By Coleen York
Through most of high school and part of college I was actually pretty bad at relationships. And by that I mean I thought I was really good at them. If relationships were Pokémon cards, it may have seemed I was trying to collect (…or date) them all.
In hindsight it might appear worse to me than it actually was. But the point is, I didn’t sit around waiting patiently for the proverbial “one” God had for me. I’m not advocating dating around or dating people you know you really oughtn’t. In fact, if you have (or still are) waiting patiently for your prince or princess, I stand up and sincerely applaud you.
But I didn’t.
I knew he would eventually come, but I decided it was my job to track him down. Desperate to find him, I continually tried to convince myself I had, when I so clearly had not. Unfortunately, this led to compromising morally, sticking around for verbal and emotional abuse, and hurting other people (and myself) when I finally faced the music and realized I wasn’t where God wanted me, or with whom God wanted me.
This is why seeking God before entering into any relationship is so important. If you know in your heart it isn’t right, don’t do it. Save yourself (and them) a lot of problems and ultimately heartache by listening even when it’s hard.
But what if we didn’t do that? What if your story, like mine, is a lot messier? What does that mean for us?
I used to think that it meant I would have to go a certain amount of time being single before I could ever truly find the RIGHT one. It was like I had to pay a time tax on my previous relationship failings. I mean, if I were God (and thank Heavens I am not), that’s what I would do to make sure I had really learned my lesson. Or maybe we sabotage ourselves even when a good relationship does come around because we are convinced we are unworthy and undeserving.
Well … I hate to break it to you but we actually are undeserving. You can’t earn blessings by doing all the right things and forcing yourself to serve time for your previous mistakes. God didn’t give us a formulaic equation (which is also good because I am terrible at math) that says if you do this, this, this, and this, but also don’t do this, then I will give you THIS. That puts all the emphasis on you and what you can do and exactly no emphasis on God’s grace.
Let me get one thing straight, that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind and do whatever you feel like with whomever you feel like doing it. As I mentioned above, that only leads to painful emotional scarring that you will eventually have to face if you ever want a healthy relationship. HOWEVER, regardless of whether you have waited patiently and trusted God to bring your spouse, or if you played the field a little too much, you can’t earn a good relationship. God may want some time alone with you to help you heal from past hurts, but that isn’t a prison or a punishment.
Marriage and relationships (the way God intended) are blessings. You cannot personally produce a blessing by following a formula. And you cannot cancel God’s grace because you constructed the Empire State Building of dating disasters.
Jesus did not say, “Go and sin (or date) no more for 3-6 months before I will offer you forgiveness.” Grace is immediate. No matter how recent the sin, you do not have to serve time for God’s grace. He offers it freely to repentant hearts without delay. No time tax required. Jesus already paid the price for ALL of your sins and blunders on a cross over 2,000 years ago.
Do not hold yourself in bondage to your past mistakes when Christ has already set you free. Do not carry the burdens of a past broken relationship into a new God-given relationship.
Titus 3:4-5- But when kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.