“We don’t know what we’re doing. We do it again. We’re just amateur lovers…with amateur friends” – Jon Foreman
I don’t think we really understand what love is. I know I have had this view of love, dating, sex and marriage that was mostly made up of over-romanticized stuff. I mean, you watch enough television, see enough rom-coms and listen to enough love songs and you get this warped view of what love is supposed to look and feel like. The above lyric is from one of my favourite songwriters – Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot – and it basically summarizes the point I’d like to make with this post. An accurate definition for the word amateur is “a person considered contemptibly inept at a particular activity” – that’s us. Western culture is particular inept at teaching us what love is. And this is troubling because while the Church teaches husbands to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands, most singles are getting their information on love and dating from the culture around us.
From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be married someday. My grandparents have been married for 50 years, my parents are nearing their 30th anniversary – I have wonderful examples of what a great marriage should look like. Like my mother, I expected to go to school, get good grades, graduate university and get married. But I did all the first three with no actual relationship ever taking place. I am 23 years old, and I have never dated. Maybe you’re wondering right now, “Never ever? Why not? What’s wrong with her?” – believe me, I’ve asked myself those same questions.
It used to absolutely mortify me that I had somehow made it through both high school and university without dating one guy. I didn’t want anyone to know, I was ashamed of it basically. I felt so naive and so inexperienced because in our culture, people are dating in like 7th grade! I thought I had never dated because maybe I wasn’t attractive or interesting enough. It really did a number on my self-esteem. As I got older and found myself still waiting to meet someone special, I had to ask myself, “What is it that is really holding me back?” I know now that my problem was that I had built love and relationships up in my mind to be this BIG thing, so big that when anything resembling it came along, I would run scared.
While friends around me have been dating, breaking up, getting back together, getting married, having kids etc, I’ve been waiting for something to happen. I was waiting for God to send me somebody to love, someone to trust with my life and my heart. But as I was doing this, I was ignoring God’s invitation to allow Him to take that place in my life. I loved God, but I was more in love with the idea of love. I understand now why I’ve had to wait – I know myself more now and am much more confident and self-assured than I was at 16, 17 or even 20 or 21. I think it’s a much healthier place to start a relationship in. The examples of my grandparents and parents have showed me that when marriage is done right, it is one of the most rewarding relationships a person can have – but it is not the most rewarding relationship a person should have. While being in love is a great feeling (so I’ve been told), it will never be able to ‘complete’ me, as the famous movie line goes. That is way too much responsibility and too big of an expectation to put on yourself or your significant other. The love of another person does not even compare to the kind of love God wants to give us.
I’m only in this great place right now because of the growth that I’ve had in my relationship with Christ over the past year. I’ve been digging more in the Word, and making it a daily part of my life as opposed to something that would happen every once in a while. I think that helps temper the desires I had to date and have a boyfriend, because when I found myself finally understanding God’s promises, I found I wasn’t trying to find validation in other places. His love gives me all that I need. God has gotten me through so many times when I was so sad or when I felt worthless or when I cried out to Him in frustration. He’s helped me stop telling lies to myself and start believing the truth that I am beautiful, I am important, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve heard that phrase so many times before, but I never really believed it until now.
So, am I cured from the “I don’t have a boyfriend” blues forever? Well, I’m still working on it – I have occasional doubts like anyone else. A lesson I had to learn was to stop comparing myself to other people. I had to stop listening to what the world was telling that I was supposed to do. Now I am able to be content because I know that God is faithful and when He says He will give his people the desires of their heart, I believe Him. When I have those moments where I feel unwanted and insecure, I can turn to the One who loves me better than anyone else will be able to. Life is not just about dating, or love or sex or all the other things that the world tells us are SO important. What’s important is your spiritual relationship with God and if you’re setting that aside to focus on having a girlfriend or boyfriend, you’re cheating yourself out of the amazing life that God wants you to live.
While we are in this waiting period, all we can do is pray that there is someone out there – maybe you already know them, maybe you don’t – who is also pursuing God in their time of singleness. We have to leave everything else in God’s hands – only He knows the right time for us. So, use this time to wholeheartedly pursue God and the wonderful adventure He has waiting for you – strive to fill your life with a love that is not the least bit amateur.
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” – Maya Angelou