If you’re serious about getting married, the person you’re drinking organic coffee with is not just a regular guy or gal. If things go well, they might become your husband or wife for 50-plus years, your sexual partner, the mother or father of your children, and the person you’ll be taking care of when you’re old and sporting a scooter. No pressure there! Or, the relationship could go the opposite direction and suddenly smack into an unseen wall and fall flat on its face.
All dating is awkward, but Christians take it to the next level. Have you heard a Christian use any of these expressions: “God told me we were going to get married,” “God told me to break up with you,” “God didn’t give me peace about you,” “God gave me a dream about you,” or “God gave me this Bible verse for us.” Although they might be sincere, mediating quotes from heaven are incredibly confusing when it pertains to dating. For new relationships, cut these out at all costs. Later as you and that cute guy or gal head toward marriage, sharing how God is speaking to you about the relationship will be an encouraging revelation to the other person. The timing of it and your motivation are the primary keys to consider.
I was working at my desk when I received an odd email. The message was from a woman who had dreamt about me. She described the dream in vivid detail and asked what I thought it meant. My first thought was a profound, Uhhh…I have no idea. What could have been an easy “I like you” email transformed to slightly bizarre. Did she expect me to respond with a romantic interpretation? I was frustrated because I liked her.
It’s evident from Scripture that God speaks through dreams. Jacob, Daniel, and Joseph (the earthly father of Jesus) all received divine revelations like this that changed the course of their lives. Have you received dreams from God? I believe He’s spoken to me a few times during the night. But what’s the one rule if you get a dream about a romantic interest? Don’t share it. Spiritual revelations are fantastic and essential for our faith—in all their forms. Love, however, is complicated enough, so save the nightly aberrations for much later in the relationship.
Some Christians make dating weird through over spiritual language. Has someone responded with “I will pray” when you asked them on a date? I heard it once. Cringe. There’s also the Christian classic, “God didn’t give me peace about you” when breaking up. These lines are simply a softer version of God-said-this and God-told-me-that wackiness. You could label these lines “spiritual euphemisms.”
As much as we seek the Lord, an unmarried woman doesn’t need to hear that God wants you to date her. She needs to know that you want to date her. Likewise, a single guy won’t respond well that God told you to break up with him. He needs to hear the relationship is not something you want.
It’s not that all of these spiritual phrases aren’t true, per se; it’s that they are not helpful in dating. God doesn’t need us to mediate His voice for a relationship to succeed. Speak spiritually with your actions, not your words. Our responsibility is to stay close to Him throughout the entire dating process.
One of the best ways to portray God’s work in your life is having the courage to speak with clear and unambiguous language. If a cute Christian catches your eye, pray about your feelings and intention without them. Then, however you ask them out, use clear language. Instead of saying, “God gave me a dream about you,” simply ask, “Would you like to go on a date?” What about expressing an “I like you” instead of “I have peace about dating you”? You can never go wrong with straightforward language. Even replying with an “I don’t know” or “I need to think about it” is also perfectly respectable and honest.
Honesty and vulnerability can also mitigate the awkwardness in dating. I arrived to meet one woman I had connected with online and asked her how she was doing. She replied, “I’m nervous.” Her humility and transparency broke the ice, and I replied that I felt the same way. After we both admitted our first-date jitters, we were free to chuckle about it and enjoy the date. The best daters learn how to regularly deal with their emotions and effectively share their expectations.
But there’s no circumventing the fact that dating is uncomfortable, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. The awkward is here to stay. Embrace it. Give yourself and your dating relationships the space to experience the typical tension, questions, and discomfort. It’s normal. Go with the flow and laugh it off. Take dating seriously but not too seriously.
Even in extremely uncomfortable situations, find a way to get a good laugh and go with the flow. Consider the man I read about who drove to pick up his date at her house. When he knocked on the door, he was greeted by the woman’s older sister. That’s peculiar. Where is she? The woman confessed that her sister decided to go on vacation with their parents. Really? But he didn’t walk away sulking. Without missing a beat, he asked her out instead. She agreed, and they eventually got married. I give props to this guy. If that’s not the epitome of making the best from an awkward situation, I don’t know what is.
Many of us have had our Homer Simpson moments as we spend time with someone new. Dating is better when we can keep it light and learn to laugh at ourselves and the awkwardness of getting to know a potential wife or husband. I hope everyone makes it to marriage with at least one hilarious dating story. My one friend even received a framed picture of him and his date after their first time out. I’d be scared for Date #2 but he wasn’t. They got married a year later. If this is you, don’t worry. This is a no-judgment zone.
It’s important to remember that weird isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just fantastical. God seemed to fuel some relationships that developed in strange ways in the Bible. When Ruth laid at the feet of Boaz in Judges 6, it was odd (and highly provocative). When God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute, it was bizarre. We trust that God knew what was best, and His will was accomplished in these specific cases. I don’t understand why He chose these strange means, but God does what He wants. He’s God. For the rest of us, please-oh-please stop using weird and over-spiritual phrases. Can we leave the weird stuff to the Lord? In doing so you’ll be free to grow in Christ and your relationship with another.