Reality Television/Dating Shows … Oh, Wait… I mean MY Real Life Dating

Today I was reading a book which talked of slaves.  At one point one slave stepped in between the angry master and the slave enduring the punishment.  This slave wanted to spare the punishment of the other.  The punishment was misdirected.  Today I wanted to stand in the place of someone else’s beating.  But truth be told, it is hard to be brave sometimes.  Let me explain.

In order to explain, I have to back up to my past.  All my life I have loved being a girl.  I love that God made men and women different.  All my life I would have told you all I really want is to be a wife.  Yet I never dated all through high school and all through college.  My first date was when I was 25. By the time I was 30 I was still hopeful, but in honesty I think I was loosing hope.  I secretly wondered if God was going to say no to this desire of mine.  I wondered if I’d ever get married.  I’d been on a handful of dates with a handful of men.  However, I seemed to attract men I shouldn’t date, or couldn’t date due to their lack of belief in God.

Through the years, God had been calling me closer to himself.  For that, I am grateful.  Despite this, I still longed to be in a relationship.  Some friends tried to set me up.  One dear woman set me up with two men (at two different times of course!).  She noted that if neither of those men worked out, she knew no one else!  I smiled, thanked her for her effort, and suggested that if those men were not for me, than that was ok.  I trusted God knew what he was doing.  Neither of those men were for me.  They were nice, good men.  But God was showing me that the time was not right, or the situation was not right.  I determined in my heart again to trust God, his ways, and his goodness.  It was not always easy.

Now however, I am one and a half years into dating a man.  This is the longest I have dated anyone.  Before our first date, I likely would have told you I was hoping for a date or two, maybe three.  But I wasn’t really expecting a steady boyfriend.  My past track record marred the hope that should have been in place.  But by God’s grace and goodness, here we are over a year later.  We are still dating.  Still learning of each other.  Still seeking God’s guidance.

But in full disclosure of honesty, I now understand parts of the Bible I never did before.  I understand why Paul wishes all were single, and expresses that he wants to spare trouble.  I used to marvel at 1 Corinthians 7, especially verses 25-35 — what did it mean?  Singleness was better?  I know now that singleness (despite the loneliness and struggles) is easier, not better.  What do I mean?  I mean that I lived my life however I wanted.  I could selfishly choose anything I wanted to do, invest in whatever and whomever I wanted.  My time, my money, my life, my priorities.  I could invest in time with God easily, and at one point I was in 2 Bible studies at a time, and was studying a different study on my own!

Then I met this man.  I started dating him.  (And how grateful I am for God’s good gift!).  But now, I understand that my time and interests are divided. A man is not a bad thing.  Not at all!  But I understand that my heart is divided too. Granted, God must always be first.   And when he gives a relationship, this order of loyalty is one that I am called to strive to maintain.  But as I’ve been dating, I’ve stared digging into the Bible in new ways.  I’ve pondered what it means that a woman is created as a helper. I wrote a list of what that word means according to a word search, then I listed what that means practically for me.  I’ve opened my Bible and pondered what is love.  I’ve had to evaluate what the Bible says versus what the world describes love to be.  I’ve gone over and over passages that suggest what kind of people we ought be: as dating forces me to examine myself, my beliefs, and who I might marry.  The Bible doesn’t express who I am to marry, but it certainly lays guidelines.

In my study of the Bible, I’ve recently studied the concept of covenant.  It rocked my knowledge and called me into a deeper understanding of dating and marriage.  You see, God is all about covenants, and marriage is a covenant, and a taste of what God offers those who believe in Him.  So as I studied, I started a list of what it means to be in covenant with someone.  I reasoned that if I were to marry, I wanted a clearer understanding of what I was entering.  Studying about covenants opened my eyes to the hardships Paul suggests accompany the marriage of two people.

For example, entering a covenant with someone means you take on their enemies.  It means you fight together and for each other.  It means that all they have and possess becomes yours by right. It means a sharing of life.  It means a giving up of self.  We have heard the phrase that you get it all: “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”  This is true when you understand covenant.  Entering a covenant is what a marriage is.  But this does not begin the day you walk an aisle and say I do.  Rather, learning to live this way and see if you can covenant is what the process of dating actually is.  Dating is letting another person into your life.  Your family.  Your time.  Your stuff.   Your hardships.  Your trials.  Your joys.  All of you.  And here is the reality: when two people share life with each other, there are two sets of families, two sets of sin patterns, two sets of personalities, two ways of doing things, two minds, and so forth.

And today I was called to take the beating of my boyfriend.  How?  Not physically of course.  We are not slaves or abused children.  Rather, I saw first hand the pummeling Satan wanted to bring on him.  He was discouraged and down.  I watched him process the hardships of life.  I saw a weary face lined with worry.  I saw his body slumped with hopelessness.  And I felt helpless.

Then the Spirit reminded me to pray for him.  Knowing he was tired, I suggested I pray for him and then leave so he could sleep.  We prayed together.  Life didn’t change immediately.  Peace didn’t instantly flood the room — although, a corner of the worry was stripped away so that peace could start to soothe.  My boyfriend stood and said, “Thanks, I needed that.”  We were united afresh. We stood together to fight.   At home later, I prayed some more.  Satan had my boyfriend in his targets.  His arrows were already flying.  Thus, I came between him and my boyfriend, because I am called to.  It is not always easy to intercede.  It is hard work.  But that is the fight of covenant.  We stand for each other when the other can not.

Dating and marriage do bring more trouble simply due to the fact that two people are living life together, and God himself tells us that this world is full of struggle.  But dating and marriage are also ground for fighting together.  A friend noted the other day that she believes that the component to marriage counsel that is often missing is the spiritual warfare side.  I completely agree!  Thus, as I thank God for my special boyfriend, I’m also reminded that dating is harder as it brings someone else’s trials and troubles to me. Yet, it also brings tremendous opportunity to support one another,  to encourage one another, and to take with them what they can not take on their own.  Togetherness provides opportunity to fight the spiritual battles that rage around us in this world.  Let us not forget the power of standing together!

Press on dear sisters into God! He is the Fortress that we must run into to weather loneliness, trials, or the other defeating storms of life!  And remember the story I was reading earlier of the slave that stood up to the master? That is the beauty of real dating and marriage.  Two people stand together to fight our unseen enemy.  Dating in real life is simply that — real life with all the joys and troubles that accompany it!

 

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