This is part one of a short series that I am writing with my sister. We are taking on common misconceptions in Christian circles about dating and trying to reconcile them with real life situations. Whatever your relationship status–be it happily married, engaged, in a serious relationship, divorced, single and loving it, single and hating it, a complicated relationship–we hope and pray that our words are able to encourage you.
I’ve heard it all. As a single woman in her mid-twenties who has grown up in the Church, I’ve come across every possible opinion of what dating looks like for a believer in Jesus. I’ve read the books. I’ve heard the sermons. “You should date.” “Don’t date at all.” “Courting is the way to go.” “No missionary dating.” “If you do X, Y, and Z, God will reward you with your future spouse.” “A relationship will happen when you least expect it.” If you attend a Christian college or work at a Christian summer camp, you know that you are expected to walk away from it, hand in hand with your future spouse. The mentality of “ring by spring” is serious business.
I know the intentions behind every one of those statements are to give young adults guidance and direction, yet I can’t help but wonder–why is so much emphasis placed on being in a dating relationship? Why is there an unspoken mentality that being single in your mid-twenties signifies that there is something wrong with you?
I hate when people, upon learning that I am single, respond with pity in their voice. “Aww, I’m sorry to hear that.” There is always a part of me that wants to respond: “Why are you sorry that I am single?” Before I have a chance to respond, they are almost always giving me advice that I didn’t ask for, advice that I’ve heard before time and time again. “Enjoy this season of singleness while it lasts, but don’t worry, it will be your turn soon.”
Marriage with my earthly husband is not the end goal of my life.
Marriage will be part of my life, yes, but not the end goal. The end goal of my life is to live fully for Jesus, to do what He asks me to, in preparation for the glorious day of His marriage to the Church. My relationship status should not define or limit me in the context of following after Jesus. I am not any less significant because I do not have a significant other.
For many years, I prayed for my future husband to be brought into my life as soon as possible. I had bought into the lie that if I wasn’t dating “by my age,” that there was something wrong with me. I felt pressure all around me to enter into a dating relationship as soon as possible, because “time is a-tickin’.” I am no longer praying for my future husband to come RIGHT NOW, simply because I don’t want my impatience to cloud my vision of what is before me in this moment. Serving and loving Jesus is the best adventure possible, whether you are single or married. Right now, I am single—and in love with Jesus. When I am dating, I will still be in love with Jesus. When I am married, I will still be in love with Jesus. I do not have to wait until marriage to experience the full life that Jesus promised. It is available for the taking, so today I will grab hold of it with all that I have. I will do the same tomorrow and each day until I see Jesus face to face.