Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dating: Love and the Other L's

By Angie Nordman Ryg
I sat there in the dark movie with a painful pit in my stomach.  
Courtesy of http://www.whatwetalkingabout.com/
What was my deal? I was on a date with a handsome man who had asked me out.  He loved Jesus.  We shared the same taste in movies. I even had a large bag of buttered popcorn and my favorite go-to movie snack of Twizzlers and Raisinets.  The thing was, I did not even like this guy.  The guy I really liked was at home.  And I did not know it at the time, but he was leaving me a message as I watched that movie, asking me if I wanted to come over and bake cookies.  I had missed out on a fun night with a guy I wanted to be with just passing time on a date.

So why do we date?  Is it wrong just to date for fun?  In today's world of casual relationships and self gratifying encounters, how can a woman who wants to stay pure both physically and emotionally safeguard herself and yet be able to date?

Being married fourteen years now (Yes, to that man with the cookies!) and looking back on my dating life before marriage, I believe there are there are several purposes in dating that can be positive for a person.

Dating helps you to define what you are looking for in a future mate.

When I was in college, my roommate and I each wrote a list of attributes that we wanted our future husbands to have:  Loves Jesus, athletic, good with children, generous, has to be able to spend Christmas Eve with my family (maybe that requirement came from my mom) just to name a few. I often would pray about my future husband with these characteristics in mind.  And God wants us to have this kind of hope. 

 Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for... (Job 6:8)

As you date, you experience a variety of situations that will demonstrate more than any conversation with a person might tell you.  Watch the way a person treats the helpers around him (wait staff, custodians, ushers) and you can tell a lot about the internal state of a heart.  You will see if he is meeting those qualities on the list.

Dating involves learning about intimacy and serves as an opportunity to establish  meaningful relationships between men and women.

Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)

As the relationship of Adam and Eve demonstrate, we were made to be in union with another.  But the purpose here is to help.  Dating should consist of a relationship where each person becomes a better person because of the influence of each other, instead of a harmful or destructive relationship that is filled with self serving sin.  

Dating helps you find the right mate by doing life together.

Whether you believe in group dating or couple dating, whether it is a chaperoned time or on your own, you must realize that this is a time to share in life experiences in order to see if you are headed in the same path for God's glory.  Take this time to "do life" together.  Worship together.  Serve in church together.  Take time to see each other in many different ways.

For as I was walking around and looking closely at the objects you worship, I even found an altar with this written on it: 'To an unknown god.' (Acts 17:23a)

You will see by spending time with another person what is really important to them. My now-husband and I worked with high school kids at our church together for two years.  It was after that one movie date (with another guy!) that he and I made it official to actually start dating because it just felt wrong to be with anyone else.  But really, every time we got together to talk about the high school kids that we were ministering to, it was another opportunity to get to know each other even better and to see if our life goals could mesh.

Dating will teach you how to love.

Dating is your opportunity to have a deep relationship with someone before you commit to marriage. I have a hard time with the term "soul mate" because that leads one to believe that people are connected by souls and if you happen to find that one, you are just lucky, but if not, it gives you the out to end your marriage and find your true "soul mate."  When in reality, marriage takes a lot of work.  There is a time when those honeymoon gaga feelings might end, but you have the trust in God to help you continue to make your marriage strong and the commitment from you and your spouse to make this the best marriage you can make it. Dating is the entrance to that marriage, but dating should not be that experience.

Dating will only work if you do not allow the relationship to enter into one too similar to marriage. Sex before marriage, constant discussions about marriage, or too much time spent together can all take a relationship to a level of intimacy that is inappropriate for dating. If you go to these levels, then your judgment of what love is will be clouded.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

For love is wanting the best for the other person.  Love is serving the other person.  Love is putting another's needs before your own.  When you date, you will experience opportunities to do that for another person.

And yes, dating can just be plain fun, but it does have a purpose.  

For "whatever you do, do for the glory of the one who made you." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Dear Lord, you have created us to love and we desire to please you.  We pray that you would help us to give every relationship we have over to your direction and command so that we may bring you glory through our lives.  As a loving father, you want to give us good gifts, so I would ask for the gift of loving relationships that are filled with people that are seeking after you. We love you. 

Amen.


[Angie Ryg is the author of Clutter Free Simplicity.  Married to her childhood sweetheart, she is also the mama to one princess and three princes.  Her passion is to connect with other women and encourage them in their relationship with Jesus. She loves to read, swim in her neighbor's pool, act out "Chopped" with her family, and write on her blog, www.findingjoyineverydaymoments.blogspot.com.]

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