January 26th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

This is the 5th installment in our “The Rules for Dating” series. You can find the previous posts here, here, here, and here.

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Up until now you’ve probably dated at the wrong speed.

Here’s how it typically happens: Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy ask girl out. Boy and girl go out. If girls likes boy they go out again. If they enjoy being together they have the DTR (Defining The Relationship) conversation and they are soon boyfriend and girlfriend. And depending on your faith and love commitments, many of the couples are doing whatever they believe is appropriate for boyfriends and girlfriends to do.

Wow! That’s fast.

The entire thing can happen in less than a month. Sometimes it happens in a few weeks. I want to suggest that that’s too fast. What’s more, I want to suggest that when the relationship goes south, boyfriend and girlfriend – who got together in less than a month – waste a lot of time and energy NOT going ahead and breaking up quickly.

I once heard a Christian business man say, “You should hire slowly and fire quickly.” And I think the same is true for who you date. Remember, the dating process is about finding a spouse and creating a life together. You can call another kind of friend if you just want to go to the movies. Take the dating process seriously.  Therefore – and I know this sounds cold and unromantic – you should treat your season of dating like a job interview.

Hire slowly.

How?
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January 25th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Since I’m back blogging, I thought we might pick up where we left off in our discussion about dating and relationships. If you’re new you can see the previous posts here, here, and here.

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Hearts aren’t toys!

This sounds obvious, I know, but when we’re dating or trying to date someone, we often forget. I once knew a guy who was in love. The one thing he and his girlfriend shared was that they were both madly in love with her. As he sacrificed his will and wishes she openly accepted all he had to give. His money. His gifts. His time and attention. She gave none in return. Frequently he told his friends how wonderful, nice, gentle and loving she was when they were together, but in public all his friends saw was her demeaning him, mocking him, and rejecting all forms of displayed affection.

Slowly it broke him.

After a while – and with the encouragement of friends – he broke up with her, but his heart had already been exposed to enough venom that it took a long time for him to recover. He was unable to trust other young women. He became distant. He came to believe all the worst of what she had said about him. His biggest problem was that he allowed this girlfriend to treat his heart like a toy, a plaything.

Proverbs 4:23 teaches us this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

All of your life bubbles up and spills over from your heart. It’s more important than you think. Therefore, you must guard it from people who – purposefully or not – would hurt, harm or break it.

But how?

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June 30th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

This week we’ve been walking through Palmer’s Rules for dating. I began with the need to be clear and then moved on to The SoulMate Myth. I realize that The Rules, and the idea that there are any rules seems like they diminish romance, curtail chemistry, and remove spontaneity. That is one way to look at. I prefer to see the rules as practical steps and decisions, gleaned from the successes and failures of others, that will lead you to the person with which you can maximize romance, chemistry and spontaneity. While thinking and practicing The Rules, it won’t always feel romantic. Somewhere in inside you, you want a movie-style romance. But, in truth, those movies are a kind of emotional pornography; unrealistic, sensational, and intended for emotional gratification rather than lasting value. We see these emotional pornography in the oft-suggested notion in movies that one you find your partner or soul-mate that that person will somehow “complete you.”

You seen it in movies, and it was famously stated in one in particular. The “complete” narrative goes like this:

Someone is somewhat happy but there is something lacking in their life. Through a confluence of events they meet someone they think they want to spend forever with. Some obstacle to their love is introduced or highlighted and then the obstacle is overcome allowing the couple to “live happily ever after.” The hole that existed in their lives has now been filled; everyone has a new lease on life and all will be well.

But have you ever thought about all of the poor assumptions wrapped up in that narrative? Let’s ask some questions:

  1. What If You’re Happy Already? Where is it written that singleness is a curse and should be avoided? As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul directs us in the opposite direction. Not everyone should be married, which, if the Bible is to be believed, suggest that you don’t need someone to “complete you” whether you get married or not. Truth is, only God can complete you — something the Ecclesiates writer discovers after trying absolutely EVERYTHING else!
  2. How Poorly Do You Think About Yourself? The idea that there is another person that has the ability to “complete” you means that you somehow see yourself as incomplete. That’s an awful lot of power and dependence to give to another person. What happens to your sense of self if, God forbid, your completer dies early? And what happens if your competer strongly disagrees with you about something major? If you allow someone to complete you, you will always be dependent. Once a teenage girl told me about how important it was for a girl to have a boyfriend to feel good about herself. She got pregnant her senior year in high school. The guy split and her life was altered in a way, if thinking clearly, she would not have chosen.
  3. How Poorly Do You Think of God? If the Biblical narrative is true, one of the recurring themes is that God alone is enough. Enough for salvation, enough for sustained growth and relational intimacy; God is just enough and to live otherwise is a denial of that truth. Of course there is a relational component, people need other people, yet it is the spark of God in one another, His image, to borrow the language of Genesis. If You need someone other than God to complete you, you may be granting a person god-like power. As far as I can tell, this is idolatry.
The bottom line is simple: Another person cannot complete you. They really can’t even come close and it’s inappropriate for you to ask hem to. You’re putting extreme pressure on your relationship and marriage when you approach it that way. And trust me, there’s enough pressure in married life – money, kids, not having kids when you want them, time, sex, etc… – that you don’t need a serving of idolatry on the side.
He or she won’t complete you. Either you’ll be made whole through a redemptive relationship with God or you’ll reject that relationship. There’s no other path to wholeness.
June 27th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Yesterday, I began a series on Palmer’s Rules For Dating. The Rules are generally, but not totally, geared toward young women and are designed to produce a healthy dating life, which will hopefully become a fulling, life-long marriage. Yesterday we talked about young men and today we turn our attention to a powerful impediment to healthy dating: The SoulMate Myth!

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Perhaps the most insidious idea in the dating world is The SoulMate Myth.

Here’s how the soulmate myth goes: There is one person that God has uniquely designed for you to meet, date, fall in love and live happily ever after with. When I was in school at Abilene Christian, girls shared an old-wives tale about an artery in your ring finger that lead to your heart and that’s why you wore your wedding ring on that finger. The boy who placed the ring on your finger was the one person God meant for your heart. 

Hogwash! I’m not a doctor or the son of a doctor (unless a Ph.D, counts), but I really hope all my arteries wind their way back to my heart!

More to the point, and to be clear: You don’t have a soulmate! There’s is not one, single person carved out in the universe custom made for you. Just because nearly everything in America is customizable, it doesn’t mean people come that way.

Just think about the anxiety you would feel if you really believed that! Did you meet them in elementary school and put sand in her hair? Was he or she sitting next to you at a concert and you never managed the courage to speak to him or her? Were you supposed to meet them at that Sunday night youth devo that you skipped because you were trying to finish your homework? With 300 Billion people in the world, you’d have to wonder about a God would send you looking for that small a needle in that large a haystack. As a matter of fact, a God who did that might be described as kinda cruel. And if you had to go on a hard target search like that, what time would you have for anything else? I mean, how much time can you spend on ChristianSingles.com?

Yet people believe it. They walk around thinking they’ve married their soulmate or “the right person” and they’re happy about it…until they’re not. They get married, hit some bumps in the road, find comfort in the company another man or woman, or in just being alone and suddenly they say to themselves, “I married they wrong person.”

The truth is that there is no single right-person. Instead, you should be looking for the right-kind-of-person. This right-kind-of-person is found in 1 Corinthians 13. Rochelle and I enjoy a great marriage, but both of us acknowledge that either of us could have had a great marriage with a number of people given that those persons were committed to the same things we are committed to; faith, hope, love, divorce never being an option, and the primacy of Jesus. Certainly it would be different, but marriage isn’t sustained by chemistry; it’s sustained by commitments. In turn, commitments give rise to chemistry, but what many people call chemistry is pretty much lust! As Rochelle’s father told me during my engagement, “If you stay committed to Jesus, you’ll stay committed to Rochelle.”

So, how do you find the right-kind-of-person? It’s simple. You become the right-kind-of-person! Psalm 42 reminds us that “deep calls to deep;” like things are drawn to like things. If you want a person who is patient, kind, not envious, isn’t jealous, etc…you need to become that kind of person. So guess what, if you’re dating a jerk…look in the mirror.

You have think about your own behavior and character like a virus, a good virus. Some people will be susceptible to the virus, they’ll be open and non-resistant to the right kind of love and care. Other people’s system will fight the virus, reject it. Let them. If you’re becoming the right kind of person yourself, the right kind of person will be inspired and drawn to you (this works for friendship, as well). The wrong kind of people will try to inject their antidote of impatience and selfishness into your system. Get rid of them! Quickly! They are a cancer that will eat away at your own health unless you eradicate it!

Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” When it comes to dating and marriage, I say, “Be the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.” There’s not haystack that way.

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