Youth group has been super entertaining lately.
We've been doing a Relationships 101 series.
It's so great being able to share our experiences with these teens in hopes of encouraging them to be faithful to God's plan for their purity and their future marriages.
One of our students posted an anonymous question to us on our youth group blog.
It was a great query and one which both Kevin and I responded to with our personal opinions.
Today, as I was thinking of a "Works for Me" topic, this occurred to me.
It's much more weighty a subject than I usually address, but definitely a useful topic for discussion.
Shall we dive in?!
"So I'm wondering what is love to you guys? Don't just give me the 'Bible' answer either. And how do you know that you've found someone you think your in love with? Is there a way to know for certain or is it all just guess work?"
Answer via Kevin:
This question requires a different answer from Mel and I...so I guess I'll give my half first while I wait for a job call this morning.
For a guy, Love is self-sacrifice for someone you admire. It has nothing to do with how cute you think they are (although it helps). When you realize that you'd do anything to brighten their day (like when I go on a walk with Mel) even if you don't get anything out of it...that's Love.
Even more than that, I think that Love is a commitment even more than that. I didn't want to tell a girl I loved her until I was ready to go buy a ring and pick her till I died. For me, love means that for better or worse, richer or poorer, cuter or mid-40's when you're gaining weight...you're going to be there.
The guy's job (in my opinion) is to make the money, take care of the provision, love the wife, make her feel valued, and keep her from any harm while giving her the world.
When you find a girl that you've known long enough to see her at her worst...when she yells at you and says stuff that cuts your heart out...when you've seen the worst and still think she's the best and you can't imagine life without her...you're almost in love. The only thing left is to take the plunge and decide that no matter how you feel about it 20 years from now, you'll be as dedicated to her then as you are in that moment.
Answer via Melanie:
First and foremost, I think dating (and marriage for that matter) involves endless prayer. If you are not bathing your relationship in prayer then it is impossible to know what decisions God would have you make. Be willing to just listen to him. There were many times I was afraid to listen...afraid His answers would be different than my desires. But I forced myself to be quiet and hear His will for me.
Being in love is definitely multi-dimensional. It involves a deep commitment. You must believe that no matter what the other person says or does (good or bad) you will be faithful to them for always. This makes love a CHOICE. So before you get to this point when you're asking yourself, "Do I want to stand by this person no matter what?" you should see if these are true:
1. Do both of you challenge one another to grow and mature (relationally, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually)? If neither (or only one of you) is seeing growth then it's not worth committing to for a lifetime. To sharpen and encourage one another is sometimes painful, but oh so necessary. And the alternative is being stagnant (seeing no change) or even "lukewarm" which is just not an option.
2. My second point relates closely to the first. The most important aspect of growth is spiritually--in communion with God. If your relationship does not make you MORE EFFECTIVE as a minister of the Gospel then it is time to say goodbye. This is why Paul taught us that it is better to stay single--for the sake of the Gospel. But if the two of you become an unstoppable force for Christ, then by all means come together as husband and wife!
3. Do you continually learn more and WANT to learn more about the other person? Do they always hold your attention and interest? This is not just physical. Do you never tire of talking with them, hearing their ideas, their dreams, their philosophies, their frustrations, and their successes? Then you've probably got something good.
4. Time. Though I don't think it is essential to date for eleventy billion years before you know you're ready to marry, I do think there is wisdom found in a longer-term dating relationship. You can't possibly know and experience everything with this person that you will see in 50 years of marriage, but the longer you date the more chances there are to see one another sick, cranky, angry, excited, weird, emotional, passionate, etc. You each have SO many dimensions and the longer you spend getting to know one another, the more educated decision you will be able to make.
And after you experience much of the good and the bad that comes with the package deal you have to ask yourself, "Would I rather spend a terrible day with this person than a fantastic day with anyone else?" If the answer is yes, then you may be looking at your forever Love.
4. As a girl, I must say that a woman must be certain that she trusts this man with everything she has. Trust that he has her best in mind even if she gets hurt by something he said at times (knowing he wasn't INTENDING on hurting her.) Trust that he will provide for her and their future family. Trust that he will be forever faithful. Trust him with her inmost thoughts. Trust him to be the spiritual leader of their future home.
5. And finally, don't be afraid to seek godly advice--from mature friends, godly mentors, parents, grandparents. If there are red flags thrown by these people then you might want to take a second look at your relationship. But if everyone is overjoyed with the love you have found and is whole-heartedly rooting for you, then the future of your relationship is most likely going to be blessed.
I know that's a LOT.
I know it's not necessarily scholarly or peer reviewed.
But it's what I've learned.
And it's what I believe (though there may be more thoughts about this in my brain somewhere).