I have definitely had my fair share of dating horror stories. At this point in my life I can look back on most of them and laugh, but I have ended more than a few relationships with some major scrapes and bruises that left me feeling very broken at the time.
At the end of many of those train wrecks, I was often left wondering what had happened. After all, the guy had seemed normal when we were dating. Then all of a sudden he turned into a thoughtless jerk who didn’t seem to care a shred about my feelings. How could he call himself a Christian and behave that way? Are all men just dogs, regardless of whether or not they are believers?
I’m fairly certain that most girls have asked those questions at least once before. I am also fairly certain that many guys have as well. Not only have I heard countless women bemoan the lack of solid Christian guys to date, but many men have echoed those sentiments about women.
“It’s so hard to find a nice, Christian ________.” “I just don’t understand _______. They are crazy!” You can fill in those blanks with either “men” or “women,” depending on who you are. But no matter which camp you find yourself in, odds are you find the other gender to be completely mystifying.
I would, however, warn against such generalizations. Yes, I have dated some major jerks. But I am no lily white soul, and I know other girls who have done some pretty under-handed things to guys. And gentlemen, you may think that all girls are completely nuts, but you’d be lying if you said that you didn’t know some slimeball guys. You may have even done some pretty hurtful things yourself.
That said, the reason that dating is so hard has nothing to do with “all women being crazy” or “all guys being jerks.” The reason is two-fold, the first of which being that we are sinners. Unlike God, who loves perfectly, we love conditionally and limitedly. We are selfish and we use people, so when we make ourselves vulnerable to such imperfect love, we risk getting hurt. And this is a tendency that crosses gender lines–most likely we have all done some things we regret, but that reflects less on our sex, and more on our humanity. We are, simply stated, a fallen people.
The second reason dating is so hard is that we tend to throw God’s sovereignty out the window whenever we enter a relationship. Rather than let God determine our peace and happiness, we rely on the other person to do that. As a result, we become controlling, jealous, and we begin to let that person determine our self-worth. We HAVE to make the relationship work, because our contentment depends on it. And if it fails, then we blame the person, rather than resting in the knowledge that God might have been protecting us, and that He probably has someone better.
Now don’t get me wrong–sometimes people will hurt you in ways that are horrible and inexcusable, and we are not called to ignore the pain or belittle the injury simply because God is in control. But the question is what do you DO with that pain? Do you become bitter and jaded about dating, do you begin to generalize an entire gender as being beyond understanding, or do you eventually come to rest in the knowledge that it simply wasn’t meant to be?
The best indicator of where you are in trusting God’s sovereignty is often revealed by how you talk about your exes. If you spew venomous slander whenever their names come up, or accuse them of not being a good Christian or following God’s will, then those are not the words of a person who is waiting on God’s best. Those are the bitter ventings of someone who made their boyfriend an idol, and was devastated when he couldn’t live up to that standard.
Such bitterness also reveals a profound misunderstanding of our own sinfulness. We are all sinners saved by grace, and I for one appreciate having been pardoned for the times that I have hurt people. Far be it from me to withhold such forgiveness from others.
So yes, dating is hard. As a matter of fact, I hate it a lot of the time. But God is still God, which means He is still in control. He has a perfect plan for me, and if the next guy I date is a part of that, then praise be to God. But if he isn’t, then God simply has something better. Either way, I can praise Him.