(Guest post today from Tiffany Elise Payne, part of the #womenwhoinspire series!)
Tis the season for pumpkin spice lattes, snow, mistletoe, and love. Long gone is the summer fling; say hello to boys in flannel button-ups. As the temperatures continue to drop, more and more men and woman search for that special someone to attend those ugly sweater parties and elephant gift exchanges. Like a present with a big fancy bow, it is easy to get wrapped up in the festivities; satisfied with the surface, but never realizing what’s beneath the sparkly paper. So what kind of love are you searching for this season?
From the beginning, God saw weakness in man without companionship. In Genesis 2:18, God says “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” While companionship is a true blessing and a gift from our God, it is also an added challenge and sacrifice. In 1 Corinthians 7:26-28 Paul warns young followers to “remain as you are. If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. But if you do get married, it is not a sin…However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.”
In his letters, Paul writes to warn against sexual immortality and lustful distraction from the opposite sex, but look even more carefully to what he says about relationships. Paul writes to explain that it is easier to focus on the Lord when you are responsible for only yourself because “an unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has ever been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and spirit” 1 Corinthians 7: 32-34.
These words were not intended to discourage the gift of companionship, but are a warning of work and sacrifice involved. When you are in a relationship, you must give up a level of independence and freedom for your partner. In Ephesians 5:21 God tells husbands and wives to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Regardless if you have been dating a few weeks, months, or years, relationships are full of compromise. As a Christian women God calls you to many challenges, and with a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband those challenges only become harder to accomplish. Like a runner in a marathon, the race becomes more difficult if one of your ankles is tied with another person for a three-legged race. Not only must you focus on your race, but now you must work with your partner to achieve your goals.
As an engaged Christian woman, I can confirm that my life problems were not solved upon getting a ring on my finger. In fact, in the last five months my life has become more and more complicated. As I struggle to find a balance between honoring my fiancé and honoring my God, I must continue to sacrifice my personal desires. Although there is a blessing of comfort and companionship that the Lord has placed in my heart, there is also a large task ahead of me to give up my independence and submit to my future husband so that I may honor God. If I have learned anything in my struggles it’s that relationship are not cake, rainbows, and sunshine. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey, I find that God is constantly teaching me weekly lessons on humility and selflessness. And to be honest, I don’t always want to listen; it takes a lot of self-control to truly put someone before yourself and do it willingly.
So, instead of praying for your prince to come, think about praying for God to prepare your heart for these challenges. Before dating this season, think about if you are ready to give up your personal desires, and put some one else’s needs before yourself the way Jesus laid down his life for you.
Tis the season of fun romance, but before you say yes to a boy, ask yourself a question: whose love are you seeking and is that really what your heart needs and wants?
I like what you say about humility and selflessness. For me, that’s the hardest part of any relationship, but also the most important. I believe that true love is selfless love, just like Paul said in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. But since humility is counter to our prideful human nature, it sure can be difficult at times. Thanks, and good luck.