I have spent about a year wanting to write about God-centered relationships but my heart wasn’t in the right place. I felt like a hypocrite.
My ex-boyfriend is a “Christian”. However, we didn’t view our faith in the same way. He believed in God, but didn’t like going to church, praying, reading the Bible, getting involved in youth group or even talking with me about how amazing the God we serve really is.
Depending on where you are in your relationship with God, that might not seem like a big deal to you. But for me, it was. My relationship with God comes first in my life and I wanted to be with someone who felt the same way. I spent a lot of time asking God whether or not I should be in a relationship with this guy and whether or not he was a part of God’s plan for my life. I so badly wanted Him to show me the “right” path to take. Beyond that, I wasted countless times listing pros and cons trying to figure out if being with this guy long term was something that I really wanted.
One Sunday, our pastor talked about prayers and the way God answers them. I will never forget what he said: “Sometimes God lets us have what we want, to show us that we don’t want it.”
Sometimes God lets us have what we want, to show us that we don’t want it.
I copied this down and read it to myself ten times.
God didn’t audibly tell me which path to take or throw a very clear sign my way because I had things to learn about myself. About relationships, about choices, and especially about Him. I learned about self-confidence, worth, identity, and why having God at the center of your relationships matters. I struggled with that specific prayer and decision for two years not even looking at all the other amazing things God was doing in my life. There were great moments throughout that period of time He worked in, but I had blind eyes to those little blessings because I had such a direct vision on the one problem I felt needed to be resolved.
This blog is not meant to make you feel like a sinner if you’re dating someone at a different place in their faith than you, and it is not meant to make you feel guilty for liking a guy who may not even believe in Jesus. But it is meant to save you a lot of pain and heartache that I had to go through, especially if marrying a man with eyes on Jesus is something that is important to you. Here are 4 things I believe to be true about God-centered relationships and why they matter from my experience that may help you on your journey in discovering relationships.
- You can’t fix him. It took me a long time to figure this out. I wasn’t dating the guy TO fix him, don’t get that part wrong. I really did like him for many reasons. But there were also some things about him that I wasn’t super crazy about. At first I thought that I would “get over” them, or that they would fix themselves. After A LOT of time I realized that I was the one who needed some evaluation. If you are in a relationship or want to be in one with someone who has different faith than you, don’t think “I can convince him to love Jesus and take him to church with me and we will live happily ever after.” I am here to tell you that men are individuals, not appliances that we can fix. Along with that, people do change, but don’t convince yourself that you can influence him to love Jesus just as much as you because you can’t. Only God can do that, and he will do it in his own time.
- Your relationship should be God-Centered. In my long 2-year tug-of-war with God I learned there is no picture-perfect godly relationship because two imperfect and different people make for a beautiful imperfect and different relationship. You can read a million blogs and “relationship goal” posts but a God-centered relationship is special for each pair of people. There is a verse in the Bible that gives us a clue as to what this looks like. 2nd Corinthians 14-18: “Do not become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands?” The NIV version uses the phrase “do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” A yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. If the oxen were not of equal strength, they would hurt each other from the uneven weight.
- If you cannot do life by yourself, don’t try to do it with another person. I said this to my cousin last year when she asked me for boy advice, and she told me it was a very deep phrase. In simpler terms, it basically means if you are still figuring out your relationship with God and what you want to do with your life and knowing your identity and true worth (see AMH’s previous blog for more information on identities) then you shouldn’t try to add a boy to the equation. Relationships are about learning how to live alongside of another person. Life as a middle/high school student is hard. If you find yourself getting lost in the mix, make sure you can plant your feet on solid ground so that what you stand for doesn’t get changed. It’s great to have solid friends to hold you accountable and walk your journey with you as well.
- It can affect your relationship with God. Have you ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat?” This also applies to “you become like who you spend your time with”. Relationships with other people matter because they can speak truth into your life and encourage you and your walk with God. I can’t think of a better way to explain it than feeling a disjoint between the two relationships. I felt like I couldn’t grow in either relationship without affecting the other one.
If a friend came to mind while reading this who might need to hear these words, make sure to share with them! It would have saved me a ton of heartache, tears and confusion to have one of my friends hold me accountable for one of the most important qualities I want in my boyfriend and future husband. Be that friend for someone else. If this blog described you and is tugging on your heart I encourage you to talk to a trusted adult friend and have them pray with you. (Tugging on your heart would also mean giving you that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you know something isn’t quite right.) Don’t ignore that feeling. Your heart matters, make sure you treat it that way.