I remember once being given the relationship advice “run towards God as fast as you can and eventually, you’ll look to your side and find someone running there with you.”
For some Christian couples, who meet in high school and get married while they’re at university, this advice is easy to follow. Their race is a 100m sprint.
But what if your race is starting to feel more like a lonely ultra-marathon, and you’re running out of electrolytes?
Maybe you didn’t expect to still be single at 25. Maybe the relationship you were sure would be heading towards marriage by now has stalled. Maybe you find yourself surrounded by plenty of attractive people, and a decent number of Christians, but woefully few attractive Christians.
If any of these situations, you might be asking yourself the question, “how do I trust God with my relationship status?” Here are 3 essential steps:
1. BE PRESENT
I remember once opening up to an old, holy man about my relationship woes. He listened patiently for several minutes, his eyes sparkling the entire time like there was a secret that only he and God were in on.
When I finished speaking, he smiled and proclaimed, “You’re too focused on Step 10.”
Seeing the question on my face, he continued, “When you’re focused on Step 10, you’re always thinking, how am I going to get there? What if I don’t make it? What do I need to do right now to guarantee that’s where I end up?”
“God,” he declared, “doesn’t want you to be thinking about Step 10. He wants you to be present here at Step 1.” Pointing emphatically to the ground at my feet, he continued, “THIS is where God is. God isn’t on Step 10 yet. God is HERE.”
I remember once when I was in high school, I asked a girl if she “wanted to go out” on a Friday afternoon. This, of course, did not literally mean “do you want to go out with me to a particular location?” That would be far too straightforward. Instead, this question in high school meant “do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
She said “yes,” but she had already made plans for the weekend, so we weren’t going to see each other until Monday.
That entire weekend, all I could think about was seeing this girl again on Monday and beginning our happy life together. I couldn’t enjoying spending time with my friends on Saturday or the family dinner I had on Sunday. All that time was just in the way, preventing me from getting to Monday as fast as I wanted. I was so focused on the future that I couldn’t enjoy the present.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t think about or plan for the future at all. Only that we mustn’t let our concerns about the future prevent us from fully entering into the present. It can be hard to deal with the uncertainty of your future relationship status, but God wants to do something in your life right here, right now. Make sure you’re present for it.
Not the most ground-breaking piece of advice, I know, but are you praying every day? Trusting someone requires a deep relationship with them, and a deep relationship requires constant communication.
If you don’t know how to start, start with just 10 minutes every day. Share your thoughts and desires with God. Do you want to be in a relationship? Is there something missing in your current relationship? Are you worried about the future?
Whatever it is that is occupying your thoughts, share that with God. Ask for His providence over your life and for the grace to trust Him more. If you’re feeling brave, ask God, “what is your will for me?” Listen for the answer, both silently in prayer and as you go about your daily life.
3. DON’T BE PASSIVE
Trusting God doesn’t mean staying still and expecting Him to drop everything we need into our lap. God has created us to exist in a world of natural laws, where our actions have consequences.
As the cliché goes, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”
If your life revolves around doing the same things with the same set of people and just praying that one day you’re going to bump into a gorgeous Christian specimen on the street who has just come back from missionary year in Malawi (but don’t worry, they sorted their financial stability before they left), your chances aren’t great.
If you aren’t content with your relationship status then get out there, tiger. Put yourself into situations where you are going to meet new people. Learn to salsa dance. Join a Christian dating website (and send me screenshots of all the cringe messages you receive).
If you’re focused on the present and you’re turning to God every day in prayer, then you’re in a great place to try something new on the relationship front.
I started this blog post with the relationship advice “run towards God as fast as you can and eventually, you’ll look to your side and find someone running there with you.” It can be hard advice to take onboard when it feels like you’ve been running alone for a looooooong time.
But if there’s one aspect of this piece of advice that I love, it’s this: you’re not going to go anywhere by staying still.