Dating with Happy Feet

You know him. The quarterback with happy feet.

He drops back to pass. Looks. Scans. Nothing open. He does a jig that’s less footballish and more Riverdance, and it’s usually followed by a mistake.

Interception. Sack. Fumble. You name it, you’ve named him. The quarterback with happy feet.

I am the quarterback with happy feet. Granted, I’ve never taken a snap from under center and I’ve never been crushed by a 290-lb. defensive tackle, but that’s me. Prepare for the metaphor application… as single men, we have happy feet in the dating world.

In 2013, options are everywhere. You can theoretically find any type of woman you’d like, from Miami to Mozambique and back again. They can be writers or rodeo clowns. They can be tall/short, little/big. Whatever you want, so long as it’s reciprocated, I suppose. But this presents a problem. In the past, you dated people you ran with. If you were a member of the bourgeoisie, you dated a member of the bourgeoisie. Likewise, peasants; meet peasants. Not anymore though–––like no other time in history, it’s up to you–––and that might not be a good thing. Here are four things that quarterbacks with happy feet do:

1. They’re unhappy with their options

A quarterback has his go-to receiver. If that receiver isn’t open (maybe she’s in a relationship or engaged), he scans the defense for another matchup. If he makes it through all of his reads, the ball usually ends up in the hands of his check-down option.

2. They get anxious

If everybody’s covered, he gets anxious and begins the dance of the happy feet. Due to the mounting pressure, he looks back at his options, floating something halfway reminiscent of an actual forward pass toward his target.

3. They make a mistake

By the time that pass is thrown, the receiver is covered. Interception.

Sometimes, the quarterback is crippled by indecision and takes a sack. His future decisions are now altered due to his previous indecision, and he needs additional yardage to score a touchdown.

4. They overreact

That quarterback is thinking about the last pass he threw. In the best case scenario, he is a quick forgetter. If not, he might make another mistake, or even worse, just hand the ball off.

 ///

If there are two things I love, it’s football and dating metaphors. And unlike the Mark Sanchez’s of the world, you don’t have to have a career making questionable decisions on the field. Like Peyton Manning in the opening video, even the best quarterbacks get happy feet, but we all want a touchdown, right?

We do. But somewhere along the line, you’ll get sacked. 

You’ll fumble. You’ll turn first-and-goal into fourth-and-long, but at the end of the day, Peyton Manning was a twelve-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl winner, and four-time NFL MVP. There is a correlation between your past mistakes and your present successes. If you’re willing to learn from your mistakes, you’re more likely to run headlong into the teeth of that intimidating defense.

The Cure for Happy Feet

The cure for happy feet begins by realizing that a lack of focus is deadly in relationships, as in football. Options are great if you’re talking hamburgers or hot dogs, but when you’re driving the field, you can’t be preoccupied with multiple receivers. Without focus and a number one receiver, you’ll be more inclined to make an errant decision.

In addition, happy feet disappear when you slow down, because not all decisions are best served quickly. When we speed up the dating process, we are asking for trouble. Nowadays, we meet, greet, and delete in a fraction of the time, leading to our lack of options and unhappiness.

Let’s talk Peyton again–––and his favorite receiver, Marvin Harrison. Together, they set NFL records for QB-to-WR completions, yards, and touchdowns, but they didn’t do it overnight. They built chemistry. After awhile, their interactions on the field were almost completely in sync. It was magical (much like a great relationship should be), so if you see a receiver downfield, make sure it’s one you’re comfortable with.

Get Off The Bench

It’s gametime and it’s time to step up. We are called to be leaders on and off the field, so find your receiver and get to winning. Sure, I’m not asking you to take 11 years like Peyton and Marvin did, but making sure you can score a touchdown with a lady friend will go along way toward getting that Super Bowl ring.

 

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: Do you get dating happy feet? Do you think the football analogy was just a little over the top? Let us know in the comments below. [/alert]

Does Surprise Exist In Relationships Anymore?

I can’t imagine growing up in my parents’ generation. If my father liked a girl, he actually had to, you know… get to know her. It sounds crazy. In today’s culture, we know nothing about the “getting to know her” phase. Instead of:

Boy meets girl.
Boy asks girl out.
Boy gets to know girl.
Boy and girl date or never speak again.

It’s now:

Boy sometimes (but not always) meets girl.
Boy initiates contact via Facebook.
Boy and girl Facebook the you-know-what out of each other.
Boy and girl hang out.
Boy and girl randomly know too much about the other person, but play it off as mere coincidence.
Boy judges girl because of risque spring break pictures from Cabo in 2007.
Girl judges boy because he doesn’t have 1 Corinthians 13 listed in his “favorite quotations.”
Boy and girl grow tired of each other, and cease contact, because the fun of getting to know someone is completely minimized.

Does surprise exist in relationships anymore? I don’t think so.

What happens above happens in many (if not most) circumstances. We’re so ready to meet and marry that we’re willing to forego any semblance of getting to know another person.

With the advent of social media, nothing is shrouded in secrecy. I mean… you can easily decipher whether “Mrs. Right” is the perfect match based upon a seven-second Facebook stalk or Twitter search, right?

Wrong.

You see, the problem is that we are so willing to see if our prospective wifey meets specific dating criteria, that we are willing to forego intimacy. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4 (MSG) that God wants you to live a pure life. Prior to that, Paul says:

We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.

Paul is urging us to live a spirited dance of purity. And yes, the physical side is crucially important, but the mental side is paramount. We refuse to hear this, most times.

“As long as I’m keeping it in my pants, I’m good.”

And that’s a lie. You can marry yourself to someone in your mind if you’re not careful. You can date someone in your mind if you’re not careful. If you engage in the Facebook stalk, you’re asking to put this person under the microscope. There’s no purity there. You’re committing to somebody in your mind, or you’re leaving them for dead before they even know what’s hit them.

Embrace The Infatuation Phase

I’ve heard people rail against the infatuation phase, but really, I don’t think it’s all that bad. Sure, you might abandon all sense of self-control and go AWOL to your friends and family, but at the very least, the infatuation phase is honest.

The infatuation phase serves its’ purpose because despite the sheer amount of time spent together, it’s like one giant scavenger hunt. You’re finding something new about them, they’re finding something new about you. Repeat.

But that’s weird. And we don’t do that anymore, right? Because they could be awkward… or they might think you could be awkward. And it takes vulnerability to figure that out. So instead, we turn into miniature private eyes and seek to dissect everything about Mrs. Right before we even take our first walk together.

Hashtag awkward.

Make Her Worth The Wait

I’m preaching to myself here. Far too often, I’ve shelved great relationships with great women because they didn’t pass the test (whatever that means). Here and now, let’s commit to waiting. This seems way down the rabbit hole of what’s counter-cultural, but to see a different relationship you’re going to have to do something different. We need to keep our eyes on the prize: Jesus.

Find Jesus instead of the best possible version of her. Considering that our social media accounts are just highlight reels anyway, you’ll find that Jesus is the highlight reel God. The Bible is his immaculate Facebook. You’ll never find something about him that doesn’t meet your list of standards, because he is the standard. And I can guarantee you this:

You won’t care. The more you press in, the less she matters. And that’s not in an arrogant way, but in a “Jesus determines my love, so who cares what she did in Cabo” kind of way. It’s that simple.

#12in12: How to Tell if You’re Dating a Preacher

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

5. How to Tell if You’re Dating a Preacher

by Cory Copeland – January 9, 2012

This was the first of many wonderfully written satirical pieces by Cory Copeland on QM. Hilariously funny and 100% true, this look at our slice of Christianity is good for the soul.


There is but one mighty trophy that exists in the brutal competition known as the Christian dating world—that of the young preacher as husband/wife. Wishes have been made, secret séances have been conducted, and felonies have been committed, all in the name of landing a preacher as a spouse. Of this, I am certain.

But how can you tell when that fine young lad or lass you’re interested in has designs on entering the ministry, or is just a good ol’ Christian soul? The subtle nuances can be daunting. Kinda like when Dr. Quinn had to decide if Sully was right for her, or just a good-looking white boy who thought he might just be a Native America (actually…it’s not anything like that, never mind). Regardless, I’ve already started writing and don’t want to stop, so therefore, I present to you, “Cory Copeland’s Guide on How to Tell if You’re Dating a Preacher”:

Read more.

 

#12in12: Seeing Dating For What It Is

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

8. Seeing Dating For What It Is

by Shane Stoltzfus – May 29, 2012

This article was a beacon of truth the moment it hit Quarterlife Man. Addressing men and women alike, Shane’s candid approach (I’m just adding to the conversation … As a single Christian guy I am trying to find where I belong in all of this.) was edifying and very well done. Take a read if you’re ready to learn.


Dating is something that I have never really thought was an issue that mattered to God because of how minuscule it can seem when compared to deeper issues. Even the word itself has a specific stigma to it. It’s as if this word holds some sort of power that causes conversations to get awkward and people to get either extremely happy or ridiculously sad. Some people even get angry at the very thought of the word.

Most people that write about dating come across as if they are the ultimate authority on the issue. They all have written a dozen books about it and although each author differs in opinion and logic they somehow all remain correct. It’s ridiculous, as if a self help book is going to launch you into a Godly relationship with the opposite sex. I’m not even going to pretend to be like that because the truth is I don’t have it figured out.

I’m just adding to the conversation… taking the things I’ve noticed and mixing them with a few things that I have learned. As a single Christian guy I am trying to find where I belong in all of this. I love the idea of marriage and I realize that dating is a prerequisite to that endeavor. My problem with dating is that it has been completely abused and in some situations it has become extremely unhealthy.

Read more.

#12in12: When Knowing Isn’t Enough

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

10. When Knowing Isn’t Enough

by Cory Copeland – February 7, 2012

This post from Cory Copeland dissects the old saying, “When you know, you know,” and does it with truth and clarity. I remember reading this and immediately flashing over to relationships gone sour, taking what I had learned and applying it. Everyone should read this article.


When you know, you know. And when you don’t know, you still know.

This is a saying I use on an almost daily basis when people ask me for relationship advice (I know; I’m surprised as you are). I think I came up with it myself, but considering the amount of movies, music, and television I ingest, I wouldn’t doubt that I subconsciously stole it from someone (as long as it wasn’t Nickelback…).

Regardless, this saying can not only be applied to most of life’s situations, but more specifically, to love. “When you know, you know…” How many times have we heard that from a freshly engaged male or female as they smile and try to explain why they’ve popped that magical question or answered yes to it. And you know what? It’s the truth. When you love someone, you know that you love them. If you aren’t sure if you love them or not, guess what “…you still know” (here’s a hint: you don’t).

Read more.

Purity: Asking All The Wrong Questions (Plus Giveaway!)

[alert style=”info”] Ed. Note: Today’s guest post is from Ally Vesterfelt. She is a writer extraordinaire and the editor-in-chief at Prodigal. You can follow her on Twitter and scroll below for the chance to win a copy of her new book! [/alert]

I used to think that being single was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.

In some ways, I was right.

Then I met Darrell. We started dating. And really quickly I began to realize that it isn’t really fair to say that my single life was all about me. In fact, the decisions I made before I met him affected someone other than me, someone who I didn’t even know existed at the time was was making them.

There are some decisions I made as a single woman that I wish I wouldn’t have made so flippantly. I wish I would have realized that the decisions I was making in my single life were decisions that would one day impact my husband.

I grew up in church and heard the messages about “Waiting for Marriage” from the time I was young. I was part of the “True Love Waits” generation and read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story.

I even went on a retreat with my youth group where I started writing letters to my future husband. Between the ages of 15 & 18 I wrote a few hundred letters and kept them in a box under my bed.

Cute, right?

 

During late high school and college I decided I didn’t really want anything to do with God anymore. I was sick of all the rules I had to follow and I just wanted to hang out and have fun.

It was a slow change at first. I would kiss guys and make out with them, that sort of thing. What I was doing wasn’t that big of a deal (or so I told myself) It was just kissing. Right?

When I got to college I started drinking and that changed everything. I never made good decisions while I was drinking but at least I got to use alcohol as an excuse. I partied and hooked up with guys.

I acted like I was having fun living the “college life” but it never made me feel as good as I thought it would. Especially after the fact.

Here’s the thing. My story doesn’t get any “worse” from there. No stories of rape or pregnancy or STDs. Pretty typical “college girl” type things as far as the world is concerned, right?

I was just really, really broken and lonely.

I started dating a guy who said he loved me, and pretty soon we were having sex too. I figured it was okay because we were in love; and love was what I had been missing before.

But when that relationship went down in flames, I felt as awful as I did before, the morning after a college party, hungover and used.

“How had I ended up here?” I wondered.

I had grown up in church. I had a box full of letters promising myself to my future husband. And I had been told since I was a little girl that I was “worth waiting for.”

I would read the Bible or hear a pastor talk about “sexual immorality” and cringe a little because I knew I wanted to do things God’s way again but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even explain why I felt that way. It just felt right.

So I re-committed myself to purity. I wasn’t really sure I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to do it but I knew I wanted to.

It didn’t come naturally.

 

I would set rules and boundaries for myself, cross them, and get disappointed and depressed. After making mistakes, I would set stricter boundaries to safeguard myself.

Even strict boundaries were no match for the insecurity and loneliness I felt. I would do just about anything I could to get attention. I kept messing up again and again and again.

Finally, I gave up. I isolated myself. I turned down dates when they came my way. I was friends with guys, but rarely more than that, because I knew that if I let it go beyond friendship I was in danger of making the same mistakes again.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being faithful to my future husband.

But looking back I realize how much I was just managing my sin.

Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who wants to honor God with my actions, but can’t figure out how to do it. I know I’m not the only one asking, “Why are we waiting anyway?” “What’s the point?” “Is there hope for me?” and “Is it worth it?”

I’m not the only one who needs the answer to “Why should I wait for marriage to have sex?” to be more than just, “Because the Bible says so.”

That wasn’t enough for me. I needed there to be more.

And instead of fighting silently, I want to start the conversation.

So I wrote a book called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex. It talks honestly about my journey, my struggle, and the answers I’ve found to the questions I’ve asked. It also admits that there aren’t answers to every question. It highlights the nature of God, and how that helps us fill in the blank spaces.

If you want to commit yourself to purity, but you’re not sure how, or you aren’t sure it’s even practical, this book is for you. I hope it helps you in your process.

 

Book Giveaway!

Do you want a free copy of Ally’s new book, Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? We are giving away one copy of Asking All The Wrong Questions to a random Twitter follower on December 1st!

Make sure you’re following us here and then tell us why purity is important to you for another entry (tweet to @QuarterlifeMan or use the hashtag #QuarterlifeQuestion).

Good luck!

 

Allison Vesterfelt is a writer and thinker who is becoming brave enough to live and tell the truth. She loves her job as the Editor-in-Chief of Prodigal Magazine  where she gets to help people live and tell good stories. She has one foot in Portland, OR, and one in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can keep up with her by following her on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

(Full Disclosure: The link to Ally’s book is an affiliate link, which means that she/they receive a commission if you choose to purchase her book (or anything) at that link. Quarterlife Corporation does not explicitly endorse this link, so if you really feel horrible about helping their cause–––and we’re not sure why you would–––you can buy the book here.)

Be a Man and Act More Feminine

Society has done a lot to cultivate certain ideas about gender roles within relationships.  As men, we are fed misconceptions which we then hold to be truth.  Men are always supposed to be the strong ones.  Men don’t talk about their feelings.  Men don’t do housework.  Men don’t raise the children.  Well, if this is what it means to be a man, then I would say it is time to man-up and act more feminine.

 

IT’S OK TO OPEN UP

I know you’ve heard it before, but some things are cliche because they are true… relationships require communication.  Talk.  Open up.  Share your thoughts, dreams, and fears.  Nothing will ruin a relationship faster than a lack of communication.

Talk about your feelings.  You don’t always have to be the “strong one.”  Everyone has times in their life where they need to lean on someone else.  I’m not saying you have to be an emotional basket case, but don’t be ashamed of expressing how you feel.  Women want a man whose not afraid to say he needs them.

Share your thoughts, dreams, and fears.  Nothing is worse than feeling like you are going through life alone.  Discuss the things that are on your mind.  Share your excitement about goals and dreams.  Talk about what fears you face.  Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have it all figured out (after all, none of us do).

 

HOUSEWORK DOES NOT EQUAL WOMEN’S WORK

Men, this may seem like an insignificant issue, but step up and share in the responsibilities.  Clean up after yourself.  After a romantic dinner together, blow her away and do the dishes.

Whether your married or living in your bachelor pad, your floor does not equal your hamper, and your mommy, girlfriend, or wife does not have to do the laundry.

I have been constantly reminded of the impact that the simple act of sharing in the housework can have.  On several occasions, I have heard my wife tell someone how much it means to her when I help out without being asked or complaining.  I think you’ll be shocked with what these simple acts can mean.

To all the husbands out there, if you really want to shock her, vacuum… mop… dust… clean the bathroom… trust me, the rewards can very much be in your favor.  Someday, my daughter will be very embarrassed by my sharing, but we wound up with her because I painted the house.

 

DADS, THEY NEED YOU TOO

To the dads who happen upon this article (or those who want to be a dad someday), share in the joy of raising your kids.  Change the diapers.  Rock them to sleep.  Sit down to tea parties.  Take them to the park.  Let them see you helping around the house.  Tell them how much you love them and their mommy.  Make sure they (and your wife) come before work, friends, the game on TV, golf, or anything else.  Everyone needs to relax once in a while, but make sure they know they are a priority.

 

ABOVE ALL, PLACE GOD FIRST

This one doesn’t fit the title, but I cannot write about relationships without bringing it up.  In a world were we are afraid of sounding cheesy or weird if we talk about God, take a stand.  Place Him first and everything else will fall into place.

If you’re single and looking, pray that you will be the man deserving of the woman God brings into your life.

If you are dating, pray that God will protect your relationship.  Pray that His will for your relationship will be clear.  Pray that purity will remain within your relationship.

If your married, pray that you and your spouse will remain in His will.  Pray that He will protect your marriage in the midst of a world where marriages are crumbling around you.

Wherever you are in life, lead by example.  Strive to grow closer to the God who loves you and desires to see you succeed.

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: What does it mean to be a man, yet more feminine in your life? How is this different from how things normally are? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

When We Decide To Be Indecisive

[alert style=”info”]Editor’s Note: This is a post that I wrote for my personal blog in 2011. It’s too good not to share. [/alert]

I hate going to Chick-fil-A.

Well, maybe not. I hate the process.

I hate ordering at Chick-fil-A. It turns into decision overload. There’s always that one central moment (and why is it when there are 90 people behind you?) when you step to the front of the line and have no idea what to order.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I’ll have a #1.
Wait. No.
A 4-count nugget… with an ice cream.
In a cup.
Wait. A cone… definitely a cone.
And a Coke.
Wait. Lemonade.
Wait. A sweet tea.

Despite the fact that I would never-ever order a sweet tea, I still really feel for the those poor Chick-fil-A employees.

 

We’re the same way with women…

…and if there’s one area that we need to deviate, as men in our culture, it’s here. There are way too many men (boys, really) galavanting around, treating women like garbage and assuming there are ZERO consequences for their actions. Now, I know what you’re about to say:

“Hey Schmidt. I’m not some horrible person. I don’t run around having sex and making horrible decisions!”

Yes, I know. You’re not having sex; you’re leading a ‘good’ life.

Your actions still have consequences. How many girls have you lead on because you loved the attention? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably billions, but guess what: every day those women think of (or have thought of) you repeatedly and it’s not in the oh-he’s-a-really-great-friend kind of way.

Sidenote: If you weren’t about to say that you’re not making horrible decisions… and it’s because you are having sex, you need to stop and type ‘purity’ into the search bar up top. Just saying.

It’s our indecision, as men, as leaders, that has a crippling effect on Godly relationships. Have you ever heard that all of the great Christian women are wondering where the great Christian men are? This is through our indecision and it happens in two ways:

 

1. Pre-Relational Indecision.

I will begin with the following: if you like her and think she’s supa-fine… ASK HER OUT. Somewhere along the line, it became perfectly justifiable in Christian culture to stick a certain part of your body between your legs and not be a man. BE. A. MAN.

If you know her pretty well and you’re spending enough time together, it’s redundant to lead her on. She likes ya, bro. Also, despite gender-equity in all areas of 21st-Century life, she’s still a woman, and that woman wants her Boaz. I won’t pretend like I know women internally, but I will go out on a limb and say that the women who pursue men themselves are few and far between. She will put herself in front of you, very much like Ruth did, but it’s your job to take the football and score.

0251

 

2. Inter-Relational Indecision.

I referenced this briefly just a moment ago. It’s inevitable that you will meet and get to know some very cute lady friends. In secular society, you are a man by virtue of the sheer amount of women on your arm. If you want to achieve a different result, you need to do something different. You’re a man because God ordained you to follow him and lead others (including your girlfriend/fiancé/wife).

Let’s go back to the “friend” you might be leading on. If you don’t like her or don’t think she’s supa-fine… ASK HER OUT. (Just checking to make  sure you’re paying attention.)

Seriously though, if you can’t see yourself dating her, stop playing games. Nothing good ever came from leading someone on. She’s already emotionally vested in your relationship (even if it may be just a friendship), and most of the time, those feelings will only increase.

 

So how can we counteract this indecision?

I’m glad you asked. I eluded to it before: you need to be decisive. The Bible says to “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’;” (Matt 5:37). It’s much easier said than done, but here’s one helpful guideline that should help your situation dramatically:

Talk to her. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. So often, her expectations are higher than your intentions, or vice versa. If you’re communicating well, there will be no miscommunication on where you’re at relationally. Tell her, “I want to be intentional on getting to know you better,” or, “I think you’re really special and I want to date you.” If you’re not thinking like that, tell her this:

“Listen [girl], I think you’re awesome, but I don’t want to compromise the relationship you’ll have with your future husband. I cannot be that man for you and it’s unfair to both of you to be occupying your time.”

Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11). You are a man, so when interacting with women, be real. She will appreciate your honesty in the long run. God has created us to be bold and stouthearted (Psalm 138:3), so we should attack our relationships with that same vigor.

One Final, Parting Thought: She knows you’re indecisive when you say that you are “waiting on God.” You have two choices… commit to a season of singleness or get moving with the ladies. They’re all out there… and they’re waiting for some real men.
[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: How do you deal with indecisiveness? What’s your worst story of indecisiveness? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

She Loves Me, She Loves Not-Me

“I want a girl who loves me for who I am.”

“I shouldn’t have to change to be with anyone.”

Have you thought, or said, things like this before?  A popular belief about relationships, is that you should find someone who accepts you for who you are, doesn’t try to change you, and the two of you will live happily ever after. However, this is a boring, static, and warped view of true relationship.

How many times have you heard (or said) statements like, “She wants me to ________, but that’s just not me.”. We cling to ideas of individuality, claiming we should be free to be ourselves, and then are surprised when things don’t work out in a relationship which involves two people.  The truth is, relationship requires that your individuality becomes deeply and profoundly interwoven with the other.

A true relationship is two individuals finding themselves as they grow, shape, and change each other.

[divider]

The question is not if you can find someone who will not change you, but if you can find someone who changes you into someone better than you are.

This is a truth which becomes drastically apparent in marriage.  When two people join together, if they hold to individualized identity, it is inevitable that they will move apart.

Change is inevitable.

You either change together, or change separately and move further apart.

I believe this is a truth evident in the very beginning of creation.

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man. ” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:22-24 (NIV)

And affirmed again by Jesus in Mark 10:6-8.

But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. (NIV)

Two become one.

Individuality becomes communion.

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In true relationship, especially the sacred bond of marriage, identity is no longer defined by individuality, but emerges from continual, growing communion between two people.  Each constantly grows and changes to be what the other, and the relationship, needs.  Petty ideas of entitlement are traded for beautiful realizations of self-sacrificing love.  Neither is belittled, but both are uplifted, as two people strive to become a single, unified example of love.

What ideas of individuality are you clinging to, which drive a wedge between the relationship you are meant to have?

In what ways do you cling to the desires of self, and neglect the communion of two becoming one?

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If You Are Not Married

Focus on finding out what the other person needs in a relationship; talk about the things that matter most to each other.  Protect the one you are with, and do not cross the boundaries of physical relationship.

To have sex before the commitment of marriage, is to become one physically, before becoming one in identity.  It will inevitably bring confusion.

When you are not married, you protect the other by not joining into a communion that you are not ready for.  Do not take from your partner what they should only share in the communion and commitment of marriage.  This is not only about sex, but also about sharing parts of your life which you are not yet ready to share.

Be careful of the emotional dependency which can arise from becoming too close before you are committed to the other.

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If You Are Married

Your identity is deeply rooted in your spouse.  Every aspect of life is about the two of you.  Your thoughts are to be in light of what is best for the other.  Your choices are to be decisions which move you and your spouse closer together.  Even your body is to be cared for, as it is now shared with another.

Your identity is now the communion between you and your spouse.

Every decision (what you think, say, watch, or do) is now to be weighed against how it will impact the union between you and your spouse.

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For Us All

May we strive to let go of false notions of individual entitlement, and strive to discover the truth of relationship which embraces change.

[box_help]Thanks for reading. What can you do to better prepare for marriage, or to be a better husband? Let us know in the comments.[/box_help]

Coffee Shop Talk: Serving Others, Missionary Dating, and Being Equally Yoked

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience and enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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What does it mean to you to serve others?

Serving others can look so many different ways. It could be helping out with projects or helping clean up… maybe organizing events (etc. etc.). For me, personally, defining what serving others is is simple.

Love them.

If I am focused on loving others the way Christ loves them, I will want to give my time, my talents, my money, my abilities to serve them. It’s going to look different for every person, but one thing that should look the same is love. God is love and He’s the whole reason why we serve.

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What are you thoughts on “missionary” dating?

First, for those of you who were just as confused by this question as I was when I first read it–––let me clarify. This question is asking what my thoughts are on dating someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus with the intention of trying to bring them to salvation. Now, please don’t take this as the “be all, end all” of answers. I’m not God and He can do whatever He likes and can use whatever and whoever He wants to bring people to Him. Could that be through a relationship? Definitely. With that being said, be very, very careful.

In every relationship, I would encourage you to enter into serious prayer first, seeking the heart and will of God before doing anything. My thoughts, however, are this:

Do not date people who do not love the Lord.

If you are a God-fearing man [or woman] and you are seeking the face of God and desiring the things of Him–––wouldn’t you want to be with someone who is seeking the same things? If you want to grow and dream God-sized dreams and see His Kingdom come in this generation alongside a woman [or man] in a relationship, don’t you want them to love God too? God is everything to me and the most important person in my life. I don’t understand how I could date someone who doesn’t love Him too. [I don’t want to get ahead of myself though. We’ll talk about that in the next question.]

The saying goes, “look at their friends and you’ll see who they are.” It’s true. We adapt and change dependent on who we surround ourselves with. “Bad company corrupts good character.” I don’t think I need to list examples or details. I’m sure you can all think of situations and instances where you’ve seen this. These two phrases carry over into the dating world too.

God can definitely use you to bring someone to Him in a relationship… so be their friend. You don’t need to date someone to save them. Only God can save them anyway. And more times than not, Satan uses those types of relationships to keep the one who loves Jesus stagnant in their faith or completely fall away from God. So please, be very very careful.

Once again, I don’t have all the answers, but I know God does. He says,

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
–2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV

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Where is the line drawn on being equally yoked?

Obviously, this question is closely related to the one above, but I think this question is dealing moreso with two Christians dating. This again, comes down to time in prayer and seeking the will of God.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
–Proverbs 27:17, NLT

As believers, when we are all seeking and actively pursuing God, we will be challenged and sharpened by the fellow believers around us doing the same. The same is true in a relationship… the key though, is the pursuit.

Are both people actively and willingly seeking more and more of God individually before they seek together? 

That is my key question to all of you. If the person you are dating doesn’t want to seek God on their own, chances are they’ll be gritting their teeth when you want to seek Him together. Both people need to be strong in who they are in Christ before they can be in a relationship. God didn’t create relationships so that we could “complete” each other. Only God can complete us. God created relationships to sharpen us and strengthen us for HIS glory and to lift HIS name high.

If your relationship isn’t doing the one thing it was designed for, chances are you are unequally yoked.

In everything guys, pray. Pray continually for wisdom and guidance when it comes to relationships. Hearts are on the line. Don’t break someone else’s and guard yours from being broken.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]