Today, I read an article on the Relevant Magazine called The Myth Of Perfect Dating. The article talked about the Christian cha cha that we tend to do with dating, where you keep taking two steps forward and then one step back. I like him! You cry! Two steps forward. But is this God’s will? One step back. Maybe we’ll get married! Two steps forward. Wait a second, I barely know him. One step back. He is actually really wonderful! Two steps forward. But dang it, was that magazine article about breaking up a sign that we shouldn’t be together? Three steps back. Can you say double mindedness?
I am going to take the analogy one step further and say that Christian dating can be even more like rave. We jump up and down in a spiritually inebriated stupor for three months screaming at the top of our lungs is he the one? hoping that the messages in the clamoring music will give us an answer. Then we fall down in a heap of exhausted despair when it wasn’t everything we thought it would be. Or else we continue raving for another three months.
To put it bluntly, we are a little on the hysterical side when we date.
I think the reason for this is that we think about marriage much sooner than the mainstream world. Rather than just getting to know someone day by day, getting good information over a solid amount of time, we want to know now. We ask is this the one chosen for us since the beginning of time where it was written in the glorious portal of heaven that the love our lives would fall on our doorstep at the right time with a bunch of gerber daisies and some quality chick flicks?
The answer is how the heck are you supposed to know that when you just met the guy?
We have a frenzied desire to have an answer about whether we’re going to marry this person, which has been spurred on by the tsunami of the I Kissed Dating Goodbye era. This era gave us the damaging idea that we should know if we should marry someone even before we date them. (For more on this phenomenon, read my series 90’s Dating Gone Bad. )
What do we do to aleve these frantic thoughts? We ask God to tell us what to do. We ask for signs and look for them everywhere. If the next person I talk to says the word banana, that means I’m supposed to go out with him. Stuff like that.
The truth is, we are scared. And when we are scared, we tend to over spiritualize things. Dating is risky business. We don’t like the out of control feeling it brings us. We want God to give us an answer now so we don’t have to be scared any more. So we can have control over the situation through knowing the answer to our questions, while in truth, God may want to answer our questions gradually.
This kind of franticness is contrary to many verses in the bible, like “be anxious for nothing” or “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.”
One of my favorite things to do is float in water. I am really good at it. Like I could do it for hours. I guess I am just a really buoyant person. One time I was talking to the lifeguard at my gym, and he was like “Oh, I know who you are. You’re the floater. Dude, teach me to relax like that.” He spoke with a slight sense of awe, as if had discovered I was James Bond or something.
The reason I love floating so much is that it is a place of complete rest for me. All that I can feel is the water underneath me, surrounding me. It run through my hands, and the coolness of it against my skin is all I feel in that moment. The clamor of the world fades away until all I can hear is my heart beat. In that place, I can block all the world out until it is just my spirit and God’s communing with each other.
As I am floating, I will meditate on some phrase, repeating it over and over like God, surround me like this water surrounds me or Be still and know that I am God.
I am not always a peaceful person. I have rave parties going through my head all of the time. But the more I choose to “still and quiet my soul, like a child with it’s mother” as it says in Psalm 131, the more I choose to trust in God’s goodness and be at peace with the gradual process I am in.
So choose to quiet your soul. Stop going to rave parties and do water ballet with God instead. (Was that an awesome last line or what?)