This is one of my main mentor's/role model's story about dating, which I'm very happy to share with you guys. She is an amazing woman of God, and has some beautiful insights to share with teens (like me). (Note: this post is targeted to girls)
You are loved. I know that can sound old or cliche after a while, but in all areas of life, especially relationships, dating, and sex, it is the most important thing for us to know.
On New Year’s Eve 2017, 17-year-old me was stumbling through the dark, heart-broken and sobbing. I was at a camp. My friends were celebrating and the man of my dreams was holding hands with someone else. I went off on my own, barely able to see under the trees because of the dark and my tears, until I came to the edge of Karapiro Lake. I looked up and I could finally see the stars. Crumpling to my knees I asked God to take my affection for this one particular guy and make it His. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I knew that God isn’t in the business of throwing stuff away. If that were the case He would have given up on the world a long time ago! I knew God was into fixing things. I didn’t know why God would bring me to the place I was, but I did know God loved me.
When talking about relationships and sexuality people usually go to the Bible book known as “Song of songs” which can be read as one long love letter from Jesus Christ to His church: you and me. Usually chapter 2:7b is the go-to relationship advice where it says “do not stir or awaken love until it pleases.” And that verse is true and useful. However, a verse that I used a lot during my teens when I struggled with loneliness and low self-image was 4:7. “You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you.” When I read this verse it felt like Jesus was speaking directly to me. Jesus was saying, “hey Emma, my girl, I have completely gotten rid of every ugliness in you. I nailed all of that to the cross. So don’t tell me you’re dirty and worthless! Every inch of you now that I’ve made you clean is beautiful. When I look at you I don’t see a spot or a flaw. You are perfect.” Let me tell you, Jesus says this to every girl who comes to Him.
And that’s why you don’t have to sell yourself short.
For my 16th birthday a boy gave me a green-stone necklace he found on a beach. We both had crushes on each other, but I could see that our interests would lead us in different directions. Although we both liked music, he was heavily into his outdoor sports while I much preferred reading, writing, and pursuing deep questions about life. Plus I knew I was probably too young and didn’t have a firm enough grounding in who I was to pursue a deep relationship with someone else. I carefully measured him against my “checklist” and I decided not to let anything happen. I took the present, said “thank you,” and we remained good friends.
Your checklist will look different from mine. Each person is unique and has different values. But if you value relationship with Jesus then you will want to look for that in a potential partner. Some things on the checklist will look the same for everyone. If you are a human being you should be treated with respect and kindness. So if the guy who asks you out yells at you, says he’ll do something and then doesn’t do it, makes you do things you don’t really want to do, or makes you feel stupid or worthless in any way then don’t sell yourself short. Say “thank you,” and walk away. In fact that kind of person shouldn’t even be your friend let alone your partner!
Knowing who you are and where you want your life to go, and letting that head-stuff guide your heart-stuff is so, so important. I have made mistakes regarding my decisions around sexuality, but I am so glad I made them in my 20’s rather than my teens. Now I just have so much more knowledge around maintaining my wellbeing and that knowledge has had the time to become a part of me so it’s not just head-stuff.
Last year I dated a friend from course for three months. We had met at the beginning of the study year and started dating at the beginning of the second semester. When he asked me out I didn’t have to take too much time to make the decision. He loved and served God, and he was kind, wise, and hard-working. Because the knowledge of my values and goals were so ingrained I could see whether this man was in line with them or not quite easily. This was only possible because I had spent my teen years getting to know myself really, really well. I know it feels like everyone else has found someone except you, but take your time.
Although he was a great guy, he broke up with me in the end because he didn’t see it working out in the long-term. Ultimately I’m glad he broke up with me. If you don’t see a tomorrow then don’t have a today! Still, break-ups hurt. A lot. But when I look back at that time I am very happy with how I responded. I gave myself the time and space I needed to cry and didn’t judge myself for my emotions. Where in previous years I went through hurt all on my own I now had the courage to reach out for support. Unlike during my teens I had a solid group of friends that I could count on to reach out to when I needed support.
That’s the key. There’s only one particular Person you need, and that’s Jesus. So first of all, make time to get close to Jesus.
Other than that, people need people, not one particular person. You are actually closer to wholeness when you have a community around you but no partner, than when you have a partner but no one else in your life. So make time to hang with your girlfriends, Girl friend!
When I first started dating I went out with one of my girl friends for dinner. Afterwards while we were waiting for my date to pick me up to go to a movie I found out my friend had forgotten to arrange a ride home. So I called my date and asked if he would be happy to drop off my friend on our way to the movie. My friend said she didn’t want to make trouble for us before our date to which I responded immediately, “if he’s not the kind of guy to drop my friend home then I’ll dump him right now!” It is so important to maintain good relationships with your friends and family at all times whether before, during, or after your romantic relationships.
Ultimately there is always Someone who loves you more than the guy you are currently eyeing up. Make time for those people who really love you. God has put them in your life as precious gifts. Don’t sell yourself short - you are perfect in Jesus’ eyes. And remember: God loves you!