Dating…in-a-relationship…In our culture those words mean a variety of things.  Many of us spent our early teen years reading books like “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or “Boy Meets Girl.”  Questions like “should I date?” “who should I date?” “what about courting?” and pretty much everything in between are just a few of thequestions on a girl’s mind.  The freeing truth is, however you chose to “define the relationship” doesn’t really matter as far as which term you use.  After all, dating, courting, or relationship are all just some letters and syllables thrown together with some vague definitions attached to them.  The purpose behind the decision is what truly matters.

When I use the word dating, what comes to mind? Dressing up? Crazy girl nights trying to decipher every text and emoji from that special someone?  Special dinners?  Or maybe awkward coffee dates?  Walks on the beach or under the stars?  For many of us, at least a couple of those aspects will probably be included in our dating lives, but none of them should be the ultimate focal point of a relationship.

To begin, let me just say something really quick: dating should not be our first priority.  Before you close the lid to your computer or swipe your phone screen from this magazine to Instagram, let me rephrase: the realm of dating should not now, or ever, be detached from the realm of pursuing God.  For some of us, this is obvious, for others, maybe not so much. 

Let’s take a quick trip back to my childhood and my early teens.  When I was younger, completely tomboy, and oblivious to any male attention I received, I came up with the visual picture of a triangle as a representation of what I wanted my future relationship/relationships to look like.  With God as the top point and me and my future boyfriend at the bottom of this triangle, this is what I desired: As we each grew closer to God (the top point) we would automatically grow closer to each other.  There is an important aspect to notice here.  My purpose in trying to live out this triangle in my dating life was not to get closer to God as I got closer to my boyfriend, but rather, to get closer to my boyfriend as I got closer to God…the catch?  I wanted God to be my top priority. 

The natural repercussion of pursuing God and deepening my relationship to Him would be a stronger love for those around me and a greater desire for relationships that brought me closer to Him. 

A good question for us to ask whenever we get asked on a date is “will this man be the best man to help me bring God the most glory in life?” Bringing God glory is the game of life, and whoever our future husband is, he will be our teammate!  This gives dating a much heavier value. 

When I was in high school I made the decision not to date anyone.  This didn’t mean I never talked to a boy or thought one of them was cute.  With two brothers, guys were at my house all the time!  But I never let anything go past a friendship.  This wasn’t because I didn’t want to date, but because I didn’t want to take it lightly.  I refused to play with a boy’s heart just for the fun of it, knowing that more than likely, before high school ended, one way or another the relationship would break up and I would have left a broken heart behind.  The night I graduated high school I couldn’t sleep because I realized that whenever that guy came along, I would be ready to say yes. 

While I didn’t want dating to be a big focus of my thoughts in high school where lasting commitment was rare, now I definitely want my future relationship to be a focus.  How we spend our time before the ring is almost as important as how we spend it after. 

Levi Lusko, pastor of Fresh Life Church in Montana, has some good advice for us.  Rather than spending all those hours frantically searching for that perfect guy, prepare yourself to be the best person you can be.  Set good habits now that will positively affect your future marriage.  Definitely pursue God and take quiet moments to feel Him pursue you.  Invest in relationships that will be a positive influence on your life.  Use some of the extra time you have now and “adopt” a couple high school girls.  Take them out to coffee and get into their lives.  Practice loving those who are closest to you.  Love isn’t always easy but it’s always worth it.  Show respect for authority figures over you and know that one day, you will be called to love and respect your husband as well.  Be the type of person you dream of marrying.  We can’t expect to attract devoted, godly, faithful men if we don’t possess any of the qualities ourselves.

For those of you who are married out there, what happened when your husband got down on one knee and held out a sparkling diamond?  Your heart probably took a giant leap and a smile consumed your face as you reached for this free gift — the gift which signifies the companionship the two of you will have for the rest of your life… 

It blows my mind that it is the same with Jesus.  He pursues us, shows us His interest in our lives and the deep care He has for us.  Then one day we realize He is offering to take us into personal, deep relationship with Him.  It’s a free gift He holds out to us, and just as we have the choice to accept a lifelong relationship with the man of our dreams, so with Jesus we have the choice to accept everlasting life spent with Him.

Revelation talks about the God who created love coming back to claim His bride, the church of Christ.  Marriage is a representation of the love God has for us, and therefore a powerful example to our watching world.  But before marriage there has to be a ring, before the ring there must be that first date (with hopefully a few more in between!), and before that first date there has to be a godly man.

My encouragement to all of us is not to simply to sit back and wait for someone to come around the corner.  Let’s not be the passive person who waits for the guy to do all the work.  Instead, how about we do some pursuit of our own.  Let’s pursue the God who created love, who created us, and who also created the person He will one day bring into our lives.

When our focus is on Jesus Christ He somehow always brings exactly what and who He wants us to see into our vision. 

Men can’t complete us, they were never meant to, but God can. 

He desires His own glory and our joy, and the encouraging part of this is — according to Romans 8, He is for us!

Let us allow God to complete us as we focus on Him. He is perfectly capable of bringing the right man that will add to us and help us bring Him the most glory in our lives. As we’ve said, bringing God glory is the game of life, and more often than not, we players need a teammate…so let’s prepare, and trust, and one day, if it’s in God’s plan, our man will come!