What's this? Two blogs in less than a week? After three and a half months of silence? Well, yes and no. Actually, the bulk of what I'm posting tonight was written prior to the last blog I posted before my extended period of silence, but it never made its way off the pages of my notebook and onto my computer screen until tonight. Why am I posting it now? Well, because I stumbled across it Sunday afternoon when I pulled out my notebook to start composing my most recent blog, and when I reread it I thought, "Dang, those were really good thoughts!" Ha! Basically these are some ideas that I think challenge the way a lot of us approach relationships, but rather than elaborating on that any further, I'll let the ideas speak for themselves...
Idea #1: Be who God made you, not who you think someone else wants.
To begin with, trying to be someone other than yourself is not sustainable. Let's say you're able to present another persona and gain someone's attention. Then what happens when the true you surfaces? More importantly, though, God has made you the way you are*, with a specific set of gifts and passions and experiences, for a reason. You have a unique role to play in His Kingdom. If you attempt to override His design for you, you may miss out on things He has called you specifically to do.
What I'm not saying: Never consider where you might need adjustment. God gave you a unique design, but even that God-given design needs to be examined and transformed as you submit to His guidance in your life.
Idea #2: Stop seeking the perfect person.
The truth is, no matter how Christ-like someone is, he or she is still human*. We all experience ebbs and flows in our faith journey. We all face seasons of doubt, discouragement, and weakness. We all have areas of immaturity. These things do not make a person unworthy of your love and relationship. Instead of seeking the person who has it most together, seek someone who admits his or her shortcomings and humbly pursues growth.
What I'm not saying: Throw all your standards out the window and enter into a relationship with just anyone. Sometimes a person legitimately needs to undergo some expansive character transformation before a serious relationship could possibly be healthy.
Idea #3: Look beyond the surface.
Just because a girl is physically attractive does not mean she will fulfill your God-given desires. And just because a guy pays attention to you does not mean he knows how to truly express your God-given value. Is this person trustworthy? Does he or she genuinely appreciate you? Can you see yourself growing old with this person when beauty has faded and energy has waned? Is he or she a proven friend?
What I'm not saying: It's not okay to be attracted to someone's appearance or personality. These are fine things; they just aren't the most important things.
Idea #4: Give people a chance.
I don't know how long ago the concept of "friend zoning" someone came into play, and perhaps this trend has come and gone already unbeknownst to me, but I feel like it's a pretty ridiculous way of thinking. I probably wouldn't have said this even as recently as a couple of months ago, largely because I wouldn't have wanted to subject myself to the possibility of giving certain people a chance, but God has been shifting my thinking when it comes to this. If someone is already a friend, it seems to me that this should qualify rather than disqualify them for your consideration. Why? Because I would hope one of our primary qualifications for any romantic relationship is friendship. Though I definitely have an easier time picturing myself with some people than others, God has softened my heart to the idea of giving pretty much anyone with whom I already have an established friendship a chance, given the opportunity. There's no telling what might be right under our noses that we could potentially miss out on by prematurely dismissing certain people as "just friends."
What I'm not saying: You should try casually dating all your friends. That might be a little extreme. Just be open to the possibility that something deeper could possibly develop from a pre-existing friendship. Don't over think it* too soon.
Idea #5: Recognize that romantic relationships are in no way separated from our calling to represent Christ's Kingdom in a broken world.
I think many of even the most committed followers of Christ tend to unwittingly view romance through a compartmentalized lens, buying into the pursuit of chemistry and emotion. In reality it should be something more than that: the joining of two lives already actively bringing glimpses of Christ's Kingdom to the world around them in unique ways designed by God for each individual, now entering into a lifelong pursuit of continuing to reflect His Kingdom as a team. Sometimes I think the world sees certain things more clearly than we do, and to quote some wisdom offered up by Maroon 5, "It's not always rainbows and butterflies; it's compromise that moves us along." The Gospel is a call to die to self, and if anything, a relationship that could lead to marriage will probably require more of our sacrifice than any other relationship. This is not a bad thing. It is hard, but it is good.
What I'm not saying: Put away the confetti, romantic relationships are actually a killjoy. A good relationship won't be oppressive, it just won't be easy. It will be a challenge, but it has the potential to be beautiful. To quote some more wisdom, this time from Mat Kearney, "Nothing worth anything ever goes down easy."
That's the end of what I wrote back in May. To wrap this up tonight, I guess the main point I want to get across is that sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in wanting to BE and wanting to FIND the perfect mate, we get lost and forget we will never BE nor FIND such a thing* so long as we live in a broken world. And along with that, people can surprise you. That super quiet girl who was home schooled can turn out to be incredibly witty. That guy who frustrated you with his Facebook arguments can turn out to have a huge heart for segments of culture that tend to be misunderstood. The guy who is loud and crazy can turn out to have really deep thoughts about investing in a church community. Don't take yourself too seriously, and don't be too quick to judge others. Love the people in your life, take the time to really get to know them, and keep an open mind. God may have something amazing in store that we never would have sought out or expected on our own.
*I highly encourage you to read the articles I linked to in this post. There is some great food for thought in each one!