…when dating is hard, but loving is simple

Recently, I’ve been talking to my friend Nickie a lot about dating.  Not that either of us are experts or have tons of advice to offer each other; neither of us need that, and that’s not what we’re asking for when we’re sitting at McDonald’s drinking Cokes after Bible study is over on Tuesday nights.  Instead, we’re single women sitting together for a couple of hours, listening to each other’s hearts about the relationships we’re not in, and offering a common ground — yes, dating is hard.

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'' photo (c) 2010, Gibson Regester - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/I think we each feel like we were duped growing up in church, at least a little bit.  We saw our friends date in high school and college, meet some great guys who played football and loved Jesus, marry after graduation, and start having kids a couple of years later.  We heard often about how great being married is, because it’s such a picture of Christ and the Church and the sacrifice necessary to love well.  And so, it was made to look so simple.

Meet someone, fall in love, get married, have babies, honor Jesus.

The thing is, when you see your twenties come and go without meeting someone who plays football and loves Jesus, without a wedding ring, without having kids, the whole “picture” starts to look a lot like Van Gough’s stuff before he chopped his ear off.  It’s pretty, but it’s got a lot of nutty undertones.  And it doesn’t make sense to everyone.

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It seems to me, then, that we need to flip the script.  Instead of emphasizing how much marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the Church, how about we spend some time talking about how simple sacrificial love for another person is, married or not?

Because I’ll tell you, I’ve seen the love of Jesus manifest in the marriages I’ve seen my friends and family enter into, but…

I’ve also seen Him in the relationship my best friend’s friend had with her boyfriend as she cared for him while he was dying of cancer.  I’ve seen Him on a playground in Philadelphia when one of my students sat under a slide for hours with a little boy who would’ve been sitting there alone if she hadn’t climbed down in the dirt with him. I’ve seen Him in my Bible study when we all sat on the floor and held hands and cried and prayed for one of our girls who had miscarried. I’ve seen Him in a nursing home while my mom laid beside her dad as he slipped away from this earth, whispering in his ear, “It’s okay. You can go now.”  And I’ve seen Him in the text messages and phone calls sent in the daily routine of lives lived side-by-side: “Dinner Tues. Can you bring dessert?” “Today is your last final. Hooray!” “I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you and praying for you. Love you!”

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Meet someone, fall in love, get married, have babies, honor Jesus.

It’s a good script, but it’s not a script that everybody follows. And that’s okay.  But, let’s encourage each other to love sacrificially anyway, married or not. Because it seems to me that if God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us, then surely we can love each other enough to send a text message or get down in the dirt or sit at McDonald’s.

Perhaps love is that simple.

Meet someone, love sacrificially, honor Jesus.

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4 thoughts on “…when dating is hard, but loving is simple

  1. Thank you for this! It’s like you put into words things I’ve been thinking and wrestling with recently. It’s nice to know you’re not alone. I have found that I have been made to feel like I’m not quite there yet with life since I’m still single and that I’m in a waiting period until marriage happens, but I know I’m not in a waiting game. God is using me in my singleness to love others and we can all love sacrificially now. Thanks for sharing your heart!

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