Once upon a time, I freaked out about dating.
I repressed my desire for dating and relationships with the opposite sex and decided that courtship was the “holier” course of action for my life. I bought into the theory that dating was wrong and the only way to find God’s one and only match for my life would be to wait for some sort of sign from God.
So, I waited. And waited. And waited.
Eventually, I got into a relationship with a man who pursued me. But my immature mentality left no room for error, so I ended up staying in the relationship far longer than I should have—which caused heartbreak and a whole lot of wasted time.
Dating can be daunting for Christians. The Church has often created a “fear culture” around the topic of dating—putting so much pressure on singles to find the “right person.” On the other hand, the culture at large defines dating as this feel-good, romantic, emotionally-driven, sexual experience. It’s a culture that embraces pleasure and passion as the foundation of relationships.
Sometimes, rather than trying to navigate through the world of dating in a healthy way, we either avoid it or continue to do it in an unhealthy way.
But the truth is, God never intended us to live in fear, but rather in faith. God’s word reminds us that perfect love casts out fear. Not only that, but in this world, God has given us all the wisdom we need to live by faith. Wisdom and faith always go hand in hand. That includes every part of our life, including dating.
As I began to ask for wisdom in the area of dating and relationships, I began engaging in the balancing act between the world’s perspective of dating vs. the “Christian” perspective of dating, I found myself empowered and my relationships enhanced. I finally felt that I was able to take control of my life and relationships, rather than allowing my culture and sub-culture to take control of me.
When it came to striking the right balance, I finally stopped freaking out when I began to consider these concepts in light of my relationships:
Date to Know Yourself Better
A crucial component to finding a healthy relationship is the concept of getting to know yourself. You can’t know what you want or what you need in a relationship until you get to know who you are. It’s important to begin this journey long before you are in a dating relationship, but to then allow this process to extend into your dating relationships.
You can learn so much about yourself as you engage in relationships with the people around you. Use this time to reflect on who you are, what you want and where you are going. See your interactions as a reflection of your strengths, weaknesses, actions and reactions. Be observant and aware so that you can use each and every relationship in your life to become a better version of yourself.
Take it One Date at a Time
Everything good in life happens as a result of time. Growth, intimacy and commitment in a relationship all require life’s natural unfolding to bring them into full bloom.
However, Christians sometimes psych themselves out into thinking they have to know if that person is “the one” within 24 hours of meeting them. Talk about some serious pressure. It’s no wonder she’s afraid to text him back, and he’s afraid to ask her out for coffee.
Maybe it’s time to relax a little and trust God to lead you into the right relationship one step at a time. If you are following His leading and trusting the internal wisdom He’s given you—one step at a time will always lead you into the right direction or guide you out of the wrong direction. You don’t have to know if they’re “the one” as long as you’re in tune with the Almighty One. So have faith—and then take the next step.
Date Toward No Regrets
Though the modern concept of dating is not mentioned in Scripture, principles of interacting with one another are littered throughout. Applying these standards to your actions and interactions will give you guidance and direction in interacting with the opposite sex with no regrets.
We are called engage in relationships that are mutually edifying, encouraging and uplifting (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are asked to refrain from arousing our sexual desires prematurely, reserving them to be expressed in a permanent covenant relationship through marriage (Song of Solomon 8:4, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). We are encouraged to see everything that we do in life as an opportunity to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Why not see dating as just another means to this end?
After some self-reflection, I finally realized that I was using dating as the scapegoat, rather than addressing my baggage, my fears and my deep-seated insecurities. When I finally came to terms with the reality that dating was not the enemy, I was freed to address my own sinfulness and take accountability for my interactions with the opposite sex. At the end of the day, I realized that by making intentional decisions, I could take control of my relationships rather than allowing them to take control of me.
Christians, it’s time to stop freaking out about dating and see it as an opportunity for growth, insight and right relationships. It’s time to take the pressure off of “finding the one” and instead learn to glorify The One through every single interaction that we have with the world around us. Dating included.
This article was originally published at truelovedates.com
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.