Oh, relationships. Good ol relationships.
I started helping out with youth again last week and almost immediately, the issue of relationships came up. “Oh, great.” I thought. “The one category that nobody can stop talking about in youth ministry.” That got me thinking about my experience with relationships, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the issue of relationships.
Let it be known, first of all, that I’ve never been in a relationship. I like to think it’s because I didn’t want to be in one, but I’m sure part of it was that I just plain couldn’t get a girlfriend. Regardless of why, the point is that I’ve never experienced a relationship, so I haven’t experienced any of the good things about a relationship (someone to hug, hold hands with, be around, call, text, blah blah blah) and I get to avoid the bad things about it (heartbreak, heartACHE, bitterness, grudges, awkwardness, broken friendships, blah blah…)
This has freed up time and opportunity for me to:
-Observe my friends and mentors to see what a true godly relationship looks like
-Know what I want in a partner
-Get involved with ministry (which will be super-relevant later.)
I am fortunate to know a lot of people who are exemplifying godly relationships to me. There are several things I’ve learned about godly relationships.
1. They come to us.
One of my favorite quotes from How I Met Your Mother is from the episode “The Playbook.” I can’t remember the direct quote, but Marshall is telling Robin, who has sworn off relationships, about his experiences with frozen waffles. It goes something like this:
“Robin, do you know how many times I’ve gone to the freezer looking for frozen waffles and not found them?”
“Millions. But when I go to the freezer looking for a pizza, or the remote because Lilly and I had a fight and she sometimes hides it there, you know what I find? Frozen waffles. That’s how it works. If you go out for a paper, you’re going to come back with frozen waffles. In this case, frozen waffles is a guy.”
I think that’s actually really, really good advice. It’s true. You hardly ever find something when you go looking for it and only it. Especially love. There have been many times when I have gotten anxious about relationships. Recently, I was at a worship leadership team meeting, and everybody there except for me is engaged or married. That can be hard, but last time when I wanted to be discouraged about it, God said, “Keep doing this. You will meet your partner while serving. You’ll find her here.”
So, that’s that.
2. In a godly relationship, both partners have to give some and take some.
I have a friend who has been my mentor for somewhere along the lines of 6 years. He got married in those 6 years, and he and his wife have been an incredible example to me. They exemplify giving and taking in my eyes. He works 4 days a week–his day starts at 4 AM (I think that’s when he wakes up, I think he works 6:30-4:30 or something) and she stays home with their 3 kids. He is out providing, and she is pouring into them. Now, unlike a lot of couples, he doesn’t lord his work over her. He stays home with the kids some evenings and lets her go out and do Zumba. They pastor the youth together. He leads a life group. They are constantly serving each other, the youth, and the Church. They are an example to me.
Sometimes I think that our young generation is way too focused on spending time with each other. Don’t get me wrong–I think there’s a time for couples to just enjoy each other. But it is my personal belief that the purpose of relationships and ultimately marriage is to expand the kingdom of God–whether that means serving together, having kids and raising them to know the Lord, or both of the above, I think that relationships are another stepping stone. I mean, there is something about having a partner. Men compliment women and women compliment men, so I think marriage is important (although not necessary, I think that there are plenty of single people who have done incredible things for the kingdom of God.) And honestly, I think it’s about seasons. Marriage is a new part of life. Anyway, I think that’s a whole new subject, and that’s not where I’m going right now.
My second point (if you go way up) is that I have gotten to know what I want in a partner. This means physical, spiritual, and other characteristics–personality, traits, skills and other characteristics, etc.
For example, I think that a few things I want in a wife are these: someone shorter than me, hair color doesn’t really matter, someone who really likes sports but isn’t necessarily competitive, someone who can sing a roof off a building (I have always wanted to sing with my future wife) someone who is level-headed and sees eye to eye with me on a lot of things. Someone who is strong yet submissive–I realize that some of these traits may take time to develop over several years of marriage, but that’s that, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, I suppose.
The point is, I’ve gotten to know MYSELF better over these years of not focusing on a relationship, and I’m slowly learning what kind of girl would compliment me in a marriage.
The third point that I put up there is that I have gotten to be involved in ministry which is relevant for several reasons:
1. I feel as though God has said pretty clearly to me that I will meet my future wife doing ministry
2. I’ve realized, through doing ministry, what I want to do as a career (can you guess?!?!?!)
3. As I said, I have gotten to see godly marriages exemplified.
That last point feels more like a summary of the above points…so allow me to channel my thoughts and try to conclude. I know that a lot of people in their younger years are eager to be in a relationship. Take it from me–I’m 20 and have never been in a serious relationship, I’ve barely even been in a not-serious relationship–relationships are NOT a necessary part of life. In fact, you’re probably better off if you don’t pursue it. You’ll avoid a lot of frustration and hurt if you avoid pursing relationships seriously. Also, both people need to be mature. It seems like every day I am realizing a tendency/habit of mine that should probably be dealt with before I get married. There are folks I know who are unmarried who probably have those very characteristics. Now, we’re people, human beings–so we’ll never be perfect. But I think that there is a certain level of maturity that should probably be reached before marriage.
My encouragement to you is to, as cheesy and cliche as it may sound, use this time in your life to let God get the junk out of you–serve your guts out, get to know God, get to know what He’s really like and what He wants for you. Get to know how much He loves you, affirms you, cares about you, and what He has in store for you. Then when a relationship comes along, you’ll be sharp, mature, strong, and you’ll know what’s up.
[I’m pretty sure I probably lost my train of thought, but it ended as it ended, and I’ve been writing for over an hour!]