The first time I met the man who would become my husband he was scruffy and somewhat sullen. He seemed to barely acknowledge I was there. I’d ask him questions, but I got the impression that he could care less to know me.
Fine then, I thought in my mind. I have no interest in you, anyway. And I carried on a conversation with the other people in the house. I found out that we attended the same university, but it was large, and I figured we’d never see each other again (which was fine with me).
I was looking for the works. As a teenager I had written my list. He had to be handsome, charming, self-disciplined, and charismatic with ambition. He had to share my deeply rooted faith, love his family, love kids (and be good with them), and desperately want to be a father. He had to be honest, humble, kind, hardworking and charitable—and the list went on. I had all the “must” haves pretty down pat, and they stayed pretty consistent through the years.
I didn’t know if this man had those qualities, but I didn’t care. I also had dealbreakers. Some came and went as quickly as dating came and went. But number one on the list of can’t-haves coincided with one of my pet peeves: a conceited person. If a man thought he was “all that,” I wanted to run the other way—but first, I’d put him in his place with the cold-shoulder-treatment. And this scruffy and sullen guy? He seemed too conceited to me.
Looking back, I must have been pretty judgmental to declare that about someone. And I must have carried a little conceit of my own to feel that withdrawing my friendly and inviting nature would be like taking away a privilege.
But even if I did give this man a cold shoulder, it wasn’t working. Because less than a week later, to my great shock, I received a phone message from him—yes, that aloof young man so full of himself. Would I want to hang out with him and his roommates who were making pizza with a couple friends, he wanted to know? Maybe I had misjudged him, I thought. He must have been at least a little nice because he was asking me on a date! (At least’s that’s what I thought.) I decided to call him back.
But how? He failed to tell me his phone number in his message. So I called two people to track him down, including his mom, who told me his number. I called him and said “yes” to what I thought was a fun Friday night “date.” It turns out that the first time he called me, he did not expect to call a date—but he would have if he had known that I would say yes to a date. When he realized that I would—and that, indeed, I thought it was a date—he had the courage to call me again for another date. And as the dates kept coming, I learned that he wasn’t aloof the day that we met, just shy. (Later, I learned his first impression of me, which melted my heart in an unexpected and perfect way.)
As I let go of my initial thoughts about Logan and gave him a second chance, I found my thinking about what I needed for love changing. When I actually got to know him, I found myself slowly wiping away the judgment that clouded my view toward the real love we could, and would, create. I discovered that putting aside the judgmental tendencies (at least for a time) enabled me to find the real love I actually wanted with someone—a person who in reality fit me a little more perfectly than some of the criteria I had conjured up in my mind.
Like Mary wrote about last week, there were many good things on my list that helped me to keep my standards high while dating, including what ultimately would be needed in my decision to marry Logan. But in order to meet my husband at all, I had to set some of the less-important parts of my list aside. I learned, and am learning, that love is not about fulfilling a list, nor is it about fitting into a mold fashioned perfectly for and by ourselves. It is about getting to know someone, to really know them. This is a lifelong endeavor, and it’s why—if we let it—love only gets better with time.