As the pastor’s wife, I get asked all the time if I know any great single guys or gals. When I name a few amazing people offhand, I often hear “Oh, he/she is not my type.”
We are so quick to say we would never judge anyone, and yet I see it all the time in dating. We pigeonhole and stereotype people by appearance, job or demeanor, and I believe it’s one of biggest obstacles we face as singles because we rob ourselves of the opportunity to interact with healthy individuals capable of deep and meaningful relationships.
I know how detrimental stereotyping is because I was personally guilty of dating the same type of guy over and over. It wasn’t until I broke free from my “type” that I found a man worth dating. The problem with having a “type” is that’s it’s a description based on the exterior. Having a “type” discounts character, spirituality, intelligence, humor and heart. I was guilty of this not only in which men I dated, but also towards myself.
Labels We Put On Ourselves
As kids we get labeled by well-meaning parents, coaches and friends. The child incorporates the label into their identity and ultimately plays out what they are told they are. This unconscious behavior results in less risk-taking in areas we were told we were deficient in. We forget who God created us to be, and we believe the lies someone else fed us.
My parents communicated to me that money, image and achievement were the highest goals to attain. My natural gifts and abilities were of little value to them because they were service- and ministry-oriented and didn’t fit into their paradigm. They firmly believed my appearance was my best shot at financial security (i.e. landing a rich husband). This type of thinking might sound archaic to you, but my parents love me and, from their perspective, simply didn’t see the church as a viable means of financial security.
Although I knew God’s truth, I still defaulted to broken thinking and a false identity based on a worldly view during times of stress. Gal 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I had a stereotyping problem because I believed lies about my own identity and judged others through a faulty lens. I labeled myself, and I stereotyped others.
Changing The Lens
I was the girl who kept insisting, “There just aren’t any good ones out there who are spiritually mature with character.” But what I really meant was, “There aren’t any wealthy, hot guys who love Jesus like I do.” Then one night, out of the blue, God’s truth hit me like a ton of bricks. I was at having dinner with a guy I met online. He was a wealthy business owner and my “type” – the dark-haired, blue-eyed superman executive I always dated.
I sat in the booth, looking into his charming and greedy eyes and had an epiphany; I was simply looking to replace one bad relationship with another. I was dating out of brokenness but expecting health. Ouch! I fled the to the bathroom, called my best friend and asked her to call me back in five minutes and pretend there was an emergency. She asked, “Why? Is he awful?”
“No,” I replied. “He’s just awfully familiar.”
That night, I surrendered my dating life to God. Then, I stopped dating for a season to find out who I was and to heal my broken thinking and heart. Proverbs 4:23 says this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
If our external life comes out of our internal life, then my ability to judge someone’s character was only as good as my beliefs about myself. I needed to learn who I was in Christ and dig deep into the lies I believed to uncover my true identity.
Identity In Christ
God was whispering to me through this dating crisis, “What do you believe about me?” After some reflection, I concluded that I believed God did love me, but only conditionally; I kept taking over in the dating area because I didn’t trust that He had my back.
This was where my thinking was not in line with the truth. I needed to unpack the labels and reprogram my brain with health. I recognized that my desire to be with a spiritually mature man was relevant, and my heart for God was an asset, not a deterrent. Finally, I learned that I was worth more than my image, and money wasn’t something to build a relationship on.
A New Paradigm
On my first date with my Tim, I confessed I had a habit of dating wealthy jerks that treated me badly, but I was willing to try something new. I actually asked him to “dazzle me with his character.” My future pastor husband – the “type” the old me never would have dated – chuckled out loud and said, “If God decides to bring us together, I’m sure he will provide for us.”
Three kids and ten years later, I am so glad I got over my “type” to find a Godly man of character. My work towards healthy beliefs based on God’s truth attracted a man with similar values, and that’s the best “type” of all.
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