If you are anything like me, you had a goal for your future relationship and marriage from a young age. You were going to do it right—you were going to save your first kiss for your wedding day, involve your parents and friends in the relationship, choose the right person on the first try, and live happily ever after. You probably watched friends and family members fall into relational and sexual sin and thought That will never be me.
But then, like me, you fell for all the lies. You learned the subtle pleasures of temptation, the sweetness of secrecy, and the quickness of descent into deeper and deeper sin. Then one day, you woke up and asked yourself how on earth did I get here?
After going through a devastating heartbreak or a period of unrepentant relational sin, it can be difficult to think about or choose to begin a new relationship. However, despite the fact that the road through that new relationship will be difficult, it is not without beauty and very visual restoration.
Speaking of that restoration, one of the first things that will be very evident in starting this new relationship is hope. This is a chance to start again! This is a chance to turn your eyes away from sin’s charms and to begin a journey with another person who loves Christ as much as you do. This is a chance to grow together, hurt together, and learn together. Romantic relationships can create extreme pitfalls, but they also serve as one of life’s greatest teachers. Thus, no matter what else happens, remember that starting over creates a new reason to hope and new goals to work towards.
One of greatest struggles for me in beginning a new relationship was fear. I still struggle with it every single day. Some of that fear exists in relation to my boyfriend, and I continually walk around asking myself—What if he cheats on me? What if he’s not the person that I think he is? How do I know if he is going to follow Jesus? What if he is lying to me about everything?? After being in a past relationship where I was manipulated, and where I myself continually lied to other people and kept secrets, I constantly suspect that other people are lying to me. Thus, it has been a fearful and challenging thing to begin learning how to trust my boyfriend, and how to trust God in our relationship.
Another fear has been that I would struggle with the same things in my new relationship as I did previously. I naively thought at the beginning: I am so over that now! only to feel devastated when I realized that sinful desires, both old and new, are always lurking within my heart.
I can promise you that at some point in your relationship, you will hurt for the things you have lost. You will realize that you will never be able to give this person your whole heart, your first kiss, or your virginity. You will remember things that your parents told you, things that you read in Christian dating books or in the Bible, and you will rightfully mourn for what you (and for what your partner) has sacrificed to sinful pleasures.
Because of the fear and the regret, you (like me) will question the new relationship’s validity. Some days I feel ready to start pursuing the marriage altar, and other days I am hiding behind the weight of my past fears and current failures, wondering if I will ever be certain of anything. Thus, I entreat you to not seek security from the new relationship that you have been given. Test the waters to see if they are pure, test your own heart for sin, and venture forward with caution. Embrace uncertainty knowing that (as a good friend once told me) whether you get married or not, there is never a point in your life when you can stop trusting God for ultimate certainty and peace.
You may think that you have fallen too far in your past to ever start again, but always remember that the Bible is full of stories of broken things being made new. God delights to take useless, rebellious, fallen people and turn them into treasures for His glory. His specialty is restoration, but this is often preceded by heartbreak, sin, and shame. However, one of the greatest passages that anyone has shared with me in relation to this is Luke 7:47 (ESV), a verse that occurs right after a sinful woman anointed Jesus before his death:
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Isn’t that amazing that our capacity for love seems to be increased by how much we have been forgiven? Think about this in relation to how much you love God for forgiving your sins, and then how much you can love other people (including your new partner) knowing how much you have been forgiven!
Lastly, remember in all of this that your truest lover and assurance is Christ Himself, not any other person. Remember the words that God spoke to the harlot in Hosea, words that came after her repeated sin, words that came from the heart of a loving Redeemer:
“And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2: 19-20)