Dating With a Focus
Dating relationships are often difficult to navigate as a Christian. Dating was not a common theme in Jesus’s culture, so our Bible says very little about courtship and dating. As Christian women we strive to create a life that is focused on Jesus; the love that He spread, the character that He carried, and the grace He administered. Focus is an important characteristic for a Christian to have. Jesus calls each of us to create a life that puts Him at the center. This positioning should cause every part of our lives to involve Jesus, even our dating relationships. As we enter these new relationships excitement and intimacy begin to build and we quickly begin to look to our significant other for fulfillment that we once relied on Jesus for. Don’t worry, this isn’t an anti-dating article. Dating relationships can be glorifying to God, but we have to learn to keep our focus on Jesus in the midst of the emotion and connection. So, as a Christian woman how do you go about creating a Jesus-focused relationship?
“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, Save me!.’” (Matthew 14: 27-30, New International Version)
Life is full of distractions, busyness, and faulty priorities. We often fall prey to this chaos that surrounds our daily lives. As Jesus calls to Peter to join Him on the water, he quickly becomes distracted by the waves around him. As we enter the world of dating we quickly begin to shift our focus to the person that we are dating. As we develop these new relationships we create an “other half.” We invite our boyfriends into areas of our lives that few are welcome. We begin to give them invitations to family parties, church services, and even an open invitation to see our faults and understand our struggles. Relationships are a beautiful thing, but they can easily become a stumbling block to your relationship with God if you allow it.
Keep Your Individual Focus on Jesus
“An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:34, New International Version).
Although there is a great difference between marriage and dating, this verse still applies to us dating folks. I exited my single season with an undivided relationship with Jesus and entered a new season that required a split attention. This undivided attention didn’t go away when I started dating, in fact my relationship with my boyfriend has encouraged me to be closer to Jesus, but I have had to learn how to focus my time and effort on Jesus first, and then my boyfriend. When you begin dating someone your “friend-focused” vision that is fixated on multiple people quickly shifts to a “dating-focused” vision. You will think about them more than you will like to admit. The more you share with them, the more you want to share. I find myself writing down random things that have happened throughout the day to share with my boyfriend because I think he would find them funny, heart-warming, concerning, etc. It’s an amazing connection that God has created for His children to have and desire. Dating does become a balancing act, however, trying to figure out how much focus on this person, is too much focus. There are two questions that you need to ask yourself, and your boyfriend needs to ask himself as well, throughout your dating season.
- Where are my priorities?
- How am I spending my time?
I am so quick to find myself making excuses as to why I can’t read my Bible or pray. I don’t have time, I’m too tired, etc. But I have no problem spending an hour on the phone with my boyfriend? This is a tainted focus and needs to be fixed. Before I spend that time with my boyfriend I do my best to make sure I have read my Bible that day or have given myself enough time to read my Bible later. I have to make sure that my first priority is Jesus. It’s also important that you and your boyfriend keep each other accountable in spending time with God, individually.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NIV).
Keep Your Relationship Focused on Jesus
As essential as it is to have your individual focus on Jesus, it is also important to have your relationship as a whole, focused on Jesus. When I started dating my boyfriend we both made it very clear that we wanted our relationship to bring God glory and cause growth in our walks with Jesus. Similar to the verse above about our individual hearts; relationships have a heart too and where the intentions or treasures of your relationship lies, that’s where your focus lies. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your current dating relationship.
- What is the purpose of this relationship?
- Does this relationship cause growth in my relationship with God?
- How often do we pray as a couple?
Fixing your focus on Jesus will cause your actions and interactions to change as well. Just as Jesus should be in every aspect of our lives, He should take up residence in every aspect of our relationships as well. Prayer needs to be a common occurrence in a dating relationship, it’s a direct way of inviting Jesus into your relationship and giving Him authority over your intentions and actions. As you navigate through this dating season keep in mind the parallel to Peter and faulty priorities that can often accompany human nature. Fixing your focus on Jesus will not only benefit your spiritual life, but can bring a new type of relationship between you and your boyfriend, one that is directed by the Holy Spirit rather than your own emotions and desires.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV).