Monday, August 15, 2005

Real Life Courtship vs. Paint by Numbers Courtship

Here's a comment Gretchen posted:

"I'm nearly 22, and finally getting to put all the courtship theories to the test: I'm being courted by a man I've been in love with since I was 13. I'm finding that courtship in real life is so much more than you can read about in a book. I have had to be careful not to 'put God in a box' and think He will work the same way in my life as He did in all the other courtship stories I've read. But I'm so thankful for the encouragement I received from your books and others to wait for the man God made for me. A love story written by Him is the most beautiful ever..."

I thought this was 1) a cool story and 2) something many people I know walk through, namely, the realization that every relationship is different and there is no "paint by numbers" guide to courtship.

I had a group of singles from my church over to the house to talk about how relationships are working in Covenant Life. I'm planning a two-part series in November on how a church community can support singles in pursuing godly friendships and courtship. I wanted to hear the challenges these men and women were facing.

One thing I heard there is echoed by Gretchen. Sometimes people who are committed to honoring God in their relationships—who have turned their back on the "dating mindset" and who have read every book written on courtship—can start to assume that their knowledge about godly relationships can take the place of day by day faith in God as they walk out a real-life relationship. One man at the meeting told me that he thinks some people fall into a lazy approach where they want a book or some speaker to "tell them all the methods for godly relationships" so they can just check off the boxes. But no aspect of the Christian life, including godly relationships, works that way! We have to read and apply God's word, pray, trust God, question and search our hearts, seek godly counsel, pursue wisdom and then pray some more. It takes work. There's no autopilot switch. As Gretchen put it, we're not going to have the exact experience of our best friend, or a particular couple in our church or the author of a book.

Gretchen, I hope you'll post again and share more of your story. (For those who don't know, Gretchen has a website called Young Ladies Christian Fellowship that has kept New Attitude magazine alive online.) I'm sure many people would love to hear more about what God is teaching you. One girl commented on another thread that she'd love a place to discuss courtship with other like-minded women. This could be a chance to start one such conversation.

And then for everyone else, I'd love to hear your comments on this post or what your own experience has been.


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