It’s what people write songs about, make movies about, dream about. It’s the stuff of fairytales.
Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Prince meets maiden. Damsel meets knight-in-shining-armor.
And they live happily ever after…
From the time we can read and write – or even just listen – we are bombarded with messages that lead us to believe that this – the stuff of fairytales – is what awaits us.
But if you’ve ever been in a relationship, seen a relationship, heard about a relationship – in real life – then you know that life is messy, relationships are messier, and “happily every after” doesn’t quite seem to pan out.
For most of my life I was a hopeless romantic. Like any other little girl I dreamt of the day when I would walk down that aisle in glowing white. When I would finally get my happily every after.
And for most of my life I was single.
I was waiting for a handsome prince to sweep me off my feet – to pursue me, to court me, to treat me the way I knew I deserved to be treated. I was waiting to somehow date “the right way.” God’s way.
Now, I’m no saint. But for years I struggled to understand what God wanted a dating relationship to look like. The Bible doesn’t say much about them specifically. Those days it seems it pretty much went down like this: you turned twelve, got married, and that was that.
So what did God have in mind for dating these days?
I often referred to Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage for guidance on relationships. This book – while brilliant – is not entirely applicable as a guide for dating relationships.
And then one day I stumbled upon this white book with a red heart on it that radically changed my views on dating.
In his equally brilliant book, The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas explains that we are called to treat one another very differently when dating versus when married.
When you walk down that aisle (or wait at the end of the aisle), and you say “I do,” you are called to love that person unconditionally. You are called to enhance their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. You are called to make the relationship work no matter what.
When you are in a dating relationship, you are not called to love that person unconditionally. You are called to enhance their weaknesses and minimize their strengths. You are not called to make that relationship work no matter what.
There is so much more to this book. I could write my own book just about how great this one is.
For instance, infatuation. Did you know that when you start dating someone, your brain is biochemically clouded from making completely rational, sound, and objective judgments about that other person? For 12-18 months?
Add in the physical aspect of a relationship, and well, it’s what Gary calls being “vulnerable and stupid.” But what happens when that physical attraction starts to simmer and what was once “vulnerable and stupid” is now “miserable and lonely?”
What if instead of basing our relationships off attraction and chemistry we based them off character and compatibility?
Wouldn’t we be preventing a lot of heartache down the line in the wake of irresponsible relationships? Wouldn’t we, instead, be setting ourselves up for the foundation of a solid and godly marriage?
I’m a dreamer. I always have been. I always will be. But I no longer dream of that handsome prince to sweep me off my feet.
I still dream of happily ever after. But it’s a different kind of happily ever after. One in which a godly man points me, our family, and others to Christ. One in which God’s kingdom is advanced exponentially more because of our relationship than it would be if I were single.
Whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you are ending things with someone or questioning whether they are “the one,” I challenge you to ask yourself:
What if it’s not about who we marry, but why?