We all struggle with finding "the one." But in our pursuit in finding the future Mr. or Mrs., we easily let go of truth's we're well aware of before our minds are bogged down by the "what could be's" with another person. While I know it's difficult, here are five things that are extremely important to remember when thinking about pursuing a relationship or are currently in a relationship:
1. Being in relationship is not an accomplishment.
It's easy to look around you and think that the standard of who you are as a person is centered around changing your relationship status on Facebook or taking cute photos you're dying to post on Instagram. While a relationship is a big part of your life, and there's no shame in desiring a relationship with someone, working towards this will not be fulfilling even once you're in a relationship. You'll work so hard for it, only to find out it didn't fill that space in your heart you thought it would. Your heart is meant to be fulfilled by Christ. When you've fallen in love with God and consistently invest in your relationship with him, your heart won't break over a void that you've misplaced in finding a significant other, but rather will remain strong in the security and comfort of knowing who you are in the One True King. And once you're dating someone, it's easy to compare you're relationship and the things you've 'accomplished' to those of other couples. For example, if you've been dating your significant other as long as your best friends and they get engaged before you do, you'll begin to question how your relationship is moving forward and why you're not where they are, or you'll freak out thinking you should be engaged too when you're really not ready. You're relationship is your own and will become a disaster if you allow the pressure of others to dictate the momentum and power of your relationship with another person. Let things naturally progress and watch the beauty of how God is working in the two of you unfold. Don't let your relationship be about how you're progressing in life and what it looks like to others.
2. It's not about you.
While this may seem obvious, a underlying approach in pursuing someone is how you will benefit from being in a relationship with them. It may not even be about material things, but how that other person can fulfill some of your deepest desires or does everything on your mental checklist. Truthfully, no one will ever fit your mental checklist or fulfill all your desires; only God can do that because as humans we constantly fall short. And as you grow and learn more about this person in your relationship with them, you'll struggle with them when you discover their flaws or imperfections in the things that they stopped doing that you miss that immediately made you "fall in love with them." But it shouldn't be about how they can best serve you, but how you can serve them. The act of serving becomes synonymous between two people who have a heart to constantly serve each other; it becomes a natural part of who they are because it's rooted in the essence of how Christ serves the Church. Initially thinking this way sets you up for success in finding someone who consistently serves and put's other's before themselves.
3. You can't be half-in-half-out.
You've got to be invested in the pursuit. It's not ok to have moments where you spend one night pouring your heart out to each other and then the next day you completely ignore their texts or don't may eye contact with them at church. It's not ok to have moments where you contemplate how much attention your giving them in public but have no problem doing so when it's just the two of you. Really, you shouldn't spend alone time with them unless your actually interested in them. It saves both involved from heart ache and having strong feelings way too quickly. Protect yourselves from entering a relationship you know you're not ready to fully invest in. And if down the road your relationship feels more like a chore or something you realize your heart is just not into, it may be time to really think if you want to seriously be committed to this person. Don't succumb to every thought or feeling of doubt; discern the truth of your actions and the direction of where your relationship is headed before you make any drastic moves.
4. Try to avoid projecting past hurts from previous relationships on to the other person.
We're all sinners who are really good at hurting one another. We're self-centered, selfish, and prideful. But we're also capable of love, compassion, healing, and nurturing. You have to learn to trust that the other person. He's not going to break your heart like the last guy did. She genuinely wants to know and be invested in you; she won't leave you when things get tough. Whatever your hurt was in your last relationship, he or she is not them; the more you project past hurts on to them, the more destructive your relationship becomes because you choose to live in fear of them rather than putting your walls down. God will protect you from your biggest fears if you surrender them to Him and allow the Spirit to work in your heart.
5. Your view of love should not come from a movie.
You're probably aware of this by now, but what you might not fully know or understand is just how much your favorite rom-com has actually influenced your thinking. Every romantic comedy is the same; the relationship starts great, has something major or serious happen, the couple fights and eventually reconciles, and falls deeper into love and blissfully carries on into their happy life (or so we believe). Movies have twisted our view of true love to be just romantic feelings because of shared interests or the thrill of the possibility of dating the other person. The thing is, what makes love so deep is because we are deeply loved by Christ; our fulfillment should be in him and not our significant other. Jesus died for us not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. You're attraction to someone should be because you're excited you see how God is transforming them and because the love or friendship you have for each other started in the deeply rooted love you have in the Lord. Real love is not about how attractive another person is, it's not a "game," it's not about sex, status, etc. So whether you're interested in someone or dating, look to see how they love and serve those you and those around you, how they desire to grow in a friendship with you, how accepting they are of your flaws, how they desire purity, truth, and respect---all of those are significant and powerful indicators of someone that's worth sharing you're heart and life with.