The X Factor

This is an addendum to a post I wrote 5 years ago called Is This “The One”? about what to look for in a future spouse.

The other day I made an observation. Some people seek connection with other people for the sake of gaining something out of it. This may be a pretty obvious statement to you. I guess I was disappointed because when I observed it, it happened in what I thought should be a very loving and accepting environment. But the older we get, the more we learn that we can’t ever completely get away from cliques, the inner/outer circles, favoritism, etc.  It happens in workplaces, neighborhoods, and even churches. Even so, in that moment, I was disappointed. I felt that this person was showing favoritism for selfish reasons, which resulted in someone else feeling left out, not good enough. I left feeling…sad.

While I was contemplating all these things, God suddenly turned my attention to my husband. I reflected on this person that I’ve come to know so well over the last 12 years. And my immediate thought was, “He is SO not like that. He doesn’t ever show favoritism. Every person is valuable enough of his time, his friendship, his attention…every time.” Do not get me wrong, he is not perfect by any means. His imperfections are something I’ve become thoroughly acquainted with in the last 12 years (and I’m sure he would say, vice versa).

I can confidently say, however, that he accepts and loves people wholeheartedly, without pretense or favoritism, and not for the sake of gaining something in return.

I then had an “aha” moment. That’s just like the way Jesus loves.

I wasn’t wise or mature enough to make this comparison 12 years ago. I had too many fears and doubts I was facing at the time, mostly out of my own issues. But I kept relying on God to guide me with His peace, one step at a time, in this new relationship with Allan. I still remember this one friendship Allan had at the time that stood out to me. We were in the “young career” social season of our lives (well, I was just starting in that season and Allan was almost graduating), and often times a bunch of us went out to dinner or coffee after church on Saturday nights. There was a guy who had various physical disabilities (in his body and speech), but he did not have any mental disability.  Not everyone took the time to befriend him, but it was obvious that he and Allan shared a special friendship. His face beamed every time he saw Allan, and they always shared a hug and a laugh. Allan was the same friend to him (or anyone) whether it was in a huge crowd or in a deserted parking lot. I love and respect that about him…so much.

In my opinion, this is the “X factor” that you want to find when you’re looking for a spouse (again, in addition to what I listed on Is This “The One”? post).

Is Love at the heart of who he/she is?

Even when nobody is looking?

Even when it will not bring him/her credit or fame?

Is he/she quick to help, to befriend, to give…just for the sake of showing love?

Or…do they tend to be drawn to people who can get them in the “in crowd,” who can benefit them in some way? Do they connect with others for their own benefit? Do they tend to stay in the “superficial” level of social relationships? Do they act one way in social situations and in a completely different way when they’re alone?

I believe that this particular factor is a heart/character issue that only God can change…so if they are the latter type, I would advise strongly that you dismiss them and never look back. If they are the first type, hang onto them for dear life, before someone else snatches them!

Final note: I believe that so much of what I wrote on this topic boils down to one word – humility. That truly is the main key ingredient. It’s the main ingredient you want to look for in your future spouse, and it’s the main ingredient you want to nurture and grow as you enter marriage. Selfishness comes by default; nobody is immune to it. Humility comes through the working of the Holy Spirit.

The “X factor” is love expressed through humility.

To all you singles: may God continue to develop that kind of love in both you and your future spouse, and may your future marriage be one that is defined by that kind of love.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.  

–Philippians 2:4-8 The Message

 I wrote more about the importance of humility in marriage in this post Undone: A Perfect Mate.

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