Relationship Status: Part One; Checklist Mentality.
Disclaimer for this entire series: The purpose of this series is to talk and open discussion about something that I think a lot of people in the HRM (Hebrew Roots Movement) are scared to talk about to an extent: Relationships. That being said, I am a 19 year old girl who has never been in a romantic relationship. Anything that I write in this series will be from either my personal experience/ opinions, things I've observed from seeing other people's relationships, or something I've read in the bible. Sorry if you don't agree with me all the time, as everyone isn't going to agree on everything 100% of the time. That being said, I hope you get something out of this series, and that it helps you in some way.
So, I've never been in a relationship. However, being a single person in the world of dating, I can tell you a few things. The first of those things, is that an overwhelming amount of people want to get married, most of them are young, and most of them think that turning 25 without being married qualifies you as an “old maid” and that getting married at 30 is a little late in the game. First and foremost, chill. Its not. I promise. (Authors note: by no means am I against getting married young. My mom got married when she was 18, and her and my dad are going on 28 years of marriage. I also see myself getting married probably in the next 5 ish years possibly, so don't get all up in arms yet. You'll probably want that for later.)
Second of all, and the reason that I am writing this blog post, is that the way many people go about trying to find their future spouse is fundamentally flawed. As a group, we need to stop treating every person of the opposite gender that we meet as a potential future spouse. Seriously. First of all ( and I speak from experience here) after just meeting a guy, I want to be friends. Please do not start screening me for marriage, its creepy, we can tell, and its seriously not the right way to go about things. It also employs something that I like to call “the checklist mentality”. Now, I will agree that there should be some things that you will not budge on whilst thinking of your future spouse (I have like 3, maybe 4), however, whatever courtship/dating/whatever the heck else book told you to write a cohesive checklist on all of the things you need your spouse to be, should probably be burned. Let me tell you why.
Some standards simply cannot be met. There is no perfect person. Maybe the person that God intended for you to marry is metaphorically standing right in front of you, but you'd never know because they don't meet that one qualification that literally no human can meet. However, with the checklist mentality, not only are you comparing people to the idealized version of what you think a spouse should be, you are also comparing them mercilessly to each other, and you are training your brain to do this subconsciously. Imagine this for a minute; you find a person who checks off most of the things on your list. You marry them. A while down the road, you meet another person who seemingly checks off more items on that list. Have you married the wrong person? Should you leave the person who has 80% of the list to go after the 20% that they are “missing”? Absolutely not, but by comparing people to an unattainable figure in your head, and comparing them to each other, this is exactly what you are training yourself to do. I'd even wager to say that you won't even completely know what you want or need in a person until that person shows up in your life; there may be qualities you never even thought of before that you now find that you'd never be able to live without. Therefore, the checklist becomes obsolete.
As a friend of mine once said, “this is not a cattle issue.” We are people, and should not be being measured up against any other person. When I get married, I don't want my husband to have married me because I checked off more things on his list than some other girl, I want him to have married me because he recognizes that God put us in each others lives for a reason, and because he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I don't want him to be embarrassed of my shortcomings or feel shame on my behalf, nor do I want to feel like I'm never quite good enough. I want him to be able to point me out and say with pride “That's the woman I married.” despite what level of crazy he'll have to endure for the rest of his life (sucker).
So what do I suggest? Well, modern dating probably isn't the best thing to do, but (don't shoot me here) neither is courtship (I'll explain in a later post). Probably some sort of combination of the two, but for starters, how about you just try being friends with people? And then, after you get to know some people, if someone stands out to you, maybe you should, oh I don't know, -gasp- say something to them? I've seen a lot of people dancing around relationship lane, and a lot of people want to be in a relationship, but are chronically single. Sorry to say that I'm mainly looking at the dudes here, but as the leader in any kind of potential relationship, if you say nothing, nothing will happen. Shocking, right? Now, I'm not saying to straight up propose, but get to know them, probably pray a bit, and tell them you're interested. Take it from there, we're all adults here, right? (right? Maybe? I have no clue of my demographic?)
But hey, that's just me, a 19 year old girl who's never had a boyfriend and sucks at reading signals. But please, put away the checklist, and above all else, make sure you take it to God. Remember that a chord of three strands is not easily broken, and a couple closer to God is closer to each other.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” - Ecclesiastes 4:12
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."1 John 4:7-8