The Difference Thanks Makes

As we get close to November and start thinking towards Thanksgiving (and before the 30-Day Thankfulness Challenges start popping up on Facebook), I’ve been noticing thankfulness in daily life.

Now, I usually think of thankfulness in terms of thankfulness to God – and generally get frustrated when the focus is on thankfulness towards other people (don’t even get me started on what I think of how “the pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians on the first thanksgiving.”)

And thankfulness to God is essential. He is, after all, the source of every good gift (See James 1:17).

But being thankful to God doesn’t preclude thankfulness to others. In fact, I think thanking God should naturally flow out into thanking others. As I become aware of God’s gifts, I become aware of how he uses others as gifts in my life. That’s when I can give thanks, like Paul did in Romans 16:3-4: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.”

Recognizing that God never commands being thankful to anyone other than Himself, I still think that thankfulness to others can be a powerful part of the Christian life. Why?

Because even if we aren’t commanded to be thankful to others, we are commanded to encourage one another (See 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14). And thankfulness is hugely encouraging.

Because even if we aren’t commanded to be thankful to others, we are commanded to love one another (See John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:2 and others). And thankfulness is nothing if not loving.

The best example I can think of for thankfulness to others (and how it encourages and demonstrates love) is my husband.

I cook dinner for us almost every evening, and it almost never fails that sometime, in the course of the meal or the evening, Daniel will thank me for making dinner.

When I make a phone call or post a letter or run an errand for Daniel, he makes sure to thank me – verbally, in a text, in an email.

I sometimes often get discouraged with my housekeeping abilities or my time-management skills or a dozen other real or perceived faults. And almost always, Daniel’s response is thanks.

“Thank you for taking care of our daughter all day.”

“Thank you for doing dishes.”

“Thank you for folding the laundry.”

“Thank you for growing us tomatoes.”

“Thank you for listening to me.”

It’s not big things that he’s thanking me for. If I chose, I could brush off his thanks with a “no problem.” And those things aren’t a problem (usually). But that’s not the point.

The point is that when he thanks me, I feel encouraged. I feel strengthened. I feel loved.

That is the difference thanks makes.

And it challenges me to do the same for others.

Love Month Revisited

Years ago, I started posting almost yearly rants in February–pushback against the yearly “Love Month” I endured in youth group, first as a student, then as a sponsor.

My first post (in 2007) took issue with the message to single teens that “God has a perfect mate out there for you.”

I continue to think that promising teens a mate is unwise and anti-Scriptural. God doesn’t promise all of us a spouse. But, with a few years under my belt (and a month to go before I marry), I have a new beef with that statement.

There is no such thing as a perfect mate.

Marriage is a union of two sinners, people who even at their best are imperfect and unloving. God may have a spouse for you, but that spouse will not be perfect. Rather, that spouse will be an imperfect agent by which God makes you perfect (sanctifies you).

In 2008, I complained about the content of my youth group Love Month, and gave a short list of suggestions for talking with singles:

  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • Redirect their focus back to what God has made clear is their calling right now
  • Be willing to speak frankly, and listen openly about the many issues they’re dealing with.
  • Above all, work to keep the focus on God–and their relationship with God.

My rant was probably over the top–but I think my suggestions are still worth listening to.

In 2010, I had a full blown extravaganza, posting daily on “Love” related issues.

I wrote extensively about recognizing God’s pursuit of us, about learning contentment in singleness, about living a productive single life. I stand by all those things. The years I have spent as a single woman have been years God has used to conform me into His image. I would not be the woman I am now, or be able to experience the joy that I now experience to the same degree had I not had these years of singleness.

I would add a few words to the advice I’ve given before.

Enthrone Christ.

Marriage should be esteemed. It is a good thing. But Christ is to be esteemed above all. Yes, you may need to dethrone marriage–but, far above that, we all need to enthrone Christ still more and more in our hearts.

I also said a bit about intimacy and dating. Re-reading what I’d written, I have a couple of comments:

  • On levels of intimacy
    I am pretty committed to this paradigm. I am amazed as I see how my relationship with Daniel progressed through each of these stages–and how my affection for him grew as we shared first our interests, then our opinions, then our hearts, then finally (and thus far, in a limited way) our bodies with each other.
  • On No-Regret Relationships
    I gave some general principles for no-regret relationships, which I still believe are sound. Then I gave specific tips for men and for women in relationships. If you will, please allow me to brag a bit on my beloved: Daniel did a fantastic job of leading with wisdom, defining the relationship, guarding my heart, and being chivalrous. I couldn’t ask for a better man to follow–first through our dating season and now as we (shortly) embark on marriage.

Thank you, dear readers, for being patient with my many rants and raves and occasionally reasoned arguments regarding this topic. Thank you for affirming me as a single woman and for praying that God would bring me a husband. God has used you to bless me immeasurably during my season of singleness.

Reflections on the Frog Prince

Relationship advice abounds, little of it sound.

For instance, have you ever heard this one?

“You have to kiss a few toads before you find a prince.”

It’s an apt analogy but awful advice.

Some men are toads, some are princes.

You want the princes, you don’t want the toads.

All good so far.

Problem comes with the implicit acceptance that kissing toads just comes with the territory.

Um, hello!?!

Toads give you warts.

So do toady men, when you get too close.

I’ll wait to kiss until I’m sure I’ve got a Prince.

Just sayin’.

Thankful Thursday: Folks

What would life be like without folks?

It’d probably be cleaner, neater, more productive…

and positively meaningless.

‘Cause people…

People are important.

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This week, I’m thankful for…

Friday night jewelry folks–two of my favorite jewelry ladies, my two favorite sisters, my favorite mama(!), two friends and a friend’s mama…all of us playing with jewelry

Friday night fellowship folks–a friend and I at coffee, fellows from her flock and mine, giddy girls eager to see me and share their stories, giggles and covert glances at guy(s) over apple cider and coffee

Saturday afternoon helpful folks–strong men carrying washing machines up stairs, red-headed boys (and girl) following behind, sisters buying tools, fellows offering to loose my bolt, a friend who give rides to get a tool that fits and then getting under the car to help with the bolt we still couldn’t get

Saturday evening dice-playing (and hamburger grilling) folks–Greek-toe noticing men, glad-to-see-you-gals, girls on the dock, bell ringing fun, grilling in the rain with tattoos on her feet, eating on the deck and trying not to be overcome with awkwardness

Sunday morning flock folk–passing my notes for my sister to copy, discussing creation with gals I love, praying together for the things on our heart, going over and into the fellowship hour

Sunday afternoon steak-eating folks–gathering materials, buttering asparagus, seasoning steak with company secrets, guys grilling with an errant thermometer, guys and gals together digging in to much too much food

Monday morning stand up folks–catching up on a weekend’s events, laughter and side conversations across the room, being a part of a terrific team, feeling confident about where we’re going

Tuesday all-day traveling folks–residents who remember my name, others who love to hear about my brothers the Marines, staff with smiles, settling into routines

Wednesday morning weights folks–being on the same page with the people I work with, having “Aha” moments amidst a meeting, talking about daughters and dates, daring to Facebook “friend” people at work

Wednesday evening Bible study folks–sharing more secrets, studying the Word, spending time chatting afterward, subjects that take on a life of their own, “Latika”

Thursday afternoon support staff folks–the nurse on one station who delivers reweights promptly, the aides on another who jumped to it and completed three weights within fifteen minutes after I asked for them, dietary staff who all pitched in to make things work when a cook got sick

Thursday evening embroidery folk–jokes with the kids while I’m picking them up, food from their mother along with shop-talk, comfortable conversation with embroidery hoops in hand, waving good-bye after a nice night at home.

I have a full, full life…busy, yes, but good busy.

My life is full of people… people who encourage me, bless me, stretch me. People who laugh with me, who pray for me, who sew with me. People who reach down to me, who look up to me, and who walk alongside me.

My life is full of people.

And for that I am most thankful.

Notta Piranha

My posts recently–and some of the comments I’ve been making elsewhere–might lead you to believe that I’m in full piranha mode.

Just waiting to sink my teeth into the nearest available fish (except for the much-sighed-over lack of fish in this particular sea.)

But I’m notta piranha.


I’m not racing out, ready to hook the nearest single male into marrying me.

I understand that most often friendship comes before dating, which comes before marriage.

And I’m okay with that.

But unlike some of my friends (who are at different stages of life than I), I am not looking simply for some good guy friends, some “brothers” to hang out with.

I am looking for a husband.

Does this mean that I’m going to write off the guys who I don’t deem as marriage material and choose not to be their friends?

Absolutely not.

Brothers are wonderful. Guy friends are nice. It’s just that I’m unwilling to hide what I really want. I don’t want to pretend that I’m just interested in friendship.

I’m notta piranha, I’ve just tired of giving the impression that I’m justa pal.

Are you my brother?

“But he’s like a brother” she said.

“Except that he’s not.” I thought.

It’s a sentiment I hear a lot–and use plenty myself. I talk of brothers and sister in Christ. I quote the Scripture about treating young women as sisters. I talk about not causing my “brother” to stumble.

But sometimes I think we take the analogy (or even the spiritual reality) too far in our everyday lives.

We forget, perhaps, that there’s at least one critical distinction between a brother-in-the-Lord and a brother-by-blood.

You can’t marry a brother-by-blood.

Which allows a certain liberty to be taken in thought and action.

I don’t really think much about whether my brothers-by-blood like me or how they’re reading my behavior towards them. I don’t have to. My siblings all know that none of our intentions towards one another are sexual–or heading towards marital intimacy.

As such, I am often candid with my brothers-by-blood when discussing my heart or even my body. I share my heartaches with them. I talk about my cycles in their presence (not that they’re ever too pleased by that line of conversation.) Likewise, I punch, pinch, tease, or hug my brothers-by-blood–with little thought to how it is perceived. So what if I sit on my little brother when he beats me to the chair I wanted?

But this is not how I ought to treat my brother-in-the-Lord who is not my brother-by-blood.

Even if my intention towards my brother-in-the-Lord is completely platonic, there is no guarantee that our relationship will always be platonic.

There is nothing biologically keeping me from having a more than platonic relationship with my brother-in-the-Lord.

And there’s nothing biologically keeping him from thinking or feeling towards me in a manner that is not platonic.

Which means that treating my brother-in-the-Lord as a brother means more than just treating him the exact way I treat my brothers-by-blood.

I need to not lust after him (just as I would not lust after my brothers-by-blood)–but beyond, I need to take deliberate steps to guard his heart (the heart that is not guarded by the natural platonicity that siblings-by-blood have towards one another.)

I need to act deliberately towards my brothers-in-Christ.

It’s not enough to dismiss them as “but he’s like a brother.”

He’s also a single man that could potentially marry me (or want to).

Which means I need to treat him not quite like a brother.

I realize that some people do struggle with physical attraction towards their brothers-by-blood. In these cases, extra caution should be taken with them as well. But the normative experience is that siblings not only have the implicit understanding that they cannot marry by law but explicit biological deterrents to sexual awareness of their siblings. One famous study found that women were “turned off” by the sweat of their biological relations, while the sweat of unrelated men (believe it or not) can be aphrodisiac (related to pheromones found in said sweat.)

A Dose of Cold, Hard Reality

“There is no such thing as a perfect man,” Evan basically tells her, “and if there was, he wouldn’t marry you.”

Lori Gottlieb was on her way to a new way of looking at dating and marriage–thanks to a dose of cold, hard reality.

She shares her journey in Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. (See my review here.)

Along the way, she provides a dose of reality for her readers–and I couldn’t stop noting down fantastic quotes.

“Clampitt matches people like this: ‘Number one,’ she said, ‘I look at whether the two people have common relationship goals. Number two, I look at values. Things like independence, family, religion, loyalty. Number three, what are the key qualities this person needs? You get no more than five. Things like, he has to be very intelligent. Number four, I look at shared interests. Interests are great because it’s bonding and stimulating and fun to share those, but the other things are more important for the long-term. I put shared interests last for that reason.”

My dad said something similar when I was reeling from a breakup with a guy with whom I shared a lot of interests. Dad, of course, was saying it as an “other fish in the sea” type comment. But the fact remains, shared interests are only one aspect of a happy marital relationship–and a small aspect at that.

“Ferman says she took immediate physical chemistry off her list when she realized that, given a certain level of attraction, she could find someone very attractive over time.”

I tried to explain this concept to a friend. It took a while, but I think she eventually got it. At least for women, physical attraction is about a lot more than the physical. Physical attraction is just as much a function of shared values, experiences, thoughts, emotions.

You say you won’t date someone you’re not attracted to, I ask how you know you’re not attracted to him. Do you know him well enough to know that, really?

No, I’m not saying you should marry someone you’re not physically attracted to. But I am saying that there is a very real sense in which someone you are not attracted to initially becomes very attractive as you get to know them. And I’m not talking about “He has a beautiful mind–so what if I can’t stand his body?” I’m talking about real, honest to goodness physical attraction–but physical attraction that doesn’t exist until other connections have been made.

“So when these matchmakers ask their clients to consider the guy who is too-this or not-that-enough, they’re actually saying something quite simple: You can have rigid expectations and try to find someone who meets them, or you can let go of preconceived notions and find someone you’ll fall in love with.”

I’ve seen the lists a mile high, with dozens of non-negotiables. It’s the Goldilocks phenomenon, except that there’s no “just right” to be found. The problem is, these lists might be lists of what we want, but they’re only occasionally lists of what we need. In the quest for the fantasy man, women are not even giving a first glance to the many real men who might be around–and just might be “Mr. Right”–but who fail to live up to the standards of the non-existent fantasy man.

“Dr. Broder says he sees a heightened sense of entitlement that previous generations didn’t have. Our mothers might have wished, but certainly didn’t expect, that their husbands would constantly want to please them, be attracted to them, entertain them, enjoy sharing all their interests, and be the most charming person in the room. Instead, they knew that marriage involved failing health, aging, boredom, periods of stress and disconnection, annoying habits, issues with children, and hardships and misunderstandings of all sorts. But many women today seem to be looking for an idealized spiritual union instead of a realistic marital partnership.”

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a big fan of Gary Thomas’s book Sacred Marriage? Well, I am. The major question that book asks is “What if God intended marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy?”

If you’re looking for a marriage in which you can continue living as you please without having to make adjustments, without having to be sanctified, without having to love sacrificially, you’re sadly mistaken about the reality of married life. Marriage requires you to learn selfless love, to lay down your life for and submit to your spouse. The quest for the “perfect” man belies this truth–and sets up marriages for failure. Because even if you manage to find the “perfect man”–and he decides to marry you, marriage is still going to be a challenge, it’s still going to be a process of sanctification.

“If this sounds unromantic, when I look at my friends’ marriages, with their routine day-to-dayness, they actually seem far more romantic than any dating relationship might be. Dating seems romantic, but for the most part it’s an extended audition. Marriage seems boring, but for the most part it’s a state of comfort and acceptance. Dating is about grand romantic gestures that mean little over the long term. Marriage is about small acts of kindness that bond you over a lifetime. It’s quietly romantic.

Compared to the “dream world” of chick flicks and romance novels, reality can seem pretty cold, pretty hard. But compared to the reality that living in the dream world creates, facing reality is a lot more pleasant.

Daddy Dates

I’m sure I’ve said before that I don’t have tons of dating experience. I chose not to buy into the casual dating atmosphere of high school–and was pretty school focused throughout college.

Now, I just love it when someone or something asks about my “favorite date” or “ideal date” or what I envision as the “perfect date.”

Uh, I don’t know.

Can’t say that I’ve dated around enough to get some sort of ideal vision in my head, divorced from WHO I’m enjoying something with, that is.

My most regular date has been my dad. We’ve been enjoying daddy-daughter dates off and on for five or so years. It started out as lunch dates, just having lunch once a week and talking. We worked for the same department of the University for a number of years and could both get reduced-rate meals at the cafeteria. It made for a nice little break for both of us–and didn’t cost either of us much at all.

Now that I’m employed by a different department and don’t have reduced-rate meals, we’ve varied things up a bit. Sometimes we still do lunch and we just pay full-price for my meal, but just as often we’ll choose something else.

About a month ago, we put in part of my dad’s garden together. Dad tilled, stretched the lines, and dug the furrows. I planted the corn. It was great. We just talked and enjoyed life together.

Last night, we took a leisurely little six mile bike ride and then settled in at my parent’s house to watch “Elizabeth”. On our bike ride, we talked life, blog reading, Microsoft’s market share, and the latest in science and news. Then we talked our way through the movie too, fast-forwarding when it included some gratuitous sex (WHY do they do that?), rewinding when we missed a line or which character was which, and occasionally pausing so we could make some popcorn or use the restroom. Of course, we had the subtitles on.

We have shared interests, we enjoy talking with one another. Our “dates” are generally pretty successful whatever we do.

Sure, sometimes our interests don’t align as perfectly. One night, we went to an art show that my cousin was showing a painting at. I enjoy art galleries, but it’s not really my dad’s favorite thing. What’s more, I really like to get up close to a piece of art and then move far away from it and then explore it from a dozen different angles. I like to wonder about the craftsmanship and the techniques and the tools. This show was pretty busy and I didn’t have opportunity to do that–and my art-viewing-style is rather solitary in the first place. My style, the atmosphere there, and my Dad’s apathy towards art combined to make that date less-than-ideal. But we made up for it by going to a coffee house and chatting over coffee (Dad) and a steamer (me).

So what is a perfect date?

I think it must depend on who you’re having the date with. The perfect date is one which allows both individuals to enjoy their shared interests and to relate to one another. And since everyone has different interests and relates in different ways, that “date” isn’t always the same for everyone.

In short, I don’t know what a “perfect date” looks like, but I do know what I enjoy in my “daddy dates”. I enjoy talking with my dad and sharing our common interests. And I’d imagine that’s what I’d want to do on a “real” date too.

What about you? What’s your vision of a “perfect date”? Have you ever done regular “daddy dates” or “friend dates” or something of the sort?

I’ve LOVED it

Love Month Banner

Thank you for sharing this Love Month with me.

This has been cathartic.

I’ve written over 25,000 words on the topic of love and purity and relationships and dating this month. The sad part is, this has only been the tip of the iceberg.

I appreciate your willingness to jump into my head for a while and to get a one-sided response to the one-sided messages I abhorred growing up.

For those of you who agreed with what I said and want to hear the rest of the iceberg–come chat with me, stop back in next year, and buy my book when it comes out. After all, with 25,000 words already written, I might as well just finish the book. (Okay, so the last two of those were a joke. Okay not really. No really. Well, I don’t know. Stick around, at any rate.)

For those of you who disagreed with what I said but didn’t comment–shame on you! We would have loved to have your comments. Actually, I’d still like your comments. So go back and comment, or e-mail me, or tell me about it in person. I’d like to continue to grow in this area–and learn both what’s helpful and what’s totally NOT helpful about what I say.

Is there something I didn’t address that you’d like to see addressed? Something you have expertise in? Something you think I might have expertise in? (Yeah, I doubt it!) Tell me about it. I wasn’t completely kidding about maybe doing it again next year–and I’ll need new topics and new guest bloggers. I wasn’t completely kidding about writing a book either (it’s not like it’d be the first time I toyed with the idea of writing)–and I’d need plenty of feedback.

Love month is over today, but the dialogue about love, purity, and relationships doesn’t need to be.

Instead, we can continue to pursue God in the nitty-gritty of our daily lives–living as singles, as married folk, as individuals, as the church. We can continue to present our whole lives–including our relationships–to Him as a living sacrifice.

I pray that in this upcoming year, you will discover the love of God in a new and glorious way. I pray that you will emerge from this next year more completely satisfied in Him–regardless of where life takes you and with whom.

Once again. Thanks for reading. I’ve enjoyed writing.

In fact, I’ve LOVED it.

Breaking up is hard to do

Love Month Banner

I think a common misconception, in the Christian world, about dating is that if you do it right, you end up married.

You’ve been seeking God, He gives you the green light to date. You pray about whether you should date a specific person. You start dating. The goal is marriage. So a successful dating experience means you end up married.

It makes sense. It’s a logical argument. If the goal of dating is marriage, it is logical to say that a successful dating experience means you end up married. The problem is, one of the premises is false. The goal of dating is not marriage. The goal of dating is to determine whether you should be married to one another. As such, a successful dating experience either ends in marriage OR it ends in a decision that you should not be married to one another and a dissolution of the dating relationship.

I bring up this point because I worry that this misconception regarding the goal of dating has created some unhealthy attitudes in the church towards dating couples.

The first unhealthy attitude this engenders is the attitude that dating equals engagement without a ring. The assumption that dating will always end in marriage means that we take liberties we shouldn’t take. We start talking to either member (or both) of the couple about wedding plans and baby plans and how they’re going to rearrange their lives around each other. When we do this, we encourage the couple to skip right to marriage. But dating isn’t the time for that. They haven’t decided to marry one another yet. They’re in the process of deciding whether they should marry one another. We need to recognize this and encourage dating couples to spend the time they need in this important season of their life–and to use that time wisely instead of jumping ahead to the next season.

The second unhealthy attitude this misconception about the goal of dating engenders is the attitude that breaking up means a failed relationship. We presume that somewhere along the way, one or both of the parties involved did something wrong. If the decision to no longer date was mutual, we wonder if the couple rushed into dating without thinking it through properly. If the decision to no longer date was one sided, we jump to comfort the “dumped” by bashing the “dumper”. The problem is that neither of these is helpful or holy.

It is possible to date in a way that honors God–and still break up. And that breakup can be a good thing.

Sometimes, the breakup is an easy one–both individuals agree that they are not suited to one another and should not be married. They end the dating relationship amicably and with little awkwardness or pain. This breakup is a good thing. In this case, the church can rejoice with their brother and sister in the conclusion of a successful dating relationship. We don’t need to sweep this dating period under the rug as though it was somehow shameful. Instead, we should rejoice and celebrate this sorts of breakups.

Of course, the easy breakup is not the only kind of breakup. I’d daresay it’s far from the norm. Instead, I think it’s quite common that a breakup involves one person deciding not to pursue marriage when the other was just fine with continuing along the course to marriage. This breakup, too, is a good thing.

It’s harder for us to see the good in this kind of breakup. It’s hard for those involved in the breakup to see the good in this kind of breakup. But it is good. Even if only one of the two felt that they should not pursue marriage, this is good. Because if the one had denied that issue and pursued marriage nonetheless, it would not have caused the issue to become less–it would only have bound both individuals to one another in a covenant of marriage that God has commanded them to hold sacred. That issue would still be an issue, but now the two are “stuck with one another”, so to speak.

It’s harder for us to know how to deal with this kind of breakup, as well. After all, this type of breakup involves pain. Our gut reaction is to see this pain and to rush to comfort it, generally by justifying the one who is hurting and bashing the one who is not. And so we tell the hurting “dumpee” that this is so unfair, that the “dumper” was so wrong, that God has something better for the “dumpee” (with the undertone that the “dumper” obviously wasn’t that great.)

The problem with this reaction is that, well, it just isn’t always the truth. Yes, sometimes the reasons one party gives for ending the relationship don’t seem that important to others. Sometimes the party who ended the relationship carried out the relationship or the end of the relationship in a way that was unholy and hurtful. Sometimes the person who ended the relationship really wasn’t that much of a catch in the first place.

But sometimes the reasons were valid, the relationship (and the “dumping”) carried out in a loving way, and the person who ended the relationship really is an exceptional person.

And sometimes the “fault” in the breakup was shared by both persons, even if one of them was responsible for the end of the relationship. Maybe the person who ended the relationship isn’t the cause of the pain.

Breakups are hard. They’re painful. And our tendency is to assign blame. We want to say that because you hurt, someone must have hurt you. But we can experience pain without it being someone else’s fault (or even our own). Pain is simply a part of life in this fallen world in which we live.

So how should we (as a church) respond to a painful breakup? I don’t have all the answers. But I think we should acknowledge the pain that both parties are experiencing and weep with them, without casting blame. We should encourage both parties to rest in the sovereignty of God. However, we should be wary of presuming to speak for God’s purpose in the breakup. Yes, God has a purpose in it–but the purpose is rarely simple. It may take months or years to even get a glimpse of the purpose behind the breakup. So we weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, knowing that in it all, God has a purpose and His purpose is good.

Thus far, I’ve spoken to the church about how to deal with breakups. But what about the man or woman who has experienced a breakup? What are they to do?

I’ve officially decided that this is a big hole in the Christian literature. We have a hundred bazillion books about how to do dating right–but we don’t have anything that tells us how to breakup or heal from a breakup right.

What’s more, I don’t have much wisdom in this area. I’m wading through this just as you are–and I don’t have a lot of others who’ve gone before me to fall back on.

So all I can say, from this stage of the journey, is to trust God and seek Him first. It’s okay to mourn what you’ve lost (and both parties experience loss in a breakup–even if it was “one-sided”)–but never lose sight of the One you’ll never lose. Romans 8:38-39 says “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Christ is the treasure. Treasure Him, even as you mourn the loss of a lesser treasure.

Don’t let bitterness take root. Choose to see God’s providence and goodness, even in your pain. Don’t become angry at God. When He causes pain or allow pain, it is ultimately for our joy. We must not forget that. What’s more, don’t let yourself become bitter towards the other person. This will profit you nothing. Instead, forgive where forgiveness is needed and choose to continue to honor the other person as a brother or sister in Christ. This means being careful to guard what they entrusted to you during your time of dating. This means speaking good of them to others. This means being careful to preserve their heart and reputation in whatever dealings you have with them and others after your breakup.

Like I said, I’m not an expert at dating–and I’m certainly no expert at breaking up. But I can encourage us all to choose, in whatever state we are (whether single, dating, engaged, married, or broken up), to seek God first, to delight in Him, to find Him as our hope and consolation.