We fast and pray for the Lord to bring men and women into relationship with Him, for men to lead in the church and in relationships, for our hearts to be soft to the Lord’s leading, and for God-honoring marriages for those who desire them.
Scurrying up the mountain is not their aim; it is the boulders at the top that capture their attention. Climbing, scaling, dangling and jumping to the top of the protruding white boulders sprinkled on the top of the mountain grabs the attention of my nephews when we hike their favorite trail. With significant drops to perilous ends, they fearlessly push boundaries and insist on testing instructed limits. This sends my heart to flutter and palms to sweat as they test my own fear of heights. On one of our trips to this mountain trail, my brother was along and in charge of reigning in the troops. As my youngest nephew, I-man (as we’ve nicknamed him), tested the limits of his father’s authority, he ventured to the edge of our perch. This particular area was popular for rock climbing, as it is a good distance for anchoring and belaying practice. We were at the top of this area and I-man wanted to take in the view to the bottom. Not really important to his notice were the thousands of dry pine needles lacing the path to his lookout, making for an easy possible slip off the edge. My brother firmly stopped his advance and told him that such moves could lead to his death. He apologized for being so blunt, but wanted I-man to know the extent of the seriousness of his attempt to venture to the edge. It didn’t take I-man much thought, when he replied “But if I died, I’d be with Jesus.”
I tell you that my palms are sweaty just typing this, as I think of them making their way around the rocks with fearless, boyish fervor. I-man did have a point and a good perspective on our temporary home, but I’m afraid he missed the mark on a few other points, namely, we like having him around and by God’s grace would like to keep him here. Fear keeps me at least ten feet from the edge of anything over 15 feet, where fearlessness drives the nephews to the edge (and nearly over it). Perhaps there is a balance to be struck in our divergent approaches to rock ledges.
Dating, or trying to find a date, in this day and age is much different than decades ago. Online dating, a transient society, social media, delayed adulthood, and the list of changes could go on and on. Navigating this changed relational-world is much like scrambling around boulders perched on top of mountains. Some individuals approach dating with fearless abandon and rush to any medium available to find an interesting prospect for which to unleash their swagger, much like my nephew approaches rock ledges. Ever attend a singles group? This fearless pursuer is the person that has asked every available single out on a date, and pounces on any newcomer. With little heed to the “slippery, dry pine needles” of a potential date, they forge ahead on their conquest. For some in this camp, the hunt is part of the thrill which keeps them forever on the prowl. For others, they fearlessly pursue, because without someone in their lives, fear grows. The danger here is heartbreak, cynicism, or becoming a serial player. Practicing a little restraint and care for the hearts of others is advised for the serial dater, creating some boundaries in finding dating partners just may help focus the longings of the heart. For those that fear loneliness, searching for the cure in a dating partner will only be a temporary fix.
The other extreme in finding and pursuing a dating partner is to approach the process with the same fear that I have while hiking near rock ledges with my nephews. This might appear to be better than being a serial-dater, but it’s living in fear, something Jesus says isn’t good. It is seemingly easier to stay away from the edge, avoid breaking hearts and the vulnerability that can cause more pain. Surely, at the right time, the perfect person will come along and refuse to allow the defense of fear to be a deterrent from engaging the heart. While this may appear to be the safest route, fear, if allowed to fester becomes debilitating.
Another way that fear enters into the dating world (I believe especially for women), is to become chameleon-like when finding someone of interest. This is particularly easy to do when using an online dating service. There is a desire to connect with the individual featured in the written profile, so someone might be tempted to scrutinize every response to the questions with the lurking thought “is this what they want to hear?” The fear of appearing unattractive or causing them to close down the communication without explanation, can leave someone leery to share real thoughts in an attempt to become what the other party is looking for, instead of being authentic.
There must be balance found in lessons from either extreme. I find that as I get older, patterns become more entrenched, so recognizing where balance is out of whack is important. How are you meandering through the dating/”trying to find a date” world, full of fearless abandon or bound in fear or hanging in the middle trusting that God will direct your steps? Hiking with my nephews is an adventure filled with moments of sweaty palms and a racing heart, reckless abandon and child-like trust, I wouldn’t trade the entire experience because it brings joy to my heart. Perhaps our approach to our years spent in the “I’m available for a date” world should be similar… filled with moments of trepidation, times of abandon, a heart that flutters in anticipation, and child-like trust in a Savior that is guiding our steps.
Some of you might be thinking, that’s all well and good, I’d love some heart fluttering, but there are NO potential dating candidates in sight so what about that? I’ve been evaluating the patterns of my life lately. The old adage of “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results equals insanity” might hold true for our ability to interact with interesting potential dating partners. There is no magic, do THIS, formula. But perhaps I need to sign up for a class, running event, or look for other ways to expand my network. If nothing else, I’ll benefit from exploring my interests!
Here are some verses to reflect on as you evaluate how you approach the whole dating world.
2 Timothy 2:22 ESV – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Song of Solomon 2:7 ESV – I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
Proverbs 19:2 ESV – Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
Proverbs 31:30 ESV – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
James 1:5 ESV – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Psalm 32:8 ESV – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Psalm 119:9 ESV – How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 ESV – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
Proverbs 19:14 ESV – House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
Romans 12:12 ESV – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
1 John 4:18 ESV – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Let’s go hiking!