God is teaching me to be faithful in relationship.

Namely, He is teaching me to be faithful in my relationship with my boyfriend, Nate. We are high school sweethearts that have recently begun to explore the possibility of marriage within the semi-near future. This opportunity is scary, yet exciting. It is clear to me that this is the prime time for us to learn how to be loving and faithful to each other even before we enter into a binding marriage covenant. If we cannot treat each other well before marriage, how can we treat each other well in a marriage?

God is teaching me to be faithful in relationship in three ways:

Joyful Surrender

I have struggled with fear in the past concerning our future and what God’s will is for the both of us. It was not until God called me to surrender this relationship to Him when I realized that my relationship with Nate was a gift that God entrusted to me to steward well. True stewardship is not to take control, but it is to give control to the Lord. To me, giving up control of something is like the end of the world. Surrender is equated with sacrifice, and I equated sacrifice to the story of God telling Abraham to kill his only son. That must have been painfully hard for Abraham. He did not know beforehand that God would end up sparing his son. He only knew he had to be obedient in sacrifice. However, I learned through my relationship with Nate that surrender is not always painful. In fact, it can be joyful!

When I truly surrendered control to the Lord, it was because I wanted to. It was because I was completely assured that He could take care of us way better than Nate or I could. I was excited to entrust us to the Lord because He is always faithful. That moment was a celebration. That moment was joyful. And because of joyful surrender, fear has not permeated our relationship nearly as much as it had in the past. Praise God that joyful surrender can bring faithfulness in relationships!

Holiness

The second thing He has been teaching me about faithfulness in relationship is being faithful in holiness.

If Nate and I are not striving for holiness, then what is the purpose of our relationship? If we are not pursuing righteousness in Christ, then we are pursuing selfish pleasure, lustful desires, sexual impurity, and ultimately, death to our relationship. To be really honest, all relationships struggle with these sins, whether married or unmarried. Granted, it is a whole lot easier to sin sexually in a dating relationship, because sexual acts committed outside of a marriage covenant are sin. Nate and I struggle with this. We struggle with lust and with boundaries and with maintaining purity. I think this is the hardest test to my faithfulness in my relationship with Nate.

The most faithful thing I can do for Nate is to be faithful to God in holiness. Let me type that again so I make sure I get it: The most faithful thing I can do for Nate is to be faithful to God in holiness.

This transcends simply sexual purity; it encompasses not only purity but holistic integrity, godliness, and love from Jesus Christ. The purpose of Nate and I’s relationship (and we have expressed this together) is to help each other grow closer to Christ and to Christlikeness. When we keep our eyes on this purpose, we flourish. When we don’t, we sin. This is the test I am facing as I seek to be faithful in my relationship with Nate.

Respectful Vision

The third lesson God is teaching me, and the most recent, is the idea of having respectful vision towards Nate. I am faithful to Nate when I respect him for all that he is and all that he is becoming through Christ. Not only that, but as a future wife (to him or to anybody), I want to be a visionary that can see my spouse through the eyes of Christ.

A respectful visionary is someone who can see a person through the eyes of Christ for who they are and who they can become through the transforming work of Jesus Christ. This is easier said than done. How often have I looked at Nate and imagined him becoming someone that I wanted him to be, rather than who God wants him to be. Oftentimes I have expected things from Nate that have not only left me disappointed, but they have crushed him in the process. This is why I included the word “respectful” to describe the word “visionary.” To be a visionary is to see all of the possibilities and potential in someone or something; to be a respectful visionary is to see the possibilities and potential that God has in store for that someone or something.

I am learning how to respect Nate in a way that upholds him to the image of God he is created in, not the image I would like to impose on him. I have let go of expectations and instead have grasped onto encouragement. By doing so, I begin to treasure the things that God has uniquely gifted Nate with, like his friendly personality, his boundless energy, and his passionate willingness to serve the Lord and others. Seeing him through the eyes of Christ helps me appreciate him for who he is, and this, in turn, helps me encourage him and empower him to continue striving to become the man of God he has been created to be. By doing so, I am dedicated to walking with Nate as he walks toward Christ, and vice versa. This is what it looks like to be faithful in relationship.

I am sure you have learned much about faithfulness in your marriage relationship, family relationships, and even friend relationships. What does it look like to live faithful in the church? My prayer is that my reflections may help you remember the lessons God has taught you through your relationships with others. May we seek to be faithful to the very people God has entrusted to us through joyful surrender, commitment to holiness, and respectful vision.