When I first met Mack, he was wearing a beanie. He had a little facial hair. He wore a black zip-up and cargo pants. Although I don't remember what his shoes looked like, I can wager they were his tattered, red Nikes. It was early January, and it was freezing outside. Everybody was bundled up, hidden behind layers of clothing.
The second time I ever saw Mack, his facial hair had evolved into a beard worthy enough to be fashionable during the Middle Ages. The beanie still covered half his head, and he kept it on, even indoors.
I'll be real with you: When he spoke, I just heard BEARD. As he sat across from me, I thought to myself, 'Dee, you can cross this guy off the "possible-husband" list. He likes growing beards. And you will NEVER marry a man who likes beards. Your type of guy is clean cut all the way.'
Upon first sight, I wasn't attracted to him. Not that he was bad looking, he just wasn't my type. He didn't catch my eye. In that moment, I wrote him off, facial hair and all.
A year and a half later, I married Mack. And it was the best decision of my life. I am so in love with him, and now I think he's the most handsome man on the planet, whether he's sportin' a beard or not.
I won't pretend like I understand the scientific reasoning behind attraction, because I don't. But I think it had something to do with perception. I perceived with my eyes that he was a guy with a beard. In my mind, that meant he was automatically unattractive because I generally didn't find men with beards attractive. I heard him speak with wisdom; I smelled a pleasant cologne. But my strongest sense is sight, and what I saw was a beard.
Because he was tenacious in getting to know me, my perceptions changed. I got to know his heart. His humor. His strength. His knowledge. His love. The boy wooed me. He bared his soul, little by little, and I didn't stand a chance.
But there was something else. It was more than my perception. I'm convinced God did something... something inexplicable.
After knowing each other for a little more than a month, Mack asked me to lunch (read more about our story here). I remember walking toward him from my MINI Cooper. I was halfway across the parking lot, trying not to get hit by a mini van, and I looked up to see him standing in front of the cafe. He'd removed his beanie (the February air had warmed that weekend), and I saw his head of hair for the first time. He was fresh-shaven, and boy, was he cute. Like, really cute. He stood there, hands in his pockets, waiting for me, then he opened the door and we went inside.
In that moment, everything changed. You might think it was the removal of the beanie, but that wasn't it. You don't have to believe me, but it was like God unveiled him for the first time. Like He removed something from my eyes that was inhibiting my vision. It's important you know that because to me it proves that I didn't just start thinking he was cute as I got to know him. I'd already written him off after getting to know him. For some reason, in that moment, it took a split second for me to realize how handsome he actually was. I think God was protecting me, waiting for that perfect moment to reveal the man I was supposed to love.
Get over your initial attraction.
Look, I'm just as guilty as the next girl. We can rate a guy's hotness in two strides. But why do we base everything off initial attraction? Why do we write guys off because they wear skinny jeans, or don't shave, or stand too short? Why do we instantly look the other way if they aren't what we consider "our type?" It all seems so fickle. It is fickle.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you should consider every guy who walks your way. I'm not saying attraction doesn't matter, because it does. And I'm not saying go out with someone who repulses you. There are many things about a guy's character that you can see in just a few moments, and many things you should avoid. What I am talking about is how we, as women, write off a guy based on our instant perception of his looks or things that really shouldn't matter... like beards.
God's ways are so much bigger and greater than what we could ever imagine for ourselves! Don't limit what He can do with foolish perceptions and immature pickiness.
Really, it's immature. I can say that because I have always been that girl who has a wall of hot men, all of whom are judged on my subconscious type of "hot." I've always labeled myself as picky, but being picky over whether or not a guy has a beard is pretty stupid, in the grand scheme of things. (Yikes, had I said that to my 20-year-old self, there would have been words!)
Know this: You should definitely be picky over things that matter--like his relationship with Jesus. But being picky over things like growing beards, driving American-made cars or wearing glasses to correct near-sided vision shouldn't be on your list.
Just as you don't want a guy judging you in 8 milliseconds, we shouldn't judge guys like that, either.
Love at first sight isn't real, and that's romantic, too.
The phrase "Love at first sight isn't real" may not be true for you, and that's OK. In fact, it's pretty freakin' romantic when a wrinkly old man who's been married for 50 years grins and says, "I've loved my dear Delilah from the moment I saw her. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She took my breath away." That kind of love is awesome and special and wonderful. If you've found it (and it's not just lust), I'd love to hear your story! I hope everyone celebrates your story.
But love at first sight wasn't my experience (or my husband's), and I gotta say, it might not be yours. I guess that sounds a little sad, but it's not! It's actually cool how God revealed to both of us what we didn't initially see--and at different times. He's sneaky, God is.
I did grow up in the Disney Princess era, and I could blame Disney for wrecking my views of love like every other girl, but I won't. While Disney is working on changing that perspective (the protagonists in Tangled aren't immediately smitten, for instance), it's true that they've also set an unrealistic standard. Disney taught me to believe that when I saw him, I would know. I grew up imagining that when I saw my prince, love would spark out of nothingness and become overwhelmingly powerful! But, that's not what always happens. So, as hard as it is, don't expect it. I've known way too many girls who won't give something a chance because at first sight, he's not their type. Knowing what I know now, that only limits what God can create in your life. Instead, expect God to surprise you--to challenge you. Expect amazing things that will always point you to His glory.
Don't write someone off based on your initial attraction. Think about what really matters. Don't rely on just one of your senses. Observe what God shows you about him, and if God nudges you in his direction, be open. Leave room for God to work.