From 2015 by Connor Mullen:
How do you have peace about entering a relationship?
Recently, I was posed this question by a couple in our church. It’s an excellent question, one that I have heard quite a bit. Pulling from experience, I’ve broken the answer down to two fundamental things I have found true for myself:
- Knowing ourselves and who we are in Christ helps us know the desires that God has placed on our heart.
- Constructing a list of qualities and characteristics, drawing from our experience around people (hint: look at your best friends) and in dating, that are attractive to us.
A part of God giving us freewill is the ability to exercise it. Plain and simple. We choose God, He chose us. We choose to love others, for love can’t exist without freewill. At the end of the day, a choice is much more powerful when we make it ourselves. I teach at a local high school, and time and time again students say, “Mr. Mullen, just tell me the answer!” In response, I ask them questions that pull the answer out of them. God does the same with us. Sure, He guides us in the process. But at the end of the day, choosing to date someone is a decision we make … and it’s not rocket science.
We run into problems when we put dating on the same level as marriage. It creates the unrealistic expectation that you are going all in before you have even begun to play the game. That’s pretty scary, isn’t it? How many people want that? Dating is a time to get to know another person on a deeper level than friendship. It’s also a practical exploration of figuring out what you want in a partner. Make no mistake: You need to be mindful of your heart and theirs. But life is full of risks that we can either choose to take or stay comfortable. In relationships, we reach for our greatest desire of love, of being fully known by someone and knowing them, while risking our greatest pain at the same time. It can be messy, but so much can be learned in the process. Not only about ourselves, but about others. God gives us more responsibility as we mature spiritually and with that comes making bigger decisions on our own.
“Wait a minute Connor! I am waiting for God to bring my soulmate!” / “I need dreams, visions and fireballs to know if they’re the one! I want God to make the decision for me!” Hold on, now. God speaks to us in a plethora of ways: through dreams, people, the Bible, etc. These all have merit in Him guiding us into dating. The problem comes when we see how God spoke to someone else and think unless that same thing happens to us, we don’t have confirmation to pursue anyone.
Therefore we wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
What happens during this time? We wait for our fairy tale love story to unfold, and our walls silently go up. As a result we miss out on opportunities God has placed in front of us. Essentially, we become a projection of our own fears and think that it’s God speaking to us.
I always ask people what they think God is saying and how much their emotions might be distorting what they are hearing. I pair this with what they think their heart is saying, for the two must be in alignment. God wouldn’t “call” us to someone if our heart was in disagreement. There are exceptions, but if your heart’s not in it, it might be time to reevaluate how honest you are being with yourself.
I believe that God allows us to choose someone. It is powerful to say, “I choose you.” Even as He guides you, no one else is making the decision — you are.
All this being said, dating should be simple, fun, organic, and heartfelt. We tend to overcomplicate things in life because we believe that it just can’t be that easy. In doing this, we isolate ourselves, fearing that we will make a mistake. My students do it all the time. However, I come alongside them, like the Father does with us, and help them see it’s really not as big of a mystery as they thought it was.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a ten-year game plan to ask someone out. It’s not only okay to take people on dates, it’s a practical way of getting to know someone. Everyone has a list of the qualities they like in members of the opposite sex, which will probably be refined as you date. Get to know the desires of your heart, and don’t let fear write your story—practice the art of making powerful choices.