Tag Archives: Dating

Believing in the One

For many, many years I worked in youth ministry at an Evangelical Christian Church. Please don’t stop reading – I’m not going to walk you through the Four Spiritual Laws (I have a problem with them anyway.) I’m not going to offer a free Bible if you subscribe. I’m just going to talk about dating, courtship and marriage. Just that.

In our group we discouraged dating in High School. It was a time to be “on fire” for God and to focus on His relationship with us and ours with Him. We should study, have a lot of fun, and do our best to remain pure in every single way. We saw kids who were strong in their faith felled by relationships. I would say to the girls, and I believed it then and believe it now, that the question we should ask is not, “How far can we go physically?” but rather, “How far can I go to be a blessing to God?” I don’t know if anyone ever listened to me, but it’s a good question. I should ask myself that more often.

I heard a lot of stupid things about marriage and dating at that time. One of the kids once told me that relationships were like a pyramid with God at the top. The two of you are on the edge, and the closer they get to the top the closer they get. I didn’t buy that for a second, and I told her so. The unmarried members of the staff were far more Godly and could be committed to God because of their singleness.

I read some books. A lot of them focused on saving the entirety of yourself for your one true soul mate. I wanted (still do) for the to wait for marriage to have a physical relationship, but I don’t think there is a call to wait for that soul mate. I saw relationships continue a lot longer than they should have because they believed since they were both Christians they wouldn’t have been brought together if they weren’t perfect for each other. I’ve also seen young people stay in physical relationships because they believe to be “married in the eyes of God.” They weren’t. (If there is a call for me to write more about this here, or to dash out an email I will). But that’s the danger of one of the “soul mate” designs.

Here is another reason why: Say some kids decide they like each other. They decide to be in an exclusive relationship. The do not have sex of any kind. (This is actually pretty funny to me – do you think you’re fooling God by “just” having oral sex or “just” groping one another?) The couple does share a lot of things with their girlfriend or boyfriend but the relationship doesn’t work out. Not only are they broken-hearted they feel like they’ve dishonored and misunderstood God. They thought that this relationship was going to be their last, but it wasn’t. Their faith in God’s leading takes a blow and guilt sets in. They feel that they did something very wrong.

I think it’s not necessarily true. After I become a Christian, I learned it was possible to love God through a relationship that didn’t ultimately end in marriage. We shared a lot of our lives together and I believe he saw us on a marriage track. I didn’t feel the same, but after a short time, we were able to be good friends. We didn’t belong together and the reality was both of us knew it. He came a long way to attend our wedding.

Some people argue that a heart that is never broken is no way to begin a relationship. I don’t know if I agree or not. In Genesis, the Bible says, “And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.” We can be there for each other, renew our souls and teach us trust. I’m not recommending serial dating, I don’t think that’s healthy either, but there are many rules that we taught that aren’t necessary true or Biblical.

The paths are different for everyone. It goes back to everyone’s Journey. I believe in seeking counsel, but I also believe that ultimately the decision needs to be 100% up to the couple. That said, I don’t think you can be 100% sure. You can be sure about your commitment to marriage, but without some sort of doubt you can’t have faith. Marriage is a huge act of faith. What are you to know about the next five, ten or fifty years? You can’t know what will happen in one year. We were married about two and a half when I was diagnosed with bipolar illness. I’m quite sure my husband clung to the fact he told God and everyone, he married me and would stand by me “in sickness and in health….as long as we both shall live.”

I know that my husband is the “one” for me. Ya know how? Because I’m married to him. I took a huge leap and found myself in love, pleasing to God and matched up. We’ve had quite a bit of troubles sometimes, but we are still together because we told God we would and because He is welding us together. We disconnect sometimes and truly connect other times. We both promised each other, and the people that watched we get married that we would do all we could to serve and love each other. We promised God we would, too. When our pastor asked B why he was sure I was the right one, B said it was because of the sense of “peace”. It’s funny to hear a man I respect and admire ask the question I think is most silly. He has an enviable relationship with his wife and family. For him, there might have been just “one”. I’m okay with that, even though I believe it is not true of every couple.


I’ve known you three months. Will you marry me?

I was asked today why Christians get married so fast.  Is it the no sex outside of marriage, thing?  Or what?

What I write here is solely my opinion.  I can’t really know why other people get married so quickly – We took our time more than others.  Partially because we were old, in the Christian world.  Well, actually, my husband was old in almost any world – he was 37.  That felt ancient at the time.  Now that I’m 35, it doesn’t seem so old, although it feels like a huge change in lifestyle is more than my thirty-five year old life could take.  I was twenty-six at the time, and I’ll count it before you do – there are eleven years between us.  That is a different story.

We went on a date November 2, Casablanca at the FOX theater in Oakland.  He said he was going with a group of friends, and when we I got there, there were no friends.  He said he asked some people but no one else could come.  I believe him, although I think you probably don’t.

For whatever reason, we got to spend some time together but he didn’t ask me out for four months.  At that time, after we saw a school play, I told him it was time for us to date.  He agreed and told me he wasn’t going to call my dad and tell him that he wanted to marry me.  Let’s remember, this is more date 1 1/2 than two.  Date 3 1/4  was his mother’s house for an Oscar Party.  For some reason that didn’t feel weird at all.  He held my hand and kind of petted me a lot.  His mom brought out the family albums, and I admit that that made it a tad weird.  She said she assumed we had been dating a while, who would bring a new girlfriend to meet his mom?   Later she was a tad embarrassed, but I think that is reasonable, and not a big deal.  It didn’t scare me off.

So, in our case, it took four months to go from watching a movie without holding hands to I want to marry your daughter.  We dated, we had a lot of fun, and a few months later he told me that he was going to go to our Pastor and tell him he wanted to marry me.

He didn’t really check with me.  There was no proposal, just marriage talk.  I was okay with that for a while, then I got freaked out.  If we married quickly, we could have married that summer.  We didn’t.  In fact we didn’t get married until the next summer, and didn’t officially get engaged until February, and married in July.

I’ve heard from an especially vocal pastor’s wife, many times, that Christians shouldn’t have long engagements.  I think it’s one of those things each couple has to decide for themselves, and it’s not really her business anyway.  We wanted a five month engagement, and I admit things heated up considerably between us when we were officially engaged.  We weren’t having sex, heck, we weren’t even making out.  We did a lot of wrestling, though.

I know many couples that met, dated for three months and were engaged three months.  There are more than a few that had a new baby before their first anniversary.  (Many conceived on their honeymoon.  It works for them.  I think the idea of “trusting God” comes in the whole thing.  They believe they are in God’s will and they want to jump on it, as some miracle of faith will guarantee a happy marriage.  I hate the phrase  “trusting God.”  I love God, He is my father, friend and lover, but the times that I hear that I generally want to scream.  “I am not going to observe in the 2nd grade classrooms to pick a teacher because I am going to trust God.”  (Passivity is not the same thing as trusting God.)  “I don’t have health insurance because that means that I am not trusting God with my health.  If you have insurance and get sick it’s because you aren’t trusting God.”  The phrase is used to bully and manipulate.  Maybe you aren’t ready to do something, even though you feel compelled to.  Does that mean you aren’t trusting God?  Does anyone have the right to tell you that?  I’m thinking no.

There are other reasons, too.  My friends were going to get married, but had a very narrow time period when they would because of her visa status.  They planned ahead, kept their engagement secret, and were not engaged a super long time. My friends were having a long distance relationship and couldn’t live apart any longer.  Others got pregnant and felt compelled to marry right away. I know one couple that met and married within a week.  They have six kids and live in relative peace.

So will I marry you?  Okay.  I guess so.  I will.  I did. I mean, not right now.  I mean.  No.  Yes.  Sigh.  Can I have a minute to think it over.  Or a day?  Or a year?


Single

Something I’ve noticed when I was single, that I’ve noticed in many of my single friends, is that we have a specific way we want to find our future mate.

We want to be close friends first -then date, then marry. We have ideas about sex, kisses, and maybe even wedding flowers. We might have our eye on someone – but most of us don’t. We’ve just created a scenario, one that may be impossible to fulfill.

The summer before I got to know my husband I had fallen really, really hard for a man at my school. He was tall, black, and one of the most forgiving person I had ever met.

He worked in my classroom – which made me his supervisor. I know that I shouldn’t have done it, but I did. He offered to fix my cars seat belt; I offered to make dinner, things went forward from there.

We taught Summer school together and that was fun, but other parts weren’t fun. I wanted us to be best friends. I wanted us to work together and then play together. He had told me how much he thought of my work with the disabled kids (we taught severely developmentally disabled kids together) and I really thought we’d just be together and have a wonderful time.

That was not my idea. It was like he read “The Game” that awful book about how to jerk around woman and make them fall for you. We’d be set to go to some place like San Francisco and he’d come to pick me up, and instead of telling me I looked nice, he’d say, “You didn’t have to dress up.” He’d not show up for dates, when he did he was at least thirty minutes late. Things had to end, and they did. But my feelings for him didn’t.

The thing about getting involved with people like that is that it’s exciting. You never know what is going to happen next. Will he show? Will he be thoughtful? Will he blame me? Will he forget about me? What is going to happen next?

The answer to all these questions is: I don’t know. It didn’t make sense to me why he would treat me so badly. I still consider that relationship to be the stupidest thing I have ever done.

Anyway, fast forward to my husband. He was kind, he told me I was pretty – He showed up fifteen minutes early – (one of my friends told me that I should tell him he couldn’t show up early until we had consummated our relationship). He was fun, but not too exciting – compared to my previous relationship.

One day, on a trip to Yosemite, I was advised to make a list of the things I liked and didn’t about my boyfriend. I did. I went for a walk. I came back and I know my friend had read my list. She said, “Shows up on time – that’s so boring.” “Plans picnics in the park – so boring” “Surprises you with flowers – boring, boring, boring.”

I went for a hike up to Vernal Falls. I thought about all she said. She was right; I was crazy. I went back and told my boyfriend what he was ready to hear. I was ready to start pre-marital counseling.

Jeremiah promises “I know the plans I have for you, plans to bless you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” This verse is often, like so many verses, taken out of context.

Jeremiah 29 also says, ” 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. [b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Seventy years, years! They will wait in Babylon’s territory for seventy years. Only after that time he will come and heal them, bless them, and give them hope. That leads me to believe they will be with out hope during their time in Babylon. Their future will be unknown. During that time they might seek him, but not find him. He will feel like he will be absent from them for those years.

When he appears, he will be refreshing and beautiful. But he also promises that “13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD”. He must be sought with my whole heart for me to find Him.

So it’s easy to quote Jeremiah 29:11, but the true meaning is more difficult to take.

What does this have to do with me dating? In my case, I had to repent, completely, from my actions. I had to switch my adoration of the first guy to God. I remember my “life verse” from that year. It said, ” 1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” My heart was so far away from Christ during that time – I learned a lot about my priorities – and about my heart.

For a Christian, really loving someone has to start with your heart on Christ. All else comes secondarily. My husband and I didn’t really know each other at all when we started dating, and when we started marriage counseling we learned a lot about each other. I’m sure that others say that the best way is to be friends first, but that wasn’t the way it worked for us. We fight; We wrestle and we have wonderful times for ever. But for both of us we spend time in captivity.

I continue to struggle to put my heart on the throne of Christ. But most days I continue to try. For now at least, my days of captivity are over.

More about this later.