“Drop the prayer sis!”

A version of this comment is under every post on Ciara’s social media pages. Nicole Ari Parker, Michelle Obama, & Meagan Good are also among the list of women who this question has been posed to. Women all around the world want to know what words they prayed to find a man that loves with such intentional fervency. That old school kind of love that our grandparents had. The kind of love that Luther Vandross sang songs about and Dorothy Dandridge played in movies. The kind of love that can’t help but be expressed. In fact, it’s become a mantra among the women of my generation when we see a woman being loved properly.

So, when the question was posed to me, I was both honored and hesitant to give the answer. I wasn’t hesitant because I didn’t have the answer but rather because I know that many say they want what the above mentioned women have but very few are willing to do the work behind the prayer. Culture calls it trusting the process. This phrase was first found in The Bible. The Bible calls it faith without works. It means don’t ask for a thing without making sure that the soil it would be planted on is both healthy and sustainable for the blessing.

Imagine, you want to buy a fish. Not just any fish but a very special fish. You’ve spent weeks researching everything about this exotic fish. This fish is so rare that most pet shops don’t carry it. You’ve called every pet store and private fish dealer in your city and no one has it. They can’t tell you where to get it, they just know they don’t have it. Then, one day while scrolling through social media, you see it. You see someone mention that there is one place that has this fish. You’re excited while your heart is racing trying to write down the address and phone number for the person with your dream fish. You don’t even care that you will have to drive far out of your city to get it. So, you set up a time and date to go get your fish. You drive to the shop and the shop owner listens patiently while you explain how long you’ve been searching for this fish and what it means to you that you finally have it. You rush out the shop with your fish with a quick salutation to the shop owner. You take the long drive back home with fantasies of what your life will look like now that your dream is finally coming home with you. You rehearse in your mind how you’ll feed it, take care of it and of course show it off to all your other friends who will love and admire the fish as much as you. They’ll be happily jealous of your fish because you are the first to find this fish. Finally you pull up to your house and walk inside with your fish. As soon as you open the door you realize….you don’t have a fish tank.

This is what most people (women) look like when they leave these comments under the posts of these women. They want a man that loves and treats them right because they ‘deserve’ it but they’ve done nothing to prepare for the burden of the blessing they wish to receive. Or, they have the basic necessities for the ‘fish’ they seek but its dirty. Imagine for a moment that you’ve brought your fish home to a tank that was filthy and ridden with algae and moss. Sure, the fish could still go into the tank but it would die. It wouldn’t last its expected lifetime.

This is what we do because we believe we are owed something from a God that gave us everything. Is the breath in your body not enough? Is the use of your limbs not enough? And yet we will tell people that we have pure hearts and deserve a certain kind of man. No, we have greedy hearts. All of us. We want the way to the blessing with no preparation or thought of what it will take for the blessing to be sustainable in our lives. We want the man without first realizing that no matter how good of a man he is, he will not be perfect and his imperfections may rub against the insecurities you cover up with Instagram filters. Some of us have even been in relationships with these Russell Wilson type men but end up losing them because they don’t check every single ever-changing-culture-must-have box. What if he is that man but he isn’t 6 feet and he cannot grow a beard and isn’t of the same skin color as asphalt? Most of us say we would be okay with that and we might be for awhile but one thing is for sure, an unhealed heart will always find a way to dirty up everything around it.

We’ve created a false criteria of what it means to be a good woman with a pure heart without considering that the man we want doesn’t want a woman who cannot apologize, who is unwilling to serve others & says things like ‘that’s just how I am’. A Boris Kodjoe type of man is not just looking for just a woman that can cook, clean, and throw it back in the bedroom. No, he’s looking for a woman who will say, “I was wrong”. He’s looking for a woman that will unpack her childhood trauma and not blame her shortcomings on the positioning of the moon or her zodiac sign. He’s looking for a woman that lives counter culturally and is more interesting in obtaining goals rather than collecting likes, followers, & attention.

Everyone thinks they have a pure heart. But if God doesn’t have access to your heart, then you don’t have a pure heart you have a hidden death traps decorated and disguised as good by dangerous habits and coping mechanisms.

I didn’t know any of these things when I made my list of what I want in a husband and submitted them to God. In fact, I was like most of you and assumed that because I went to church and prayed that I was entitled to a good man. I didn’t want to do any more work on myself than I had already done. I had healed from my last break up. I was attempting to reconnect with my father and I finally had some good friends. So, my first list was two pages of every single thing I wanted from a husband.

I prayed over that list almost daily.

One day. I did something in prayer I hadn’t done….I listened. After I told God for the umpteenth time about what was on my list, I sat still and I listened. And God responded. It was like He had been waiting for me to stop talking so He could have a turn to speak. He asked a simple question, “How much of the criteria on that list do you meet?”

In an instant I was humbled. I realized that I not only didn’t possess half of what was on that list, I wouldn’t know how to handle a man that was smarter than me, loved God more than he loves me, and saw me as the most beautiful woman in the world. I don’t even like to be complimented.

Why on Earth would God give you a man that compliments you and you can’t even take a compliment without being weird?

God showed me that a man like that doesn’t like women like me who, at the time, was living at home with no ambition or direction. I wasn’t a bad person, I just didn’t have anything of substance to offer anyone. Anything I could offer anyone was temporary and a man like the one on my list was only interested in eternal things. Everything I was and could do was temporary. Cooking food-temporary. Sex-temporary. Conversation-temporary. Money-temporary. Nice body with a big booty-temporary.

I knew I had to rewrite my list and on top of that, I had to become my list. I went through each point on my list and I told myself that if I couldn’t find Biblical significance to each item, then I had to scratch it off my list. My list went from over 50 items to about 10-15. I rewrote my list and put scripture next to each point.

Over 6-8 months, I prayed each point on the list over myself first. I asked God to show me how to be that thing and then I prayed it over my future unknown husband. Over time I began to notice that the list was less about the man and more about me being the best me. It became a competition against myself to be everything on that list. I no longer cared about the man who was coming I enjoyed the ride and journey.

I had gotten to the point in my List Journey that I was having fun being single and dare I say enjoyed being alone. It was freedom, it was safe, and I loved that I got to spend time with God whenever I wanted. I realized that if I ever got married than my time would not be my own. I would have a whole other person’s feelings and needs to consider. The weight of this responsibility hung over me and I began to question whether marriage was for me at all. I tossed around the idea of remaining single. I thought about all the places I could go and things I could do without being tied down to a person. No sooner had I made up my mind that being permanently single was for me that God reminded me that my original reason for wanting a relationship was still anchored in my heart. He reminded me that there was nothing wrong with embracing singleness but He also has other plans for me that include marriage and children. And just like that..boom! My husband came. He surprised me by blowing into my life like a tornado and rearranging all the plans I thought I had. He brought a new meaning to things I already knew and added to the vision of the purpose of my life. His presence brought a sweetness to my life that drowned out the bitterness of my previous dating experiences. It was divine and it’s still hard for me to describe just what a pleasant surprise he was. I was deeply moved that God had chosen him for me and me for him.

After our first date, I knew that this was someone God wanted in my life I knew I wanted to make him my One.

Before I got in too deep, I did need to confirm with my list. I went to my list and was shocked when I realized that Chris hit all the items on my list. From top to bottom he was everything I asked for. But God wasn’t done. Curiously, I pulled out my original list. I went down the list and realized that God was so good that Chris was everything on that list as well except ‘Darkskin’. I sobbed in thankfulness to God for His goodness and shock that once again He gave me better than I asked or imagined. Mostly I was grateful that God had allowed me to grow in those same areas on my list so I could be supportive and understanding of everything that Chris is. Chris didn’t have to convince me of who God called him to be. I already knew. The list told me what kind of man he was. I just had to allow Chris a safe space and time to express that he wanted to be that man on my list. And he did just that. I sat in my room and once again begin to pray and God responded:

“And now you have the tools to be a great wife to him.”

K, good talk

-J