About a year ago I had the opportunity to go to a YoungLife Campaigner Weekend with Mason Comets YoungLife. I knew for certain that I loved Jesus and loved YoungLife, but had no idea the lessons and friendships that this one weekend excursion to the exotic Fairfield, Ohio had to offer.
The main lesson I want to focus on this time around is dating. Now, from a Christian’s point of view, I’ve had a lot of trouble deciphering what is and is not acceptable within a relationship. What should I be doing? What do I look for? Are there rules I have to follow? Am I ever going to get married? All of these questions (and many, many, many more) ran through my head and lucky for me the speaker that fine weekend had some answers I had been looking for.
He told us the plain, honest truths about dating in a series of points, and being the high school senior guy I was, I wrote down all the dating advice he could give me. Here are some of them I think are worth sharing:
- Trust God is in control, don’t force it.
- If it’s meant to happen, God will make it happen for you. Jeremiah 29:11 promises us that he has this all under control so long as you let Him take the actions. You will not find your spouse and your spouse will not find you, instead God will bring you both together.
- Having a significant other will not make you better.
- We all struggle with doubt. We doubt our attractiveness, our self-worth, our importance to the world. We all struggle with brokenness as well. We are broken from past relationships, fears for the future, stress, and friendship or family problems we may face. The thing is, striving to find someone who can fix all of these and make you feel 100% better about them all of the time is not only futile, but a gigantic task to put onto one person. The brokenness that you have outside of a relationship when you’re single, doesn’t magically disappear once you start a relationship. This isn’t to say, however, that a significant other cannot point you in a direction to help mend those broken pieces.
- We are not guaranteed marriage.
- Nowhere in the Bible are we promised marriage. In fact when Paul talks about marriage in 1 Corinthians one might say he’s quite the advocate for celibacy. Nonetheless, some of us (if not a majority of us) are definitely called to be married and build into a significant other in that way. The truth of the matter is, however, that this shouldn’t be one of our long-term goals in faith, but instead we should focus on God’s promises to us.
- Make a list of what you want in a spouse, then be that list yourself.
- This one struck me in particular and got me thinking about who I was. I asked myself if the type of girl I was searching for would want to date me in the first place, and realized the areas of myself that needed improvement. My list consisted of faith, honesty, compassion for others, kind-heartedness, and other spiritual and personality-based descriptions that I then began pushing myself to uphold. This brings me to the next point:
- Opposite values do not attract.
- While it is common for us to think opposites attract in every circumstance, I can’t say it’s exactly the same when it comes down to what you and your significant other value. If you each are living your lives by a different value system, then eventually there will be an overwhelming disparity between what the two of you see as right and wrong within the relationship. This goes for Christians especially – we want those around us to see the majesty, beauty, and glory of heaven and experience the holiness, completeness, and splendor of God, but if our significant others refuse to see this, we may very well feel pain, grief, and separation in our own lives. How can we pursue our values if the closest person to us isn’t chasing the same ones?
- Loneliness is a part of life – it draws us closer to God.
- Loneliness isn’t a sin. In fact, loneliness forces us closer to God than we ever intended on being by ourselves. It encourages us to rely on Him and that’s why it’s possible to feel lonely even when you’re in a relationship. Don’t try to fix your loneliness by forcing yourself into a relationship – that won’t help. What will help, however, is building your faith and knowing that you’re never alone on every step of your journey with or without a significant other.
- You don’t have to be content to be given a significant other.
- Some of us have a common misconception that we have to be completely put together in order to have a significant other. We have to have every aspect of our lives in neat, ordered boxes, but in reality who actually does? The answer, quite frankly, is no one. We’re broken people and sure, it stinks, but Jesus came and forgave us all and loved every inch of your brokenness. James 5:16 tells us to be in community with people that will pray for us to help us heal. Find someone that loves God enough to love every inch of your brokenness and can pull you closer to the One who heals.
- Begin with the end in mind.
- This is a tricky one because at first it seems a little bleak, but first let me explain. Ask yourself these three questions: Are you ready to give to another person? / Who will you become? / Would it be good for the other person to date me? If you can answer these questions honestly and accept what comes to mind, then by all means, go for it!
- Embody Christ on your dates and in your relationships.
- Our speaker said one thing during this point that has resonated with me ever since: “You don’t have to wait until prom to impress them.” Now, of course now that I’m a freshman in college I won’t be attending anymore proms, but we get the gist of what he means. We don’t have to wait until a big event to go out of our way to impress our significant others. Take every chance to build one another up and make the other person feel special. Before dates ask yourself if the date is a gift and invite God along for the night as well. After all, God is Love – I’m pretty sure He knows how to make one romantic night for you.
- We are made for a supernatural love.
- We are made for an “agape” type of love. A love that exceeds any of our understanding and nothing in this world can satisfy. Don’t ever forget to chase God’s love and find your worth in Him.
- Rejection sucks – be clear about it.
- We’ve all been here, we just may not know why we’ve all been here. If you don’t like someone, tell them why. Even though it may be hard at first, I guarantee that person will be able to respect you more and get over you much faster if you give them a specific, honest answer. Not only does it save them days, maybe weeks of wondering, but it saves you from going through the process over and over again.
- God did not make relationships for a person to become the center of your world.
- This one is pretty self-explanatory. You don’t and should not need them to live. Rather than centering your life on another person, strive to date someone who knows the strength of God and sees the strength that you have from having God at the center of your life.
- Your faithfulness and niceness can and will be mistaken for weakness.
- You aren’t weak, you’re doing the right thing. Good job. Keep up the good work. Be chivalrous. Be kind-hearted. It’s not weakness, it’s awesome.
- Think about doing the right thing, not about not doing the wrong thing.
- Imagine there is a fly in the room that you’re sitting in right now. I tell you not to pay attention to the fly. Almost immediately your mind is thinking about the fly and its sound is magnified ten times louder than it was before. It becomes much, much harder to ignore. Now, instead, imagine that I ask you how your day was. What are you up to? Tell me about the last movie you saw or song you heard? I bet you’re not even thinking about the fly. Heck, you may not have even noticed it this time around, but he’s still there buzzing around the room. Relationships work the same way, if you don’t want do some things in your relationship, then try thinking about other things instead. Don’t tell yourself not to engage in lust, sex, or whatever else you’re trying to avoid because in that case they’re still present in your thoughts. Instead think about other, positive things you can do with your significant other.
- Ask yourself: What is the story I want to tell?
- You can read through all of these points and take what you want to of them, but in the end this is the ultimate question to ask yourself. What is the story you want to tell? Whether it be to your spouse, your future children, even your parents and your friends, you have the pen and it’s your story to write.
I’m definitely not a perfect person when it comes to these 15 tips I was given a year ago and I don’t expect any person to be either, but I strive to become better in each aspect as time passes. Simply put, I think these 15 points are important reminders worth sharing and hope they may have impacted you or got you thinking in some way. If you have any questions or are in need of prayer, feel free to reach out to me.