I’ve always had this fairy tale, movie inspired idea of love and marriage since I was a young girl. I believed marriage was a bed of roses where I would meet my perfect prince charming who would sweep me off my feet and take me to a land flowing with romantic walks in the park and breakfast in bed every single day. I always fantasized about the day I get married and walk down the aisle, my mind would go wandering onto the honeymoon night and time spent away and never onto the actual marriage after all the wedding festivities are over.
I never thought of all the constant hard work, attention and sacrifice that marriage requires. I remember the first two years of courtship with my boyfriend, my head was in the clouds. I was forever talking about the day we get married and all the fun we will have in planning and starting a life together. Now five years later l am so glad that God has taken us the “long route” in our courtship. I wouldn’t take away anything from our journey. The lessons that l’ve learnt, the people I’ve spoken to and the books that I’ve read on dating, courtship and marriage have helped to an extent in preparing me for what’s to come.
I’ve always wanted to write about love and relationships on this blog but l’ve never fully felt prepared or experienced enough to talk about such a big topic. But I’ve realised that in life i’ll forever be learning and growing and there will never be a perfect time to start sharing the lessons that l’ve learnt along the way as well as the knowledge l’ve gained from all the books l’ve read. So l’ve decided to start blogging more consistently on this area and hope that you will learn something, be encouraged and Inspired to love God’s way as you follow through this series of blog posts.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over 5 years and as l look back l realise that our first year of dating was probably the most exhilarating yet most perplexing time of our lives. I had my own idea of how a relationship ought to work and he had his own idea of how things should go. At the time our relationship began we lived about 5 hours apart and we just didn’t see how a relationship could work out with such a distance. My idea of relationship was centred around holding hands and walking through the park on hot summer days, cuddling on the couch and watching a chick flick on cold winter days, being picked up from work and surprised with a large bouquet of roses often and my list could go on. His idea of a relationship was based on building a friendship with no physical contact at all, he believed holding hands was an intimate act that two people couldn’t possibly do in the first year of dating. (That really confused me and I will share with you why, later) He was keen to read letters to young lovers and adventist home and I was keen to watch love and basketball and listen to Luther Vandross songs. We were on two different planets and my head was definitely in the clouds.
I remember the first few months we started talking we texted each other constantly from morning till sunset. I would steal away time at work just to go and respond to a text message. He became the central thought of my day. I was constantly checking my phone and even put a special ringtone so l never miss a thing. He was the first person l thought of in the morning and the very last person l spoke to at night. Every other relationship l had with my friends and the people around me became almost insignificant. I was slowly treading on very dangerous ground. Because not only where the relationships around me suffering but my relationship with God had become insignificant too.
I was allowing my relationship with my boyfriend to become more central to my life than my relationship with God. I was coming from a place of brokenness and emptiness from a previous relationship and now l had found this guy who was willing to give me his “undivided attention” 24hrs a day. I definitely sucked it up and began expecting him to fill the empty void that I felt deep down. With time this caused a few problems in our relationship, and in retrospection I realise that this was something I had done even in my previous relationship. I was always expecting a human being to meet intimacy needs that only God can meet. I was always trying to find that one person to fill the hole in my heart.
I remember we had this conversation the first few months when we started dating.
Me: aww! I love you so much.
“He did not respond for a few hours”
Him: Thanks. How was your day?
“I was shocked, how dare he say thanks, instead of I love you too”
Me: It was good, how come you just said thanks to my previous text?
“Waiting patiently for a response”
Him: Because I appreciate it. And l appreciate you, you are a great person I am getting to know.
“Say what? Appreciate me not love me? I was SHOCKED to say the least and my heart hurt a little”
But truth is back then l never understood why he never told me that he loved me or that “he was falling in love with me” but now I fully understand and if I could do it over again, I would not dare utter those words without carefully weighing them. I was infatuated and far from knowing what love was. (I will share more about Infatuation in another post). After that incident I had to take a step back and re-evaluate what had just happened. Fortunately we both belong to a similar faith background and we both believed in the power of prayer and we both knew that for love to grow it has to have its foundation firmly grounded in Jesus Christ. So we took time out to pray and dedicate the relationship to God. I learnt my very first lesson during that period and that is;
“No human being can ever fill the void in your heart or complete you to the point of total satisfaction and being in that relationship will not end your “aloneness.” There is a level of intimacy that can only be met by having an authentic, growing relationship with God because He alone satisfies. And as Bill hybels put it, “plunge the depths of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Before you plunge into a human relationship with expectations that can never be met, build a solid foundation with Christ. Internalize His peace, His rest, His joy. Allow Him to meet the needs that even the most ideal man or woman on earth will never be able to meet. Then you can approach dating and marriage from a position of fullness rather than emptiness, from a state of satisfaction rather than desperation.”
I want to share a passage with you from the book “Fit to be tied – making marriage last a lifetime” by Bill and Lynne Hybels.
How can marriages not fail when we expect them to do something beyond the realm of possibility? A good marriage to the right person, entered into under God’s direction and nurtured carefully, can go a long way toward meeting the human need for intimacy; the bible calls that oneness. But with every human heart there remains a hole that only God can fill. There are millions of people married and unmarried wandering around the globe with painful yearnings that could only be met if they would spend less time seeking human companionship and more time seeking God. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” A spouse may provide a little icing to the cake, but only God, through Jesus Christ, can provide the foundation for a full and meaningful life. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” No spouse or lover can say that. The honeymoon doesn’t last forever before you know it real life will come crashing with all its fury and challenges. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says,”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and l will give you rest.” No friend, lover or spouse can offer soul-satisfaction. Only Jesus Christ offers the internal rest, the calmness, the true fullness of life that can free us from the relentless drive toward superficial satisfaction.
My one prayer has been that my boyfriend will never love me more than he loves Jesus Christ or strive to make me the centre of his life because I will never be able to fill the void. My desire has always been that we are both so filled up with the love we get from our individual relationship with Jesus Christ that there will be so much love overflowing to share between us.
My message to you as a young woman reading this is simply that love begins with a strong, authentic growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Be with someone who shares the love of Jesus Christ with you, someone who believes in what you believe in. Don’t focus on the romantic butterflies in your tummy or the hot flushes you feel when he passes by, look beyond all that for awhile. Be with someone you can sing worship songs with and kneel down and pray wholeheartedly with. Be with someone whom you can share Jesus Christ with, someone who will put Him first and make Him a priority not you. Your partner is not God and if you look to them to fill you up with only what God can give they will always fall short and live you feeling empty and disappointed. Life will throw you all kinds of obstacles your way, be with someone who knows whom to turn to when the going gets tough. Someone who understands and believes that God is truly our refuge and strength, a present help in time of need. Focus on the cross and draw your supernatural strength from there. Love begins with Him, Jesus Christ – the author of the greatest love story. Keep your eyes focused on Him.