7Those quick glances at coffee shops, the bumping into each other at the grocery store, the awkward small talk – all the imaginings of a younger me; a girl constantly daydreaming of love at first sight. All of those moments would inevitably lead to our getting to know each other, followed by a romantic montage of quirky dates, laughter, singing together in the car, and sharing a milkshake. These images in my mind focused on a feeling, that warm feeling we often associate with dating. The blushing, the stomach dropping at seeing their smile, the comfort of being flattered, and ultimately, the security of being wanted. Often, we create these movie scenes in our minds because we believe we can construct a better reality than God will ever give us. With this kind of thinking, I negatively affected my perspective of love because I centered it around a romantic feeling, rather than understanding it as commitment.
Those rollercoaster emotions and uncontainable giddiness are all amazing feelings to experience when dating someone. The first phase of dating is super exciting, soak in every experience to the fullest. But if you build your relationship on the foundation of your feelings; it will collapse.
Love must be built on sacrifice. These days, I strive to think of love the way God designed it to work: as a covenant. God created love between a husband and wife to reflect an even deeper love; the love God has for His beloved children.
God’s embodies His perfect love towards us in His eternal sacrifice and endless grace. Despite our selfish attitudes, our Father continually loves and forgives us. When we realize the impact of this unconditional mercy, it evokes in us a sense of gratitude, and we impart this love and sacrifice towards others. This is the moment we experience love through an eternal perspective; we see it as unconditional devotion to another person. Whereas our culture promotes the idea of love as a feeling.
The world will sell you on the idea that, if someone stops making you happy, then find someone new. This mentality trades love for lust, commitment for temporary pleasure, and intimacy for a surface-level relationship.
When you arrive at a place where you understand your own imperfection, you will realize that broken people can never satisfy the voids you long to fill. Serving others and committing to loving another person will not always feel comfortable, but creating a bond with that person based on unconditional grace will remind you of the immeasurable ways in which God loves us. When we learn to forgo selfish motivations, strive to seek peace with one another, and learn how to serve another well – we realize that our selfless attitudes will bring us more joy than any vain attempt to love another solely for benefiting ourselves.
God knew at the pinnacle of creation there was a need for a being – one with a soul. This created being, God called man. He commanded man to subdue and have dominion of the earth. And in light of eternity, God also knew that a woman was essential for man. Another soul God fashioned with the purpose to serve alongside man as a companion. He formed a woman out of man’s flesh to become his helper, signifying that a relationship was meant to be a team effort (Genesis 2:18).
But most of the time, we often place pressure on our loved ones to maintain a consistent level of stability and meeting our needs, instead of focusing on a team effort to deepen our relationship. This expectation immediately follows the fantasies in our minds where we constructed “ideal man” or “ideal woman.” Without realizing it, we have created a box that our husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend has to fit into flawlessly. He/she has to like working out, be adventurous, love the Lord, be sensitive to others, surprise us with sweet dates/presents, show affection, like the same movies and music as us, and on and on the list goes until we have generated a fake person. In our minds, the qualities of a man or woman become toppings at an ice-cream bar. We pick and choose what we like, and never include anything we don’t prefer. We simply want a perfect human to love us in order to avoid our worlds being disrupted by compromise and the inevitable friction that comes with living alongside another sinful human.
THIS PERFECT MAN/WOMAN DOES NOT EXIST. It’s almost as if we want a version of our best self, but in the opposite gender. Do you know why we create this impossible checklist? Because we don’t want any tension. We want our way. This endless list of qualities leaves no room for us to seek sanctification in our own lives. We should strive to cultivate godly qualities for our own lives and evaluate the areas where we are weighed down by guilt and shame. You will never find contentment in your relationship if you only rely on the other person to focus on their walk with the Lord and constantly seek improvement, rather than seeing both of your unique roles in serving alongside each other.
There is a difference between setting standards and setting impossible standards – bear with me.
As a Christian, you should desire a spouse that follows Christ and strives to pursue Christ daily. This does not mean your spouse always has wisdom to impart in every situation, has reached their spiritual peak, and rarely says anything offensive. Rather, when you and your spouse admit to failures, there is an awareness of a continual dependency on the Lord. At any stage of life, the person you fall in love with will still not have it all together. But I can guarantee that if you are both following and trusting the Lord with your life, the Holy Spirit will mold each of you into the character of God and you will learn to love each other more completely and generously.
God knows who you are meant to be with, what you are meant to do, and where you will thrive. I truly believe He works in whimsical, out-of-nowhere ways to lead us to where we are meant to be. It is all about being pointed back to Christ, and if God accomplishes that through providing you a spouse, you can trust that person will sharpen you, encourage you, and challenge you to fully pursue Christ.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Copyright © 2017 · All Rights Reserved · Melissa Carroll
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