By Therese Aaker | Guest Blogger
Photo Credit | Jenny Haas Photography
My last post about dating addressed one huge obstacle when it comes to dating as Christians: the extremes.
But there’s another glaring obstacle when it comes to dating in a healthy way: fear. More specifically, fear of failure and fear of vulnerability.
I know tons of people who want to find the right relationship, but when an opportunity arrives, they freeze.
I get it, though. When we’re doing it right, dating is actually really scary.
We let our walls down. We let that person see a bit of our life. If there’s no red flags and we’re moving forward, then there’s more of a commitment to get to know them — and (*gasp*) let them get to know us.
It’s hard to let our walls down and let ourselves be known and loved, little by little, assuming that we’re sharing an appropriate amount of ourselves, not over-sharing. Especially because there’s always that risk of it not working out.
Or if we’re dating someone who probably isn’t the best for us, and we know we’re settling…it feels like a failure, in a sense, to let that person go.
Either way, it’s scary to let someone in and let someone go.
It’s scary to make a choice. What if it’s not the right choice?
The fear of failure, the fear of making mistakes, of doing the wrong thing — it’s okay that the fear is there. But it’s not okay to let it hold us back.
So what’s the answer?
See, what we’re really asking for here is a sense of safety and security when it comes to our decisions in dating. We want certainty.
But I think the answer to having a healthy relationship with God, ourselves, and the souls we’re privileged to get to know while dating is to choose despite those fears.
Maybe what Jesus asks of us is courage to choose in the midst of our uncertainty, and to take that step, one way or the other.
Do you have the courage to choose?
To say no to the person who’s not leading you any closer to Christ?
To say yes in taking the next step with the person who does? To be vulnerable with someone and risk pain? This is what real love demands of us.
We need to stop hiding behind “discernment,” (and by that I mean thinking and praying without ever acting upon it) and stop expecting a lightning bolt answer to fall from the sky when it comes to dating. Trust God and choose.
So here are some tips when it comes to discernment in your dating:
Pray. Make sure you’re seeking God above all else and your relationship with Him comes before any other relationship in your life. When it comes to a point of choosing, pray about it, and then just choose a road. Don’t wait for clarity, we were never guaranteed that. Just choose a road.
“Love God and do what you will.” – St. Augustine. God’s will isn’t some hidden thing. He speaks to us through our deepest desires. And sure, even some of those deepest desires could be obscured with selfish desires on top of them. But God works good through everything, even our imperfections. He absolutely has the power to bring about His will, even if we make a choice based on a desire that’s not completely purified. God can bring about his will in so many ways…it’s not some linear thing where one choice is right, always. In that special instance where it IS the case, you can trust God will make that clear to you.
Choose based on love. Obviously, we shouldn’t choose based on following whatever we want; we should seek to make choices based on love of God and out of a desire to serve Him well. But if that’s at the center of our heart, we can trust that simply in having the courage to choose, God will bless that. And we can trust that if for some reason we’re choosing a path He doesn’t want for us, He’ll let us know. And usually very gently, by simply changing our desires or helping us realize that we should go another route.
Date with the right mindset. See, we have no guarantee of safety in our walk with Christ, and this includes our dating life. If we have the right mindset, dating can be really selfless. We might share little pieces of our hearts and lives with them, and it might not work out. But dating is actually a privilege, it’s not something we’re entitled to. We share ourselves despite a risk. We allow our lives to touch — we hope for the long-run — but maybe just for a moment. And how beautiful, to peek inside another soul. With this in mind, those fears don’t seem so big after all. If we date seeing it as an opportunity to find beauty in another soul, it’s not so terrifying. If we’re dating to “get” something out of someone, it’s much scarier.
At some point in our dating, we have the information we need. We don’t need certainty. We need the courage to say yes. Either yes to God’s better idea for your life, or yes to the person He’s presented to you as an opportunity.
Either way, He’ll bless you.
Courage, dear heart.
P.S. You are enough.