Tides of Affection
By Jesse Pingenot in Student
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecc. 3:1)
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels…. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land (Prov 31:10, 23).
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works (Ps 73:23-28).
It is spring again! And we all know what that means! As Alfred Tennyson put it in his poem Locksley Hall:
In the spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast
In the spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest
In the spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove
In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
Life has natural cycles. There are cycles that are daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. And in spring, as part of the yearly pattern, people tend to start thinking about romance.
You are a disciple-maker. You disciple people, and you undoubtedly are experiencing a big uptick in the number of people you’re discipling about romance. And you’re not immune: you’re probably being discipled about it, too!
And as a discipler myself, I would be remiss not to share some insight God has given me, too.
I am part of a generation that was taught to take dating too seriously. We’re the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” generation. That book—with good intentions—basically was taught in such a way as to make asking someone out practically the equivalent of proposing. The expectation became that, if you date someone, you have very serious intentions and you expect it to end in marriage.
And so people spent most of their time (particularly in spring) praying that God would show them “the One.” People put so much pressure on dating, particularly the earliest stages. Asking someone out became a huge deal, something that needed a ton of prayer specifically about it, and a lot of discernment, and a lot of advice, and on and on and on.
It was a disaster.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t pray about initiating a relationship. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get advice or use your discernment. Those are all common sense. But they can be taken beyond common sense, into the realm of stupidity.
Don’t date just for the sake of dating, because that’s hollow. You should date people you think have the potential to one day marry. But that’s a long way from your first date, so ease up! Slow down!
The fact is, if you put that much pressure on asking someone out, you’re putting a lot of pressure on the person whom you’re asking out, too. And nobody wants that! That’s weird!
And first dates aren’t that big of a deal. You’re just getting to know each other, seeing if you both want to move forward. Take it easy!
If one or both of you don’t want to move forward on the relationship, that’s a good thing!
And you should grow through the experience. I know God was just fine with me dating the girls I have. Those relationships didn’t work out. And that’s just fine. I am a better person for it, having learned from those relationships. And hopefully they are, too.
Just because you know God is okay with you getting into a relationship with someone doesn’t mean it will end in marriage.
So slow down. Take it easy. Get to know the person, and see if you both want to move forward into a more serious relationship.
Another major problem I’ve seen with a lot of people is the idea of “I’m just looking for someone to make me happy.” That marriage is about “making each other happy.”
That’s a lie from Satan. And I’m not exaggerating.
No one but you are responsible for your happiness. You are not responsible for other people’s happiness, and they aren’t responsible for yours.
If God, who is infinite—and whose love is infinite—is not enough for you, then no person ever will be enough for you.
Ask any couple who’s been married more than a few years and they will tell you straight up: they don’t always make each other happy. There are times they don’t even like each other. But they love each other. They’ve committed to loving each other, to valuing the other person more than themselves, to sacrificing for them. And that means loving them when you don’t like them. Whether they’re making you happy or not.
And a happiness-based relationship will lead to a lot of confusion. “But I’m happy with this person, so it must work out!”
I have seen people make this mistake, especially at the local Christian schools. They meet someone they find attractive, and they feel really happy being around them. So they get married as soon as they can (so they can do the right thing and not, as Paul said, burn with passion).
But they don’t really know each other yet. And then it turns out that this other person doesn’t always make them happy. In fact, that person someone makes them really, really mad. And wait, dating this person was easy, so why is being married to them so hard?
And then their marriage is in trouble. And often, they get divorced. Because they were relying on the other person for their happiness, and that person couldn’t provide that.
So don’t look to someone else to make you happy.
Use your wisdom. Pray about it. Ask your friends. And if God doesn’t check you, go ask that person out. Take your time. Have fun. Get to know them. Take it slow!
All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.