Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Replacing the Trash, Part 2: Dating vs. Waiting

Is it just me, or is the teenage dating scene continuously getting worse? Maybe it's just where I live, but it seems everyone is in and out of relationships like clockwork. Of all my friends and all their relationships, only two are still intact and have survived over two years. Both are flourishing, and both couples are each over eighteen. On the other hand, there's all my other friends. Their stories are all the same: crush turns to dating, dating turns to hating, hating turns to annoying Facebook updates filled with hate and complaining and regret. The pattern is so predictable and so far removed from what God wants that it isn't even funny.

I can't help but think of a former friend. This guy started going to church at thirteen and he started to understand what this whole God thing was. The problem is that he's a gotta-have-a-girl guy, so on top of his numerous relationships previous to church, he dated three girls in the youth group. I talked a lot with him about purity and lust, and I once asked him if he had ever kissed a girl. He said, "Oh yeah, and I've regretted it every single time." Since that conversation, he's had at least three girlfriends, and dropped out of church. Each relationship ends bitterly, with drama and pain and regret. And yet he still goes back to relationships.


If something doesn't work the first twenty times, why try again?

Let me share some of my story. If you've been a faithful reader for a while, you know that I've been in two hard relationships. The first one, I became great friends with a girl. We did everything together, and our moms and younger siblings were good friends, so it just clicked. An actual relationship was never established, but, I assumed, after seeing each other at least four times a week for two months, we had to be more than regular friends. We were peas in a pod, and emailed each other several times a day, and went everywhere together. I helped out with their garden and yard work sometimes, and we all went to the movies together and played at parks and hung out at each others' houses. Then I noticed she was giving me the cold shoulder. After two weeks of this, I couldn't take it anymore and asked her in an email what was going on. Her reply stabbed me in the heart. Summarized, it said, "I don't want to be your friend anymore, and we shouldn't hang out at all." I had no clue what was going on. The only reason she ever gave was that she believed I wanted more out of our relationship than she wanted to give. As far as I was concerned, that was big fat bologna. If it was true she never wanted anything more than friendship with me, then she performed the best act of leading-someone-on that I've ever seen. We still never talk and even though I've forgiven her and moved on, I'm still lost as to why it ended.

The second relationship was similar. This one was official. We were a couple. Only we saw each other at church and rarely did anything outside of church. After a month, she began to give me the cold shoulder. I was getting tired of it, so I asked. After a text conversation, we both agreed we liked each other better as friends, which was true. We were good friends before the dumb relationship and both wished it was like that again. So the relationship ended. And apparently, our friendship did too. Since that relationship ended over fifteen months ago, I can count the times on both hands where she initiated contact with me or even looked me in the eye. In her mind, "ending the relationship to be friends again" apparently meant the friendship was over too. I tried to be friends; boy, I tried harder than anything. But she didn't care. I still don't really know why she did that to me.

A few months after the second girl kicked our friendship to the curb, I  had a revelation:

dating isn't for me.

I tried finding the one, oh I tried. And it wasn't working out. My dream of marrying a high-school sweetheart had failed bitterly. After all, it's hard to marry a high-school sweetheart without the sweetheart. And I have pretty bad luck finding a loyal, loving, dedicated sweetheart. So I adopted a revolutionary mindset: I'm leaving it up to God. I believe that I don't need to try to find her myself. If God has a woman picked out for me, then I'm trusting Him to introduce her to me. God had the perfect match for me, and I'm the perfect match for that woman. I don't think God would create us and place us in the right time, the right place, just to let us miss each other. I serve a God much more loving and faithful than that. So my trust is in His timing. When I'm ready for my wife and she's ready for me and when He is pleased with the timing, He'll introduce us. Or if we're already friends or know of each other, He'll reveal His glorious plan. I don't doubt it.

Are my lustful wishes for a relationship still there? Do I desire the intimacy and love of a relationship? Yeah, but then I sober up. I remember my trust in God and know that if I try anything on my own, I'll only mess up what He's got planned for me. The next relationship that I'll be in unfortunately won't be my first, but if I stayed dedicated to God's plan, it will be my last.

If you're on the fence about what you want, I encourage you to read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and then read Boy Meets Girl, both by Joshua Harris. Both books are written from a Christian perspective by a guy who, like me, got fed up with the unproductive ways of dating. Josh Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a single, and he wrote Boy Meets Girl several years after he got married. I Kissed Dating Goodbye shows you what Scripture has to say about the dating methods of today's society and why you may want to consider not dating. Boy Meets Girl tells you what real romance is about, and how to find it (hint: trusting God and letting Him write your love story).

So please, decide what you want to do. Whatever you choose, dating or waiting, failure is guaranteed if you don't have a plan of attack. Decide which road you want to take, and then prepare to be assaulted by our enemy. If you commit to dating, then you've already been warned by me as to what you will face. If you choose to wait, you'll be tempted with relationships, a misguided sense of loneliness, and a desire to stray from the path. Don't give in. I daily fight the sexual desires, the wishes to have a girlfriend, and impatience for marriage. It's all a part of daily dying to my own desires, killing my flesh. Arm yourselves with purity, prayer, hope, patience, and trust. The only way to make it is to rely fully on God. Any other way is like building a house on shifting sand.


Jennifer said...

Once again, good thoughts. I just finished re-reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye, since I originally read it at 13 and felt like at 17 I might "get it" more. Joshua Harris has a lot of good advice in it, and he really isn't pushy at all about waiting, just honest.

For me, not having been in a relationship, sometimes I want to just try it out, to see what it's like (as if it's trying on shoes or something!), but thankfully I wake up from my daydream and realize that this is exactly where God wants me and I don't need to hurry along the process. I'm confidently believing that He has it covered.

Ashley said...

I've had the same experience. Except my relationship was basically wrong, dysfunctional and unhealthy in every way. I have TONS of regrets. I would never do it if I had the choice again. Now, that it is over I realize what it did to my life and my walk and the results were devastating. That was 17 months ago and man, has God been working in me. It's awesome!

Great great great post. I hope people read this and are encouraged to not date. :)

Steve said...

You might enjoy my blog where I also critique Josh Harris's book:
"I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?"

Unfortunately Josh Harris is quick to point out the defects of dating but won't admit the problems and defects with his approach. Even at his own church he acknowledged a number of problems but doesn't share them on his website.

LoVizzle said...

@Steve, I'll look at it. And I'll be quick to point out that it was actually in Boy Meets Girl that he shared his approach, not I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye before he got married and wrote Boy Meets Girl after marriage, so naturally he really knows what he's talking about in Boy Meets Girl. But I appreciate the comment and link.

Jim H said...

There's a great new book coming out from Joel Johnson (from Acquire the Fire) it's called "The Divine Matchmaker". I got to talk to him and his wife Casey last week, I think you'd like the book, check out the link

LeaningOnHim said...

Thank you so much for posting this. As you've probably read on my blog quite often, I've been struggling with the desires of relationship too. After all, God created us as relational creatures with romantic hearts. Unfortunately, we all too often mistake those romantic and relational feelings to be after our "soul mate" first. God created us to be in love with Him first, and then to express that with another human as husband and wife.
Anyway, thanks for sharing. Something switched in my brain when I turned seventeen this month and the purity battle has been harder than ever before. I don't have many friends (actually, I think I only have 1) that is as dedicated to purity as I am - which means no dating. So reading your thoughts and knowing I'm not alone really helped guard my heart and bring up the weapons to fight once again. Thank you so much!