Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lonely in Silicon Valley: Proverbs 5 and Relationships

I have always found relationship advice very frustrating. Mostly because of people speaking in really vague terms that mean nothing, like "You know when you know." Or they treat it like a formula that if you do x, y, and z you find someone or your marriage will be automatically better. The real problem is not that there is nothing good about people's advice, the problem is that our own hearts hear what we want to hear. We want a quick fix. We want someone to give us the secret the unlocks the mystery of the opposite sex. But it just doesn't work that way.

I distinctly remember hearing a Pastor of mine once giving a message about not worrying. One of his application points was for singles to not worry too much about finding someone but to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness." I spent years thinking about what he meant by that. It doesn't sound much different than advice like "You know when you know," or the proverbial "at some point it just clicks and you find someone." What my Pastor was alluding to is that point when you are no longer trying too hard and believing that being with someone will finally fill that gaping hole in your life. It is when you finally surrender and realize the perfect person doesn't exist and your expectations are way too high. That is the moment you begin to live by faith and realize finding someone is an act of God's grace. It is the moment you are free to live and enjoy the journey for what it is - when you are content if you are single or married.

However, that only covers idols we have concerning relationships. The biggest frustration I hear is that in a city where everyone works a ton and community is sparse - how in the world will you ever meet someone? There are also cultural idols in the modern world that make finding someone extremely difficult. Our society is very individualistic and people don't value community. They find meaning in their work and delay looking for someone. They overvalue their own opinions and do not associate with people of different values. So they find it difficult to be in community with people different from themselves who have different views. *News flash*, I don't care who you end up with, they will be different from you. If you cannot learn to get along with people different from you in casual friendships and acquaintances you will have an extremely difficult time managing an actual relationship no matter how similar you are. All that to say what do you do if your "social network" (including church) has slim pickings?

1) Understand that singleness is a gift - 1 Corinthians 7:7

I know you want practical advice. Sorry, you have to deal with the spiritual as well or you are missing the whole point. Get it in your head that the love of Christ is more important and single people have a huge amount of flexibility to invest in the church and in their faith.

2) There are seasons to not seek marriage. If you need to be with someone, you probably have an relationship idol. Times when you have a new job, death in the family, grad school, are really difficult, time consuming and emotionally charged times. Your head isn't in the game.

3) Get serious about finding someone as you get older. You can date for fun in high school. Maybe even college. Get real after that. If they are not looking for a serious relationship. Move on!

4) Be attracted to the whole person, not just looks - but heart and character.

5) Don't get too emotionally involved with a non-believer. Getting married requires your deepest desires and passions to be shared. If you love Jesus, you are not able to share your whole self.

6) Expand your community - get a hobby, sign up for eHarmony. If a hobby, do it for fun and to make new friends, not because you are desperate. Don't get all self-righteous about using dating websites. I know lots of career people who they have worked really well for. Would it be great, even better to meet someone without them? Yes, but remember #3.

7) Recognize you need to learn from people in good relationships. Find Godly examples and just be around them. If you are going to be able to "know when you know," you need to see good examples. Get involved in a church small group. It might actually be best for you if it's not a "singles group." The church is a family and family has brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Too often people look around and think no single people are there, but a lot of people meet through mutual friends. Don't give up on a community just because you don't see anyone at first glance.

Hope that helps and I hope and pray our church is able to truly be a loving family - for singles, families, and married people investing in each other.

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