Oh, the waters of dating and romance. Especially if you love Jesus, dating can be a weighty thing. It’s fun to get to know people, go out on dates, and enjoy the scene, I wholeheartedly agree, girlfriend. But when you deeply desire to be married, there are a couple things that could be revolutionary to keep in mind. These are truths taught to me, lived out for me, and experienced by me. I hope, wherever you are relationally, that these inspire and spark something new in you like they once did for me. I’m thankful for the older women I had in my life to mentor me as I navigated dating and then marriage. And foremost, hallelujah to the Holy Spirit who helped me be patient and genuinely content in the process (because Lord knows I wouldn’t have been able to do it well on my own; it would’ve been halfhearted and handicapped, I’m sure).
Don’t date with only marriage in mind.
Marriage can easily become the be-all end-all. We place our hope and happiness on the circumstance of marriage, and then struggle to have said treasures while we’re single or dating. We begin to idolize “the right person” or a relationship in general. Not to speak Christianese, but the worship of God is the ultimate goal of the Christian life, would you agree? Dating and marriage can then become a means of worship to God; in marriage you get God in your lifelong commitment to each other. Marriage is about depending on God, displaying God, being made like God. Knowing this truth gave purpose to my singleness.
Relinquish the effort to God.
He is truly the best match maker there is, putting it plainly. He knows you better than you even know you, and He knows the type of person you want/need. He knows the person who will complement you best, who will challenge you and love you, who will pursue and cherish you. He knows how the two of you will work together, and the sweetness that will come from your unity. So let Him do the work, and trust His timing.
Stay guarded with prayer.
Emotions can run all too crazy, can’t they? I remember when J and I initially began to discover each other as more than friends, I could sense an impatience in my heart. But he was moving at a different pace than I was, and it turned out to be wonderful for us, the unhurried time to get to know each other before taking big steps. Sometimes I felt like I was praying every moment, for the Spirit to purify my thoughts, to give me peace and contentment, to cultivate companionship with the Lord in me. We often hear the challenge “Don’t date until you’ve prayed about it,” but I want to also encourage you not to stop praying in the waiting, or even in the dating.
I’m not saying have outlandish standards for the person you’re going out on a date with, I simply mean be thoughtful about it. I encourage you not to let insecurity or discontentment land you on a horrible date. Confession: my only two real relationships was in high school with a great guy friend, and J, my friend-turned-husband. So I hardly knew how to flirt, or date. But, in college I had one of two guys pursue me, guys who weren’t like-minded and didn’t value the same things I did — so I didn’t go out with them. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, so I saved myself the energy. Weird? Possibly. “The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married.” This is a word given to me early in my college career, and I think it speaks volumes. Use wisdom, be intentional.
Remember that everyone is an imperfect human being.
Every person who date and marries is a sinner, so the search for a spouse isn’t a pursuit of perfection, or the missing piece of your life, but a mutual lifelong pursuit of Jesus. Learning this early in college was incredibly helpful for my heart; in some ways, it helped me trust God further to do most of the leg work to hammer out the details. I trusted that He would put the desire in J’s heart just as He had put it in mine, and His timing would be best. It didn’t have to happen in a certain amount of time or in a certain way, because we weren’t seeking perfection. I’ve often said, “J and I are together because God thought we could glorify Him and serve His people better together than apart.”
Do even these views make dating safe or ideal? No. Will it keep you from being hurt or disappointed? No. Will it guarantee you don’t experience another break up? Probably not. But my prayer for the people around me, and those who find their way to this post, is that you will begin to pursue marriage a different way. Maybe these thoughts can help you love your current/future spouse (or people in general, if you never marry) even more in a way that beautifully displays the Gospel and the heart of God.
Go, friends, date, don’t date, be merry, enjoy your marriage, love Jesus. :)