Waiting Alone…. Learning How to Date While You Wait

waiting

Aloneness hurts. What single person after waiting on God hasn’t asked himself, “Now what?” I have talked to dozens of young people that have gone to church or Bible college, kept themselves pure, resisted the temptation to settle, who now find themselves alone every Friday surrounded by little brothers and sisters on family night. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun hanging out with family, eating pizza and playing monopoly, but not if you have no other option.

There is a story in the Bible that may mirror your life, and help give some perspective of what to do, while you wait. Before we jump into the story of our 40 year old single guy, I need to add a caveat. Not every story in the Bible is given for our emulation (i.e Samson, Jonah, Judas, etc.). The Scripture does, however, give us tangible examples of faith, so that we can see faith in action (Hebrews 11, I Cor 10:11). The story of Isaac and Rebekah is one of those great example passages of faithful people depending on an even more faithful God.

   “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.” (Genesis 24:63-64) This passage of scripture gives some great instruction on what men are to be doing while they wait. Keep in mind that even though this article is geared toward guys, every girl should be looking for a man with these qualities. If a man is not showing godly characteristics and actions while he is waiting, he will not be doing those things after he has won a girl’s heart. (Next week’s article will explore what a woman should be doing and what men should be looking for from the same passage.)

Godly men wait patiently. Isaac had waited a long time. Genesis 25:20 tells us that Isaac was 40 years old. (Apparently this was a cultural thing because his older brother Esau didn’t get the keys for the camel until he was forty, Genesis 36:34.) This is rather amazing as Isaac was the area’s most eligible bachelor. He was the son of a local millionaire, he was a wonder child, he had promises from God, he had good looking genetics (at least from his mom’s side) In short, he was popular, pretty, and stinking rich, yet with all of that, he wasn’t married. The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically, but he may have been waiting because he saw the pain that was caused by His dad, who didn’t wait in the area of relationships.

Godly men wait obediently. The context of this verse is encased in the entire passage. Earlier we see in Genesis 24:3 that Isaac was obeying God, by not seeking a bride that would not assist him in his pursuit of God. If your future spouse is not focused on God, you will have a love war, and become schizophrenic in your pursuits. Isaac was well aware of the fact that a godly woman may not be found on his timetable. For those who have waited a long time I would ask in invaluable question, “What do you want from a relationship?”

Remember, that a woman will never give more than God has already offered you, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19) It may help to remember that passage of Scripture was written by a man who at the time was in jail as a single man.

If you are not content with what God is giving you, you will never be content with what God might give you.

     Godly men wait worshipfully. Where is Isaac, he is out in the field thinking about the greatness of God. It seems from the text that he was bowed down in worship. When his “girlfriend” arrives what does she find him doing? What do you think went through Rebekah’s mind when she found out Isaac was praying on their first “date?” If you have never been caught worshiping, you may as well say goodbye to a quality, God centered worshiping spouse because they are off in a different field.

Worshipers have a great advantage when it comes to dating, they don’t have to change the object of their affections.

     I feel I must address the heresy that God is obligated to send you a spouse if you are worshiping Him. This is not at all what I am saying, I am simply giving a general principle that if you are already singing praise to your Savior, that a harmony line will fit nicely and you don’t have to change your tune in order to attract a spouse.

     Godly men wait thoughtfully.  The passage continues and describes their first meetincamles isaacg, Therefore Rebekah took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.” (Gen 24:65-66) Put yourself in his sandals. You have waited forty years for a wife, you trust your dad and friend to find you a wife, and the first thing you do is…. Talk to the old servant? I think this shows an incredible amount of maturity on the part of Isaac, as he voluntarily seeks wisdom before hormones. The passage says that the servant tells him everything. This is not the Hollywood, first date go to her apartment and see if she is a good kisser philosophy, this is a man whose heart is controlled by his head.

How about you, how many wise mentors do you seek advice from before or during your dating relationship? Far too many couples seem to start with an attraction, move to infatuation, and then when wise individuals offer advice, it is viewed as spiteful and uninformed. “What would old married fogies possible know about love anyway?”

     Godly men wait unselfishly. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Gen 24:67)  Ever wonder why the word order is reversed? Marriage then love seems very strange to a culture that grew up on Disney love. Many couples test the waters to see if their feelings are strong enough to get them through. Love can result in an incredible feeling, but it is a result of a choice. If love is all about a feeling then when my feelings go away, I am justified in adultery. In reality love can be incredibly painful (ask the 85 year old couple whose wife has Alzheimer’s).

     My love is not about me. If I am hoping for a special someone to make me feel special, I will soon hate them for what they cannot give me. In reality, I am really more in love with myself. The commitment that Isaac gave was the perfect soil for the seed of love to grow.

I understand that Isaac lived in a different culture, yet he does give us a good model of how to wait and helps us answer the question, “Now what?”

Real Men Pay

money

Real men don’t make their dates pay. I had a popular friend who at the beginning of the semester would run the rounds of available females, take them out, ‘forget’ his wallet, and have his date pay for the multiple entrées. As self-focused as that story seems, frankly many guys are tallying up a much larger bill, and expecting the girls to pick up the tab.

 Real men don’t make their dates pay physically. A Christian man who will stand up and protect his sister in Christ is a rare warrior (I Tm 5:2). God created men to protect and cherish women (I Peter 3:1-8). At lunch my two-year old told me while raising his plastic sword to the air, “Daddy, I hope our new baby is a sister, so we can protect her.” How are/will you protect the King’s daughter that He has placed into your care? Someday, the King will ask you, how you treated His daughter.

Many guys have adopted the view that because I have committed to a relationship there needs to be a down payment of the girl’s seriousness, and this contract is often paid physically. In reality if this is how you view your lady, you have made her into a prostitute, someone who is willing to accept payment for services. If you want a true lady, you have to treat her like one, and biblically it is the man’s job to protect her physically (Eph 5:29).

 Real men don’t make their dates pay emotionally. The emotional drains in a woman’s life are many, therefore, she is looking for the stability and strength of her man. Don’t make your girlfriend pay the exorbitant emotional price of guessing where the relationship is at or going. This will take wisdom. You probably do not wish to sit her down on the first date and delineate the next fifty years of your life together…. Truthfully that freaks normal people out, but you should shoulder the burden of knowing where the relationship is going. Christ makes it very clear where we stand as believers and where we are going (I John 3:1-3). How can you lead if you do not know where you are going?

Far too many men fear rejection, so they sort of ease into a relationship without much commitment. Don’t pawn off your lack of manhood on your girl. Women need real men, who are not afraid to stand up and take the weight of the relationship rejection and all. If you want to have a nagging, controlling wife, you may as well start training in your relationship by expecting the girl to plan the date, tell you what she wants, and explain where she expects the relationship to go…. But if you want a woman that will stand by your side waving your colors as you slay the dragon and defeat every foe, show her you are capable of winning the little battles. Show her you are willing to suffer small inconveniences, because after all, if you are not willing to prove yourself on an $11.49 entrée, why on earth would she give you her heart? Step up and be the man, she hopes you will be.

Don’t expect her to pay for all of your emotional needs. It is exhilarating to by confirmed and noticed by your girl, but realize your girl does not exist so you can have your ‘needs’ met. Love is the giving of our entire selves to someone with or without restoration. That expression of love was made rather clear by the Savior, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Men often expect the girl to pick up the tip emotionally in so many ways. Many men tax the relationship tipby expecting the girl to be a go-between for the parents or make the women cover or explain your actions to others.  This is especially true at the beginning before the man talks to the father. They tax the relationship by non-commitment, or waiting for the girl to bring up hard topics of conversation. The greatest part about taking the lead emotionally, is that is begins to show you truly care about her needs, and that in turn builds an immense amount of trust, which makes it easier to lead, which builds more trust, which makes it easier to lead….

Real men don’t make their dates pay spiritually. This doesn’t mean that your pickup line is, “Hey, wanna study the Bible with me?” If following you causes your girl to get further away from her Savior, you are Satan to her. The only perfect husband she will ever have is Christ. Your job as spiritual leader in training is to support her in her spiritual growth by paving the road to Calvary through sharing and living Scripture (Eph 5:26). You must also realize that you do not have the resources in yourself to pay for her true needs.   We violate the first commandment of having, “No other gods before God” when we expect created beings to fill a Creator sized hole.

     Real men count the cost of a relationship and are willing to pay for it. How much doemoney-in-hand-1035691-ms a relationship cost?  Young men should be answering what it is that you are asking the woman to give you? As men, we are asking to be the guardian of their hearts. If you are constantly expecting her to foot the bill physically, emotionally, or spiritually, a smart woman is going to realize you are not qualified to take care of her heart because the truth is, you are too expensive.

Why advice others give about my dating hurts so much?

screaming

Remember that dating is “certified lying.” You and your date are both committed to winning the other person by putting your best foot forward (if you are not you probably have some other more serious problems). Therefore, the unfiltered advice from people your date is not trying to impress will be much more objective and closer to reality. Knowing this basic truth, why is it that when people give us advice or caution us about our decisions, that we take it personal? Here are a few reasons we rob ourselves of the blessing of objectivity and wisdom.

1). We assign outside value to the things we love. Therefore when someone shares concern about a trait, it is viewed as a personal attack on our judgment or personal abilities. When a concerned counselor says, “I think you should be careful about this area.” We often hear, “You are a very stupid person.” If your response to objective or even subjective advice is so reactionary, maybe you should reconsider your emotional maturity level? Said a little more frankly, if one is not ready to receive advice, one is not ready for a relationship.

2). We have an exalted view of our judgment and discernment.  Many younger dating couples approach dating like a kindergartner approaches reading, he feels confident because he knows the alphabet. Older couples have a tremendous amount of untapped relational advice that either is never used, or never heeded.

One reason the advice is not heeded from people with dozens of years of experience is that they seem out of touch. They no longer cuddle on the couch, spend excessive amounts of time staring at each other, or hold hands on a walk. It is easy to conclude that these old fogies have no understanding of the passion of true love. Love will reveal itself in long walks, and cuddling, but it is a huge mistake to think that the beginning phrases of love (physical expressions) are the only way to express love in a meaningfuold handsl way. Many people show forth their unspoken belief that a couple in their twenties knows more about love than their grandparents after faithfully weathering all life has thrown at them (including cancer, childrearing, disappointment, loss of abilities, etc.) This unspoken belief is lived out by the simple act of not asking their grandparents for advice.

Another reason for younger relationships to invalidate older advice is because most people who have a close enough relationship to offer advice, are also close enough for us to see their glaring relationship faults in return. Maybe you do not want to emulate your parent’s model of conflict resolution, but that does not invalidate their wisdom in many other areas such as finances or whether or not your date is actually good candidate for a serial killer. We cannot invalidate sound advice because the messenger has warts. If their advice offends you, maybe it is time to start redirecting the “love covers all” philosophy from your unemployed boyfriend towards your counselors.

3). Another reason we have a hard time taking advice about dating is, we believe the lie that people just do not understand. What date hasn’t thought or said, “You just don’t understand her….” It could very well be that your counselor does not understand the individual person, but some things in life do not require understanding of the person to understand the signals. For example, I do not have to understand gravity to know that jumping from high places will cause painful physical reactions. I do not have to understand the person’s story or background to foresee the future painful reactions of laziness or immaturity.

4). We have no true understanding where wisdom comes from. It is true that not all counsel even from people that have been around the block, should hold the same weight. When I dated, I was counseled to kiss her to see if she was the right one. I really liked that counsel, but it was devoid of any scriptural content. True wisdom only comes from the fear of the Lord, but fools will despise instruction (Proverbs 1:7). Before I have the right to disagree with counsel, I have to have a filter through which right counsel should flow. Even if you have scriptural support for your actions, remember to keep talking to people who disagree. Rehoboam decided to stop talking to people who disagreed with him, and that decision helped split the kingdom of Israel in I Kings 12. Frankly, why would you ask advice from someone who already agrees with you?

How you determine the right actions of your relationship will show more about your character than your actions.

     5). We are feeling based. Loving and being loved feels really good, but feelings are not a good basis for truth or love (just ask the married couple going through Alzheimer’s, the married war hero, or the wife after a miscarriage). Sometimes love really hurts. If you are in a relationship simply for the happy feelings, you may as well get a lawyer and pre-sign the divorce papers, because someone somewhere will make you more ‘happy.’ When someone’s advice doesn’t feel good, ask yourself the simple questions, “Why?”

6). We are scared. We often do not like to hear counsel because we are insecure in our abilities, and our observations. We want to deny what our counselors point out, because we are scared we may not get another chance at marriage. We are afraid that someone else has seen the same ‘faults’ we have, but we do not know how to change them. That is exactly what mentors and advisers are for, to help us along our road and to give advice in areas we may be lacking.

7). We often do not see the love behind the advice. Many parents have this idea that since they father-and-daughter-1392185-mgave you life, clothed you, fed you, paid for you, and rocked you when you had the flu, that they have the right to advise you. In fact, some parents or counselors go as far as to believe that all of those actions, sweat, and tears, will be understood as love, and so assume they can get straight to the point. This is often perceived by younger people as an intrusion into their private lives. Give older counselors the courtesy of treating you like adults when they do away with the pleasant formalities of making you feel good in conversation and simply listen for the truth.

Even if they may not know how to be tactful, ask, “Are they truthful?”

8). We are too distracted by the obvious. We do not like to hear people counsel or advise us because it might tarnish the beauty. We look at our dates like a sixteen year old looks at sports car. All the options and whistles, and dad has to remind them of the price tag. Your date may be the homecoming queen, but someone has to remind you of the price tag of her arrogance or insecurity. When someone points out an area of concern or improvement, remember that it is much easier for others to point out the areas that need improvement. Do you really want other people commenting on the beautiful eyes of your date?

When it comes to hearing unwanted or painful advice remember Proverbs 26:12 places the one who will not listen as one step lower than a fool. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”

 Practical advice:

Pre-empt awkward conversations by approaching godly leaders, married couples, parents, and trusted advisers and ask them for advice, before during and after dating. One of the most enjoyable conversations I have ever had was when a young man called me up and said, “Can we do lunch, I have some dating questions and need your advice.”

Prepare before you are in a relationship. Only fools jump into the lake and then learn how to swim. Read Scripture centered books and blogs, hang out with respected couples, or volunteer as a chaperone.

Set up an accountability couple who you have talked to and given permission to check up on you in your dating relationship. Think of them like personal trainers for dating.

Put together a list of Scriptural characteristics to look for in a date.

Take your parent on a date and ask them what about their dating relationship and what wisdom they would give. Make sure you pick up the bill.

These are a few starter ideas, please post any other practical advice for gaining dating wisdom.

Is She, “THE One?

marriages 2

According to answers.com there are approximately 2,320,644,660 single people in the world (and probably a few more if you count conjoined twins.) That means that you have a fairly good chance that someone would be interested in marrying you, if you got around to finding them. Admittingly with all of these options you can get a little paranoid about making the wrong choice (Imagine a multiply choice test with 2,320,644,660 possibly answers). How do you know if he/she is the right one?

Seems how the chances of wading through such an enormous roster, and the simple fact that if you spent 1 second with each candidate it would take nearly 75 years to get through, it would be helpful to look at the issue from a different perspective. How do I know I am the right one? When you think of it, what one person do you know more intimately than yourself? You know your strengths and weaknesses, propensities, talents, you know everything about you. So instead of asking, is he/she the right one, a better question would be, “Am I the right one?”

We will be looking at qualities of a good spouse in other articles, but for now, let’s focus specifically on ourselves. God commands us to work on us, before we start surgery on other people (Mat 7:1-7).

If I were to marry myself, what would I change? Don’t put the burden of “The Right One” on anyone else. Put on your work clothes and prepare to remodel your character. What character traits do you know are lacking? What goals or challenges have you left undone? If your character apartment is a dump, don’t expect to be able to date anyone who isn’t a hobo. Why would dating royalty ever want to be seen around your place? I am not talking about physical location (the King of the universe was born in a barn), but what is the condition of your heart (Proverbs 4:24)? Dates don’t appreciate having frogto clean up after your mess, and find it easier to move on.

Remember, frogs find other frogs attractive.

     If I were to marry my mom or dad, what would they change? I realize that it is often easy to explain away and justify character flaws, but not so easy to do that to our parents. Why not take your mom, dad or other spiritual leader out to eat, and ask them, “What would I need to change to be a good spouse.” After you perform lifesaving CPR from the shock, I guarantee they will have a few suggestions.

If I were to marry my enemy, what would they change? I am not suggesting you take your enemy out to lunch and ask him (although if handled with a little charm, your enemy may decide to marry you). Yet our enemies do have a lot to tell us about our character. If you are being riddled with sarcastic comments at work or school, they may be trying to tell you something constructive in their very mean way.

If God were to marry me, what would He change? The Bible refers to believers as His

Bride, so we should get ready (John 14:1-6, I John 3:3). God has standards for His bride, He

does not want us to frantically be doing our hair and makeup during the ceremony. If you work on becoming God’s man or woman today, who is to say that you will not bump into God’s spouse in the waiting room?parachute

     Preparation does not come by accident. Even if you are not seeing anyone, now is the best time to become the best husband or wife, it will save you a whole lot of pain. In fact, falling in love is similar to skydiving without a parachute, they both are fun until you realize a little preparation could save a hard landing.

Take a little time to score yourself on some of your character traits. Remember this chart is for personal growth purposes only, I would not recommend you showing the completed list and score to impress your date, it will weird them out, and then you would hate me.

Rate your character development using the following scale.

5 – Those who know me would say I have this trait.

3 – Not everyone would recognize this trait in me, but some would.

1 – Only a few people would say I have this trait.

0 – No one that I know would say I have this trait.

__  Wisdom  __ Discernment  __ Faith  __ Thankfulness __ Diligence

__ Creativity __  Hospitality __ Attentiveness  __ Patience  __ Confidence

__ Joyfulness __ Flexibility __ Availability  __ Responsibility  __ Initiative

__ Dependability  __ Sensitivity  __ Justice  __ Compassion  __ Loyalty

__ Deference  __ Meekness  __ Truthfulness __ Sincerity __ Virtue __ Boldness

__ Obedience  __ Thriftiness  __ Resourcefulness __ Self-Control __ Generosity

__ Forgiving spirit __ Gentleness  __ Kindness  __ Respectfulness

Total score _____/175

Would you be content marrying someone who scored in the same percentile? 

Dating and the Gospel

ring

Dating is about the Gospel. Dating and marriage image the greatest relationship mankind has ever experienced. Your dating experience should simply be footnotes to the Gospel. When people look at you, they should not only see a couple filled with hopes and dreams, but they should actually see God! All throughout scripture God used pictures to illustrate spiritual truths. The sacrificial system was a picture of Christ, the Passover was a picture of Christ, and your dating/marriage relationship should also be all about Christ and the Gospel. So what does a Gospel centered dating relationship look like?

A Gospel centered relationship is about imaging God. This imaging starts first by imitation, and then all those around will be able to see the image of God. Does your dating cause people to see a better picture of Christ? Do you model Christ to your GF or BF? When they are around you do you cause them to think more of their Savior? I cannot truly image God unless I know Him. Before I can expect a God-honoring and fulfilling dating relationship, I have to be pursuing my first heavenly Love (Rev 2:4).

Your dating relationship is a microcosm of your relationship with your Heavenly spouse. You will never be closer to your date, than you are to your God. You can pretend to love, and even feel like you love the other person, but if you are not honoring your first commitment to Christ, you cannot honor your God or truly love your date.

A Gospel centered relationship is about a choice to love. Falling in love and love’s first kiss work well in Disney movies, but God has given us the perfect example of dating in the Scriptures. In fact God is the one pursing His date. In dating I get to imitate God. Did you know God dated? He zeroed in on one nation and then choose to love it.  “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the LORD loved you….” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

In dating, a couple gets to walk in God’s footsteps by choosing/setting their love on someonebloody-cross-4-1411635-m else. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” A cursory look at Scripture shows that God’s love was not feeling based, but a choice God made. Love is a choice, and in dating/marriage I get to show God to my date or spouse (I John 4:8). Every decision in dating from choosing to maintain purity to sharing your last French fry is a chance to model God type love.

How have you been shown this God-love in your relationship?

Why Date?

marriage 2

Unless you are content to hypnotize yourself with a controller in your hand, in star wars pajamas with Cocoa Pebble stains on them, I am going to assume you are favorable to the idea of being in a relationship with a significant other. We could spend a lot of time focusing on the wrong reasons people start relationships (to meet emotional needs, to boast confidence, to fit in, etc.), but it would seem to be more practical to start at the beginning.

Many people find a person of interest and immediately start a relationship without ever asking the most basic question, “WHY DATE?” As Confucius should have said, “He that tests the depth of the water with both feet is a very dumb man.” If you are in or contemplating being in a relationship and do not have a firm, scriptural answer to that question, you should schedule some time for major pain and disillusionment in your near future.

God expects believers to submit dating to the same principles of Scripture as any other area, “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” (I Cor 10:31) This helps direct us in our dating relationships and answers the question, “Why date?” Dating is not about you…. or them…. it’s about Him. So how can one date to the glory of God? I am excited to begin this journey with you, as we look at God’s practical answers for searching believers.

As I prepare to put together a series on dating and relationships, I feel balance would be a aussi-stop-sign-1443865-mkey word to remember. I realize that even though I am writing primarily to a near graduated or college age audience, many of these questions and topics span generations, while some are much more specific. Therefore, I feel it would be wise, to attach a few disclaimers to this series.

I am expecting you to think and search Scripture (Don’t simply take my word for it.) This series will include many general principles. It is my desire that the principles come from Scripture, yet I realize some of the application of the principles may not be all inclusive or applicable in every situation.

I realize that there is quite a bit of debate regarding the meaning of dating versus courting, so for sake of clarity, I am defining dating as: “The mutual pursuit of marriage possibility.” I view dating in the same way I use the subway, the only reason to get on is to arrive at a predetermined destination. This idea stems from the principles found in (Luke 14:28) and the many purpose filled commands of Scripture.

I realize that even though guy/girl relationships are beautiful before God, it may not be God’s plan for every one of His children to be in a relationship, and singleness is not a curse from God.

My prayer is that many of these articles will help you prepare for a wonderful relationship based on our first and highest relationship.

.