{The Best Dating Advice} I have Ever Received

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Photo of {us} by Carlyle Cullen

I read an article last week entitled “When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus” by Marshall Segal. I have to say that it was probably one of the best articles on dating that I have ever read. Being past the dating stage now and happily married, I can vouch for the importance of setting boundaries and dating someone who shares your passion for Christ. However, I also realize that since I am married some single people might find that I am not as relatable. That is why I encourage you to read this blog post by a single guy.

That post inspired me to share with you a few pieces of advice that I received when my husband and I were dating. These are some of the things that made the biggest impact on my 2.5 year dating relationship with my husband:

  • Do not choose your spouse based upon their career. Their career can change – the businessman can become a missionary or the missionary could become a businessman. Choose your spouse based upon their heart for the Lord and your mutual passions for ministry. Women, choose someone who you are willing to follow wherever the Lord takes them. Men, choose someone who is willing to be your partner and supporter in whatever work and ministry the Lord gives you.
  • You cannot go backwards in a relationship. If you hold hands, you will keep holding hands. If you kiss, then you will continue to do so. This applies to the emotional as well as the physical. Set boundaries in the beginning. Take things slowly. Putting a restraint on things or stopping what you have already been doing is very difficult, so be careful.
  • If the person you are interested in/dating/pursuing is the right person for you, than there is nothing that you can {or cannot} do to change that they are the right person. This was a comfort for me when I was unsure how to handle things or wondering if I should text him or not. The Lord was in control and I cannot mess up His plan.

Ladies and gentleman, all this advice was from my parents. My best advice to you is to listen to your parents in your dating/courting relationship, especially if you have godly parents. They have a lot more wisdom and experience than you do. Be humble and willing to listen. Even if it does not make sense at first. Parents know what they are talking about! 🙂

Beyond Attraction // Part Two of: What Role does Physical Attraction Play in a Godly Relationship?

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What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp

Once upon a time, there was a college freshman. She hoped, as most girls do, that she would find her prince charming in college. She was not sure what he would be like, but she pictured him being tall, a few years older, and maybe African-American. Her first year of college was tons of fun. She made made new friends with whom she had game nights, went on late-night taco runs, and just had an all-around good time with. One of these friends was a boy who she viewed as almost a little brother. He was four inches shorter than her, a year younger, and about as white as you could get. Suffice it to say, it never even crossed her mind (or his!) that he had romantic potential.

Fast forward a few months, the freshman and the boy have their first real one-on-one conversation in which they talk about more than games or friends. She hears his heart for ministry and his aspirations to be a pastor someday. She comes away from the conversation thinking, “Wow. He is a really awesome guy. We really have similar hearts for ministry.”

All of a sudden, she begins to hope that they will bump into each other at the library or that he will message her on Skype. She is a little confused as these things didn’t used to matter to her before. Then she starts noticing his cute eyes and adorable smile. Before you know it, she has a huge crush on the guy that weeks before was just a buddy. Needless to say, this is the story of how I started liking my husband. And the rest is history!

Why do I share this story? I share this story because I want my readers to know that I know how real physical attraction is. I know that it does play a role in relationships. I know firsthand how fun it is to feel your heart race when he sits close to you or holds your hand for the first time. I wanted to write a follow-up post to my other article clarifying what I was getting at.

I am not saying that I have all the answers or that my story is (or should be) the “norm.” The Lord works in a variety of ways to bring people together. Sometimes He uses initial attraction to draw people to each other and sometimes “love comes softly.” I wrote that post because I want to challenge you to think critically about relationships.

Since I wrote that blog post, I have been reading articles and searching Scripture to see what the Savior has to say about the question: What role does physical attraction have in a godly relationship? 

A friend of mine sent me an article from the Boundless website. Author Scott Croft addresses the problem behind emphasizing that you must be attracted to someone:

The fundamental theological problem with the “attraction-as-foundation” approach to dating      and marriage is that the approach grossly distorts the biblical definitions of “love” and “marriage.” What’s the big question most people agonize over with regard to finding a spouse: “How do I know if I’ve found the one?” As my friend Michael Lawrence pointed out in his article “Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend,” “the unstated goal of the question is ‘How do I know if she’s the one … for me.'”

And that’s essentially selfish. I don’t mean that such an approach involves malice or the intent to hurt anyone. I simply mean that such an approach is self-centered. It conceives of finding a spouse from the standpoint of what will be most enjoyable for me based on my tastes and desires. What will I receive from marriage to this or that person?

And that is the point that I am trying to make. Had I chosen my spouse based upon what I thought was good for me, I would have never have married my husband. I had something totally different in mind than the Lord did.

Girls, we worry that we will never find that person that makes our heart race. Guys, you worry that you won’t find the girl who looks the way you want or has the personality you are seeking. But that is not what it is about. Ultimately, it boils down to finding our satisfaction in Christ. When we are satisfied in Christ, we have the mindset of finding a life partner whom we can serve with and whom we will serve for the rest of our lives. It is much bigger than what we want or what we think we need.

Paul David Tripp writes:

…Iove is fundamentally deeper and more active than some warm, romantic feeling of affection toward someone to whom you are attracted. It is not some generalized response of happiness when you are with this particular person. No, love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle or care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices with that person’s good in view. Love is never general, and it never remains in the realm of feelings. Love desires, love thinks, love chooses, love decides, love acts, and love speaks in an ongoing, day-by-day commitment to the welfare of another. Real love is concrete, specific, and active. 

All this to say, (I know this article is much longer than two minutes!) we need to change our focus from ourselves and what we want to what the Lord wants in a dating and marriage relationship. As I was saying before, even though you are initially attracted to your spouse, someday they will not look like what they did when they were twenty. Even though you love their personality, there are times when you guys will clash and annoy one another. This is why a godly relationship needs to go beyond attraction. You must realize that you are marrying this person “for better or for worse” and you must be committed to actively and specifically loving this person.

So what role then does physical attraction play in a godly relationship? In the article, “Brother, You’re Like a Six,” the author writes that it is a kindness of God that He gives us physical attraction. He did not have to create us to be attracted to one another. We could all have had arranged marriages. It is a gift from the Lord to be enjoyed (within the appropriate contexts). He graciously gives us the freedom to select spouses. Brothers and sisters, use this freedom wisely to choose a spouse who you can honor Christ with!

 

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What Role does Physical Attraction Play in a Godly Relationship?

Attraction

This question has been swirling around in my mind for the past couple days. (I have had several blog posts swirling around in my head which resulted in me posting about none of them! My apologies!) My husband and I recently had a friend come to us for counsel on this topic and so we have been discussing and digesting this concept.

What role does physical attraction play in a godly relationship? 

Throughout my college years, I witnessed people break up because they didn’t “feel attracted” to the person that they were dating. I don’t want to say that you should totally eliminate attraction from relationships – because we do have an amount of Christian liberty in this area in which we can choose whom we pursue a relationship with – but I do want to prompt people’s thinking that maybe this is an idea that has been ingrained in us due to our culture. Culture tells us if we don’t feel a certain way about someone than they are not the right person for us. But is that really a good basis for selecting a potential girlfriend or future spouse? Feelings change. They can change over the course of time, even over the course of a day. This was something that I had to work through when I was first dating my husband. My feelings were up and down all the time. But I learned that I needed to disregard those flighty emotions and look at my boyfriend’s character.

Character is the most important quality in a person that you are considering pursuing or allowing to pursue you. I know this seems cliché, but I think we easily forget this. We find ourselves “attracted” to someone and then we start to notice their character traits. Sometimes we even imagine characteristics into them because we are wanting this person to be “the one.”

Martha Peace comments on the deceptiveness of feelings in the women that she has counseled, “… I discovered that they usually held some secular beliefs about love. Often those beliefs were ‘love is romance and feelings…’ or  ‘love is having my needs met…’ Their beliefs about love were only serving to encourage the lusts of their flesh. Unfortunately, longings of this kind can never be satisfied since our flesh wants more and more and more.”

John Piper would go so far to say that physical attraction should not be a consideration in a godly relationship. You can listen to him here. I would highly recommend taking the time to watch it. I don’t know that I would go so far to say that. It is very clear that in Song of Solomon the couple is attracted to one another even before they wed. I really believe that if we are admiring someone for their character and getting to know them based upon their sincere love for the Lord, that those romantic feelings do come.  However, the main point here is to get you thinking about this topic. Here are some questions that I came up with to help you think through this topic and to ask when you are starting to think that a person might be “the one”:

  • What is my attraction for this person based off of? Is it based off of something that will fade or change?
  • Am I focusing on how I feel when I am with this person?
  • Am I striving to show biblical love to this person? Or am I investing my time and energy into this person feeling a certain way?
  • Am I more like Christ because of this person? Do I push them to be more Christ-like?
  • Are we able to serve the Lord better as a result of our relationship?
  • Do I understand that love is a choice? Someday I will have an old, wrinkly spouse who doesn’t always do what I want and I will have to choose to love them.

Lord willing, this article spurs your thinking. What role do you think that attraction plays in a godly relationship?

 

Confessions of a New Bride

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Photo taken by Haley Dennis – Click on the picture for more information about her!

 These past three months being married have been the most wonderful months of my life! I get to spend every day laughing and learning with with the love of my life! Even though we got married in the middle of his first semester of seminary, we wouldn’t trade these past few months for anything.

That is not to say that this semester has not had its challenges. It definitely has. The hardest part for me has not been adjusting to living with my husband (he is so gracious and kind that living with him is a complete joy), but learning that I do not have to live up to my expectations.

I think that every new wife is eager to have a perfect home. I put a lot of pressure on myself at first to have a super clean home, to decorate, and to make wonderful meals. It was a big challenge because I was still working 31 hours a week and managing an apartment complex with my husband.

But my gracious spouse pointed out that he does not care about those things nor does he expect me to do them. He only cares that I am growing in my relationship with the Lord. The only one that had expectations was me. 

This semester (and I imagine I will be learning this the rest of my life) I have been learning to be faithful. The Lord {and my husband} are looking for faithfulness. From the biggest to the smallest thing, I need to be diligent to do what the Lord has called me to do. If the bed does not get made, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am pursuing a relationship with my Heavenly Father and that I am doing what He wants me to do by loving my husband. At the end of my life, I pray I hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Application: 

– What expectations do you have that are keeping you from a right relationship with the Lord? Is it your expectations to have a perfect home or perfect grades? Give those things over to the Lord and ask Him to help you to be faithful rather than perfect.

Book Review // Disciplines of a Godly Family

Book Review // Disciplines of a Godly Family

When I was 19, I took my first parenting class. I was a Home Economics major at the Master’s College and it was required for my degree. It felt strange learning about parenting teenagers when I was one myself! Little … Continue reading