There it was, in bold, messy handwriting: “I pledge not to date anyone for a full year.”
I nodded in approval at the signed piece of notebook paper and handed it to my parents. It was the beginning of my summer before college, and I was determined to fall madly in love with Jesus for the first time.
For me, I’ve always feared being alone. I crave time with friends and family constantly, even if we’re just sitting in silence in the same room. I like to feel someone’s presence near me. I’ve depended on people for comfort my whole life, and ultimately, looked to them for my joy.
I thought I could heavily rely on people this way while also claiming to fully depend on my Savior. I told people God always took the number one spot in my heart. But, my actions and thoughts told a different story.
With my friendships, I sought to be there for my friends when they needed me. I loved being needed. So because I was this way with my friends, I held extremely high expectations for my dating relationships.
I had all this affection, doting, and energy that I seriously wanted to give to a boyfriend. I wanted to love well. The sappier and more sentimental, the better.
I had this picture of my ideal man; the man who would whisk me into this fantasy I had dreamed of my whole life.
The problem was, I always started relationships when I was spiritually empty. The devil grabbed his foothold in my vulnerability and disposed of any truth I had remaining in my mind. I told myself lie after lie, believing I was not valued until I was needed. Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you from experience, starting a relationship when you are spiritually empty and mentally dependent on others will always, always, end in heartbreak. When we do this, we are desperately wanting another flawed, fragile human to fulfill the spaces in our hearts that only God can completely satisfy.
So you know that first phase of getting to know someone you like, the phase before dating? Me too. With Tyler, I wanted to know everything about him, his likes/dislikes, quirks, passions, goals, and worldview. Every moment reels you in and you’re mesmerized. Oftentimes you get wrapped up in the person, but sometimes, you quickly become consumed with the idea of love and before you know it, those pesky “expectations” creep into your relationship.
God sits patiently, in the chambers of your heart, awaiting the day when you’ll go to him with your expectations. When you’ll confess all the ways you are making this person your Savior. You make someone your Savior as soon as you expect him or her to bring you true contentment.
God waits. While we are totally absorbed with knowing every detail about a dream guy or girl, we often forget to praise the One who created them in the first place. Do we long to know Jesus the way we long to know someone we like? I know for the longest time, I did not desire to know every detail about God. And yet, in his never-ending mercy, His Holy Spirit filled my heart, anticipating the day when I’d pick back up where we talked last, and then I’d wonder why I ever stopped speaking to Him in the first place.
He fulfills every desire, need, ache, and imperfection. And He will never shame us for taking too long to realize how much we need Him.
For me, acknowledging my sinful, ugly heart and expressing my need for a Savior meant burning the handles of control that I let others have on my life. My relationship with the Lord, my worth, my waking needs…these could only truly be met by relinquishing my desire for approval and understanding my worth in Christ.
This is not to say that you must conquer every insecurity and flaw you’ve ever had before you start dating. No. It starts with a simple acceptance that you have a critical need for a peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace only God can give. This peace can only be attained by accepting God’s grace. So, this is the part when we fall on our knees, express our deep longing for a Savior and fully receive the gift of grace He extends.
“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” Luke 5:31-32
So no, you don’t need to have a prophetic vision of the Lord telling you when to date. No, you don’t need to be more involved in church. No, you don’t even need to reject every girl or guy you meet because you want God to see you are relying fully on Him. You can exhibit your reliance on God by repenting and accepting. Repenting all the lies you’ve believed and accepting His beautiful gift of grace.
In light of God’s truth, you can see the world in a healthier, more merciful approach and with this grace….
….you will know when someone is worth getting to know.
Copyright © 2016 · All Rights Reserved · Melissa Carroll