rebelling against low expectations

One Thing Christian Teens Need to Know Before They Date

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Several years ago, I had an idea about how to earn some fast cash. Since four-wheel-drive vehicles—like Jeeps and SUVs— sell for a premium in Colorado, I thought I’d buy one in the Midwest, drive it home, and sell it for a profit.

A day into my search, I discovered a sporty pickup with low mileage and a five-speed manual transmission. On the outside, the cardinal-red paint was impeccable. The 3.0 liter, V6 engine was pristine and ran like silk. Underneath, however, corrosion and rust plagued the kick panels and frame. No big deal, I thought. A little wear and tear won’t hurt.

But I was wrong. I handed over the cash, signed the title, and drove a wobbly truck home. Upon further inspection, my mechanics dropped a bombshell: “The frame is irreparable.” Irreparable? They were right. Rust had eaten through the truck’s foundation, and it was unfixable. I had bought a lemon. The vehicle was a four-thousand-pound paper weight—useless—and my business plan a bust. I had planned to drive it one thousand miles, but it wasn’t safe to drive one block. The only option left was for me to return the vehicle and incur a $600 loss.

For dating—or for any relationship—to be in good shape, it needs to be built on a solid foundation.

Inspect Your Frame

For our foundation to be solid, that foundation needs to be Christ. We prepare for dating by developing a sturdy and rust-free relationship with Christ. Click To Tweet Though the timing of the relationship we long for might be out of our control, it’s always up to us how close we get to God.

Check your spiritual frame. There’s no limit to how far you can run with God during your unmarried years. Spouses make horrible saviors, so decide now who is the Lord of your life. The greatest gift you can give your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse is your relationship with Christ.

God says of Himself, “You shall not worship any other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). He doesn’t want to share His throne with anything or anyone—including your future husband or wife. Untold relationship problems form when people infuse unrealistic expectations in a boyfriend or girlfriend that only God was meant to fulfill in their lives.

Who is your ultimate security and stability? Is it the guy with the bloated bank account? Doesn’t the apostle Paul proclaim, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19)?

Who gives you your confidence and identity? Is it the hottest person you land a date with or your Father in heaven? Nothing compares to being part of God’s family: “You are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:7).

The richest, best looking, or even holiest spouses will never take the place of your Father in heaven. Only He fills your deepest needs, “for He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and He has filled the hungry soul with what is good” (Ps. 107:9). Who else but God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5)? Who else “comforts us in all our affliction” and will “bind up the brokenhearted” (2 Cor. 1:4; Isa. 61:1)?

If you’re running on spiritual fumes, however, the tendency will be to seek your well-being from another person. As relationship expert Gary Thomas notes, “Desperation and dating are a toxic mix.”

Several years ago, I dated a woman when my God-tank was on empty. Without knowing it, I started taking my self-worth from her. Sensing my neediness, she pulled away and put up an emotional wall. My life felt empty, and I was unknowingly sucking the life out of her. I felt embarrassed when she confronted me about it, but I needed to hear how I was expecting too much from her.

Do You Need or Want to be Married?

Instead, “be filled with the Spirit” so you’ll be able to give to that perfect person when you meet them (Eph. 5:18). To mix a metaphor, don’t act as a spiritual vacuum cleaner like I did. You can’t love someone unless you have experienced the love of God.

As the apostle John reminds us, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). I needed to return to the Source of love. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37–38). As my mentor taught me: God fills our cup; people add to it.

Following the Lord doesn’t mean you won’t feel the sting on some lonely Friday nights or the angst of showing up to a wedding without a date. But the notion that anyone but God completes you is a lie. Jesus has taken care of your most pressing problem—being separated from the Father: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13 NIV).

And Psalm 18:1–2 proclaims: “I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my savior, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Some people bounce from relationship to relationship, not knowing that they are actually yearning for God. And there’s a big difference between wanting to be married and needing to be. If you’re in an especially needy emotional or spiritual season, as I was, wait to date. Otherwise, you’ll end up trying to siphon your significance from someone like a vacuum cleaner.

Fortify Your Foundation in Christ

There’s no better time than when you’re unmarried to solidify your foundation in Christ. But the process of sanctification—becoming like Christ in your character—won’t stop when you’re married.

Think of this: How many problems in marriage could be thwarted in advance if you allowed God to transform you to be like Him before you made it to the altar? For those who committed to this process, infidelity, divorce, and dissatisfaction in your spouse would certainly decrease. And trust, joy, and satisfaction in marriage would increase.

Growing in your relationship with God won’t keep you from relationship problems - couples disagree. The difference is, when you go through struggles, you’ll have the strength to get through them because your foundation is Christ. Click To Tweet

As it’s been said, “Be the person you want to be with.” Become the kind of person you’d like to spend the rest of your life with. To date, be dateable first. Slip on your spiritual trainers and get to work. Find a routine every day to connect you to Christ that includes prayer, service, and Bible reading. Only He can solidify your spiritual frame while transforming you from the inside out.


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About the author

Eric Demeter

is a popular blogger who engages faith, relationships, and culture in a relatable way. He just completed his first book, How Should a Christian Date?: It's Not as Complicated as You Think through Moody Publishing. Eric also serves around the world, teaching about healthy relationships, encouraging new men and women in the faith, and provides practical business opportunities for the marginalized.

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rebelling against low expectations

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