- I am far from perfect. I fear a lot of things; most realistic, yet all irrational because the only thing I should truly fear is God. I find myself fearing the little things and being afraid of God. I fall every day: I have cursed, I have judged, I have neglected to do God's Will, I have put my foot in my mouth countless times and I have given up. It is obvious that I cannot live life on my own. It is utterly impossible. I am dependent. I am needy. I am selfish. I am sinful. I am human.. However, the most important thing about me; I am forgiven.
Step 4: If failure occurs, repeat step 1-3.
Break ups happen. Sometimes they are inevitable. Nate and I went through it unfortunately and fortunately. Throughout the time I that Nate and I were not talking, I grew closer to God and I had more of an opportunity to focus on what God is doing in me. Not my relationship with Nate. I may never the specific reasons as to why Nate and I had to go through those two times where we didn’t talk, but that’s okay because “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55).” But I know for a fact that the two and a half years I spent with Nate, I grew abundantly. And the two times Nate and I stopped talking, I grew so much farther because God had me place everything at His feet and trust Him with my future. Mine and Nate’s two “breaks” were stepping stones that pushed me farther than I can ever imagine. But God promised me, as He promised Nate, that He has us and our relationship in His hands. He is molding us and forming us to be strong so we can bring Him glory. By doing my relationship with Nate this way, I saved my heart from much heartbreak when we split. It still hurt a lot, Nate and I won’t ever have the carefree friendship we had. No, our relationship is much stronger because of it. Our life together is going to be used to bring others hope and promises. Our relationship is a testimony and 30 years down the road when our children ask us about dating, we’ll know exactly what to say because we know it’s not about us or what we do. It’s about our willingness to allow what God wants and desires.
I know that sometimes relationships end completely after “breaks” and “break ups”. And all I can say is no relationship ends perfectly as it was before. It hurts because that person is a real best friend and it will continue to hurt for some time because of all of the time you put into that relationship, only to have it end. But that is okay. Everything will be okay. By focusing on God, becoming the right person, and by loving your boyfriend like God loves us, like I love Nathan, with God’s love instead of handing them our hearts without considering the consequences, we can and will save ourselves a ton of pain. I will always love Nathan, with God’s love, and with the love he deserves as a man of God from the woman he plans to marry. I know that my journey with Nate brought us to a point where this verse “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10)” is true and will continue to come true for me. My love will abound more in knowledge and depth that my God, Nathan, and our future children will cherish and praise. All because I allowed God to mold me before I ever decided to becoming a part of something that is a molding of two separate lives. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)”. Within delighting God before everything, He will grant the desires of my heart. (Psalm 37:4 and Psalm145:19). I never desired my relationship with Nathan to go through those tough times. I prayed so hard that we would stay together, that God would protect our friendship. He was my first love. But God knows the plans for me, plans not to harm me but to prosper me. (Jer. 29:11) I took those situations and I learned that I would have been okay if Nate and I did not get back together. The pain I felt through the silence and arguments we had, the joy I felt through the quality time and serving time we spent together, and the relief and praise I felt as we came to an agreement to get back together, that our separations were to grow us closer, were pivotal in my growth as a woman. I will gladly and readily jump forward to where God is calling me and I am thankful that Nate will be by my side and that we placed God before us.
By doing my relationship with Nathan this way, God’s way, I followed God’s will and I will continue to live this out, holy and God will continue to bless us and grow us even closer more than we can ever imagine. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)”
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him." (Genesis 2:18) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Desiring a relationship with someone who could be your future spouse is not wrong. It is actually a part of God's plan. He desired man to be in a relationship. He said it is not good for man to be alone!
Yet God also knows, now with sin in the world, that good relationships are harder to come by. God honoring relationships. That's why God also says to guard your heart. Guarding you heart while striving for an intimate relationship is hard. Sometimes it seems even impossible. God also knows this.
God, however, has given us a way to to do both. And successfully. Not painlessly. Putting your all into another human is always painful because they will always fail you. God is the only one who will never fail us, leave us, or forsake us.
First, let us look at dating the worlds way:
Some people define dating as an act of meeting and spending time in public, together, as a couple. Some people define it as a process to fine the “One” because they know what they want. Others define it as a way to figure out what they want in a relationship. And some use the process it gives to kill time for them. Really, you can sum up the process of dating in 4 steps.
Step 1: Find the right person. Most cases, someone you can laugh with, someone who likes you, someone who finds you attractive, and most importantly, someone who you find attractive and has a personality you can tolerate.
Step 2: Fall in love. This step is one that is shown in all of the classic romance movies. Guy takes girl out on a date, suddenly it rains. Guy takes jacket off and places around the girl as they race to stay dry under a tree. Sudden laughter occurs for a minute then BAM! Girl swoons as he kisses her. Or guy is a total jerk throughout the whole movie and at the very last scene, apologizes and they kiss and end up as a couple. Same thing happens in each ending; the couple is obviously in love.
Step 3: Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfillment. Again we see this in play in all of the movies. This is usually seen from the girls perspective, she has the wedding planned by age 5, her bridesmaids are chosen as soon as she figures out who are her true friends, and her husband-to-be has to be 6’3, sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, skinny yet strong enough to literally sweep her off her feet, a personality to keep her tied to him, and have the same hopes and dreams as herself: a full job as a doctor/lawyer, own a house with 4 bedrooms, one cat, one dog, and 2.5 kids; A typical American family.
Finally, Step 4: If failure occurs repeat steps 1-3. We have seen this many times throughout movies as well. Usually in the beginning the girl (sometimes the guy) just recently broke up with their boyfriend because he felt she was too serious and “clingy”. Hence the plot of the movie “I am going to be single for some time, find out who I am, and have my girlfriends back me up!...Except she runs into Mr. Dreamy and end up falling for him to live happily ever after.
That is all funny, but the world’s way of dating is typical, predictable, and used throughout middle-school, high-school, and college. There is much heartbreak, many messed up self-esteems, a lot broken friendships, and everyone is hurt.
I have witnessed my best girl-friend do this all throughout high school and college. I have witnessed my own sister do this into marriage! It is a sickly disease that has caught our young women this generation and it is a hard bug to fight! I decided as I saw so much hurt, before I even got to the age of having a boyfriend, that I would do dating differently. I prayed with much power and confidence that God could really do this in me differently and holy; and without all the heartbreak that seen in the world, without all of the hurtful dependency issues, without all the emotional, spiritual, and psychological issues that come about dating and breaking up. I prayed that God would take whatever he has in store for me, and do it His way. That is when Nathan came into my life. When I asked God, He gave me an opportunity to do it His way. Because Nathan was in my life, I was attracted to him, and oh my goodness, he liked me too! I decided I needed to find a devotional, a bible based self-help book of some sort, on how to deal with relationships. I certainly did not have the peers to help me. So I found Sex180. It was written by two dads who stated that they are sick of seeing all these young people getting hurt through dating and intimate relationships, something that God intended for Good, and watch it turn out so bad. At the beginning of the book, they too had the dating steps 1-4, but after that, they had God’s 1-4 steps written a little differently.
Step 1: Become the right person instead of finding the right person. Becoming the right person should be our main goal. (Psalm 145:29) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. I personally find this to be really difficult. It is hard to admit I am human, I have failed, I will fail, and I am not perfect. To admit all this fully and offer myself up to God and receive His full blessing means I have to constantly look at what I need to give up to God. Which is everything! Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:2) God is asking me to trust in Him. God is asking me to guard my heart from what can hurt me. Because I will get hurt! Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) Most of all, God is asking me to be the woman He is creating me to be so I can be the wife, mother, teacher, mentor, helpmate, and friend that my husband deserves.
In becoming the right person, to worship Him and keep focused on God is the most important thing. God is trying to teach me to humble myself and allow the hardships to come through my life and mold me to be who I need to be. Instead of focusing on what I want, I am focusing on what God wants to see grow in me. He doesn’t want me to focus on who I want; He wants me to be the woman who God will be proud of and who my future husband deserves.
By doing that, taking those steps to set my mind on God so He can make me into the woman that will glorify Him, God allowed my relationship with Nathan to flourish beyond anything I could dream of. We grew so close, without getting so serious so fast. It took two years until we started planning what our life could look like!
I also looked for a man who desired a relationship with His Heavenly Father and pursued it daily. Nathan is a great man. He loves God more than anything. He places God first in everything. And he cherishes all women as though they are his own sister. Through growing closer with him, I had the opportunity to do the same things for Nate. I love God and put Him first before Nate. I cherish Nate as he was my brother. Because he is! The bible says “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)” He is my brother. And in absolute purity, I would not be caught doing anything unwholesome with him, or put him in a place where we could do something unwholesome. My goodness, we realized that it is so hard to stay pure. We are human and designed to love and be loved. But he is my brother... unless we marry sex is out of the question. And for us, kissing was out of the question because it put us in a place where we forgot what we are doing with our relationship, with God. It is very important to always realize that God will bring out the points in relationships at different times, and physical is for marriage. “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. (Song of Solomon 8:4)” We have to be very careful to not awaken what is to be saved for marriage. Another verse that helped me stay pure was: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10”) In doing this, I placed his needs before mine. I would do anything for him. I have slipped him a couple dollars without his knowledge because he did not have anything for food for school. I have told him, as he has told me that we need to back away and put God first because we have realized we got into a pattern of forgetting to place God first. Sometimes it is waking up at an ungodly hour to take him back to school when I would rather be sleeping. It can be anything! But ultimately, it is honoring him above my-self. I am a servant as Jesus serves.
Step 2: Instead of falling in love, walk in love. This is something that nobody gets. They say “Falling in love is a process, it takes wooing, takes chocolate, dates, and many kisses to happen! “ Yeah, no. We can’t fall in love. Love is not something to fall into. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling, a caressing touch, a desire. Love is an action. Without showing Godly actions that you care, do you really love? If you are selfish, demanding, or self-centered, do you love? Like this weekend’s verse, “Dear children let us not love with words or with tongue but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18) This was something that I knew would take some time to actually wrap around my mind. With watching my sister and best friend go through relationships full of “falling in love”, I had to change my mindset that it was not a feeling. Honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I felt it to be true. With Nathan, it was easier to walk in love and less “new territory” because walking in love, Christ’s love, was something I was used to. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) I could not grow my love towards Nate without my love for God. Mine and Nate’s relationship was so strong that nothing of this world can break it. I will never stop loving Nathan all because I love him with a love that is true and everlasting. God’s love. (Matthew 18:7) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Step 3: Instead of fixing your hopes and dreams on a person, fix them on God and seek to please Him through it. By fixing your hopes and dreams on a person, you set yourself up to fail yet God promises that while man will fail you, He (God) will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) Three things that Nate and I found when we dated, what we desired to have a steady part in our relationship, were prayer, serving others, and bible reading; together. If not every time, we constantly try to end our phone calls with prayer. When we know there is something in between us or we are irritable, we pray before we continue on with our time together. We constantly open ourselves up to God in front of the other. Prayer is very intimate with God. We are showing everything to Him who knows all, and praying with Nate has given us the insight into our personal lives with God. We could be praying and I, because I would be so focused on talking with God, could say something and talk about a fear I have been feeling, that Nate never knew about. Then Nate knew something more specifically he can pray about. Prayer is something we made a priority because we knew it was the only direct way we can humble ourselves, our relationship, and our future before God. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25)”
In bible reading, I cannot impress on how important and how fulfilling it is to read with your best friend, about our Savior. God worked in mine and Nate’s lives so much. We did not have much time to read the bible together, but in my own readings and his personal readings, I have seen God align our growth similarly. Which is astounding. I cannot wait for the day where my husband and I can study the word together.
In serving, Nate and I wanted to work together so badly. Mission trips, ministries, anything. We want to work together for God to show His glory. We did not have the opportunity though, to work together with his school but when we did, working together was something that brought us closer on a level that is more than intimate. It is a level where we recognize that our life here on earth is to serve God and bring His kingdom. Whenever Nate or I fell into a trap of laziness or unwillingness, our prayer and bible reading together has brought us close to where either of us could, as the bible says “spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)”
By doing those three things together, Nate and I kept God at the forefront of our friendship. We glorified God with how we did our relationship and it will always be a part of my testimony. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)”
Step 4: If failure occurs, repeat step 1-3.
Break ups happen. I went through it with Nathan unfortunately and fortunately. I may never know if Nate and I were supposed to be together for life like we were planning or if it was never apart of God’s amazing plan because God says “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55).” But I know for a fact that the two and a half years I spent with Nate, I grew abundantly. Nate was a stepping stone that pushed me farther than I can ever imagine. By doing my relationship with Nate this way, I saved my heart from much heartbreak when we split. It still hurt a lot, Nate and I won’t ever have the friendship we had. No relationship ends perfectly as it was before. It still hurts because he was my best friend and it will continue to hurt for some time. But I am okay. By focusing on God, becoming the right person, and because I loved Nathan with God’s love instead of handing him my heart without considering the consequences, I saved myself from a ton of pain. I will always love Nathan, with God’s love, and I know that my journey with Nate brought me to a point where this verse “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10)” will come true for me. My love will abound more in knowledge and depth that my God, my future husband, and my children will cherish and praise. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)”. I also know that within delighting in God before everything, He will grant the desires of my heart. (Psalm 37:4 and Psalm145:19). I never desired my relationship with Nathan to fail. I prayed so hard that we would stay together. He was my first love. But God knows the plans for me, plans not to harm me but to prosper me. (Jer. 29:11) But I am going to take the experience I learned, the pain I felt, the joy I felt, and jump forward to where God is calling me.
By doing my relationship with Nathan this way, God’s way, I followed God’s will and I will continue to live this out, holy. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)”