That time of year when guys finally exit their winter hibernation and start pursuing the girls of their dreams,
When local parks are filled with picnic baskets and blankets and rose bushes have gaping holes from spontaneous clippings,
When we are ever so grateful that daylight savings time gives us one extra hour of natural light in which to stare into those stunning baby blue eyes,
And when it feels like everyone is “SO HAPPY” for us yet we are keenly aware that behind those pasted smiles they are not exactly thrilled with us, our significant other, or the combination of both.
Of course, we feel validated when we read posts telling the singles to chill and quit giving us such a hard time. If everyone would just mind their own business, then life would be so much better for all parties involved, right?
It’s true that we will never be able to make everyone happy–nor should we even try. But if our relationships, like our individual lives, are to be a reflection of the glory of God, then we might owe it to all aforementioned parties involved (Jesus included) to pause and evaluate them from time to time, whether they are brand new or well-worn in.
1. Are we isolating ourselves?
Since there are only so many hours in the day, and much of those are spent on school, work, and/or other obligations, it’s only natural that we would want the few remaining hours of our free time to be practicing our love languages with our significant other. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we are the exception to accountability because we are so busy and we are doing just fine. Accountability and boundaries are for every person at every stage of his/her life. Isolating ourselves and not being receptive to the Truth that others can shine into our blind spots places us in dangerous territory.
2. Are we making an effort to get to know each other’s friends?
Life would be so much simpler if we could just start from scratch and make new couple friends instead of integrating our old ones into our lives. But no one said life would be easy, and there is a very real possibility that our boyfriend or girlfriend is not going to love every person we’ve ever been friends with. However, we have a rich history with the people who have walked with us through our heartaches and joys, and they deserve more from us than a slow fade. They’re also the very ones we’re going to need desperately if he/she doesn’t turn out to be quite as amazing as we initially thought.
3. Are we sensitive and discerning?
It’s easy for us to get so absorbed in the glorious bliss of our own love lives and lose some of our awareness for others. If we stop and look around, we might find that we have put people in a position to keep up with us and we have very little awareness of what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes our parents just want to have us over for dinner alone just to catch up with their kid. Or, our roommate could really use an afternoon on the golf course with his old golfing buddy. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves so wrapped up in our own little love bubble and we’ll forget that there are needs around us that are going unmet. We also need to be sensitive to those around us who are not dating and are having a difficult time with it. Our inability to stand in the same room with our significant other without constantly rubbing or touching him/her doesn’t help matters any. To be fair, that doesn’t mean it’s “hands off,” but it does mean we should be sensitive to what’s appropriate.
4. Who are we listening to?
It seems that everyone has a timeline for us when we start a new relationship—when we should start holding hands, when we should have our first kiss, when to drop the “L” word, when to head down the aisle. Trying to achieve certain markers within certain time frames can be stressful. We just need to remember to listen to His voice in matters of the heart. And, yes, sometimes He speaks through the wise counsel of others, but we need to be sure that we’re listening to wise counsel and not the noisy chatter of the rest of the world. We need to remember to have fun and be fully present in whatever stage of dating we are in.
The conclusion is the same whether we’re single, dating, engaged, or married: We don’t handle every situation perfectly, but we can do better. And, thankfully, whether we do well or stumble, there’s always grace.
*Photo credit: BubbleFishh