When we are young (“and dumb,” as my Drill Sergeant used to say), the biggest obstacle to our finding love is ourselves.  We fly recklessly from one encounter and from conquest to another.  At best, we have fun and explore; at worst we hurt each other irreparably as we tear through each others’ hearts.

But tear through we must.  Being young, we often find, rightfully so, that we’re not ready for long-term commitments.  We engage in the battle of establishing ourselves in the world, searching for the “truth” of self-discovery.  We travel the four corners of our individual worlds, learning and growing the whole time.  And time is the rub.  We have none for  committing the energy needed to build lasting romantic relationships with others.

As we get older, however, and if we’re smart,  we use our experiences to paint the picture of who we’re looking for.  More often than not, we know who we want in the future by who didn’t work for us in the past.  We learn to read the signs.  We discover that someone who says X today means that Y will happen tomorrow.  Or next month.  Or next year.  We find out that a potential mate who disrespects the waiter at our favorite restaurant has issues that will soon spill onto us.  A slapped face today almost always means a broken rib tomorrow, no matter how many times we hear “I’m sorry” and “I’ll never do it again.”  A mate who cusses us behind closed doors soon cusses us in front of family and friends.

And so we continue to hone the list.  S/he must look like “this.”  S/he must have a job.  S/he must have a good relationship with the family.  Etc., etc.  Some of us wind up with quite the extensive list.  And some of us get so good at knowing the list that we can spout it off without hesitation and at a moment’s notice.

And, finally, older and more mature, with established list in hand, we’re finally ready to look for Mr./Ms. Right.  And that’s when we discover the next great challenge.

The Look-A-Likes.

As we’ve matured, so have they.  As life piles dirt on our diamonds, it has done so with theirs as well.  We have issues, and so do they.  And as we continue to meet Mr./Ms. Potential, we engage in long-term, emotional relationships.  At best, we learn and grow together, but at worst, the garbage bags we haul around with us from our previous experiences smash the mirror of our relationships.  We find that Mr./Ms. Potential looks exactly like Mr./Ms. Right.  We are exulted because we finally found it!  Love!  The One!  S/he has (almost) everything right on our list!  This is it!

And then it happens….

An old wound you’ve overlooked and that you’ve had no part in inflicting explodes all over you.  Mr./Ms. Potential moves gracefully to Mr./Ms. Right before crashing and burning before your very eyes into the valley of “Mr./Ms. Ex.”  Sometimes, the signs come so early you don’t even get to engage at all.  Mr./Ms. Look-A-Like blows your list away, until s/he speaks.  And you sit there with that flabbergasted look on your face.  (Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about).  Or, your heart skips a beat as Look-A-Like walks by, then does that one NASTY habit you just can’t stand.  You sit there, thinking: “Okay, that really might be just a small thing.  Maybe I can get over that.”  Then Look-A-Like speaks.  (see above).

And so, you keep searching, list and pen in hand, ready to start ticking off at the sight of the next Look-A-Like.

The moral of the story?

Our lists are like plans.  And plans are just guides.  If you’ve lived long enough, you already know that your plans are just a way to make God laugh. So go ahead, have your list.  At best it will guide you through your Look-A-Likes.  And you can’t even have a Look-A-Like if you don’t know who you’re looking for in the first place.  Just know that Mr./Ms. Right will never be The Perfect One.  In the end, The One for you might be all over your list, or may not be on it at all.  But if you’re blessed, s/he’ll tick off perfectly on His.

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1 Response to "Look-A-Likes"

  • Nelson says:

    That is exactly what I would have said, Steve. Every word of it is true and people need to recognize. We don’t know what we think we want looks like and those waiting on God to send someone, we don’t know what they look like either and the odds are that what you think you want and need are not the same as what God knows you need.

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