2 Blunders Made By Single People Who Date (A Blog Series on Dating, 2 of 4)

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[This blog is the second in a series of four blogs on dating for single people and for parents raising children. The first blog can be read here.] 

If you are single desiring marriage, you are not alone. You might feel lonely at times, but you are in the majority of American adults right now. 

There are more adults who are single right now in America than there are adults who are married. This is a first in the history of America, where the adults who are single are the majority. 

Now, the majority of people will eventually marry.
Nine out of ten people do. 

When it comes time to get married, the man is on average 30 years old and the woman is on average in her late 20’s. 75 years ago, the average age to marry was ten years less than it is today. Young adults are prolonging their commitment to marriage, which has led to much sexual sin and cohabitation. 

It’s also led to more time to think about marriage. Which means there is more time for single adults to put the prospect and hope of marriage on a throne it shouldn’t be on. 

For single Christians hoping to be married in the future, and for dads and moms wanting to raise godly children, let me share the two big mistakes I see single people making:

Blunder #1: I desire marriage so strongly that I worship it. 

Those who idolize the concept of marriage have a stress-free, worry-free, romantic, Disney-like picture of what marriage is like. 

That’s not realistic. 

The gap between the fantasy of marriage and the reality of marriage is quite the chasm for this person. 

The more a single person worships the idea of marriage (meaning, it’s what their heart wants more than anything, it’s what they constantly think about, it’s what they’ve spent their life desiring), when marriage is worshipped, immediately that person becomes someone who is codependent. 

Those who idolize marriage are the ones who always have to be in a relationship. They cannot stand the thought of being single. They feel less-than if they’re not dating someone. Their greatest fear is not marrying and instead of celebrating friends who do get married, they are jealous and bitter. With each boyfriend or girlfriend they have, they turn that person into a functional savior. Their heaven is the wedding altar. 

When a single person worships the idea of marriage, when falling in love sits on the throne of their heart, here’s the danger with that: You will overlook the faults and flaws you and the person you are dating have.

When all you think about is marriage, you’ll be blind (or choose to ignore) glaring personality deficiencies and unhealthy habits just to get to the wedding day. 

This mindset leads to long-term issues, because when the wedding day comes and goes, the faults and flaws remain, or, outside of Jesus, get worse. 

Marriage is a starting line, not a finish line. 

This blunder usually is tripped over by women. 

Recently I was counseling a young woman in her late 20’s who is overwhelmed by her being single. She is full of anxiety over the fact that she isn’t married and doesn’t have any children. In our hour together, she said the words I’m single six times. Instead of Jesus’ love defining her, her identity is: not married

Through some questions I asked, she relayed that she feels miserable while she doesn’t date and feels like she’s on Cloud 9 when she does. She said by the second or third date with someone, she’s picturing having kids with the guy and seeing how his last name fits with her first name. 

This tells me she is rushing the process, controlling too much, not letting go of this idol to be married and probably smothering the men she gets to know. 

I’ve said it before, and it’s true for those who idolize marriage: Chase after happiness and you’ll never find it. Chase after God and happiness will find you. 

Blunder #2: I detest marriage so strongly that I condemn it. 

The other mistake single people make isn’t idolizing marriage, it’s demonizing it. 

In this extreme, the single person doesn’t have a euphoric picture of marriage, they have a very dismal, miserable view of it. The chasm for this person is the horror stories of marriage they’ve seen and have heard verses the hope for a wonderful relationship they could hope toward. 

While the worship of marriage leads to an unhealthy codependence (save me, fix me, always love me), the condemning of marriage leads to an unhealthy independence (I don’t need anyone, look what I can do). 

This perspective of detesting marriage leads to a more self-centered lifestyle. The single person thinks they will get the most joy out of being by themselves, when, Christ-followers know we find ourselves by serving God and others. 

Not to saying people who have a bad taste in their mouth toward marriage don’t date. Sure they do. They reflect the desire that God has made us for companionship. It’s just, while they date, they severely focus on the person’s flaws and faults (most of the time exaggerating them). They inherit the role of being a bad prophet predicting that this is the reason it wouldn’t work out long-term. 

While the person who worships marriage ignores the flaws in a dating partner (no truth), the person who detests marriage focuses too much on the flaws in a dating partner (no grace). 

Rather than pushing a good relationship along, they push it away. Deep down inside they want to meet Mr./Mrs. Right, but their fears and unrealistic standards of a marriage partner keep them from pursuing Mr./Mrs. Right In Front of Them

This blunder is usually tripped over by men. 

While counseling a single young male in his early 30’s, he confessed a daily involvement with pornography and a periodic involvement with pre-marital sex. I asked him who he was having sex with and he told me it was typically girls in their early 20’s. 

I asked why he thought there was typically a ten year difference between him and the girls he chose to pursue and his response was, They’re not thinking about settling down. They’re more fun

While he wasn’t worshipping marriage, he was worshipping pleasure. He was worshipping temporary acceptance. 

He went on to talk about how awful his parents marriage was, how ugly their divorce was when he was 15 years old and how stale his friends marriages are today. He condemned any idea of tying the knot.

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For single adults, and parents raising children, we don’t place dating or marriage or sex or friendship on the throne, and we don’t place those things under our feet and stomp on them. If desired, marriage is a beautiful gift, and if done in a godly fashion, it’s such an amazing adventure with your best friend. But it can’t be worshipped and it can’t be spit on. 

I firmly believe that when you are focused on God above all, placing Jesus on the throne of your thoughts, words, actions and dreams, He does, in His timing, give you the desires of your heart. 

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z

3 Areas of Your Life To Evaluate in Order to Grow

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I read a news story about a woman who is raising 8 children. With 8 kids there’s always a lot of activity in her home. One day mom of 8 was coming back to her house after spending time with a neighbor, and as she was walking into her backyard she noticed that her home seemed too quiet. That’s when her instinctive parental trait immediately knew her children were into something they shouldn’t of been into. 

Mom crept up to the back of the house to look through the screen door and she finds five of her children huddled together on the floor around something she couldn’t see. Mom sneaks in the house, looks over the kids’ shoulders and to her shock she sees her children are huddled around a pack of baby skunks.

Mom yells, Quick! Children RUN! And all five kids stand up, they each grabbed a skunk and they run in various directions. 

That’s called missing the point.

And this is what you and I do. We allow our days to be huddled around idols and God, as a Father, sees us dipping our toes in the water of idolatry, He sees us flirting with sin and He yells Quick! Children RUN! And we can’t let go of our addictions as we constantly continue to fill our hands and our time with things that the Bible tells us to leave behind once and for all.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:21 / ESV)

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.
(1 John 5:21 / NLT)

Ask yourself this question: Lately, h something or someone besides Jesus taken control of my thoughts, actions, loyalties and delight?

The answer to this question for you specifically could be a very good thing. But if it’s not Jesus, then it’s an idol. If it’s not Jesus then you’ve turned something good into a god and it will leave you empty and in want. 

I’ve got a few suggestions on how to discern the idols in your life so you can kick them off the throne of your heart: 

1. Evaluate your imagination. 

When nothing else is demanding of your time, what is it that occupies your mind? Where do your thoughts naturally flow when you’re not ran by your work schedule, school schedule, family schedule? Who are you thinking about? What are your dreams made of? What excites your mind if you’re bored with something? Because our religion is what we think about in our solitude. 

What’s on your mind first thing in the morning? What’s on your mind when you lay down at night? What are you thinking about while driving? What dreams do you have? What hopes do you have? Where does your imagination go when there’s nothing on your agenda? Oftentimes it will reveal false gods. 

2. Evaluate how you spend money.

We’ve got to understand this principle: our money will always flow toward the affections of our heart. 

This is why the Bible speaks about money more than any other issue. Jesus talked about money 25% of the time in His teachings that are recorded in the Gospel books. That’s like 13 weeks of sermons in a calendar year of worship just focused on money. 

Out of Jesus’ 38 parables, stories – 16 were about money and possessions. The Bible talks about money more than faith, love and hope combined, and it isn’t because God is short on cash. Jesus was direct on this:

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Matthew 6:21 / NLT)

So if our money (that’s incorrect, it’s really God’s money) is used firsthand to get affection and pleasure from created things rather than to use it to glorify the Creator, it’s an unhealthy lifestyle. Patterns of spending will reveal false gods. 

3. Evaluate your uncontrollable emotions. 

Emotions are a lot like icing on a cake. If you don’t have enough icing on a cake, the cake can be bland and dry. I love icing, and if there’s not enough on it, I might as well lick a sandbox. Too much icing however makes our stomachs hurt and we get sick and our dentist or diabetes doctor scolds us. 

A rule in cake-making is that the amount of icing needs to be proportionate to the amount of cake. 

The same can be said of what happens to us and how we react to them. Cake can be like our circumstances & icing can be like our emotions. With that analogy in mind:

Are my emotions proportionate to my circumstances? 

Am I over-reacting?
Am I reacting at all?
Am I unreasonably angry?
Am I frozen in anxiety?
Am I complaining?
Am I fighting for justice, for others, for fighting just to be right? 

If we don’t show enough emotion (I’m talking to males here. Ladies, I got your back), it needs to match the circumstance. If we have too much emotion (and I don’t have a clue which gender that would be), we can overreact. 

Before we spew out emotion before thinking, it might be good to pray and ask if the response matches the situation going down.

And uncontrollable emotions – anger, fear, excitement, sorrow, loneliness, depression, hatred – you pull those emotions up out of the soil of your heart and you fill find the idols underneath. 

Take time to evaluate those three areas in order to grow.

Further on idols, let’s say later this weekend you go out on the town and you choose to eat at a nice restaurant. As you walk into the restaurant, you see me having romantic, candlelight dinner with a woman who is not my wife. 

Now, let me be extremely clear here, we are imagining this. This is a fictional illustration. Some of you are going to look me up on social media to bust me. We are imagining here. 

You catch me at this restaurant having a romantic meal with this other woman and you are just disgusted. You can’t keep your distaste for me in, you’re going to confront me and call me on the carpet. As you should. 

You walk up to my table and you say, Z! What’s up? What are you doing? 

And I say, Nothing much, just out on a nice date.

You’re a bit stunned by this and you uneasily dismiss yourself from my presence. You still have this resolve inside to not let me get away with it and so you go into stalk mode online and find my wife and your reach out to her and tell her that her husband was on a date with another woman.

How ridiculous would it be if I walk in the front door later that evening and my wife greets me with a smile and sweetly inquires, Hi honey, how was your date? 

That’s not how she would be because the affection that I’ve promised to give to her, I was giving to someone else. The money I’m spending on someone else, I should be investing in her. The time I’m spending should be her time. The questions and the listening ear and the laughter and the romance and the good food – it should all be hers. 

It would be asinine of my wife to say I’ve thought about it since that I was told what happened, and I’m okay with you going on dates as long as you still make some time for me and call me your favorite. 

That would be absurd. 

You don’t have to know my wife well to know that her response to my actions would be jealous anger. 

I should fear for my life when I walk in that front door. The wife can get easily jealous. Forget a nice restaurant with another woman. I could go to Subway with a guy who’s got long hair and my wife would be waiting for me at home with a baseball bat. She’d be jealous.  

And this emotion is not out of insecurity at all. It’s driven out of holy love. 

God has this kind of righteous jealousy when you and I choose to make the good things in our life the god in our life. And because I love you, I need to say this: 

Idolatry is killing your growth. 

It’s killing your marriage. It’s killing your relationship with your kids. It’s killing your friendships. It’s killing your career. It’s killing your dreams. It’s killing your financial peace. It’s harming your faith in God because it’s killing your spiritual growth. Idolatry is the issue and you are in the middle of this war. Don’t let a day go by without choosing whom you will serve or you’ll naturally serve the idol.

Evaluate your imagination.
Evaluate how you spend money.
Evaluate your uncontrollable emotions. 

Put Jesus back on the throne of your heart. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z