Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

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About ten years ago, my boyfriend Ken and I were contemplating marriage. I was  as scared as a pregnant porcupine.

Back then, I was more of a “pray them up, knock em down, move em out” Christian, and I really put a lot of stock in signs. I would pray for them all the time. “God if you really want me to marry him, please have someone stand on their head in the middle of this convenience store.” Stuff like that.

I fasted several times for the relationship, begging for signs  from God. I did one especially long fast. I started out with water only. Soon, I was throwing cherry pie into the blender.  I was on the verge of trying steak smoothie when I finally got my answer in the middle of the night.

I had a dream that I opened my bible to Fourth Chronicles. That was the whole dream.

I woke up the next day, and being the astute Christian scholar that I am, realized that there was no Fourth Chronicles. So I looked up I Chronicles 4 instead.

These were the shocking words that I read that day:
“The sons of Judah: Judah begat Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal. These are the families of the Zorathites.”

Bingo. That was it. I was supposed to marry him.

Okay, that’s not really what happened. I was more like “what the heck is this? Come on God. I wanted a sign and I got a bunch of begets?”

Almost as a joke, I said, “God, if I’m supposed to marry Ken, put a version of his name in here.”

I turned the page and there it was, clear as day.

“These are the men of Rechah. And these are the sons of Kenaz.”

Kenaz certainly sounded like the Hebrew version of Ken to me. I had my answer.

What happened next? I will give you one hint. I am still the sexy celibate and it is ten years later.

Many years passed. Another serious boyfriend and I, let’s call him Gavin, were praying about whether or not we should get married. During the course of our relationship, he had really struggled with whether he loved me or not. We had separated into different cities for a season, (you know, the whole “we’re taking a break to pray” deal that actually means “we’re freaking out.”)  We had met together to reevaluate and he said that he wanted to move to my town and pursue making a long term commitment. I was worried that he would still struggle with whether he loved me or not and was very hesitant for him to move.

Soon after, I went to visit my mom. She said “Kate, I saved this for you.” She handed me a game of boggle she had been playing. If you haven’t seen boggle before, there are little dice with letters on them that you shake and they randomly come up on the playing board. Then you compete to find short words. Clear as day, the words “Gavin is in love” were on the little squares. I mean, out  of 16  letters, those were the ones that happened to be rolled. I have the picture to prove it.

What are the odds of that?

I had my sign. And my mom had 20 more boggle points.

Gavin and I broke up three weeks later.

I have a new philosophy on dating now, one that makes a lot more sense to me.

Step 1: Dating is about getting good information on whether or not this is a good match. Try to get good information every day.

Step 2: As you get more information, be very conscious of “your truth”- what is going on inside of you emotionally and logically. Remember that it is very wise to try to look at the fruit of something when it is still a seed.

Step 3: Don’t ask yourself whether you should get married too fast. Just ask yourself whether it sounds fun to spend the next holiday with him or her.

Step 4: Over time, when you get enough good information, prayerfully make a decision about whether the best thing is to get married or to break up.

Marriage, my friends, is serious business. And many of us in the believing community have created a culture where we feel pressured to know if we should get married within the first few dates. (I will post more on this later.) This can be dangerous. A decision this important deserves respect and time.

The truth is, if you get a sign, that may be good information, but it is not even close to all the information you need. If you “just know” the minute you go on a date with someone, that is good information, but it is not all the information you need.

I do believe God can use signs as part of your journey towards a decision, but you should’t depend on them. You have to remember that He can use other means to speak to you as well.

Sometimes he can use answers to practical questions. How does your boyfriend treat his mother? How does your girlfriend handle stress? Is he kind to people even in difficult circumstances? Does he talk well about me in front of other people, even in private? Do we love each other even when our projections of each other have finally been lowered, a process that can take months or even years? Would she be a good mother?  Do we communicate well? Do we have fun together? Are we a good match?

These are questions that take time to answer. Do not rush answering them.

I have learned that the reason I asked God for signs is because I was scared. I wanted Him to make decisions for me. Now, I have grown up. I want to make decisions with Him.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have your own stories of signs gone right or wrong? Do you think dating this way makes sense? Have you ever been as scared as a pregnant porcupine?