Our Perfect Expectations Of Love

Perfect Couple 2
Photo Cred: Munaluchibride 

 

There is no such thing as a guy who is “ready for marriage”.

 

Well, this is the conclusion I have come to based on endless hours of reading up on relationships and marriage, and speaking to married folks that I respect and look up to.

 

For some reason, our generation has been convinced that before you marry a man, he has to have all his stuff together – this is a belief held by both females and males mind you. We believe that he needs to have a good job, a great house, big fat bank account, and a fabulous car to chauffer you in, plus an extra one for you of course!

 

For the super spiritual peeps, we also believe that he needs to be serving deeply within the church or his own personal ministry. He needs to be so deep in the word of God that you feel like you’re listening to Jesus when he is speaking. And and and. In a nutshell, we’re expecting the brother to pretty much be Jesus Christ Himself. These are honestly great and important things to seek in a partner but I do not believe they are deal breakers, especially because we ourselves are not this way as women.

 

What screws us up most
Photo Cred: Nice People Are Cool

 

The thing is, this is what I believed for quite a while. Because truth be told, what I desired was good and I wanted to be wise in my choice. I felt like unless you ticked all the boxes I had presented to God (not the ones God had revealed to me) about my ideal Christian man, I wasn’t even going to give you a second thought.

 

You were just going to waste my time and reverse all the “hard work” I had been putting in to become this amazing Christian girl. If I gave you a chance it would be a reflection on me that I don’t have worth – that I allow imperfection into my space (ouch!). It would suggest that I am not destined for a great and life-changing marriage. I couldn’t have that!

 

Then I purposefully engaged in some research on real-life relationships: from conversations with family and friends; to reading testimonies online. And I realized that the picture perfect pre-marriage state was actually not a thing – was not necessarily the experience of most married people.

 

I mean, I learnt that a man (even the most devoted and God-fearing) is not fully who he has been called to be by God when you meet him. He is not a finished product. He will make some really dumb choices. Lol. He will probably hurt you at several points. He will test you and the wonderful Christian qualities you’ve been racking up. And that is because no person is perfectly prepared for any stage of their life.

 

Rather, the stages of life perfect characteristics in a person as God leads them. We love to say that saying, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called”. But we love to say it in context of serving in ministry for God and we do not apply it in other areas of life including romantic relationships.

 

Expectations vs Reality
Photo Cred: Brian Tracy Online

 

Today, I’m speaking to my fellow perfectionist sisters who literally fear giving a man a chance because he is not a walking Bible character. The truth is that God does not bring you a perfect person to marry and because of that we may keep passing on our potential partners (talking to myself here as well). I think what has caused us to believe this deception is mainly social media. Social media influences our perceptions of relationships in the following two ways:

 

  1. Perfect Expectations – we are a social media generation. Social media has given individuals the power to be who they want the world to believe that they are. We post up only the best pictures that we have edited several times so that they are appealing. We post up our successes and victories and seldom acknowledge our struggles or fears. We have this whole “Stepford Wives” vibe thing to a tee in terms of how we represent our life.

 

The problem comes when we start to believe that this perfection applies to every aspect of our lives: Our food should arrive the way we see it perfectly depicted in food magazines; our outfits should sit on us the same way that they are displayed on the mannequin; and likewise, our potential hubby should possess all these wonderful qualities that we read about on Christian blog sites or according to men in the Bible that we are told to look up to (à la Joseph/Abraham etc).

 

The reality of life, however, is that we all have defects in our characters (Romans 3:23). The reality of life is that our backgrounds and circumstances have shaped our thinking and informed the behaviours that we are trying to overcome through Christ (Romans 7:15). The reality of life is that we are still a work in progress and still being sanctified. We have not attained perfection yet – yes, even us “good Christian girls”!

 

So when we meet a guy and are considering a relationship, we act like we are shopping in a catalogue which should only possess the “air-brushed” man for our consideration. Should any defects pop up, we convince ourselves that these are warning bells from God that this is not the right man for us. Just as you have your own hectic flaws within your lovely qualities, the man God chooses for you will have some qualities (not foundational to his character) that will drive you UP THE WALL! Let go of the perfect expectations.

 

Who hurt you
Photo Cred: We Love Soccer Online

 

  1. Perfect Comparisons – I love to read up about fellow Christians who inspire me and have come through the other side of tests and trials in Christ. Not that they are now perfect, but they have gone through seasons with God and their faith is being proved. These people naturally like to celebrate their love and to inspire and encourage others by sharing images of themselves with their spouse doing life. It’s so beautiful to see but the problem comes when I begin to convince myself that it should always look that way from the beginning. We convince ourselves that a man should already be kind; loving; patient; hands on in the home; willing to rub your feet when you’re exhausted etc from day one of marriage.

 

The truth is that these people we look up to were not always like that. They have worked hard with God and with one another to grow into the people God calls them to be. They have prayed earnestly through some really rough seasons. They have almost called it quits because they couldn’t believe that this was the same person they fell in love with.

 

But we only see the end results and compare our potential partners to years of experience, moulding, prayer and testing. The devil encourages a lot of comparison in today’s world which leaves us feeling so discontented. One of God’s 10 commandments is to not covet what belongs to another (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21) and that includes wishing you had someone who was like the husband of another woman.

 

God is so wise in this admonition. He knows that as humans we don’t get to see the full picture. We have not walked the exact journey that this couple has. We do not possess the same qualities that the wife had that He worked with to mould and build up the man to be the amazing husband that he is today. And so, when we are considering our own suitors we cannot compare them to finished products but to the standard Christ reveals to us personally.

 

God won’t give you a finished product because then what would be the point of marriage? Marriage is there to challenge us and expose our sinfulness and to change us to become more like Christ. It is there to ensure we fulfil our oath to God on this earth. That is the main aim of marriage. And so that means you need someone who needs challenging and exposing and who is sinful – just like you by the way. That may be the guy currently hollering at you that you’ve written off.

 

Have courage and be kind OG
Photo Cred: Etsy Online

 

In a nutshell, my fellow single sisters, I am just encouraging us to not be unnecessarily hard on and demanding of our brothers. Let us be kind as they shall have to be kind to us and our shortcomings. I am not saying take someone who is an obvious liar or adulterer or just someone with no basic regard for God’s law (which by the way is summed up as loving God wholly and others as yourself).

 

I am saying let us look for a man who is willing above all else. That is a good man. A man who has a teachable spirit and is willing to work with God and with you to become all God has called you both to be. Let us let go of our fantasies of Mr Perfect, and let us embrace the Mr Imperfect with whom we will have the pleasure of walking through the journey of life to grow to be all God has called us to be. This, I believe, is the true definition of love.

 

Because, at the end of the day we will experience more joy and fulfilment when we can stand back, watch that man care for his children; treat us like a Queen; and honour God in all he does because we were willing to go through the rough patches with him. I mean think about it, you would cherish the Chanel bag that you had to work and save up for despite how hard it was much more than the one someone hands over to you for nothing.

 

What have been some of your expectations of a spouse? How do you think we can attain the right balance in accepting a godly but human man as a husband? Let’s chat!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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3 Issues around Romantic Relationships in the Church

Closeup of sad young woman in living room with man after an argument
Photo Cred: African Sweetheart 

I’ve recently become aware of certain behaviour amongst the youth in my faith as a Christian. You know, when I decided to become serious again about my faith and about being an active member of my Church, I believed that the people I would interact with would all be seeking the same things that I was. What a wrong mentality that was. The truth is that the Church is a clinic. A hospital. We’re all congregating with different ailments, needs and wants and there is no way we will all require the same treatment or medication. Thus, I have come to quickly recognize a difference in thinking in terms of different issues including that of dating or romantic relationships amongst people at Church.

I have been fellowshipping at my Church for about 6-and-a-half years now and in that time, I have not entered a romantic relationship with any guy there. Yes I have naturally crushed some gents there but for various reasons, nothing has materialized into a full-blown relationship. That truly frustrated me for a good 4-and-a-half to 5 years! I’d watch those close to (and not-so-close) to me start dating, get engaged, have bridal showers, get married, and now we’re on baby showers. And it just felt like God had put some sort of cover over me so that no guy even SAW me. Over time though, and in the last year or so I’ve actually grown grateful for my situation. I’ve realized that God was protecting me – from entering hurtful relationships and most importantly, protecting me from myself. I had NO clue on how to recognize the right partner and listen to His counsel on it. And I was certainly not ready to love one of His Princes the way He requires me to. It has also given me time to observe and pick up on the things that we young people do right as well as do wrong in picking our life partners – myself included.

There are several patterns that I’ve picked up on in how we young people go about dating in the Church:

  1. Easy Come, Easy Go – I’ve watched people quickly fall for one another and in the space of a month or a couple of weeks of acknowledging these feelings, they are dating and in a full-blown relationship. They talk all the time; spend each opportunity together; and just move from point A to Z in record time! It’s natural to feel such great euphoria when you first meet someone and are getting to know them. They’re a sort of mystery and you tend to pick up on all their great qualities and breeze over the more unflattering ones. I think though, in rushing into love we miss out on actually getting to know the person without our rose-coloured glasses on. We don’t take the time to observe their character and how they respond when someone makes them angry; or when bad things happen to them; or when they fail at a task; or how they treat those closest to them (because that is a sign of how they will treat us). Then, as time passes and we start to see their true colours, we’re quick to say that they’ve changed when the truth is that we never actually knew them (James Michael Sama). I believe that we need to be careful about how quickly and blindly we enter into relationships because that which comes easy tends to go just as easily.
  1. God Spoke to Me – We’re all encouraged to have a personal and close walk with God. We’re told that God still speaks to us today as a collective and individually. We just need to take the time to get to know Him and listen. This is beautiful and it’s the absolute truth. We ought to always seek to hear from God so that we do what He purposes for our lives. However, I have issues when we misuse this blessing (whether knowingly or unknowingly) for our own personal gain. Most recently, I’ve heard this statement being used in getting romantic relationships going in the Church. More especially from the gents. A gentleman will approach a lady and tell her that he’s been praying to God either for a life partner or about that specific lady and he believes God is directing them into a relationship. What is a higher authority on relationships to a Christian than God Himself? And so, the lady willingly and happily obliges. Not many months down the line, things have gone sour.

This makes one wonder whether God really spoke or what He said. It’s a dangerous thing to use the name of God when you’re not even sure that it was Him speaking. I must say though, that it’s not just the gentlemen’s fault.  We are commanded in the Bible to test everything and all spirits to ensure that they are from God (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). We can never take as gospel that which someone comes and tells us God told them. And so even if a gentleman approaches you and tells you God has spoken to him about you, it is your duty as a lady to take the time to return to this same God to hear whether it is in fact true. I think we just get so caught up in the beauty of it and our strong desire for love and relationships that we quickly hold on to what appears good and right. It seems like such a godly approach after all. But we need to learn to be cautious and speak to God about what someone else claims to have spoken to Him about.

  1. All Out of Fight – A great mentor of mine remarked how our generation no longer fights for things especially relationships. It’s as though we’ve come to believe that if something comes to us and happens without much of a struggle, then it’s meant to be. It should be natural and effortless. That is the lie of the devil. If we look at all the great Bible characters and their stories, their journeys were far from easy! They had to at some point put up a fight – either with others, themselves or the devil himself. Some had to exercise patience for years (Abraham). Others had to run and fight for their life until they became what God had promised them they would be (David). Still others had to work 14 years to marry the love of their life after being deceived (Jacob). The list is endless.

One of my favourite quotes says, “The couples that are ‘meant to be’ are the ones who go through everything that is meant to tear them apart and come out even stronger than they were before.”  ­That is a powerful statement! Truly, anything worthwhile does not come easy. It is through the difficulties and fighting to be with the other person that your bond is strengthened. I think the issue is that we are a generation that is used to getting things at the click of our fingers. We’ve sadly translated this into every area of our lives including relationships. But this is false. It’s an illusion. For you to value your partner, you must have had to face and overcome some challenges together. A person more readily appreciates a fairly pricey bag that they’ve been eyeing and have worked hard to save up for and buy, than an even more expensive bag that someone just gives to them. It’s in the labour of your hands that you value what you get. So, let’s not give up too easily and let’s put up a fight to keep the relationships we believe we’ve been given.

There is so much more that could be said, but I just wanted to point out those 3 issues that stand out the most for me at this point in time. All relationships are complicated, but if we take the time to better understand them and each other we can have beautiful, God-ordained unions.

What are your thoughts around romantic relationships in the Church? What lessons can we learn in engaging in these? Let’s share and grow together!

Remember, I’m praying for you!

Love,

Sonia Dee