As I pondered what the hardest thing about dating could be, so many things came to mind. We’ve heard many times that if dating is right, it should be easy.
But I am not so sure I agree with that statement. I think dating done the right and healthy way can bring up some challenges, hard conversations, soul-searching, and in those things, the “hard parts” can set you up for success. It can be “hard” to set boundaries, to keep Christ at the center, and to set aside our desires and trust God’s design. But the “hard” things make it worth it.
I tried to summarize what I believe to be the three hardest things about dating.
I think all three are extremely important in order to maintain a healthy and God-honoring relationship:
1.Guard your heart.
2. Choosing Him more than him.
3. Trusting God with the end result.
Guarding your heart
I wish there was a manual on this and some sort of how-to explanation. I heard this phrase so many times as a young woman in my dating years but never fully grasped the weight of it.
Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it.”
I think a key aspect of guarding your heart in dating is to pace your relationship. Because we are “dating for marriage,” too many people become caught up in imagining someone as their spouse before the first date even takes place. They begin to fantasize, dream, and place expectations on a relationship that may never even be part of God’s design. Back when I was in high school and college, I would meet a man and hit it off and immediately think, “Oh wow! Could this be my husband?”
Slow and steady wins the race. Learn that dating is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and if we become too caught up in the day-dreaming and early anticipation, it just may spoil the relationship and cause you to walk away broken-hearted.
Another key aspect of guarding your heart is setting boundaries and deciding before the relationship begins that you will not settle or compromise. Have an accountability partner. Communicate on the first date what your boundaries are and where you stand. Don’t leave any room for gray area because mystery is enticing and can put you in a tough or painful situation full of regret later down the road.
There were times when I subconsciously became desperate to be loved and wanted. I would attempt to change who I was in order to please the boy I was falling for. I am a lover and a giver. I fall hard and I fall easily. I would give pieces of my way just hoping it would make them stay. So many tears and deep heartbreak could have been avoided if I would have acknowledged the red flags and decided that I didn’t have to be loved by everyone I met. I knew they weren’t good for me, I knew we had different beliefs, I knew it wouldn’t work long-term, but that sure didn’t keep me from trying. What a foolish way to guard my heart.
Choosing Him over him
I think many young women can get caught up in idolizing the relationship they’re in. A few hours without a text, a weird tone over the phone, or vague ambiguity can leave them spinning. I’ll never forget a text I received that broke my heart and changed it at the same time. I was in the most toxic and manipulative relationship of my life. I confronted this boy about cheating which ultimately led to the end of the relationship via text. In his final text to me, he wrote, “I will pray for you and pray that you will love God more than the next guy you date.”
Oof. That hit me incredibly hard. Of course, he was trying to hurt me, and succeeded. The message was manipulative and tried to make me feel like I was the issue in the relationship. But, it did teach me something.
No matter what that boy did or said to me, he knew I was never going anywhere. He said jump and I would have jumped. He said come over and I was there. I idolized him, I was desperate to keep him around, I loved him deeply, and in turn I started to choose him over Him. From his perspective, I loved him more than my Savior. That had to change.
In unhealthy relationships, God often sits on the back-burner. We stop talking to our Christian community because we are afraid of judgement. We may start missing small group because we don’t want to answer hard questions. We skip church because we were up all night doing x, y, z. We spend less time reading our Bible, less time in prayer, less time listening to worship.
Because we have become way more set on pleasing him instead of Him, serving him instead of Him, and choosing him over Him.
Why would God bless and honor a relationship when He isn’t being praised and honored in it?
It’s important to remember that no matter how much you love them, you must love Him even more.
Trusting God with the end result
You love someone, you are attracted to them, you want to make it work and so you try to take control. How many times have we held onto something not meant for us because we refuse to trust God with our desires?
One of the hardest parts of dating for me was surrendering over control and trusting God with the end result. I wanted something and I was going to hold on even when it slipped away. This unhealthy side of our desires can produce obsession, manipulation, and trying to “play God.”
Through the breakups, through the heartache, we must trust that that God is in control and He has not forgotten you.
You are not powerful enough to mess up God’s plan for your life. But you can certainly add to your heartache by refusing to surrender control.
If you are seeking the Lord first, He will make His ways known. And often times, His greatest blessings come when we give up what we want and trust what He has. I fully believe that!
Madison Grace Weeks (Wheat)
See you next week for Week Five, “The Number One Question Asked in Dating” by Hope Moquin!