The 4 red flags to reconsider.
Yesterday I posted about the theological red flags that cause me to turn around. Today however, in part two, I will address 4 common objections, we assume as red flags, that are often invalid.
- “We Don’t have Our Entire Lives Figured Out” Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself sitting in a packed movie theater of a midnight showing of Lord of the Rings. Frodo just stepped up in a courageous act to take the Ring to Mordor. But then he announces “First I need to sit in the Shire for 6 months, in an isolated cocoon of self-reflection so I can chart out every single uncertain twist and turn along the way.” The screen then goes black, and the credits start to roll, because Frodo will never leave under those circumstances. Self reflection, journaling, and solitude certainly enrich our spiritual growth, but when our chief goal becomes ironing out our imperfections and uncertainties, we spin circles in mud. The road to the disillusioned destination of “figured out” can become a dark vacuum of self-centeredness. Ironically, the most progress in the self-discovery out realm has not come from predictable preparation, but rather in simply beginning the journey itself. The phrase “life long learner” wouldn’t exist if we already understood everything. In the meantime, make decisions, build friendships, pray, create and give things away, learn from mistakes, forgive others, immerse yourself in the world, and you might just start to figure yourself out in that process .
- “He’s Shorter Than Me/ She’s Taller Than Me.” Okay, the you’re pretty cool, but too tall to tango card has been pulled on me before; he worried about what other people would think. I thought about seeing a shrink, but it only took the length one Taylor Swift song to shake it off. Still, ever since I’ve started to probe deeper into why we adhere so strictly to these stature stereotypes. I won’t speak on behalf of the men, but a lot of women will discount all shorter guys, and fail to offer a solid reason as to why. They claim “it would be awkward.” But I believe there’s deeper underlying subconscious assumption going on there: that a taller man is more attractive because he could better protect her. And I get it, I used to think that way too. But then I took Physics class, and learned about human biomechanics. I’ll refrain from trying to explain torques and levers, but in short, height, strength, and power are not always directly related. I come from a family of tall distance runners; we could probably decorate an entire Christmas tree with victory ribbons from local 5ks. Horray! However, if we encountered a family of short gymnasts in a back alley street fight, we wouldn’t stand a chance. Honestly, I’m more concerned about whether a guy would be able and willing to help fight the thug that tries to steal my top secret idea notebook away from my satchel-purse than I am worried about his ability to help reach the cookie jar on the top shelf. I’m perfectly happy reaching for that jar on my own already.
- “We Don’t Share a Common Past.” Question: What do the movies The Notebook, Harry Potter, Twilight and Sweet Home Alabama all have in common? Answer: The main character marries their high school sweetheart. Consumers eat this up, and the media capitalizes on this weird idea that somehow 17 year olds create the most superior and romantic form of a love story. I do like a good rom-com, but it can send a message to adults that the ideal date involves long walks down memory lane or at least conversations about your glory day coincidences. “So you played soccer in 1999? Me too! I used to be so good. And we both saw the backstreet boys in concert in 6th grade? No way! I can tell we have something really special going on here.” Reminiscing over shared stories is a natural and healthy way of connecting, but assigning exorbitant amounts of value to the past, allows a couple to rest content on the roots of their memories, without ever doing work of building something new together. The past is an important part of understanding another person, but eventually I’m more interested in the questions, who are you now? What’s your vision for your future? and Where could we go together from here?
- “It Wasn’t Love At First Sight” A couple years ago I asked a guy friend about why he only dated women he met online. Not that I’m opposed to the digital duos of the modern age, but in his specific case, I had trouble making sense of it. As regular member of a megachurch in southern California, and surrounded by hundreds of beautiful, godly, single ladies, he chose instead to spend thousands of dollars flying in women from all over the country in his quest for the one. But his answer was simple. “If I don’t feel a spark within the first 20 minutes, it’s not going to randomly happen later, and I don’t have that attraction spark with anyone from my community.” And it’s possible he’s right, that not one woman in his entire circle or friend group would make a good match–but it saddened me at how quickly he had written everyone off due to lack of initial chemistry. The “we just knew” effect– where each person successfully shoots arrows of feelings directly into the other’s knees causing them to go weak and also swell with discernment–happens to some people. But considering that relationships develop in all sorts of ways, it’s a rather limiting prerequisite. Other couples grow more like organic onions. They slowly, or even accidentally, peel back layers of the heart as they interact and share life, until one day they weep because of their discoveries of each other. Then eventually they might heat things up, just to make for a sweeter more caramelized onion.
Do you have an invalid red flag? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.
(Note: Much of this content is based in observation and opinion, and just slightly in practice. To find real experts, try reading books by Henry Cloud, Timothy Keller, or Brene Brown).