson to learn. One donkey's jawbone, a thousand dead Philistines, at least one prostitute, and one displaced city gate later, he goes and falls in love with Delilah. That's a name that just rolls off the tongue - De-liiiii-laaah. That's a name just ripe with trouble. And trouble he got. You know how the story goes - they play their games back and forth and soon enough the jig is up. Samson ended up with his eyes gouged out, his hair, the source of his power, shaved clean off, and was ultimately resolved to take his own life in his final act of judgment on the Philistines.
It should be noted that we shouldn't think of Samson's last display of strength as a suicide, but rather a selfless last act in (relative) fulfillment of the work God had called him to. Indeed, Hebrews lists Samson among the mighty men of God in the OT.
But what could Samson have accomplished if he had only refused to compromise - refused to go after those women who weren't part of God's plan? The world will never know how the story could have gone, were Samson's wisdom and self-control commensurate to his physical prowess. Potential lost.
Joseph's life was a roller-coaster, to say the least. Doting father, nice coat, strange dreams, jealous brothers, deep pit, sold to slavery...and then in Egypt it all starts to come together: "The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant..."
And then it all starts to fall apart again. He was "well-built and handsome," and as such, Potiphar's wife gets the hots for him. But he's a man of standards: "And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her."
One thing leads to another, though, and that vindictive wife decided that if she couldn't have him, no one could. False rape accusation and a jail term for Joseph. Roller-coaster takes another dip.
Joseph didn't give up on God, though, even in the darkest valley (his second visit to such climes), and because of his trust and perseverance, God eventually raised him up to become the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt. From there he went on to add a few more things to his resume, including reconciling his family and saving them from famine, and fathering one of the 12 tribes of Israel, to name a few.
He stayed the course, weathered the storms, and found God to be faithful and just.
Its interesting to note that although I began to speak about the kind of girl I would go after, and the standards in regards to such a girl, both of these passages focus not particularly on the character of the quarry but on the character of the man in question. And so I return to the age-old maxim: to not focus on finding the right person, but rather to focus on being the right person.
I know that no matter what God has in store for me - regardless of whether that what will become a who - it will be excellent. I have only to redeem the time I've been given - to be faithful in the field, as my namesake was, until such a time as I may be called for more. And to refuse to compromise for less than the best in the meantime. If she's out there, maybe she's doing the same thing. Will I live up to her standards?