Friday, July 24, 2015

Faithful Fridays: Thoughts on Dating and Marriage

So here's where I attempt to write a post about dating/marriage ... something along those lines. This subject has been on my mind and heart lately, so I just want to share some of my thoughts.

To be honest, I've never dated before. Never been in a romantic relationship. I've had crushes on a few young men though the years, but nothing ever came of it ... I doubt they liked me back in the same way! So I'm sort of that "eighteen and never been kissed" phenomenon, *wink* Okay, okay. It's not that amazing; I actually know quite a few young women who are "older" and haven't been in a relationship before either. But it's just that in this day and age ... where you get your first boyfriend at thirteen-years-old ... yeah. I sometimes feel like a spectacle of some sort.

Yet, there is a reason that I'm still quite unattached, and I know what it is (not counting the fact that I was homeschooled, and rather of an introverted nature). I see problems when I look out at the world and their system of finding true love. I see heartbreak, and scars, and pain, and foolish decisions, and regrets, and hurt, and confusion, and divorce.

I've been watching this all go on, guys. I'm just waiting. And while I wait, gathering wisdom on the subject, I hope.



***


  • Dating is not “for fun”
I've never dated before, because I realize that dating is not something one should do for fun. Rather, dating/courting is to purposefully get to know someone, with marriage in mind.

When you "date" when you're twelve to seventeen years old, you're generally just fooling around. You don't actually expect to marry that person someday. (There are exceptions though of course - especially in my parents' background, where a lot of young people get married between the ages of seventeen to twenty; I'm just speaking of the average dating teenager who isn't planning on getting married anytime soon). 
     So you're getting emotionally attached ... physically involved ... and yet nothing is going to come of it. You're not only giving pieces (in a sense) of your heart and body to some person other than your future spouse, you're playing a dangerous game of "falling in love", then breaking up when an issue comes up. "Falling in love", then leaving when there's rough times that you don't feel like working through. I mean, you're a "child" playing at what adults do. And it's not safe. As pastor/speaker Matt Chandler's wife, Lauren, says: Dating (for fun, with no real direction or purpose) is like practicing divorce.
     Also, I've read surveys on how many girls loose their purity by the time they're out of high school when they start dating around thirteen and continually get into dating relationships from then on. Most studies said it was well over 50%.
     Heart-breaking, people! *tears* Dating is not for teenagers, but for mature individuals seeking marriage.

"Dating with no intent to marry is like going to the grocery store with no money. You either leave unhappy or take something that isn't yours." ~ Jefferson Bethke

Hopefully by the time you're an "adult", you realize that dating is serious. Flirting, playing around, toying with someone's heart, giving away your kisses ... I think you're just setting yourself up for future hurts and issues to work through. Not to mention, that's not being very faithful to your future spouse. Want to talk about true love? That kind of amazing, fairy-tale true love? Well, maybe that can happen if we start loving our future spouses here and now instead of flippantly seeking out temporary pleasure and fun at every turn.


 "Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 NIV


Let's be serious. Let's turn over the pen of our love story to God. Shouldn't He be involved? Of course!! God should be involved in every detail of our lives; not to mention, the huge aspect of our love lives.

Date with intention, people. Not for pleasure, but to see if a solid friendship could blossom into a lasting, God-honoring romance. Seek God's guidance. Wait possibly. Don't date if you can't see the relationship leading to a godly marriage.

"You don't need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he's the right one." ~ Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott


***

  • How Far is Too Far?
So what about when you believe you've found the one. You're currently dating/courting, and falling more in love each day. How far is too far when it comes to the physical side?

Some people say you shouldn't really touch at all. Others say holding hands is fine. Or light kissing. Some say kissing should wait until after engagement, or even until you're at the altar. But still others say making out is perfectly appropriate at times.

I myself tend to lean toward saving your first kiss for your wedding day. Kissing is very special ... end of discussion. I say save as many firsts as you can. Save it, value it, make it meaningful. It helps keep temptation at bay, and ensures you're only kissing your spouse!


However, some people just say I'm conservative and whatever else.

So here's the best answer I've heard when it comes to the question, "How far is too far?" It comes from one of Joe Solomon's youtube videos:

"Whenever you start to lust."

So. Be honest with yourself. And ask your significant other to be honest with themselves. And then set some firm boundaries. Because entertaining lust can lead you to some places you never set out to go ... and lust is a sin in and of itself. 
     So, to the Christian individual who wants to know how far they can go without sinning ... there it is. And also, make sure you're respecting not only your own boundaries, but your boyfriend's/girlfriend's. (But here's another thought: Should you, as a child of God, be asking how far you can go without sinning? Or should you ask how far you can go to honor your God and your "neighbors"?)


"Flee from sexual immorality."
1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV

Focus on friendship, people. Focus on really getting to know the other. Serving them. Growing closer together in the Lord. Most of the physical stuff is really best left to marriage. And it's beautiful when you keep it safely there.


"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires."
Song of Solomon 8:4 NIV


***

  • No daydreaming
Okay, so you're not in a relationship, but dutifully praying for your future husband/wife. And while you're sincerely praying for that unknown person, so-and-so pops into your head. Then you’re like, “Wait ... I’m supposed to be praying for my future spouse right now, not so-and-so”
     It's kind of funny, but kind of not in the same breath. Because let's face it; daydreaming doesn't help anything. Most of the time it leads to discontentment, fretting, or even emotional attachment. Way to totally fall in love with someone who probably doesn't exist, rather just bears the name of the person you "like".
     I'm not sure how men are, but, from a woman's perspective, it is really easy to get caught up in daydreaming and all that silliness. And for a while, it can seem like just that - harmless silliness. But usually our hearts end up getting a little cracked.


So let's try to be patient and purposeful! Here's some things to try: 

  • When your mind wanders to daydreaming, try praying for someone who needs your prayers. 
  • Daily give that person and your admiration of them over to God - surrender. 
  • Pray for and write letters to your future spouse. 
  • Pray for the distracting person separately, if you want to pray for them.

Instead of pining over someone who might not even be "yours", try to gain wisdom about what makes a godly marriage and how to be a godly woman/man. Seek God, and strive to grow closer to Him. Those who are lonely, your soul is crying out for God! A spouse cannot fill that emptiness.

(Found on Pinterest)

Fight for your future marriage. Look around. Satan is avidly working at destroying marriages - perverting what God designed to be beautiful and sacred. So start fighting for your marriage even now, before it's started.


***

  • Marriage is not the goal
One way to keep yourself from idolizing marriage or a romantic relationship, is to realize that marriage isn’t the goal. That a spouse isn’t going to fulfill you/make your life perfect.


Marriage is a gift! Surrender that desire for marriage to God, and see where He goes with it! Trust that God has the best plan—no matter what. Because, in truth, you aren’t in control. And the sooner you give up that illusion, the happier and more at peace you’ll be! Just realize that God is in control, and choose to trust that He knows and sees what we can’t, and He loves us oh so much, and He delights in us.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us ... "
 Ephesian 3:20
:
Live your life. Serve others. Use your gifts. Go wherever God leads you. Don't wait on marriage to start living. Finding a partner in life is a gift, not a goal. 
     Don't waste your life. Don't feel inferior because you're not married. Surrender and seek the Lord! He has a plan for your life; follow it! <3


"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

***

  • Godly Action and Pursuit
I don't want to sound like I'm against marriage here, or Christian couples getting married young even. Marriage was designed by God, created to be a very good thing that not only is a gift to us, but glorifies Him and shines a light to the world! Marriage is a very beautiful thing. An honor. A sacred covenant. Love and serving a spouse and raising children to love and serve the Lord are extremely important jobs!


"Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones

    and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman,’

    for she was taken out of man."
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Genesis 2:22-24 NIV

"Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,' and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." 
Matthew 19:4-6 NIV


"A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown," 
Proverbs 12:4 NIV

"Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
    but a prudent wife is from the Lord."
Proverbs 19:14 NIV

So single women, I charge you to follow God's path for your life, seek to learn how to become a godly woman. If you desire to get married someday, pray specifically and deeply for your future husband ... ask God to prepare you to be the wife your man needs!

Not that we're all guaranteed to get married. I could be meant to be single. I could die before marriage ever comes into view. Jesus could return before I become a wife. I don't really know! And that's okay. But as of now, I just feel a burden to pray for my future husband, and to learn what it means to be a godly wife. I find myself praying that God would mold me into the woman my future husband needs. I find myself asking God to urge him to pray for me, *smiles* Because I totally need to be held up in prayer also! I have struggles, and fears, and all that too.
     So surrender your desire for marriage to God, and trust Him. But if you continue to feel urged to pray for your future husband and learn about being a godly wife, then go for it!! Fight for your marriage!


"A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life."
Proverbs 31:10-12 NIV



Yeah, and do not pursue, ladies! That is what God calls the men to do. Not us. I've seen how masculinity and femininity have been so mixed and messed up; and it's not doing the world or our marriages any good. Men are the leaders. They're meant to initiate - and women respond. Men pursue.

"He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord."
Proverbs 18:22 NIV

Did you get that? He who finds a wife. Not she who finds a husband. Haha. But seriously, stop. Stop the flirting, the hinting, the pressuring. Don't ask guys out. No. Wait on the Lord. Wait on the man to pursue. If he's a godly man, and he's found a godly woman in you, and prayed about, and feels the Lord is leading you together, then he will intentionally and gently pursue you. Did you hear that? Let the men lead.


(And here's a video if there's any men reading this post who want to be preached to about pursuing. I found it interesting myself, *smiles*)

***

     So there are my thoughts! I do not follow them all perfectly. I'm not perfect! But I'm striving to trust God with my future ... pray for my future marriage (if that's indeed in God's will for my life) ... wait on a godly man ... become a godly woman! Fall more in love with my Savior, and see more perfectly His design each day!! <3

     Join me, single women! (And single men, if you're reading this! *smiles*) Let's be the exceptions. Pray sincerely for our future spouses. Fight for our future marriages. Strive for godliness. Live God's design ... not the world's!

     And even if you've been living the world's design ... you've messed up ... Don't worry; you can still start anew and start living God's design! I'm far from having done it all right as well - but each day is a new day! Surrender to the Lord and strive to walk His path! He is faithful! 

     I hope this was encouraging/helpful. I love you all, my sisters and brothers in the Lord! Remember to fight for godly, beautiful marriages that shine our God's incredible light! <3


26 comments:

  1. This was so good! I saved several of the pictures to my documents so that I can be reminded of these things regularly :)
    I especially like the idea of writing letters to my future husband--will need to try that!

    -Grace (meyougod.blogspot.com)

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    1. Thank you, Grace, I'm glad it was helpful!

      And yes, you should try the letter writing! It's kind of a meaningful experience, and can help keep you focused on waiting for a godly husband! :)

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  2. Wow. That was amazing! I agree with 100% of this! I saved some of the pictures and verses to remind me later. I was really needing this post.

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    1. Aww, wonderful! Thanks, Alyssa! I'm glad my post was encouraging to you!!

      ... We definitely all need reminders sometimes! I have most of the pictures saved to one of my Pinterest boards, :)

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  3. Excellent post! I've had these same exact things on my mind and heart for the last few months. So well said. I fully agree. Thank you for sharing all of this!

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    1. Thanks, Morgan! I'm glad to know that someone else was having the same thoughts! You're welcome, so glad it was an encouragement! :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shantelle! I was once the 18-20 year old who watched three friends get married in the same summer and had to fight jealousy because at that point I'd never even been asked out, much less gone on a date. I'm now approaching 25, and like you, I've never kissed or been in a serious relationship. I recently did go on my first date, and, although he was a great Christian guy, I discovered after a few dates that he was a great friend, but not the friend I could spend the rest of my life with. Right now, I've discovered a deep contentment with being single. If God's calling is for me to remain single, then I'll be using that singleness to touch people through my writing.

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    1. You're welcome, Tricia! Yep, I'm sure we've all felt it! I've fought jealousy a bit too, but I'm learning to surrender my desire to the Lord; and He helps me to just overflow with joy and excitement when my friends find their spouses! :D

      But truly, that's awesome. We all need to find contentment in the Lord, no matter where we are in life! Marriage is not the goal. And you're right ... if we're to remain single, we can really devout our time to writing books that touch others and glorify God!

      Great thoughts! And wishing the best for you! :)

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  5. This is a great post Shantelle! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I completely agree. Although I am a person who's always wanted to be single, and I don't think God's plan for me includes marriage, haha.
    It breaks my heart to see girls in those relationships because they feel it will fulfill them, or because it's the norm.

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    1. Thank you, Sierra! And you're welcome ... I'm happy to see that you guys are all thinking along the same lines, and I'm not way off or something, ;P

      Well, that's great too!! Like I said, marriage is not a goal by any means! :)

      I know ... it's just not right, :( A man can never fulfill a woman, nor will it work the other way around. And dating to fit in isn't helpful either! Just causes problems. What we all need to learn to do, is strive to follow God's path, surrendering our lives to Him! ^_^

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    2. Exactly! I couldn't have said it any better. ;)

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  6. Thank you so much for writing this post, Shantelle. It was a good reminder that I needed! I agree with everything you said, but there are times when we lose our focus and God gently needs to give us a reminder. This was one of those times for me. Thank you so much for writing and posting and for the encouragement!

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    1. You're welcome, Jesseca! I'm so glad it could be an encouraging reminder for you!! ^_^

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  7. Agree, That is about the situation I'm in. This was so encouraging.

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    1. So glad it was encouraging to you, Bria!! :)

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  8. I'm turning twenty one next month, and I feel like a spectacle too. Never being in a relationship, or kissed made a lot of my friends question me. I told them I was waiting and they think I just can't get anyone or that I don't like guys. It's worth it though. :)

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    1. Yep, I understand!! People and their assumptions *shakes head* But yes, it totally is worth it! ^_^

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  9. Great thoughts, Shantelle. I agree with everyone of them. :) I personally struggle the most with day-dreaming; what you said about that is really spot-on! That person doesn't even exist. I've been trying hard to battle it, and like you said, praying for people is one of the best ways to overcome daydreaming. :)
    I just saw a quote on Pinterest by C.S. Lewis that goes along with your post: "I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait." So true!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

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    1. Thanks, Raechel! :) Yep, for sure the daydreaming thing can be a struggle; but praying for people really does help you refocus!

      That's a great quote! God does have a purpose and a plan, even amidst the waiting! He sees what we cannot. So trust! ^_^

      You're welcome! Glad they were encouraging! :)

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  10. Dating at 13 is the norm? Pffft. That's amateur. Really awesome people start dating at 11. *cough* Ahem. Sarcasm aside, I go to public school and by fifth grade some people had already started dating. That is really sad to me because it gives girls false impressions of love and doesn't make for healthy relationships.

    I've never dated because at this point in my life I really don't want to and am way too young to. However, I know that once I start dating, I will do it with a purpose and marriage will always be the end goal. That doesn't mean it will definitely end in marriage, but it does mean that I won't be dating "just to have fun". I don't see any use to dating if marriage and fostering a true relationship isn't the end goal. If you aren't going to take dating seriously, then why not just focus on strengthening relationships with family and friends? They will stick with you much longer than a boyfriend you aren't seriously dating. (By the way, have you seen Jamie Grace's video "Boys, boys, boys"? It's kind of similar to what you are saying here.)

    I definitely agree with saving a lot of firsts for later as well. I get a ton of weird looks when I say that I want to save my first kiss for marriage, but I don't mind. People say that there won't be anyone that will actually want to save that for marriage, but that's not true, and God will find a way that honors the truth.

    What a wonderful post, Shantelle!

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    1. Ha. Twelve might actually be the average I guess. Yeah, you're right, it's just not healthy. :(

      Right. When you start dating someone, marriage is not guaranteed! But dating should be seeking a marriage covenant ultimately! :) And if you see that's not going to work out ... then break off the romantic relationship! I've watched some of Jamie Grace's music videos, but I don't think I've seen that one. I'll have to look it up, :)

      That's definitely not true! There are lots of godly men and women in this world who are seeking to serve God and wait for beautiful, "God's design" marriages! Keep waiting on the Lord and a godly man! :D Because yes, we just can't listen when other people try to taunt or discourage.

      Thank you, Ana! I'm glad it was enjoyable! :)

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  11. Ah, Shantelle! Thank you so much for this post. I sooooooo agree with you! I'm fifteen, as you know, and I've never been in a relationship (and nor do I plan to until I'm of marriageable age and all that). I obviously can't wait until then, but I still wit anyway. :) You are so wise and encouraging in the way that you write, and I'm so glad that you shared all this. <3 Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, Amanda! I'm so glad it was an encouragement ... good read! :) Yep, it's just waiting until God brings along the right man! And keeping your eyes on the Lord and His plan for your life!

      Aw, thanks! That's really encouraging to me! ^_^ I'm so glad my words can be a blessing to people. You're welcome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always! <3

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  12. Trust God with your story. When I graduated homeschool at 18 I thought I was ready for marriage, I knew how to cook, clean, run a household, care for children, homeschool and discipline children. Little did I know that the man God had for me was just barely 16 when I arrived at the point I thought I was ready. I sat and watched 5 friends, many younger than me, marry and live out the dreams I had to surrender to God. It was so difficult. Then when the time was right, God brought my husband into my life when he was 19 and I was 21 and a year later we were married. I never dated, not even my husband because he lived 1,200 miles away. We spent less than 30 days in the same state before we were married. That was a great blessing (though a painful one!) because our relationship was centered around Christ. Not to say we did it perfectly, but when you have no choice but trust the Lord to protect the one you love, when there is absolutely nothing you can do but pray for them, God increases faith in Him and His perfect timing. Now I'm once more in a season of waiting and sorrow, those never end sisters. The choice we have is how are we going to handle those trials and difficulties? With whining and complaint or with quiet Trust? God is so good, all the time.

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    1. Thanks for sharing a little of your story, Savannah! So true ... we think we know best, but we have to refocus and realize that God knows best. And His plan is worth waiting for! :)

      Yes, He is! Hope you continue to trust and lean on Him! Blessings!

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