I was sitting across from a young lady as she explained her dating life to me. A really great Christian guy was interested in her and she had a hard time knowing what to do with the current influx of emotions and the need for Godly advice to make a wise decision. "I am a little too busy for a relationship," she said. I nodded because I understood; dating can be terrifying. There's no specific playbook for each and every situation, and yet our dating relationships can affect the legacy of our future and that of our family's. No pressure.
I look back and what helped me when dating was learning to create space for God to work. I had to understand the reasons behind my fear of dating, and I had to allow the God-given purpose behind dating relationships guide me.
Let's talk about three reasons I think dating can be terrifying. First, we have absolutely no control of the outcome when we are getting to know someone. We can't make someone like us; no matter how hard we try. It's unpredictable – even with those cheesy Christian pick-up lines. Second, sometimes it feels like there's no purpose or point to dating. With the concept of marriage declining rapidly in popularity, it is easy to get discouraged. Third, it may feel like there's no end in sight. I remember telling a friend about a dating relationship while she was trying to encourage me. She said, "Hannah, marriage isn't as great as it seems." What she said felt so discouraging . . . I mean, if I am a single adult and my goal is to date in a way that is honoring Christ and the other person, telling me the actual goal is "not that great," doesn't really help . . . again, there's no playbook to dating in the Bible, but there are principles that can help.
You may have heard the phrase "create space" in the context of decluttering a house or in resting in moments of silence. I enjoy using the term "create space" for dating. I was just starting my career when I used the excuse of being "too busy" for avoiding getting to know someone. I am so thankful a friend of mine told me I could accomplish my career goals while having a family. I believe sometimes we are afraid of getting hurt, which is why we create a "single life" around us. We jam-pack our days with work, activities, and hobbies. Living a single life isn't wrong and can be enjoyable; however, if your dream is to have a family someday, you have to find the time to get to know a potential spouse. And finding a spouse takes time.
Maybe you are thinking, yea, I am doing all of that. I started going on coffee dates. I know why dating scares me; I've created time to get to know someone, but I still have a hard time seeing the purpose in it all. I felt that way when I was dating. I went on plenty of coffee dates with some really great guys, however, none of them seemed to stick around. I found a relevant chapter in the Bible that gave me some perspective.
"Unless the LORD builds the house the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late toiling for food to eat–– for he grants sleep to those he loves. Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court" (Psalm 127).
The theme we find in Psalm 127 is that unless God is a part of things, there is no purpose. This past Sunday, my pastor talked about how children would have been a sign of success at the time this Psalm was written. I have found that when I left God out of my dating life, I lost sight of the goal, the purpose, and the reason, and I started making foolish choices. On the other hand, when I started dating and asking the Lord to guide the entire process, I found purpose in getting to know someone in a dating relationship. Even if there's no playbook for dating in the Bible, God loves providing a family for the lonely. The Lord is relational and He wants to build your house. Unless the Lord is guiding your dating life, you will not understand why dating terrifies you. You likely will not create space in your life for a dating relationship because you may still be afraid of getting hurt, and dating will start to feel purposeless and hopeless.
Dating is terrifying, and there being no playbook for our specific circumstances makes it even more difficult. God does care about the legacy you want to leave behind. For many of us, this has to do with our family. How do we date? To that, I say: with God being the most integral part, every step of the way. He will give us purpose, bravery, and success in dating. Next time you feel like you want to say no to a coffee date with that cool guy from the singles group at church, check yourself for fear, create some space for time and prayer, and ask God to guide your choices.
Hannah Lynn hosts Moody Radio’s That’s Real and is an engineer for Karl and Crew mornings. She grew up as a homeschooler on a tree farm, plays the harp (ask her about harp camp), drives a Prius (don’t judge), and started a fashion blog while a student at Moody Bible Institute (yes, that’s possible). Hannah loves to tell people about Jesus—as a seven-year-old she witnessed to her ballet teacher, then she started a Young Life club while in high school. Now she mentors teens with her husband, John, who serves as a youth pastor.
That’s Real with Hannah Lynn gives a one-minute dose of encouragement and advice to young adults who want to love and live God’s Word. Her fast-paced mix of storytelling and Bible truth helps create understanding between young believers and anyone who wants to follow Jesus one day at a time.