I once told someone I wished God knew what my dream guy looked like. Without hesitation they nudged me on the shoulder, wiped away the tear on my eye, and said “He does. It’s His son.”
I am not sure this person ever understood how much these words meant to me. They were right. In that moment, I received a glimpse of clarity from the thoughts fogging my mind.
But I also want to talk about how wrong this statement was. First of all, it should have never come out of my mouth. By expressing this statement I was saying the God of the universe could not understand my own my heart. I doubted the power of the very person who holds my life together in the most beautiful way imaginable. Secondly, if it really mattered that much for God to know what I wanted, why did I never tell Him? Yeah, I’m still stumped on that end.
I have matured a lot since that day. As stated in my previous Godly Dating 101 post, I believe there is no reason to date if God is not at the center of it. The quote from Jefferson Bethke states it best – “Dating without the intent of getting married is like going to the grocery store with no money. You either leave unsatisfied or take something that isn’t yours.”
This quote alone can sum up my thoughts on dating, but when we dig deeper, we realize that we should actually date with a purpose.
Everything about the Christian life points toward sanctification and dating (and ultimately marriage) is no different.
I constantly remind myself that I cannot depend on someone for things only God can provide. First and foremost, God has to capture our hearts before someone else can. To be the center of the relationship He has to be the center of our lives first. If not, you will drift away from God and find other things to become a functional God. This will only end in pain.
I firmly believe that dating with an understanding of the gospel changes the way we date altogether. I believe it is important to list those values from the gospel and to never, ever compromise them. Seriously, if someone asks you to compromise your beliefs, then recognize the red light right there that they do not respect you. Take the nearest exit and hop on the nope train right out of there. You’ll save yourself from a world of hurt in the end.
Make these values a framework for your relationship and not a checklist. When we make them a checklist, we will reach the point of placing God-like pressure on the other person. This will only leave them feeling they can never be good enough.
If you don’t have this list of values, then I cannot urge you enough to make it. (Seriously, mine is written down and tucked in a drawer in my nightstand) How can you possibly know who you want to be with if you don’t know what is important to you yourself? You can’t. You cannot say you know you want to be with someone simply because they make you warm and fuzzy inside. This feeling will fade. Then what are you left with? I’ll let you ponder that for a moment…
Values are important because they will ultimately define the direction a relationship will go in, and some values will always take precedence over others. I heard it stated once as primary and secondary values. A secondary value would be me, a Rangers fan, dating a Yankees fan. This may pain me to no end during baseball season but ultimately, it is not a deal breaker.
A primary value would be acknowledging where God is calling you in life and clarifying the other person shares this passion. The same person who presented this analogy used foreign missions as the example; if God is calling you to live abroad then you should make sure the other person truly desires this life as well and will support you through it. This same principle can apply to any career, living location, or other defining parts of our lives.
Knowing your deal breakers is important. Personally, I can’t stand it when guys cuss. The language disgusts me. Among others, this is one of those primary values I pray for.
Dating with a purpose also means I disagree with dating around “to find yourself.” This is a quest for a camelot that will only leave you feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. If you understand the gospel then you do not need to date to find out who you are, what you like and don’t like, etc. You already know who you are in Christ.
Dating toward marriage will always fundamentally look different than shotgun dating. Someone told me once that dating is like buying a car and you have to test drive to know what you really want. I cannot disagree with this statement more. In fact, I was livid when this person told me this. I know what I want in a relationship because I can point to it in scripture. I don’t need to shoot a shotgun or go for a test drive hoping to find the “best.”
When you shotgun date or take your test drive, you are ultimately looking for reasons to leave. I worked for a car dealership and in that time I drove more cars than I can count. In every car I drove, I looked for the things I liked and hated. When you date with this mentality you want to find the things that are wrong. You will walk away as soon as difficulty arises. When you date with a purpose you believe in the importance of continuing to push forward no matter the difficulty that arises. The difference between these two thought processes is exponential.
People have told me before that for a single person I have some very strong opinions on dating. I don’t deny it because I know it’s true. I believe it is okay to pray for God to send you a spouse (and to pray for that spouse), but you cannot let the desire consume you either. Singleness truly is a time from God.
I have a friend who dated on and off continuously throughout high school and her first couple years of college. After her last serious relationship ended she came to me about six months later and said that was the longest she had been single since dating Colby back in high school. She then proceeded to tell me even though her breakup with Ryan hurt, the time she spent single was a true blessing. She wished she had embraced it sooner. I had another friend tell me the same thing after his four year relationship ended.
Being a steward of your time as a single person can make a huge difference. Not only can singleness heal the hurt from previous relationships, but you are also unbound in the ways you can serve the Lord.
Dating can be a tricky thing to maneuver, but a true difference can be made when we consult God every step of the way. Our relationships are meant to reflect Christ. If it doesn’t, then you might want to take a good look at your relationship. Relationships are not just about us, they are about what Christ has shown in us.
I have said it before and I will say it again – I only desire to be with someone who will lead me closer to God. It’s that simple.