Archive | August, 2012

He Does Not Complete Me…Nor Should He OR The Unfortunate Role Of The Golden Calf In A Dating Relationship

15 Aug

Couple-dom looks great and it IS! I just don’t want to make this guy my end all be all and he doesn’t want to make me his either!

If I’ve learned one thing about dating it is this: there are no guarantees. I’m not trying to say this to sound cynical, it’s just I’ve seen many friends (myself included) start out in seemingly amazing relationships only to sit with them months later as they try to process what went wrong after it’s ended.  Just because something starts out good (what new relationships don’t),  doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good fit and that it’s going to end in couple-dom, marriage, kids, and (insert your dream here). And yet it’s easy for us to hope, dream, and do about anything to make dead-end relationships work.

Once upon a time in the not so distant past, I was the desperate girl trying to get a guy to love me. Maybe it was my own personal need for validation. Perhaps I wasn’t able to fully see what I was worth.  Chalk it up to insecurity, neediness, wanting so badly to be in a successful relationship that I would gloss over major problems. Maybe I was sick of waiting on God for a good fit that I just tried to trailblaze my own path…again and again…and yes, again.

Consistently, I would find myself in a position of dropping everything, developing new hobbies just because of a guy, forgetting about friends, putting my dreams on hold and trying to cobble together mine with his…basically changing my whole life so that it revolved around him all in hopes that I would obtain the secure and unchangeable fact that he wanted me and only me.  Despite my greatest attempts, this did not work. Why?

Why doesn’t it work when you throw yourself at someone and do everything he/she wants, just for the sake of validation? Why doesn’t  it work to just let yourself fall head over heels in love and stay there permanently?

It doesn’t work because that’s not the way that it’s supposed to be.  Certainly it’s not all bad.  Love is amazing. And relationships do take compromise, time, and energy. They aren’t just easy street. The problem comes when a relationship turn into idolatry.

Human relationships aren’t supposed to complete us because they can’t.  The operative word here is human.

We are messy and flawed.

We disappoint. We fail. Only one relationship can ever complete us.

Yep, been there, done this. Maybe it wasn’t a golden calf but still…

Only one god is meant to be worshiped by us and he’s not our boyfriend/girlfriend.

A few years ago, I heard a great sermon series about counterfeit gods.   No matter how we go through life, we follow something. We may not realize it, but we’re constantly putting something on an altar and worshiping it.  It may not be a golden calf  but maybe takes the shape of entertainment or technology. Food or beauty. Money. Fame.  Politics. Fitting in with our friends. Our favorite sports team. And sometimes it’s actually another person.  I know because I’ve done it.

I’ve stayed in relationships too long wanting the other person to fix me. I’ve hoped they would love me for me. I’ve stayed because I wrongly gave them parts of my heart and soul that didn’t belong to them and I felt that the knowledge they had of me would surely translate into a long-term love.  I’ve begged, sold my values down the river, traded “wait” for NOW, and so many other things.

I learned the hard way. But the point is, I’ve learned.

If we’re dating, we need to ask the hard questions. Am I worshiping this person or perhaps the idea of them? Am I being realistic? Am I staying in this relationship for the wrong reasons? What expectations do I have of this person and are they fair?

It’s hard to answer these questions without taking a sober look at our lives and patterns. When we do admit that yes, we may be putting this person or what they do for us on a pedestal, then what? How do we change? Is this salvageable? While it depends on the situation, I think there are some things we can do to help in the event that our significant others become idols to us.

1) Get a life! Seriously. When I have other plans with other friends,  a softball game to go to, work outs scheduled, or family commitments, this helps me realize the guy I’m dating is not the center of my world. In turn, he can actually miss me when I’m not around and I can stay true to things that were important to me before he came into the picture. If you don’t have hobbies outside of your relationship, really think about something you’ve always wanted to do and go try it! Can’t hurt and it may even make you seem even more interesting to the person you’re dating. Keeping your life while you pursue a relationship is only logical. The person you’re dating didn’t fall for a robot who follows them around, they fell for YOU. The you who has a fulfilling, great life in addition to them.

This is a trip I took with my friends. Sans boyfriend. When I came back from the trip, we really missed each other. Still glad I went though!

2) Keep Accountable.  I try to talk to my girlfriends, mentors, and wise family members who know me about my problem of making the guys I date into idols. I’m not perfect, but I’ve grown a lot. They will tell it to me straight if I’m spending too much time on the guy I’m dating. Plus, my boyfriend understands that I need my own time for me. I actually don’t want to make him the center of my life because that would be really boring. By not knowing everything he’s doing/thinking /feeling every day all day, it actually gives us something to talk about when we do get together.  And I give him time to process our relationship on his own, which almost always benefits me.

3)   Spend some time alone (preferably outside in a pretty place). I’ve found that these times of solitude and prayer were invaluable to me. When you can become aware of who you are in your relationship and actually have time to think about your behavior and how it’s working for you, you may realize some unhealthy patterns that have developed. Being silent and still as well as learning to journal out my feelings has almost always left me more invigorated and better able to communicate with God about these feelings and tackle my issues head on.  Also, there’s something about being alone in nature that makes me realize how small I am and how big God is.

4)  Be committed to growth. For example: If you start working with a charity or people group you’re passionate about, your world will grow.  Suddenly it won’t be about you and your relationship, it will be about serving others around you, seeing outside of yourself, and you may even realize how much you need God in the midst of that.  A few years ago, I ended a relationship just as I was growing very passionate about abolishing modern-day slavery. Putting my energy into that passion helped me realize that I had outgrown my relationship and it made me less afraid to end it knowing that there was more left in the world to do if the relationship didn’t work out.  It was one of the better realizations I could have had at that time in my life.

There’s no easy fix to this issue. My guess is, we battle some form of idolatry our entire lives. We are constantly asked to choose and we have a myriad of choices. How do we keep putting God in his rightful place whilst also pursuing relationships and dating? It’s not easy. I’ve only grazed the surface of this one. I’d love to hear your comments if you’d so choose to share. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Leave a comment below.

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