Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
"The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'"1
One of the main problems Daily Encounter subscribers write to me about has to do with relationships. For instance, one subscriber whom I shall call Shirley wrote: "I have found someone who is a seemingly solid Christian. I have been such an idiot in past relationships and DO NOT want to make the same mistakes AGAIN. My question is, 'How do I go about approaching a Christian courtship? My friend has expressed interest but is as ignorant on the issue as I am. Can you please help me as we would very much prefer to make new and different mistakes."
Hello Shirley, thank you for being honest and acknowledging your past failures in relationships. The first step in overcoming any problem is to admit, "I have a problem—I need help." The next step, and a very critical one, is to realize that unless we resolve the cause/s of past mistakes, we are destined to repeat them. Realize, too, that we are as sick (or as healthy) as the partner/s we are attracted to. Therefore, before even considering another romantic relationship, it is imperative that you become involved in an excellent recovery program to make absolutely certain that you have resolved all the issues in your life that caused you to be attracted to those partners you had in your past failed relationships. The fact is that only healthy people—both spiritually and emotionally—are attracted to healthy partners and are able to develop healthy relationships.
Furthermore, once couples are serious about a committed relationship and the possibility of marriage, it is wise to receive qualified Christian pre-marriage counseling to make sure their personalities will mesh and not lead to conflict, and to learn the skills of dynamic relationships and the art of effective communications.
By way of interest, the fact that you say that your friend is a seemingly solid Christian raises questions. If one is a genuinely committed Christian, it doesn't take long to discern that. It's what one does, how one acts, and what one's real interests are—regardless of what they say—that shows who and what a person really is. As the Bible says, "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."2
Also, to develop healthy romantic relationships, it is wise to attend marriage and relationship seminars and to read good books which you can find by going to your local Christian bookstore and check the section on marriage and relationships. The store manager or owner can give advice on excellent relational books. Unfortunately, we spend years in education to learn how to make a living but almost zero on how to develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships. It's up to each one of us to ensure that we learn these skills.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you created mankind for relationships. Please help me to become more and more like Jesus in every way so that I will have meaningful and loving relationships. And, if needed, please show me any unresolved character issues in my life that could in any way be damaging to healthy, loving relationships. And lead me to the help I need to resolve these issues so that my life and relationships will always bring glory to your name. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
Note: For additional helps check out the many helpful articles on the ACTS website at: http://www.actsweb.org/articles/Recovery.php and http://www.actsweb.org/articles/Marriage.php.
1. Genesis 2:18 (NIV).
2. Matthew 7:20 (NKJV).