I love Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart, above all else; for it determines the course of your life.
How I wish I could instill this in each young person today...well, every person younger than me! : ) We so often are rushing young people into the dating world, to have boyfriends/girlfriends way too early, even setting up our toddlers for future romances. I know, a lot of it is done in fun, and I did it myself when my kids were young, but I don't know that it's the right foundation for them to build upon. I think we're teaching them really young that they NEED to have a relationship to be ok...to be normal...when in fact the normal is to be completely sold out for Jesus!!
OH, I know, I hear readers all over the globe in a collective moan of "oh no" over my thoughts..."she's one of THOSE..." - and that's ok. I've raised my kids, we've had one selectively date (married now 6 2/3 years), one choose to do courtship (married 6 1/2 years), and ONE is still dating... which is the hardest on me...honestly!!
I have a lot of thoughts on dating...but I want to focus on laying a foundation for dating - that verse in Proverbs.
People date for a lot of reasons...for me it was the cultural revolution of the 70's that I grew up in in Southern CA. I was not raised in a Christian home, and there wasn't a good role model in my life to show me what proper dating was about. We hung out, did drugs, and got into trouble...we didn't "date". Because of my skewed mental state, every relationship - in my mind - was going to end in a marriage. I was looking for something to fill that whole in my heart, and a man was the only thing I knew to put in that spot....and they didn't fit...no matter how hard I tried to make them.
After I became a believer, and then a follower, of Jesus Christ, I began to learn that HE fit that spot in my heart! It took a while for me to realize that He needed to stay there, the throne of my heart was for Him alone, and it was trial and error before I understood that it wasn't a loveseat - meant to be shared - but only for Jesus.
So, what is the purpose of dating in your life?? I was trying to find someone to meet my needs (there isn't one around), to build a relationship with (it takes time, HIS timing), and eventually marry (ok). I thought he would provide financially for me (they try, but ultimately it's God's doing), wanted to have a family (again God's doing), and all the while have that pretty little house with the white picket fence to call home (which shouldn't be where I store my treasures, but in heaven alone).
My point is this. Fall in love with Jesus. Let Him be your best friend, your boyfriend, the love of your life. Let Him be your Father too...since that's where we model after...and it would be better to have His imprint on your heart than any earthly man (even if he is godly, if he is a God follower, he would want you to seek someone like Jesus to marry). Get really comfortable with Jesus, because I promise you, even after marriage, you'll spend a lot of time with Him - or at least we SHOULD.
OOOhhh...I almost went there ...across the marriage bridge - but I'll wait till next week when we post on what we knew about marriage....
Back to dating:
Spend time with Jesus - and the reason that's so important is this - if you hang out in your Bible, get to know those God qualities well, then that's what you'll start to look for in your friendships, and ultimately you will recognize them in your future spouse. You'll see Jesus in him, and that's a good place to start. You might see the fruits of the spirit, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. You'll see him behave in a way that Jesus might. You'll see him treat you with respect, not because he wants to impress you, but because he sees that YOU are a daughter of THE King, and he'll see Jesus at work in you.
So, the verse in Proverbs is important, because if you don't guard your heart - you'll give it away, in bits and pieces (every time you date or have a relationship) and when you DO get to THE ONE, there might not be much left to give him. And if your heart is like a dowry, and you don't have much left to give THE ONE, what will that man be like - will he have much to give you in return?? Will he cherish you, or will you not be of much worth, not have much left to give him? I think that's the "course of your life" part of the verse.
Be sure of who you are. God loves you. He created you with a purpose and a plan, and if you walk with Him in obedience, He will reveal the plan to you in His time. Be content in singleness, even if it's your hearts' desire to be married...He won't forget. In His time He will reveal it to you, but don't ever let a man's love replace the relationship you have with Jesus...the right man will love you all the more for it, and he will be happy to be #2 in your heart.