Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How Can I Have a Good Dating Life?

So, you're in the club, you're dressed to impress, the music is going and you look across the dance floor and meet eyes with the guy or girl at the other end of room. The two of you make your way through the crowd and meet in the middle of the crowd. The guy says hello and the girl is thinking, "We could have beautiful children together." (Girls are bad about this). She is already thinking about baby names, the picnic in the mountaintop and the long life loved on your deathbeds. Quick rewinding back to the dance floor, the introduction is somehow flubbed and you lose your cool. Then "the One" slips out of your hands and walks away. The problem is, this was the fourth "One" tonight. Isn't this the way it is?

In the first part of his series, "Hitched", Johnson Bowie talks about how we put our hearts on the line and then get punted. Guys practice their horrible cheesy pickup lines. They practice their poses and the way they hold their drinks to get their foot in the door. Then, they go out and try to find "the One"". Johnson went online to find "Christian" cheesy pickup lines and found. "Hey you want to go back to my place and watch the Ten Commandments?", "I would like to pray with you; just the two of us, I think God would really move." or "You have the body of Amy Grant and the soul of Mother Theresa." ("Um, you don't want to get this one mixed up") "Hey, my friend told me to come up and talk with you. He said you were really cool and his name is Jesus". This sounds funnier from Johnson than it reads.

But with all the prep and practicing, we still can't seem to find our "One". Statistics tell us that there are more singles today than in any other time in history. We somehow get jaded towards marriage. Clark Warren, from EHarmony stated that the average number of dates a person goes through are 100 dates with 100 different people before they tie the knot! "Man, some of y'all are like dating maniacs!" That's a lot of restaurants, bad pick up lines, sweaty palms, movie dates and dumped lines. Anybody know what the worst dump line is? "It's not you, it's me." It's the most confusing conversation in the world. It starts with, "The time we've spent together has been amazing, you're the best person ever and I've never met anyone like you.....BUT" We all know that what they're really saying is, "It really is you".

The simple fact is, we all want someone who will love us for who we are. We want someone who will give us butterflies, someone who will make our palms sweaty or someone who short circuits our brain. We want to know HOW to get this, but then we want to know HOW to keep it going. What is wrong with us in relationships? Why do we "kill the sale" so often? In the following weeks, Johnson hopes to "Maybe equip us to avoid some of those circumstances...we're gonna be talking about getting hitched." We are going to move each week through the different phases of dating. Every person has their two cents to put in about dating. Johnson, in preparing for his series, found that there are also many, many books on dating. The feedback we get in society can be overwhelming. "You should date. You shouldn't date. Marriage will solve your problems. Love always grows." Who do we listen to?

How many times do we want to get rid of this "gift" of singleness? The bible says, "Rejoice in the wife of your youth." Yes, DO Take advantage of your time when you're single, but when the situation presents itself, DON'T RUN. Who says singleness is a gift? The married people! Oprah, Dr. Phil and Judge Judy all put in their two cents about dating. But no one has to live with the consequences of our decisions! Right? Our friends can't take responsibility for bad decisions we make or even advice we take from them.

Maybe its time to stop looking at the tabloids for advice. Maybe we should go to the source of good relationships, the Bible. Maybe we should know that God wants us to get married and that maybe Genesis 2:18, "It is not good for man to be alone." Why do we think that God feels betrayed when we find somebody? God said this in Genesis when it was just God and Adam walking through the Garden. God created marriage so that we could have someone to share our lives with. Genesis 2:19-25 talks about God created Eve. God made a woman for Adam and brought her to him. Can you imagine when Adam first saw her? He had to be pumped! Immediately after God's creation of the two, it says they were naked, BUT they were not ashamed. God wants us to be married! He has a plan for us. Nobody wants to be divorced and God doesn't want that for us either. God doesn't want us, even in dating, to have screwed up relationships.

(This hilarious video says it all...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IQJNwvtkmg)

So how do we go about it? It's like there needs to be a warning label on some relationships, because people can do stupid things. Right? Why do you think there are warning labels on lawn mowers that say "Do not put hand under mower while blade is spinning"? Why do fruit roll up boxes say "Remove plastic before eating"? Why do strollers have warnings, "Remove child before folding up for storage"? People do stupid stuff! Someone has actually done these things.

Society says full steam ahead and go for it, while God might be saying, "Ease it back, move slowly..." God can save us some huge heartaches if we'll just listen. Johnson suggests several things that God might say to us about dating.

1) Be careful where you look. You probably wouldn't go to Antarctica looking for buried treasure, right? So, why do we go into places to pick up the kind of people that probably aren't there? If we go to a meat market, we are going to get a meat market person. Years ago, when he went out of town, Johnson and some friends went into a nightclub. He was in a committed relationship for the first time with Summer, who is now his wife, so he wasn't used to being in a position of compromise. A hot girl approached him and asked, "Hey, you want to dance?" In a funny rehash of what he was thinking at the time, Johnson says he declined. "She looked at me like, 'Oh no you didn't just turn down the hottest girl in this bar'". After he said "no", his friend, who was waiting "on deck", jumped in and saved him. Another funny point in the message is Johnson's proud phone call back to his girlfriend to tell her what he had accomplished.

What about online dating? EHarmony is the #1 online Christian dating service. That's good and everything, but doesn't it seem like we're taking God out of the equation? In a dating service, we post our bios, our doctored photos and our resumes. Then people shop. "Online dating is like looking through a garbage can for a ham sandwich". We have to go through a lot of stuff, pick out the bad parts and the ham sandwich doesn't even taste that good. According to research done by the Marriage Project, 60% of people who were married met through introductions by friends and family. You're not going to find an elephant in the ocean, right? It just isn't natural.

2) Guard your heart - Proverbs 4:23 - Some people are so desperate for another person, that as soon as another person comes into their life, they are all over them! The other person is taken back thinking, "Whoa, I thought we were just going out for coffee". There's a reason romance novel relationships work. They're romance novels! In real life, people have crusties and it's hard.

3) Know that you're valuable - You are the most valuable thing in the universe because you are made in God's image. And "it's not because you're hot". You are valuable, not because you are just attractive to look at, but because you have the love of the Father. Psalms 139 talks about how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". We need to ask ourselves, "Who am I becoming?" What we don't realize sometimes is that we are still "Works in progress". God is concerned about the here and now for us as it says in Phil 1:6. He is concerned about who we are becoming. We definitely need to understand that God is not overly concerned about us meeting someone. He is much more concerned about our being.

On the dating scene, we are out there wearing ourselves out trying to find the "One", while we are less concerned about asking ourselves the question, "Are WE the One?" When we are a work in progress and understand that, we can really make an informed decision about our relationships. If we reflect on our relationships and, if we only see jerks and bad memories, we have to ask ourselves "What is the common denominator is?.....It's US!!! What is in us? Isn't that a valid question for God?

"Anyone ever watch the show 'What Not To Wear'?" These people bring in the people who think they are the hottest people who wear terrible clothes. The bad part about the show is that their friends turn them in! Then, when the hosts put the "red jacket from the 80's" in front of the 360 degree mirror, the guests begin to see what is wrong with their styles.

4) Find out what is preventing us from becoming who God wants us to be. What would be a great exercise for us as Christians is to ask our friends what it is about us that we could work on that is keeping us from being the person that God wants us to be. This is a tough exercise, but we need to reassure our friends that we will grit our teeth, sit back and hear the painful truth. "Tell me what people want to tell me". Once we hear what someone has to say, we should probably then get affirmation from another friend so that we can be sure. Focusing on becoming someone who people are attracted to is much more important than finding someone who is attractive.

5) Where is the starting line? Ask ourselves the tough questions about our walk with God. "Am I a person of passion for the love of God?" "Has God ever started anything in me?" A guy or a girl may be with us for a few weeks or month, but God will be with us forever. The saddest thing in the world is not being rejected by someone or sitting at home alone, but it is not living the life that the God of the Universe designed for us to live!

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