People are special. Family is special. Sometimes there is someone who is special to us in a special way. And it feels good, as if it adds so much more to your existence. For some of us, finding and maintaining this relationship is our highest priority. For most of us, it may not be the highest priority, but it’s still important. It shapes our decisions, our relationships, our plans, our character – aspects of every part of our life.
It’s difficult to be young people with a strong desire for a significant other (whether or not we have one). We hear two different stories about what romance is, but sometimes they’re so mixed up or incomplete that we end up sitting confused. Or worse, we sit hurt having had our heart broken or breaking someone else’s. I hope, with the Spirit’s help, to shed some of the light of Christ on our love lives, and it is my prayer that He will use some part of this to build you up.
Rose Colored Glasses
Something that is very important to romance, but often neglected, is our expectation going into it. What the world tells us to expect from our relationship is very different than what Jesus tells us He made us for. I am bombarded with the idea that the two key aspects of dating are to have a strong emotional bond and a pleasant sex life. I should be built up and satisfied by my lover and attempt to do the same. And I want to believe that I will find ultimate happiness in an amazing person.
What a lie.
But it’s subtle, so I still want to believe it. The movies, music, and books all show me how true it is. But at some point, the film stops. The credits roll and they don’t show us how messy relationships really get. Disillusioned, someone wants out. Two hearts are broken and we struggle to pick up the pieces. If this is you, I want to take a quick rabbit trail here (albeit an important one) to remind you that Jesus wants those broken pieces. He is the only one who can bring you healing, not whatever else you may look to.
Or maybe these relationships do work. Plenty of people have made peace with each other’s flaws and commit to each other. Many marriages of unbelievers last, some better than many believers’.
Jesus tells us something else though. Something harder to believe, but so freeing and delightful once we do. You are never going to be completely satisfied in your love life. You were never meant to be. In the garden, at the beginning of this world, Adam and Eve would walk and talk in the presence of their Maker, our God. That is when creation was very good. When there were three in the dance. But then Adam took a bite from the fruit Eve handed to him and they lost their intimacy with God.
Four millennia later, God came down to walk this earth. One day, next to a well, He met a woman who had looked for pleasure, security, and fulfilment in men, but was left as empty as the jar she approached the well with that afternoon. John records this encounter. It’s one of my favourite chapters of Scripture, but I can’t put it all here (so go read it for yourself, hint hint). Look at this comment Jesus makes though:
“Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” – John 4:13-14 (HCSB)
You’ve tried finding fulfilment everywhere else. I’m the only one who can really offer that to you.
When we find our fulfilment in Christ, it gives us major freedom in our relationships that the world around us doesn’t have:
We don’t have the entire weight of the other person’s emotional wellbeing. Instead, we bring them and point them to Christ who can take care of their need. We listen, but the responsibility for it is not primarily on us.
We don’t have to push the boundaries because of what our bodies desire. We enjoy touch, holding hands, a lingering hug, but we don’t need those things to be satisfied. We find satisfaction spiritually in Christ as our souls delight in Him. No need to stoop to the lesser pleasures.
We are free to love without fear. We know neither of us is perfect. There is room for thorough forgiveness because of the sacrificial forgiveness Christ gives us. This in turn opens up the road for honesty and vulnerability. Not to create an emotional dependence, but as a reflection of our relationship with Christ. Our problems are dealt with before Him first.
I don’t always need to be around or texting my significant other. I can be delighted with her around or happy without her too. I’m happy first in Jesus.
Our romance is not founded on us, and it’s not centred on us either. It’s from Christ, for Christ and to Christ. Instead of looking inward in the relationship for more depth and purpose (which may not come), we are a team for reaching the people around us with the gospel of Christ. Evangelism and discipleship – the ministry of reconciliation Christ calls us to – doesn’t get a back seat (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). And I get to rejoice in that, not feel guilty.
Live It Out
If you want to do something about the way you see relationships, this is what I would suggest:
First, write down what you expect in a relationship. Not what you want to expect, but what you actually find yourself expecting. Then try to find out what the deepest drive or desire behind your desire for a relationship is. See how Jesus wants to satisfy your desire in Himself more than you could picture. Find a verse that points this out, write it on a sticky note, and put it on your mirror.
If you seriously want to see how your relationships should be different because of Christ, see what scripture has to say about it. Find five verses in Scripture that will orient you to the purpose of relationships. See what the biblical principles they encourage are (i.e. Jesus is first; purity is important). You’re looking for the why and what of relationships, not the how yet. Use this to form your philosophy (almost like purpose) of relationships. Try to write this down in one sentence. Then, you can think of guidelines that will help you grow towards that.