Son, what does your perfect girl look like?"
My mother posed this question to me one night when I was a teenager. It caught me completely off guard. It's not the normal question for a mother to ask her son to kick off a conversation. But my mother wasn't normal and didn't take "Uh, I don't know" for an answer.
Take the time to make your list for your perfect girl or guy. Then list what you'll need to be to win this person's heart—and become that man or woman.
This discussion led to a valuable exercise in seeking the special person you desire to share your life with.
A list of what you're looking for
"How will you know if she's the right one for you if you don't know what you're looking for?" Mom asked. "You need to make a list." So she and I sat down with a notebook and pen, and I started to develop my "Perfect Girl."
Like most guys I'm not much of a list maker, but this was fun. It could include anything I imagined—from her physical perfection, hair, eye color and laugh to her intelligence, interests and character. Mom and I sat and went over the whole thing, and she asked me questions about her. My fertile, teenage-boy mind formed a pretty concrete picture—she was amazing!
Turning things around
Mom raised her eyebrows: "That's quite a girl. Let me ask you another question. If this girl is out there, then what sort of a man do you think she's looking for? What does her list look like?"
That list wasn't as easy to make. I reevaluated my "perfect girl" list. It didn't matter so much if she had movie star good looks as long as she was beautiful to me. And maybe her hair color wasn't as important as her heart. We talked about each point on both lists. My mother handed back the second list and said, "Okay, son, now become that man."
Make your lists and find focus
Do you want to get married someday? What traits and qualities are important to you? Make a list of what you hope for in your perfect mate and then make that other list about what he or she will be seeking—about what you need to be.
Without the strong male role model of my father in my life, I had little to gauge myself by. But I couldn't just drift and hope to become this awesome man by chance. I needed a well-thought-out picture in my mind of whom I wanted to become. The list gave me focus.
You can make yourself into the person on your second list with effort and God's help. But it won't happen overnight. In the meantime, though, it will help get your mind off of finding your perfect mate because you'll be busy striving to become perfect marriage material yourself.
Become the list
One item on my list was a trait I saw first in my mother. She was so loving and cared for people—it just flowed out of her. She visited people she didn't even know in nursing homes and hospitals just to cheer them up, never seeming at all deterred by their physical problems or disfigurements. She just walked in, and the love poured out. It was just a part of who she was. I decided that my "perfect girl" would have to be like that too.
The problem was, I wasn't that way. I knew that was on "her list," so it needed to be on the list of what I needed to be. Your "perfect you" list will contain things you aren't—right now. Stretch out of your comfort zone and, as an expression goes, "fake it till you make it" (not in the sense of false pretending, but in the sense of trying hard to be what you're currently not until you are).
I would ask myself, "What would Mom do?" and then try to act like I was just like her. If I felt shy around a new group, I would go up and ask individuals about themselves. Eventually it got easier and then just became natural.
I haven't made it to perfect yet, but I found my girl—with the same kind of heart as my mother and more. Over time I learned that some traits weren't as important as others, and my list changed. Yours will too. Take the time to make your list for your perfect girl or guy. Then list what you'll need to be to win this person's heart—and become that man or woman.