Okay, look, I don’t want to be the one to constantly drag on about relationships and guys and girls so I’m only going to do this once. I totally understand if you want to just shut off your computer right now…however, I would really appreciate it if you would keep reading.
I don’t really get along with my emotions. They frustrate the snot out of me. I especially oppose my emotions when I like a guy or have a “crush” on him. Like a lot of people, relationships are a particularly tender area of life for me, pun intended. My experience with romantic relationships is something that I am not at all proud of, but I remember my experiences because they’re more or less the avenue through which I was reconciled to God.
My point, right. Well, I have a few things to say about relationships.
1. The relationship you have with God is the most important and fulfilling relationship you will ever have.
I know, I know. “But I can’t live without him!” or “She’s the breath of my life!” No, they’re not. I’m not saying that your feelings aren’t genuine, or that they aren’t pure, but you don’t need that person. If they were gone, you would be upset…you might even be depressed. But the relationship you have with God is the most fulfilling and important relationship you will ever have; it’s the one you really need.
Let me explain.
Too often I have seen girls and guys my age become addicted to their significant other. Too many times they’re so wrapped up in impressing, serving, and running after their boyfriend or girlfriend. Now, I’m not going to be ignorant enough to say that being in any relationship means you don’t want to impress, serve, or run after that special someone. When you’re in a relationship, that person seems to be all you can think about, they’re in everything you do, and you can’t help but talk about them all the time. Unfortunately, many of us fall into the mindset of expecting this other person to fulfill our emotional and physical needs…we subconsciously see them as a savior, our only need, the “breath of our life.” But because this other person is only human, they fall short of our expectations and we feel as if we’ve been let down. We tried replacing the real thing, which is so much better.
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether….If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb…” Psalm 139:1-4, 11-14 (ESV)
God knows us inside and out; He’s there for us when we’re upset and there for us when we’re excited. This relationship, whether it be a good one, a bad one, or one that doesn’t even exist, will effect all of your other relationships, which leads me to number two…
2. Be sure you’re right with God before you get into a relationship.
When people say “right with God,” the first thing I think of is being saved. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about, if there’s something keeping you from growing in your relationship with God, then you need to make sure it’s taken care of. If you’re not running with Him (as opposed to sitting down and not interacting or communicating with Him at all), then you are in no condition to go into a romantic relationship with another human being.
Also, when that relationship ends, breaks, shatters, whatever, who’s going to be there to catch you? Who are you going to be able to fall back on as an emotional stabilizer? Don’t wait until after a relationship to be reminded of God’s everlasting love, protection, dependability, and trustworthiness.
“But Hunter, I mean, that might mean I’ll miss my chance to find true love.” You’re right, you might. The true love you’re talking about, however, is nothing unless God is in it.
3. Don’t date non-Christians.
You know that annoying verse in 2 Corinthians, that one about being unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14)? Yeah, that should apply to dating. I’m not saying that all Christian guys and girls are perfect….believe me, they’re not, not one of them.
My rule of thumb is this: if the guy isn’t ahead of me spiritually, then I shouldn’t date him. If I had to give a rule of thumb for guys, it would be that if she doesn’t encourage you and support you spiritually, then you shouldn’t date her.
Why? Well I’ll tell ya why.
Because in those moments when you’re at your weakest, when you’re experiencing heartache or difficulty or stress, you need to be encouraged to hope and counseled in the way of the One who knows the plan for your life. How is someone without true hope going to be able to effectively encourage you? Or when you’re “exploring” the boundaries between an innocent relationship and an intimate problem? How will this person be able to think in a way that’s going to help both of you?
Just a thought.
4. Don’t get into a relationship unless you’ve prayed about it first.
One of my guy friends (who said he was a Christian) invited me as his date to his senior dinner dance during our senior year of high school. I figured, hey, why not, It’s not like it’s a date really since he’s my friend and all. Well, three days later he asked me out, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I told him I wanted to take a few days to think and pray about it. After the dance, I had kind of developed a little crush on him, but I wasn’t sure if my feelings should be pursued. In those three days, I realized that I didn’t really know my friend as well as I thought I did and told him I wanted to get to know him better before doing anything. He agreed and we went on from there.
Three weeks later, there was no way I was going to be my friend’s girlfriend. I mean, he was still my friend, definitely, and I still liked him. But after getting to know him better, spending more time with him in a group setting with our other friends, God revealed to me that I had been right in my choice to take time to think about my decision. We’re still good friends now and I promise, nothing is awkward….well, both of us are naturally awkward…so I guess there’s a level of awkwardness….never mind.
So, be smart, think about it before you just jump into anything.
Okay, stop shaking your fist at the computer. Go grab a package of Oreos and a cup of hot chocolate and come back. We’re getting into the sunshiney-rainbow stuff.
5. God wants you to have relationships.
Yes. He does.
Now, I’m not saying God wants you in relationships all the time, or with just anyone, just to clarify. God created us as social beings. In Genesis chapter two, verse 18, God says “it is not good for the man to be alone.” (NIV) If you don’t think that’s reason enough, God created man (and woman) in His image. God is a social being. I mean, look at how much He wants to socialize with us. We are made to love other people, to be with other people, to put ourselves out there and risk being rejected, knowing that when we fall, God is going to catch us with both arms.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t necessarily have a problem with getting into the wrong relationships (at least not anymore) but you do have a problem with getting into any relationships at all. WHAT I MEAN! You are afraid of falling in love; you are afraid of even liking someone; you are afraid of relationships.
This is my problem. The moment I begin to like someone or the moment someone shows interest in me, my heart seizes up and I shut myself off from them. The thing is, though, this is a way for Satan to mess with me. He uses my fear to cause me to think that I will never be able to have a relationship with anyone because of what happened to me when I was fourteen. He uses my fear to turn me into an emotional hermit. This is my thorn (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 (ESV).
If you are afraid of loving someone, afraid of letting someone (other than God) love you….do not be afraid.
“Hunter, you can’t just tell me not to be afraid. That’s like watching a piano falling from a three story building and saying ‘do not fall.’ I mean, come on.” Okay, come with me on this random tangent of paralleling worry and fear. Before I give you the definitions of these words, I just want to tell you how much I love pulling out my big, fat, Encarta World English Dictionary to look up these definitions 🙂
Worry means “to feel anxious or to cause another person to feel anxious about something unpleasant that may have happened or may happen,” while fear means “an unpleasant feeling of apprehension or distress caused by the presence or anticipation of danger.” These meanings are pretty similar, I would say.
The Message translation of the Bible puts Matthew 6:34, the go-to-worry verse, like this: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Look, getting into relationships isn’t easy. There’s a fear of rejection, abuse, regret, and failure. But just like in any area of life, God knows what’s going to happen. If you’ve had some problems with getting into bad relationships and want to change your ways, start by stepping back, not dating for a little while, and learning a little more about the One who’s been seeking your attention since before you were born. If you’re more or less afraid of relationships, the fix to your fear is the same fix offered up to any worry you may have: only perfect love can cast out fear, and God is love incarnate. God is perfect love.
You do the math.