The List I Never Should Have Written










I love lists. If you receive my daily to-do list, you know that. I create lists for everything–lists of books I own or want to read, lists of groceries I need to buy or meals to make, lists of projects I want to complete or dreams I have. My list of lists is inexhaustible.

So it isn’t surprising that, when I was in early high school, I jumped at the opportunity to write a list of things I wanted in a future husband. I remember vividly a guest speaker in my church youth group explaining that he had made a specific list of things he wanted in a wife. To his way of thinking, creating this list would make it clear when he met the one.

This was all the encouragement I needed. I ran home, took a sheet of paper from my mom’s closet supply of never-ending notebook paper, and went to work creating Mr. Right. And let me tell you. He was perfect. He was good looking. He had a great singing voice. He dressed like he had an endless tab at Brooks Brothers.

He made the men of Hollywood look like wannabes. My sheet of notebook paper was GQ personified.

Now, lest you think I am going to arrive at the conclusion that God gave me someone less than perfect and yet I am okay with that, let me be clear. I married the man of my dreams. We will celebrate 10 years next week and I couldn’t be happier.

Wanting and seeking the right person with regard to marriage is important. Absolutely.

But I believe with all my heart that my list all those years ago shouldn’t have been about him. It should have been about me. During all those years when I was praying for my husband’s character, I should have been praying about my own. While I was busily completing a list of physical attributes I wanted in a life partner, I should have been grooming my heart. The truth is that it’s harder (though not impossible, certainly) to attract the wrong person if you are busy becoming the right one.

As I have begun the process of praying about my sons’ futures, I have switched from praying that God would give them good wives to praying that God would make them good men.

Here is my list for them–

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). For now, that is all the list they need.



  1. We celebrate 10 years next week as well!

  2. I love this!! I think there is too little emphasis in the “courtship” movement on becoming the person YOU should be, and too much on choosing the “right” characteristics in someone else. I believe the positive side is that it encourages young people to have friendships with the opposite sex, and get to know them as people- growing in maturity, before attempting to build a relationship.

    My friend Elaine Miller has written a book, “We All Married Idiots”. She talks a lot about self-awareness, and how to be the spouse you’re meant to be. Yep, this is a shameless promotion, but I hope you don’t think it’s spam, because the book is relevant to your topic and I really do love it personally. :)
    Here’s the link at GoodReads, if you’re interested:


  3. Best blog ever!!!!
    Thank you very much for this!

  4. Trisha, you are so right on! Thank you for this great blog. BTW, I’m the author of We All Married Idiots: 3 Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and 10 Things You Can which Mary mentioned above. The 3 things you can’t change concern your spouse. The 10 things you can change concern you.


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