by Drew Read
We are designed to be in a relationship. So there is no surprise the temptation can be strong to use a boyfriend or girlfriend to fill a void in your life. You may think it will give you identity at school or help you feel accepted. But, dating is not something Christians should take lightly. As you think about your current boyfriend or girlfriend, or before you start looking for a date, take a moment to stop and think about these five essentials to a healthy dating relationship.
1. Finding yourself in Christ
Finding your identity is a process. Trying to nail it down as a teenager can be like driving down a dirt road in the dark: gloomy and hopeless. But like anything, it takes time for success to build. If you are simply keeping pace with the culture by trying something else on for size, or putting on the clothes or labels of someone else, the process cannot take shape. As easy as it is to take on the identity of the culture around you, your identity is deeper, more complex and defined by someone you can always anchor to. Look what the King of Kings says about those who follow Jesus:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
Knowing what you’re not can help define who you are. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are forgiven. You are bought with a price. You also might not be good at science and that’s ok. You’re uniquely gifted in other ways. Being confident in Him first is foundational for a healthy relationship with others.
2. Be invested in the relationship–equally
By definition, relationships require two people sharing a mutual respect and a mutual interest in each other. Are you dating for the sake of dating, to not be lonely or to create an image for yourself? Or are you both dating to seek the best team to reflect God’s glory?
Relationships are hard enough. Don’t take on a project. You are not in a relationship to fix the other person or try to make them more like you. A healthy interest in one another comes with no agenda. So make sure before you start dating that you’re not getting involved for the wrong reasons. And on top of that, ensure you’re both following Jesus, and seeking to honor him in your relationship.
3. It doesn’t take a person to complete you
If you’re looking for someone to keep you company, find a friend. If you’re looking for true fulfilment, you will never find it in another person. In the movie Jerry McGuire, Tom Cruise’s character says the famous, dramatic line, “You complete me. It’s a poetic line and great movie moment. It’s a horrible relationship perspective.
If you think a relationship is all you need to make you complete, it can’t and won’t succeed. As sinful people, none of us can fill what seems to be missing in others. Only God can give us the lasting fulfilment we need.
4. Physical fades
The first thing anyone notices is outward attractiveness. But a real, lasting relationship is based on unwavering character. How does your significant other’s character match up to yours? Is he or she honest, trustworthy and pursuing the Lord? What do they do when no one is watching? So what if someone is hot when they have no ability to connect mentally or emotionally.
This is not to say physical attraction is bad. It just can’t be the foundational basis of a healthy relationship as it won’t, and simply can’t, last.
“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. Song of Solomon 8:4
God’s timing is perfect, and his advice to remain sexually pure until marriage is because He loves you and wants the very best for you.
5. Be you and find someone that’s ok with being them
Confidence is attractive. Confident people know who they are and don’t put on a show. They are unwilling to compromise for other’s expectations. When you’re confident in who you are and the plan God has set before you, you’ll be able to face any rocky waters a relationship—or lack of one—can bring.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
“Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., is a passionate advocate for youth and strongly believes that the home is the foundation of society. Drew frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at https://payh.org.
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