Gentlemen: I'm Not Your Paper Doll

“You’re exactly the kind of girl I’ve been looking for!”
“You lead worship? I lead worship too.  I’ve always wanted to lead worship with my wife.”
“You know, I always hoped God would give me a blonde-haired, blue eyed girl.”
“You had a crush on Aladdin?  No way!! I had a crush on Jasmine.”
“I always knew I would need a girl who could meet me on an intellectual level. You do that for me!”
“I’m all in, whatever it takes.”
“You’re the only one who gets me.”
“I’ve always wanted a girl who could enter into my world.”
“We were meant to be.”
“Can I say I love you? … Please?”

You know, I never wanted to be that girl who’s dated a lot.  Maybe in comparison, I haven’t dated too much.  But I think I may have given my heart away too quickly in the past.  Can you relate? 
Don’t worry, I promise I’m not like that today and maybe neither are you anymore either. Experience does that for folks.  In fact, maybe you would even agree that  it’s almost impossible to give it away now.
Then again, maybe it's a good thing.  I know it is for me.  It means it’s not in my hands to give.  Some of you might disagree.  But that’s my choice, not yours.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and maybe there are a few people out there who can connect with this.  For the men (or women) who read this, maybe you’re one of those guys (or girls) who have said similar things to the comments I I've just quoted.
Maybe you’re not.
But if you are, maybe you need to be reading this.

I’m your average girl.  I’m 5 ft 2 (eyes of blue, have you seen my girl?) with a little room to spare.
I can sing, I can play a few instruments and I’ve led worship for over 7 years now.
I try to be presentable and I’ve been taught to be gracious and well mannered (for the most part…).
I’m friendly and outgoing.  I’m not afraid to say hello to the newcomers in the places where I lead… or even don’t lead.

I tend to attract others who are either like me or think they want someone like me.
Naturally I would, too.  I fit their bill.  Or so they say.  
People say a lot of things, don't they?
But something changes somewhere down the line.
Counteracting all those sweet little nothings listed in the beginning of the post,
I hear something a bit different right before one of us initiates a break-up...

“You’re not what I thought…”

“We lead worship differently… we just don’t jive.”

“You’re actually not as fun as I thought you were.”

“You’re too narrow-minded.  Maybe in the future you’d consider college?”

“You’re a little deeper than I want.”

“You’re a little too serious, I think.”

“You’re a little too mystical for me.”

“I believe there are lots of people who are meant to be for each other. I guess this isn’t it though.”

“You’re asking too much of me.”

“No, I’ll never be able to just share my heart with you.”

“I was never comfortable with this to begin with.”

What happened?
I was perfect for you one minute and now I’m totally wrong for you the next?

Now don’t get me wrong!  I’m not angry with the guys I’ve dated in the past.  
 I’ve learned a lot from working through each relationship, no matter how long or short each was.  Thank God for His grace in that.  But we’re talking – drastic changes in what is being said.

What happened?

 “You’re not hard to figure out, Sarah.  You just have lots and lots of layers.”
The people who know me best have said this time and time again.

I’m not a complicated person.  Maybe you are.  I would probably find you intriguing.
But I’m not.  I just have layers. 

I AM friendly.  But I’m the oldest of ten kids.  I had to be.  And I like to be.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m an introvert.
You just don’t know that right off the bat, that’s all.

I AM a worship leader (well I was… I’ve downscaled a lot recently) but I don’t just lead songs.
I believe a true worshipper is a closet worshipper.  I’m always looking for ways to be a worshipper –whether it’s going to the gym, whether it’s thanking God for loneliness and the things I don’t understand.
So hey:  if you’re only a musician with a voice who sings Chris Tomlin songs on stage with lights, cameras and stage smoke – we’re definitely not going to jive.  You’ll more likely find me in a coffee shop leading unsuspecting coffee buffs into the presence of God by a hymn I added a chorus to in my quiet time.

So what’s the issue?

Firstly, I think I should state:  I’m not perfect by a long shot.  I’ve made mistakes in my relationships and I’ve clamored to keep what I never had.  I’ve played the savior and believed that “this time, it would be different.  I’m different than the other girls.” 
 I’ve tried to control situations so my heart wouldn’t get hurt.
I’ve let people tell me what was really going on instead of listening to God about the matters.
That is all stuff God has convicted me about.
It is possible that these things are all playing variables in the problems I seem to have.  So I take responsibility for those.

But that doesn’t change the guy’s part, whoever he might be.
And you know what?
I’m sick of guys acting like I’m their dream girl paper doll.
Like they can take what they think they want and put it on me as though one size fits all.

You know what that makes me to them?
Not real.

So when I AM real in front of them, they’re in for a rude awakening.
What?  She’s not as fun as I thought she was?

What? She isn’t the next Brook Fraiser?
What? She doesn’t think I’m the next Matt Redman?



I don’t.

It’s been frustrating for me.  I feel like sometimes, Christian guys are more interested in finding the perfect addition to their life than being the kind of man that would deserve a girl like the one in his dreams.

But FYI, I’m not that girl.
I’m Sarah. 
Those girls you’re dating? They’re them. 
We’re us.  We have special little quirks and funny little snorts and bizarre senses of humor. 
We do pass gas and we do swea… shimmer….Some of us don’t like to cook, some of us talk too much and sometimes we’re a lot less talkative than you think. 
We’re freaking normal human beings too.

I’ve heard my guy friends complain about Christian girls they like, “She wants to date Jesus!  I can only try, but I’m not Him…”
Isn’t it profound?  When we’re not satisfying our hearts’ desires for perfect holiness in Jesus, we try to put that on others instead.

You want to marry a perfect girl?
You’d better be a saint.  Otherwise, I think maybe you should realize that you’re missing out on real friendship and deep communion with raw human beings.

Look.  I’m guilty of treating guys like paper dolls.  I’ve placed my “Jesus” expectations on guys who never should have carried that responsibility.
I know what it’s like.  They broke my heart.  They had to.  It was the only way to walk away.
And you’re perfect girl needs to never have kissed anyone else and she needs to be writing letters to you and be thinking about you day and night.
Except you get to go out and put the moves on other women who you KNOW you won’t end up with!

 We're not your paper dolls.

You’re not ours.

Our other-worldy expectations need to be placed on the right thing or we’re going to be very discouraged and feel hopeless in the long run.  Plus, we’ll hurt others in the process.
It’s time to grow up and focus on Jesus, single brothers and sisters.   
Marriage won’t fix your need for greater things. I promise.  But Jesus satisfies our hearts.  When you let go of what you think you’re looking for, you’re letting Him have room to redefine a few things for you. Let Him do that.  I am.  Isn’t this what true communion is about?  What real ministry is?  Reconciling our hearts to the Father and to each other?


  1. I think what you are construing as "paper dollism" is just a natural thing among both men and women, Christian or not. Everyone is looking for their soulmate, someone to fit that uniquely odd-shaped hole in them. The consequence of that is they will actively search out that mystery person, looking for traces of that perfect person in the people they meet in their lives.

    The trick (that doesn't get revealed until enough time passes and experience cumulated) is that no one knows exactly who or what they are searching for at the start. Therefore you will first find one or two things that you adore in a person and pursue them. Then you find out the rest of them is not in sync with who you are and that relationship falls away. But at least you know more of what you are looking for. Then you find that in someone else, someone closer to your match. This repeats until two things happen: 1) you learn enough about who you are that you know exactly what you are looking for in someone, and 2) you are mature enough to look at people and know who they are and what they offer.

    It almost always comes down to this: You have to truly know who you are and what you want before you can pursue and acquire it. Self-reflection must be mastered before you can accurately examine other people. I've noticed that a lot of times Christians (both genders) try to examine themselves in an overly Christian manner, assuming Christian characteristics (because obviously all Christians must have these characteristics!). This leads to people building themselves up in their own heads as Biblical Frankensteins. Just because you are a Christian doesn't make you Paul, or David, or Gideon. You can't read the Bible and figure out what percentage of each Biblical figure comprises you. You have to live life and figure that out on your own. And once you know who you are, then you can figure out who other people are. And once you hit that point, you can find that right person who matches you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Though I will say... Not everyone has to go through the process you just expounded upon. I would prefer not to have to go through that process... There's gotta be a better way... Because it hurts a lot of people on the way.

    2. The process I wrote above isn't the best method, I'm just saying it is one of the most common (if not the most common) method people use to narrow down who they are looking for.

      My main point is that people need to figure out who they are, both as a person and as a Christian. Once someone knows exactly who they are, they can't be "paper dolled". Figuring out who you are doesn't have to be a difficult or painful process, though it is typically a long one. But it is 100% worth it.

    3. Absolutely. I definitely won't say I have it all figured out, but you're right. We can't be "paper-dolled" when we know who we are. On the other hand... We won't paper-doll people either when we remove the assumptions and expectations we have of people and start looking at them as a person to be learned and known... Not as a manifestation of what one might think is best for themselves. So your point is the other side of the coin to the one I was making in this post: yours being, "know yourself and you won't allow people to fit you into their mold" while mine was "to not go trying to fit people into your mold, you must let go of the mold and let Jesus show you what ' perfect-for-you ' is." because Jesus IS perfect for me. And you. And thats not over-spiritualizing it. It's just the truth.

    4. Ps thank you for clarifying and for sharing once again.

    5. While I know it doesn't 100% fit with this particular post, I feel like this article has a unique and interesting perspective on the topic:

    6. Thank you! I actually read this post already and it has awesome points! Glad you posted a link here tho, for anyone else who may be interested!

  2. "she doesn't think i'm the next matt Redman? dude. no. I. don't.". hahahahahahaha..... so in love with this. great post Sarah!

    -Leah (w)

    1. Glad you got a kick outta that! Lol. There are some humorous perspectives that come with being a worship leader or whatever... And I'm glad I have a few who got my sarcasm lol!

  3. I believe that the first anonymous commenter above may have skipped over the last paragraph of the post completely.

    Maybe God wants to give us unexpected blessings we can't understand for no good reason other than to teach us something about himself.

    Every story is unique, and there is no place to arrive at before God can give us blessings (although I agree with Sarah that the challenge is to spend less time thinking about who the perfect person is and more time with God becoming, unbeknownst to us, someone they might be interested in!). God's love is unconditional, unchanging, and yet somehow still completely unpredictable to us.

    And it's a good thing it is, too :)

  4. The person who said you want to date Jesus hit the nail on the head. Perhaps your expectations of a mate are too high for any human being. Perhaps you are meant to live your life entirely for God. That is okay, but there may not be room in that relationship for a mate.

    1. I should have clarified. The guyfriends who said that were not complaining about me... They were complaining about other girls.

  5. Hmm. Some insight. But also a little hurt, confused, and self-absorbed. Today's SYT who makes Jasmine's protest - "I'm not a prize to be won," may turn out to be correct, tomorrow.

    1. I guess it is a bit self absorbed... What post isn't when we write what we think? Introspection can lean that way. But I don't actually see where I was saying we are a prize to be won. I'm sorry if I didn't make that more clear.

  6. I love how you strike a balance in this post that both genders are guilty of "paper-dolling" others who seem to be a "first-impression fit."

    And I feel you completely with the lame pick up lines ... I've got my own set of "over-used/please don't ever say this to me" phrases.

    Also this phrase struck me:

    “You’re not hard to figure out, Sarah. You just have lots and lots of layers.”

    I identify with this because I find it hard and painful when people try to encourage you, but don't know how to embrace your uniqueness. It's like "I like you, but ..."

    ... and the last word there tends to cancel out whatever positives they just promoted.

    Kudos for bringing it back to Reconciliation with God & each other. <3

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback Meg! It's so good to have people who get where I'm coming from! Its good to get both though because it helps curb my communication skills a little.

      THANK you for noticing my heart for reconciliation at the end! It's only at the end of the post but it's the most important part of it!


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:15