Dear Self twenty years ago (Okay, fine a little longer than that),
Now that it’s entirely too late to give you these little gems of straight talk, I’d like to share some things I wish I had known then. Choosing a Christian mate was about the most confusing journey I have ever been on. Here we go!
1. Don’t date someone you wouldn’t marry. Sure, he’s cute. And funny. And you feel a little indulgent when you’re around him. Can you take him home to your parents?
2. Don’t chase a boy. I know. The mind reels that you can’t force a boy to pay attention to you, or force him to discover exactly how charming you are after you have stalked him and written endless love letters. But, someone might need to hear this. I did! Young Girlfriend, you deserve to be pursued. It’s a feeling like no other.
3. Trust your gut. If you think he doesn’t like you, you’re probably right. Don’t wait for confirmation. Get moving!
4. Look for someone that is good— the world says the cool, bad boy is the one to seek, but God says something different. Twenty years later, the good guy is STILL the good guy and the bad guy is on his fifth marriage or still lives with his mother.
5. Pick a trustworthy adult/mentor in which to confide or ask relationship questions— your parent, your youth minister’s wife, etc. Sometimes, you need to have the straight answers to a question like, “What do you think of my boyfriend?” And listen! There are years of widsom and experience from which you can benefit.
6. Decide BEFORE you get into temptation how you will handle temptation. If you don’t have a plan, and he doesn’t have a plan, what do you think is going to happen when your lips are glued together and you’re both feeling really tingly? Hint: it isn’t prayer.
7. Remember that your self-esteem and worth is defined by God so don’t ever let a boy change that definition. Do not give some young punk the power to make you feel less. Less special, less pretty, less loved, less worthy, less His. For over twenty years, I have avoided singing in front of people because some punk told me I wasn’t good. He was right. But without his influence and negative talk, I would be the kind of person that did it anyway and laughed about it.
8. Don’t cheapen yourself through immodesty, excessive flirtation, or impure speech to gain approval. You are more than your boobs. You are more than your skin. You are more than your raunchy jokes and sexual innuendos. Just stop what you’re doing and look in the mirror. If you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect it from anyone else?
9. If they don’t already like who God created you to be, pretending to be someone else surely isn’t the answer. Who does God say you are? What is His plan for your life? Where do you see yourself fifty years down the road? Find a guy that can buy into that and hold on. Unless of course, he doesn’t like you. Then refer to #3. Ha!
10. Even good kids struggle with sin— don’t assume any boy or date is “safe.” Some of the biggest horndogs I ever dated were Christian boys. Oh, yes, I went there. And I will go there again and again because no one warned me about that. Hear me now: You are the only one you can count on to maintain your purity. Don’t let anyone else have that role.
11. Remember the person you are with is somebody’s future husband– treat him with respect! If he isn’t yours for life, what do you want him for anyway? Here’s a helpful tip: pretty much any guy will want to have sex. You don’t need to test out this theory. Especially with someone that will belong to someone else.
12. Equally yoked isn’t what you think! I dated a non-Christian who was baptized right before we got married. That was sufficient, I thought. But we never had talks about finances, parenting, the way he was raised, etc. I expected him to be on the same page overnight because he was a Christian. Sadly, there never was a same page. I wish I had known. It’s not too late for you to know, young sister.
13. Don’t marry unless you are fine not being married! I often see advice that goes something like this: “Find the person you can’t live without.” Horrible advice. Horrible. Why? You can live without anyone. You are enough. You and God make the perfect union. And until you know and live that reality, your focus should be on God, not a spouse.
I’m married to an amazing man. He wants us to be holy more than he wants us to be happy. Is my marriage perfect? Not by a long shot. But he is my partner in every way. (Except maybe the cover-stealing thing. He’s definitely not my partner there.)
As you probably know, the world talks about the high rate of divorce in churches today. Sadly, I am a part of that statistic. Please hear this: you don’t have to be. I’m praying for marriages, and that includes yours.