Alright, so I may not be married, but it doesn’t mean I’m a nun. (Though, I’m greatly influenced by the Sound of Music & Sister Act and sometimes convent life seems very appealing!) I’m far from being an expert on the matter of romantic relationships, but my experiences and observations have taught me about God, myself and what it means to get to know members of the opposite sex. One thing’s for sure: boys have cooties…just kidding!
It’s an unfortunate reality that guys in this generation get a lot of flak and rightly so. Most guys are criticized for their passivity, their indecision, their ‘bachelor till the rapture’ mentality and their ‘failure to launch’ (ever seen the move with Matthew Mcconaughey? Let me take a minute to wipe the drool off my face…) While I’ve interacted to varying degree with my share of those guys, I gotta say – they’re all not like that! I am so thankful to the guys I’ve had the chance to get to know during my season of singleness. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for each one of them. How many girls actually have the privilege of testifying to that? God’s been gracious- I see His hand in all of their lives!
I’m particularly grateful for the chance to get to know Mr. Anonymous. Mr. Anonymous from here on in, shall be referred to as Ryan (pseudonym: as I’m paying homage to my former love- Ryan Gosling).
Here’s why I thank God for Ryan:
1. He was intentional and open:
The word intentionality gets thrown around a lot as a christian dating term. But what does it actually mean? In my case, it meant that Ryan was genuinely praying for a long term relationship and he was actively doing things to prepare himself for marriage. Ryan was also open to God’s leading and wasn’t worried. He knew who was in control, He trusted God’s guidance while preparing himself to be a husband. Prayer, maturity, faith and action- pretty decent package I must say! Relationships can be really good, whether they work out or not, if both parties share this mindset.
2. He sought mentorship:
It was one of the Pastor’s of my church that suggested that Ryan should take the time to get to know me. I’m glad he listened to my Pastor’s advice. While you shouldn’t listen to everyones suggestions about who you should date or marry, there’s something to be said when someone you trust [who is mature, wise, experienced and knows you well] comes to you with a suggestion. Especially someone whose primary concern is your spiritual well-being; not your emotional well-being, not your financial well-being, not your physical well being BUT, your spiritual well being.
When I heard Ryan was interested, the first person I talked to was my other pastor- He’s a spiritual father to me and he stood by my side offering wisdom and advice as I got to know Ryan. It’s amazing how God protects your heart, preserves your cause and provides for you when you have mature mentors praying on your behalf!
3. He was honest:
I hate to make generalizations, but I think this is true of most girls: we love honesty! It makes things really difficult when guys beat around the bush and we can’t figure out what they mean. Girls, the same goes for you too! Stay honest about how you’re feeling throughout the dating process. It gives both of you an indication of where your relationship is at and where it may be headed. And no, you can’t possibly prepare yourselves for every situation that comes your way, but with honesty, you may be able to spare each other from at least some of the consequences of miscommunication.
At the end of each ‘date’, Ryan and I would talk about how we were feeling and where we were at. We always gave each other space and it was in the space we were able to talk to God and decide if we would proceed further in the relationship. And the best part: Ryan always followed up- respecting my feelings and his personal commitments to me.
4. He showed initiative & integrity: It takes so much courage to show interest in someone and even greater courage to approach someone. This is how Ryan approached me:
- He approached me directly- He had the opportunity to go through our Pastors and friends, but he didn’t. We had a face to face conversation about his interest in me. And the most daring part? We had the conversation at a prayer meeting! (He’s way braver than I am! But at the end of the day, we had nothing to hide…cause Aunty told me that I gotta put a ring on it).
- He wasn’t impulsive and he told me that he had been praying
- He told me why he thought things could work out
- He encouraged me by noticing things about my character and personality
- He told that he was prepared to invest into a long term relationship
- He didn’t have an agenda or timeline and he gave me space to pray and make my own decision
I truly thank Him because it takes a really humble, gracious and courageous man to notice and share those things, especially with the person he wants to get to know. I know we both had our apprehensions, but his approach gave me a great deal of confidence in him as a person. Because he was willing to put himself out there and get to know me, I was willing to put myself out there and get to know him.
5. We had fun:
Yes we were honest with each other, BUT we also were lighthearted and had fun getting to know each other. In a lot of romantic relationships it goes one way or the other. Sometimes relationships are so lighthearted and flirty that couples don’t have a chance to be honest and delve deeper. They wait until they’re too far too into the relationship to talk about the important stuff and this is where they run into conflict. In other cases, people expose way too much at the beginning of relationships and get emotionally involved way too fast. If things don’t work out, it makes the break up so much harder. It takes an abundance of wisdom to be able to navigate the tumultuous waters that are romantic relationships. But asking God daily for wisdom, while having a good balance of fun and honesty can lay the groundwork for something healthy, regardless of whether you’re together or end up apart.
6. Our respect for each other grew:
On our last date, Ryan made sure to tell me that his respect for me grew over our time together. It was probably one of the most honouring and humbling things a guy has ever said to me (this wasn’t just a smooth line or a cop-out statement). And honestly, I can say the very same about him. My respect and admiration for this godly man definitely increased! I would recommend him in a heartbeat to any one of my close single girl friends.
In most situations I hate breakups. But if they have to happen, I wish they could all end like this did- with more respect garnered by the end than at the beginning!
Things had to end because of circumstances beyond our control, but it was okay. Ryan and I both came to the realization that we were probably not the best fit for each other and that was okay. Neither of us were disappointed because our perspectives were in check. We knew God was in control and we could see God’s hand orchestrating all the events in both our lives. If God had done everything else so well in the past, we knew He wasn’t going fail us in some of our biggest life decisions.
Hear Me Out:
I’m not saying the things I’ve noticed and experienced should be used as a manual, a strict set of guidelines or a playbook. (Did I mention I am not an expert!?) I’m not saying that following all of these things will guarantee a perfect relationship free from conflict and emotional mess. I’m not saying you should ‘date’ (not sure there’s a clear definition of the term anymore). And if you do ‘date’, I’m not saying that you should ‘date’ a lot of people. (Did I mention I am not an expert!?) Every situation is unique and every experience is different. But in every relationship, especially romantic ones: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves (Philippians 2.10).” Imagine how amazing break ups would be if people did this? I hope there’d be less of them, but hey, if they have to happen, at least they would be good.
So what about you? If you are in a dating relationship, has your respect and admiration for your partner grown? If things were to end tomorrow, can you honestly say that you have been blessed by your time with this person? Have you been a blessing to them? Would other people be encouraged by the two of you and admire how you treat each other? And ultimately, would God be pleased by your relationship regardless of how things were to end up?
Maybe you’re like the Seattle Seahawks and you’ve made some bad plays in the game of love. Maybe you’re sitting here thinking: ‘Sne, you cray! I did all these things and nothing has worked out.’ That’s okay. We all make mistakes. Things don’t always work out. Remember how things didn’t work out for me and Ryan? Do not lose heart. Be courageous. Try again. Endure. Think about it: the best relationships are made when people are steadfast and courageous, when they try again and endure. And always remember: God has never been in the business of failing the ones He loves. He’s certainly not about to start now. Trust Him. He’s got this. The best is yet to come.
Ladies, what do you admire most about the guys you’ve ‘dated’ or ‘talked’ to?
Gentlemen, what encourages you about the women you’ve had the opportunity to get to know?
Comment below and enjoy the Ryan Gosling memes!
*Disclaimer: Ryan Gosling is a Hollywood Celebrity. And regardless of whatever rumours you may have heard or pictures you may have seen- I have never dated him or been engaged to him or met him personally. Unfortunately.