Dating in this day and age is HARD! Am I right or am I right?! The older I get, the pickier I am and the fewer the viable options available. By the time most of us hit adulthood (mid-twenties and beyond), we have picked up a few hurts, habits, or hang-ups along the way. We’ve got a little baggage. At some point in the dating journey, we all have to determine which flaws we are willing to tolerate. Let’s face it, no one is perfect. As the song says, “I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine.”
So let’s assume you’ve done a little leg work ahead of time. You’ve got your nice little list of ideal qualities and attributes in a potential partner. And then you meet another human that comes pretty close to matching the criteria on your list. They have some flaws because, after all, they’re not perfect. And if we’re being totally honest here, you’re aware of your short comings, too.
Now the two of you embark on this little journey of intentional dating. Meaning that the goal is not just “hanging out for fun,” but moving toward determining if you’re a good match for lifelong commitment. As time goes on, you can honestly see yourself chasing after God and navigating life with this person. They’re pretty darn awesome. Perfectly imperfect.
But then something comes up, perhaps an emotional sore spot is accidentally bumped, someone overreacts in a situation, or an issue of some sort arises that must be dealt with. Suddenly, things get a little more real. It is at this point in a dating relationship that you find yourself at a fork in the road. Do you work through it and proceed, determining that the fault is tolerable or will work itself out? Or do you walk away? You’re not married, so the latter is a viable option.
Assuming it is not an “automatic deal breaker” issue or sign of a larger issue like control or abuse, but something in the gray area of “tolerable moderate infraction,” I would like to challenge you to look at it as an opportunity.
First, it’s an opportunity to show Christ’s love. Jesus doesn’t expect us to clean ourselves up and then come to the cross. He’s not afraid of our messiness. So why would we expect a potential dating partner to be perfectly put together before entering a relationship?
Secondly, consider your own flaws and shortcomings. Do you expect your dating partner to walk through some stuff with you or simply turn tail and run when things go less than perfectly? If you react poorly in a situation, would you want your partner to show you grace and forgiveness or drop you like a hot potato?
“For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” -Matthew 7:2
Finally, and maybe most importantly, see it as an opportunity for sanctification. It is only through relationships that God can use us to help each other grow and change for His good. Some of us need a little polishing, while others might need intense grinding off of jagged edges.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” -Proverbs 27:17
In his book “You & Me Forever,” Francis Chan says, “Marriage is one of the most humbling and sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives us a platform to display love and commitment.” Even in dating and courtship, before the covenant of marriage, there are plenty of opportunities to “die to self” and show love. What better time to practice the skills necessary for marriage than during the dating/courtship stage?
The level of commitment may be different than marriage, but the opportunity for spiritual and personal growth is still there. If you allow for mistakes and flaws, understanding you are both human, there is an opportunity to grow closer to God through the journey.
What kinds of marital skills have you learned through dating/courtship?