Reading this article last night brought to mind that for some, dating is considered an important step towards marriage. It was for me when I was a young man, and I suspect for many other young men coming from a conservative background like myself. However, as in all things, one must find a balance in living while attempting to discover love, life, and self-identity.
For the more serious minded, or thoughtful young man, it is best kept in mind that dating isn't courtship, and courtship isn't engagement or betrothal, even as engagement isn't marriage. Each has its own stages as a relationship proceeds from the unfamiliar to the familiar; from the isolated towards a friendship; from a friendship to a union of some kind; until reaching a nexus or plateau of personal commitment to one another based upon gathered learning experiences, disappointments, failures, and mis-starts.
The author below thoughtfully juxtaposes dating vs. courtship as important initial steps towards marriage that should not be rushed into by hastily intermixing each stage's purposes and constitutions. Dating is dating. It is not courtship. And courtship cannot proceed until one has taken the time to date either one or more persons. Here, the suggestion is to casually date more than one individual... and generally, this is a good idea. It avoids personal despair, or grief, confusion or poor judgment, when rushing one stage to another to only later discover the heart was too optimistic, or too self-deprecating, or too anxious, to allow the significant other time to love you back.
Overall, relationships need to be tempered by time, event, circumstances, and livelihood, among other pre-conditions. To not allow a relationship to evolve and mature is to not give yourself - or your girlfriend or boyfriend - the time necessary to adjust to yourself, your family, your own circumstances, needs and wants. Taking the time to develop a relationship allows necessary time with God to complete in you His plans and purposes. It provides a couple the depth, savvy, wisdom, and insights they may need to moving forward in a way that may blend their own lives, families, friendships, and livelihood, with your own.
So then, as in all things, even in conditions of the heart, be at peace with the Lord and His Spirit. Trust in God and be content with who you are. Do not try to become somebody you are not. Accept and love yourself even as the Lord loves you.
August 19, 2014
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