I think it’s safe to say that often, romantic relationships don’t start out strong.
Especially among teenagers.
Several years back, I had a teammate on my senior league baseball team, who must have been about fifteen years old. This guy—who had a girlfriend—became the focal point for a great deal of needling and teasing because he and his girlfriend would literally break up and get back together every few days. It got to the point that we (who were by the way, very responsible and mature fifteen-year-olds ourselves) would stop whatever we were doing just to gawk as this guy made up with his girlfriend across the field. Eventually, that relationship ended like so many others—for good, finally.
While my own experiences with romance have not been quite as extreme, I have, however, learned several things in accordance with God’s Word that I hope will guide me to make wiser decisions in the future.
But first off, I think it’s important to examine why relationships fall apart with such consistency.
1. WE AREN’T READY
Most teenage romances are formed for one or more of the following three reasons: 1) the sake of “having a relationship,” 2) because a relationship with someone more popular would produce a rise in societal ranks, and 3) for the sole purpose of experiencing the emotional and physical pleasures of romantic love without the burden of responsibility.
As such, many teenagers aren’t emotionally (not to mention monetarily) prepared for a real commitment.
2. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
A great many people (myself included) have fallen into the trap of thinking a romance will be a blissful walk in the park, devoid of pitfalls and snags, and just like every story they’ve ever watched or read about. However, as these same people can now testify, this is simply not the case.
Most assuredly, there will be definite “highs.” But those highs are never without their lows—or else they wouldn’t be highs, to begin with, in the first place. Reality only goes to show that the actual maintaining of a healthy and fruitful relationship requires effort. It requires dedication and also patience. And last, but certainly not least, it demands love and attention.
If you happen to be in a romantic relationship, then don’t be shocked, hurt, or disappointed when the other person messes up. We need to understand that nobody is perfect and that even our closest friends will fail us. We’re human, and as fallen creatures, we’re sinful. We will make mistakes.
If one were to actually take the time to carefully examine all of the individual factors that result in the dissolution of a relationship between two persons, then they would quickly come to see that many of these happenings arise from one thing and one thing only: selfishness.
Humans are continually motivated by the insatiable desires of their flesh, and when those desires are not in submission to God’s will, it can lead to a whole host of complications. Ranging from “hidden hurts” to perceived offenses, and all the like, selfishness in its many forms and guises can bring down many years’ worth of love and trust with the snap of a finger.
HIM + HER + GOD
Any romantic relationship will not be without blemish. There will be hurdles, obstacles, and storms that wear you down and cause you to question why you loved that person in the first place. You will struggle, say the wrong things, and mess up more times you than you can count.
But that’s where God comes in. I’ve often heard relationships described as a triangle. Man and woman are placed at the lower end of the triangle, opposite the other, while God reigns supremely from atop the uppermost pinnacle.
God is love, He is just, and His ways are pure. Therefore, if two people are well-acquainted with His ways, it is only all the more likely that these selfsame persons will grow more devoted to each other as they draw nearer to Him—for Godliness is a virtue that quells and washes away all sin, immorality, and wrongdoing.
Sadly, because of selfishness, relationships that last “until death do us part” are becoming the exception rather than the norm. This issue of selfishness is more clearly seen and exemplified in a person’s overall attitude towards said relationship: if their underlying motives are to fulfill their own needs and desires—rather than that of the other person––then hurt, resentment, and animosity can only ensue.
In a close relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you need to ask yourself these questions:
1. How can both of us be drawn closer to God through this? 2. How can this be used as a Godly example to both of my fellow peers and those who look up to me? 3. How can God be glorified through this relationship?
To avoid the traps and pitfalls that so many others fall prey to, both members must conform themselves to God’s standards as laid out in His word and, first and foremost, keep their eyes focused and open wide upon Him.
DON’T BE IN LOVE WITH BEING IN LOVE
Stop being in love . . . with being in love.
While it can sting to hear, you don’t have to be in a relationship. As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:32, you don’t have to be in love to live a happy and fulfilling life.
The teenage years are, undoubtedly, the most impressionable and impactful time in your life, for in them you are learning how to think, what to think, and why you think what you think. While romantic relationships can certainly be beneficial, they also have the potential to distract you from the more immediate and important things in life. They can hinder or even hurt your other friendships, prevent you from learning to live responsibly, and even likelier, usurp God’s place in your heart.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Every person, every situation, every relationship is different. There is no set line or rule of when to which we must adhere. But if you’re not currently in one, I’d encourage you to not be biting at the bit and itching to find true love. Instead, be patient and uncomplaining, trusting that if you hold fast to Him, God will work things out for you. As Paul affirms in Romans 8:28, “[For,] we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Embrace your singleness. View it as a gift from God and an opportunity to grow closer to Him and more rooted in His word. Allow things to take place in His appropriate timing. If you believe in His word and hold fast to Him alone, then He already has a perfect plan for your life—regardless if it encompasses marriage or not—and He will see that plan through to the very end.
[the above was taken from Matthew's post on therebelution.com, which was originally published on Nov 23, 2019]