Chapter 5, Practical Faith
So we have talked about a lot of spiritual things in this chapter and I want to make sure that we also talk about what faith looks like in action. I took a poll on social media to determine which topic I would discuss in this section, and most, if not all the comments were leaning toward how cultivating a marriage mindset relates to dating. I was so excited to discuss this topic because not only is it a topic I am very passionate about, it is also a topic that many singles desires to hear about.
Dating as a marriage minded single certainly looks different than it does when dating in the world or even as a Believer who is not marriage minded. The world dates because dating is fun. Granted it’s very nice to hang out with someone you can have fun with, but as marriage minded singles we are looking for more than just good times. We are looking for God’s will which means we don’t just hang out with men and women because we are bored on a Friday night. We only entertain relationships that we believe are God-ordained and part of His will for our lives.
I am always leery when I see a single man or woman dating multiple people. Not because there’s anything wrong with dating per se, but because there is so much that God has called us to that we just don’t time to waste with people who are not part of our destiny. Add to this the fact that preparing for marriage requires us to be so connected to God that we don’t have time to entertain anything but what He is telling us to entertain. And more often than not, many singles are dating, not because they heard God’s voice, but because they are either desperate, bored or just don’t want to be alone all the time. And while that is completely understandable, I need singles to understand that your dating life sets the scene for your married life.
I want to go on record as saying that although I did not “date” for five or six years before I met my husband that the latter part of that time was by choice. I was so hungry for God and preparing for marriage that I just did not have time to waste with unnecessary relationship. It was an act of my faith. I wanted to totally apprehend God’s will for my life and I wanted marriage, not a series of dating relationships. Plus, I was just so tired of dating only to discover that the person I’d spent time with was not the one for me that I just declared at some point that I would not date again until I met the person I believed I would marry. That is where I was in my faith, and it didn’t matter how many guys approached me and asked me out. The answer was no.
For a marriage minded single, dating serves one objective and that is and should be marriage. In that regard, marriage minded singles, court not date. I define courting as purposeful fellowship and communication that begins with a clear understanding and expectation of the end goal being marriage. Courting is done with the intention of marriage from the onset. It usually follows a strong desire or leading to know more about a person for the sole purposes of determining whether you want to connected to them. It is covenant minded and is more about having the lengthy conversations to determine if marriage is an option than it is about seeing a movie or going to a basketball game. Dating, however, is all about having a good time. It’s worries less about marriage and long term commitment and more about personal enjoyment and fulfillment.
When the goal is marriage, a person is less likely to be concerned about having being wined and dined and having a good time. They are more concerned with character, integrity and security. To this end, the conversations that takes place in a dating versus a courting relationship will be very different. When courting you will have a high interest in a persons decision-making, their heart for God, their commitment to their church, family, etc. These are things that may or may not come up in a dating relationship because when you are strictly dating someone you are most concerned with what show you guys are going to see than you are about how committed they are to the family. Yes, at some point you may eventually get around to having those conversations, but we tell singles, why not begin with the end in mind. Why waste time dating and getting emotionally entangled with someone only to end it when you find out they don’t have integrity.
Don’t be confused and think that dating is not fruitful because it absolutely is; however, in God’s eyes dating takes place after marriage. It follows the courting stage. Once we determine we are potentially compatible in marriage, only then can we then begin to move forward. I personally believe that it takes being married in order to even date properly because there are certain aspects of a person you can and will only see once you are married or in a committed courtship leading toward marriage.
So many singles waste so much time dating people that they are absolutely in total disagreement on major life values, yet because they are more concerned with having someone to go to the movies and to accompany them to family functions, they totally don’t consider the fact the person they are dating is not someone they can build a life with.
When I met my husband, we courted before we go married and dated after we were married. Before our marriage, we never talked in depth about the kind of movies, sports and houses we liked. Instead, we talked about our family values, what place the Word held in our lives, what it meant to be a husband and wife, how we would raise children if possible. Now, understand that we did all this under God’s leading. Before I knew that my husband was such a basketball fan I knew that he was committed to being a husband. I knew that he was vested in raising a family and able to love me the way Christ loves the church. I knew that he was a man of character and great integrity and that if given the opportunity I could trust him with my heart. It wasn’t until after we were married, that I discovered his likes and dislikes. And it’s not that a person’s likes and dislikes don’t matter, it’s just that in the grand scheme of things they don’t hold as much weight as character does.
When we date, we find out more about the person’s personality than we do about their character, and that is so backwards. Character is who you are marrying. You are not marrying their personality. Yes, it is important to marry a man or woman with a personality that compliments yours, but at the end of the day, it’s your spouses character that will carry you both through the marriage.
In my mind, preparation includes, or at least should include, a time of consecration. That means setting yourself aside to God and waiting for Him to reveal to you what relationships you should pursue. I tell you when I was preparing for my husband I had the image in my mind of a king being allowed to sit on a throne. I saw a seat in my heart that God had especially prepared for my husband and I refused to have that seat occupied by anyone else other than him. My concern was that kings do not fight for the throne. It is either theirs for the taking or they moved on to the next kingdom; and I didn’t want to miss my king on a technicality. I wanted his seat to be free, only to be occupied my him. In my mind, that is what it meant to be a wife in waiting.
I personally think that men can almost sense in the spirit when a woman is unavailable, be it emotionally or physically. An illustration of this can be found in John 4 with the woman at the well. When Jesus encountered her, although she was alone, He was able to sense the fact that she had five or six men who were connected to her spiritually. This is why it is so important for us to be consecrated to God and free from anything that might hinder us from emotionally connecting to our mate when the time comes. How can we connect and give ourselves wholly to our future spouse when we are balancing our attention between dating two or three people?
I can only speak for myself in saying that there was absolutely times when I was unable to connect to men because of unhealthy connections with men in my past. This is one of the reasons I had to consecrate myself and allow my dating to be God led. I encourage singles to do the same. Let faith guide you in your actions to prepare your heart and spirit to receive one person—the person who will commit themselves to God first and then to you.
If you feel like God is leading you in a connection to someone of the opposite, you most certainly should get to know them better. However, be strategic in your connections. Don’t be afraid to find out up front what their intentions are and what they are all about. You just don’t have time to waste dating a person and doing all kinds of fun things for two or three years only to find out at the end of the third year that we don’t agree on our life’s principles and values. I don’t know about you, but I would rather go out on one outing and discover that the person I am with does not believe in marriage than to spend a year having fun together only to discover that this person has no intention of marrying me.
Preparing for marriage and cultivating a marriage mindset will give way to a certain level of confidence where setting expectations in the courting stage is concerned. You see I knew I was a wife going somewhere to happen so if you were not marriage minded, I had no issues letting you go and continuing on my path because my goal was sure. I find that women especially struggle in the area of setting expectations where courting relationships are concerned. They often don’t want to come off as pushy or off-putting to a potential suitor, but let me tell you, discussing marriage with a marriage minded man will not scare a man who is already headed in that direction. It will however, get rid of the man who has no intention of going down that path and you are all the better for it!
Remember, the Bible says when a man finds a wife; that means a woman is already a wife when he finds her. She’s not a woman sitting around waiting for him to define her and give her a title. She already occupies that title under God’s graceful hand. A man will seek out and discover this type of wife. In fact, there are tons of great men out here who are searching high and low for a wife of noble character and virtue. So ladies don’t be fooled into thinking there is a shortage of good men because there certainly is not! There is however, a shortage of godly wives—women molded by God who know who they are in Christ and what God has invested in them to bless the lives of their husbands. And make no mistakes ladies, when a man sees you in your wifely capacity, he will most certainly pursue you. Pursuing will not be an issue for him at all because once he sees the blessing on your life, the God in him will birth a desire to be connected with you in a greater capacity.
Ladies, be very clear that you are the prize; or at least you should be. You have to remind yourself all the time that you are the blessing that a man is waiting for. Still, in having that confidence the daily gal must be to remain humble and teachable before God and let him lead you into a deeper level in Him. You must get so hidden in Christ that when you emerge and are found that a man sees not only you, but the anointing of God all over you. I declare you are anointed to be a wife.
There’s a certain type of aura that a wife gives that let’s a man know that there is something different about her. When a man encounters a true wife, he knows that he is going to have to to take a different approach to her than he has with an woman in his path. His godly nature will drive his pursuit of her and he will seek God and ask Him exactly what needs to be done to win her heart; and God will show him how to awaken everything He has placed on the inside of you. God will show him how to court you, how to love you and how to care for you in a way that is consist with His will for your life. This is how God will build and make a husband out of the man that is bold enough to pursue you.
I want to reiterate that all these things must be done in faith and with the mindset that says, I am already a wife; I am not someone’s girlfriend. Girlfriends are a dime a dozen in this world. It doesn’t take any effort or molding from God to be a girlfriend. However, the Word of God says that a wife of noble character is a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4). Ladies, be that crown your husband wears proudly.
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