The Bar is Set (Let Go of Your List)

Posted on January 28, 2014

Photo credit: Creative Commons 2010

In an effort to provide Christian singles with guidance while navigating the sometimes tricky waters of dating and relationships, the modern Church encourages men and women to create lists of things to look for when seeking a potential spouse. Maybe you’ve seen an example of what these lists look like: “20 Things to Look for in a Godly Wife/Husband.” The thinking is that by having these lists hopeful Christians will be able to find the right kind of partner to enter marriage. And perhaps, as a result of measuring candidates up against such lists the potential for heartbreak will be mitigated.

I understand the need to create lists. They feel even more necessary each time I hear a friend recount the pain they’ve experienced at the hands of someone they’ve trusted to love them. And I know the Church is doing its best to help us relate to one another better, particularly in the area of romance. We could all use a bit more help there. Amen? Amen. But, I also know the heart of God. Because I know God’s heart for His children, if you’re currently single and ready to mingle, I’m going to encourage you to do something a little scary.

Let go of your list.

Yes, this is counter intuitive. Potential partner lists are intended to guide us and if crafted properly, they help us set a standard. So, if we let go our of lists then what?

Look to the Cross.

The problem when we create a list of all the things Mr. and Mrs. Right should possess is we are distracted from looking at the One who matters the most–Jesus. Jesus’ dying on the cross not only restored the world, it also set the bar. Jesus set the standard. When I became a Christian there was such impetus on my looking to Jesus. I didn’t know what that meant. Quite honestly it was frustrating trying to set my gaze on a man who isn’t visible. “Fixing my eyes on the author and finisher of my faith” seemed like another one of the Christian-ese things we say in church to sound really spiritual. Yet, as I’ve matured I see why looking at Jesus is so important.

When I am pursuing an active relationship with God, when I am engaged in a dance with the Holy Trinity, I find myself adopting the fruit of the Spirit. His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self control begin flowing from me. At the center of the Cross my needs are met and my expectations tempered. At the center of the cross Christ becomes enough. I believe this is what God meant when we were charged to seek him first and trust that everything else would be added. When God comes first in our lives, everything else is icing on the cake.

Does looking to the cross mean we neglect our hopes and desires for what we want in a potential mate? Certainly not. That would be unrealistic. Far be it from me to ever “over spiritualize.” However, when we cling too tightly to our lists, we risk developing co-dependency to people who cannot fulfill us. In my own life I’ve seen the dangers of believing the right man will fix my problems, or worse believing my life would suddenly become complete. Even the person who meets every item on your list will fail you at some point. And no matter how hard we try to find the right person, no relationship or marriage will ever be perfect.

This is why we are to look to the cross. What the cross represents secures who we are as God’s children. The cross gives us room to forgive, extend grace and share in the fellowship of Christ’s love. Without understanding our right position in proxy to Jesus, we do our future relationships a disservice.

The crucifixion of Jesus was the greatest act of love humanity will ever know. Nothing can come close to God sacrificing His son to redeem a broken world. The Passion of our Christ was God pulling out all the stops for you and me. I believe that God wants us whether single, married, or still trying to figure it out, to look at the cross and see not just a sacrifice but also His affection for the world. On the cross resides God’s unending mercy and grace. On the cross lies the key to the most rewarding relationship we’ll ever experience, which is paramount to any list we could create.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus, humbly accepting what the cross means for us each day, remember the bar was not set so that we could find “the one.” It was set so that we could become like the One.

May we all find what we’re looking for at the throne of the King.

Now it’s your turn: How has walking with Jesus changed the way you think about dating, relationships and marriage?

Tell me in the comments section below. As always, I love hearing from you.


4 Replies to "The Bar is Set (Let Go of Your List)"

  • D
    January 30, 2014 (3:57 pm)

    Since I now understand what it feels like to walk with God and to keep Jesus at the center – i honestly feel like my relationship is..dare I say it?? easier! Yes, there are trials and tribulations, tough times and hard times but there is no time like dedicating your heart to Jesus through it all. We’ve tried to do it on our own for over 5 years. I can truly say the last 6 months have been the best yet – and it’s only because God has been the center of our conversation, our thoughts, our prayers, our plans. We were crazy to try to do it on our own before!! Now as we embark on the engagement and marriage scene we will have to learn to adjust expectations, hearts, mindsets again – but this time – we’ve learned, without God at the center, nothing really matters… and it’s hard. So here’s to making it easy!! But — I am also figuring out (quickly) as I know more and find out more about Jesus – life still gets difficult! The more you know the harder it gets… but what I won’t forget is to keep Jesus at the Center!!!

    • Shakirah Adianna
      January 30, 2014 (4:36 pm)


      It’s always so great when you come around these parts. What a beautiful testimony. I agree that when Christ is at the center of your relationships (friendships, familial or romantic) there is a sweetness that is hard to explain.

      I wonder if knowing more opens our eyes to the standard, which incites us to give more in our walk, not that the walk necessarily becomes harder.

      Here’s to a beautiful engagement and an even more beautiful marriage with Christ leading you both to a deeper revelation of his love.


  • Melissa Strong
    February 20, 2014 (12:26 pm)

    Last year, I was pushed to start discovering that “at the center of the cross Christ becomes enough.” Before my husband of 9 years left me, I professed that Christ was enough for me, not realizing how much of my identity came from my marriage. But when it all came crashing down, I knew the only one I could turn to was Jesus- the lover of my soul. He led me on an ongoing journey where I can truly say that Jesus is enough when we’re single or when any situation comes our way. Some people discover this while they’re married, but it took a heartbreak for my stubborn mind to really surrender and look to Jesus for everything. I want to keep this relationship I have with Jesus going strong whether I’m single or if I marry again. He’s enough in every season! Thanks for writing such a great blog post for singles. 🙂

    • Shakirah Adianna
      February 20, 2014 (2:31 pm)

      Hi Melissa,

      I know that pain. But you know, the wonderful thing about holding Christ at the center of your life–he leads you into every good and perfect gift.

      Thank you for reading!