Marie* ran into Joey at a bookstore. They recognized each other from the Christian club on campus. The sparks were obvious, but when Joey asked Marie out on a date she wasn’t sure she should say yes. She knew he was a new Christian, and being mature Believer herself, she didn’t think he could offer her the Spiritual leadership she was looking for in a partner.
An online dating service matched Mitchell with Joy. He found her big smile and love for the Lord attractive and immediately began pursuing her. Joy thought Mitchell seemed like a great man. But, he was older than her self-imposed limit and he had a young daughter from a previous relationship. Joy wasn’t quite sure he lined up with her expectations.
Ryan and Christy had been friends for ages. Then, Ryan started to sense that Christy was interested in more. He thought she was beautiful and he genuinely enjoyed being with her, however, aspects of her personality and interests didn’t completely line up with the qualities he wanted in a wife. Yes, they shared a love for Christ, had common interests, and similar life goals, but she could be shy: more introverted and less outgoing then him. He wasn’t sure he wanted a wife of those qualities.
I've been married for ten years, so when Adrie asked me to do a guest post on dating I had to laugh a bit. Dating seems like eons ago. However, after reflecting on her request I realized that my married status has given me an interesting perspective on dating. Because I married young I've had the ability to watch my friends and my sister navigate the dating scene from the outside looking in. This perspective, I believe, has given me some insight that I may not have seen had I been dating myself these past few years.
The above scenarios are all real. They are just three examples of many I could have posted. The first story is actually the story of my husband and myself. The other two are couples that invited RJ (my husband) and I along on their dating journey. Both couples are now happily married (to each other). However, as I insinuated above, they almost weren't. All three of these relationships almost failed before they began. For one major reason: Unmet, Self-Realized Expectations. Let me explain.
Christians are hugely fond of the cliche: God moves in mysterious ways. We laugh as we say it, believing the words are true, but genuinely hoping they aren't necessarily true for us. Particularly when it comes to our love life.
I believe it’s easier for many of us to give up control of our education, of our living situation or even of our careers than it is to relinquish control of our dating life. Trusting the Lord with our hearts is scary. Giving the Lord control of our romantic relationships leaves us vulnerable. Because what if what He has for us is different than we anticipated?
How many of you, and be honest now, have a list that looks something like this:
- He should be older than me, but no more than five years older.
- She must love mountain biking and backpacking, otherwise we will have nothing in common
- I know people make mistakes, but a divorce or children from an unwed union is an absolute no-go for me
- She must be college educated; preferably have a Masters like myself
- Etc., etc. etc.
We use these rules and guidelines to maintain control over our romantic relationships. Control feels good. But you know what control does – it keeps us from hearing the voice of the Lord. It keeps us from the one that He might have chosen for us.
If we are to believe the equally beloved cliché: The Lord wants His best for us. (And he does!) Than we need to relinquish that control. We need to allow Him to guide our romantic relationships.
Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice. Especially when it comes to dating. The Lord loves you – He will not match you with someone you’ll be miserable with. He may match you with someone different than you originally expected, but it will be the person that is best suited to you. Don’t miss that special person, the love of your life, because you’re chasing your own self-imposed expectations. (Psalm 143:8-10)
My husband may have been a young Christian but his fervor for the Lord impassioned me when I was dry. He still many not know much Scripture by memory but he did, and continues to, continually lead me to the cross. He is very much a spiritual leader albeit different type than I originally thought I needed.
As for the other stories I shared, Joy agreed to go out with Mitchell. She was skeptical at first but it took only three dates for her to know that he was right for her. They've been married for over a year now and are head-over-heels for each other. Ask her now about their age difference being a problem and she’ll look at you like you’re crazy.
Ryan almost didn't ask Christy out. He really thought he wanted someone with a bigger personality. Five years after their wedding vows he now knows a big personality would have been completely wrong for him. Two big personalities in one household can make things crowded. Ryan is smitten, devoted, and thankful for his strong, peace-loving wife who compliments his boisterous personality perfectly.
(One last thing, listening to the Holy Spirit takes practice. You’ll hear His voice in prayer, through the Word, and through the guidance of spiritual friendships. Part of learning to hear His voice also involves trail and error. So take risks and seek opportunities. Is a friend encouraging you to try online dating? Give it go! Does your mom want to set you up on a blind date? Why not! That awkwardly cute guy at Bible study is staring at you? Go say Hi. You never know whom the Lord may have in store.)
Anna is a wife to RJ, a mommy to two busy little blondie boys, an outdoor enthusiast, and a blogger over at Two Cent Sparrow. She writes about travel, camping, raising little guys, adoption, books, fashion, and more. If you're planning on doing any camping with little ones this summer, I strongly recommend that you head over and pin her posts on camping with kids- they're brilliant!