Day 177 – On dating and marriage

I want to share a few thoughts on dating and marriage, in and outside of the church. In general, I have observed in myself and in others (sometimes because they’ve flat out said) a lack of preparation for and understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like.

I have seen frustration from folks in my life because of a struggling marriage or an utter lack of relationship (and a lack of prospects). It’s been a place of significant concern for me, too. I don’t always handle it well, because the Devil is good at what he does, and the thought “you will be alone” is a powerful one.

Here’s what I’ve seen, from the perspective of a Christian who didn’t grow up in the church. There’s often a ton of excitement and urgency to find a relationship (with the hope of marriage) but without much or any discussion or teaching about what a healthy relationship looks like. Partly because that gets uncomfortable, partly because no one takes the onus to do so.

In general, Americans (including Christians) have fallen prey to this idea of relationships as a fairy tale — a Nicholas Sparks novel, basically. It’s an incredibly appealing thought, and believe you me, I’ve been there. I craved it. But reality, history and the Bible all agree that such a notion is false.

A friend of mine told me people in her church were unbelievably excited about her pending marriage, showed great interest in wedding planning and loved the event itself. It was a great time. But her question to me was heartbreaking. Where were these people six months later when things got hard?

I speak here entirely off the examples of others, but marriage is growth and struggle. It’s hard work, but also a tremendous blessing, wherein Christ’s grace can be illustrated in unique and powerful ways. Essentially, your spouse is your partner as you both try to make out of this jungle called life in one piece. (Oh, and it’s raining really hard, and you probably just heard a bear or something growl. So … yeah. Have fun!)

Just as Christ is a light in the darkness, a Godly marriage can be as well.

Here’s the tough part, though. In a world so divided and broken, where does one find such a partner? I’m not sure. But I also believe that God will provide when He sees fit — so simply be ready.

Waiting for God to deliver can be a trying, painful experience. But the Bible is replete with examples of God saying to do just that — to wait. It can feel like an empty platitude to be told, as you anguish in waiting, that God’s timing is perfect, He blesses those who wait, etc. But it’s true, and further more, God having us wait teaches us endurance (that we need!) in ways we wouldn’t otherwise learn.

Remember: God’s goal for your life isn’t to find you married, but rather to find you in Heaven. If we allow God to orient our hearts on that platform, suddenly our perspective can begin to change. We begin to see our expectations for relationships change and evolve, and with that a newfound hope that lasts. We understand how God is shaping us through success and disappointment, and abound in joy all the way.

And so, take heart. You are worth more than many sparrows.

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