It takes real maturity to be able to maintain a courtship/engagement relationship with someone while endeavoring to maintain a totally committed love relationship with Jesus Christ. When you are growing in love with someone, I think it’s very important to never leave your first love (Revelation 2:4). The Lord is our first love. Honestly, I had to consistently remind myself to keep first things, first. The excitement of courting, dating, talking, and preparing for intimacy, can cause your heart to shift. At times I had to remind myself not to worship the creation, but the creator. I was so excited about Gareth and our time of coming together that I had to check myself. Was I excited about going to church to hear the Word? Or, was I excited about coming to church because he was going to be there and we were going to have a date night afterwards? I had to constantly guard my heart and maintain the proper focus. I encourage you to do the same. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the relationship, but don’t allow it to consume you. The Lord wants us to be happy and enjoy the process, but I think we need to be cautious about not allowing marriage (and all of its glamour) to become an idol. I certainly desired to be married and wanted Gareth to be my husband, but I had to make sure I had no other ‘gods’ in my life. Exodus 20:3 clearly states, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” I was not going to worship the idea of marriage and make it a ‘god’ in my life. Unfortunately, when people are not walking in real maturity this temptation is difficult to resist. Consequently, they can be easily caught up in the excitement of the moment and not heed God’s voice when He challenges them to slow down, break-up or even re-evaluate the relationship. Courtship and engagement require maturity, because there are times when it is determined that the person you are dating/courting/considering for marriage is no longer meeting the expectations or qualifications necessary to continue with the relationship. Will you obey the voice of God and walk away? Or, will you ignore the voice of God and regret the decision later? To compromise now, is to compromise for a lifetime. To ignore the voice of God in this season, will perpetuate future seasons of despair, disgust and depression. Trust me. I have been there and it’s not worth it. The enemy will torment you with thoughts of discouragement and shame. During our courtship and engagement process, we really tried to allow God to speak to us independently, despite being enamored by the sparkle of marriage and a big wedding. I caution you, do not become so consumed with envisioning and planning a wedding that you neglect your first love and begin to worship the wedding day. I challenge you to walk in such maturity.
One evening after a pretty interesting drama-filled episode involving another young woman, I simply had a real, face to face conversation with Gareth. We had only known each other for a few weeks, and we were still ‘friends’ trying to figure out if we wanted to take our friendship down the road of courtship and exclusivity. Admittedly, Gareth had many women that were in his past, and I was well aware of them. I was cool with that, because I had a full revelation of 2 Corinthians 5:17 which states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” He was brand new, with a clean slate as far as I was concerned. My challenge, however, was whether or not he could manage the consequences of his past relationships, such that they didn’t interfere with our potentially new found relationship. That day, I recall feeling upset, confused, irritated and rather annoyed by how another young woman was disrespectful to me, in his presence. I didn’t curse him out. I didn’t curse her out. I didn’t act a fool. I didn’t get nasty. (Never let em’ see you sweat!!!) As a mature woman of God, I engaged him in an honest conversation that evening. I respectfully articulated that I valued the anointing of God on my life and refused to be involved in any petty ‘high-school’ episodes. (Now, I know you are thinking…why did I have to address this issue?) I share this story, because there will be episodes where you will need to operate in honesty and maturity as well. You will need to openly communicate, be firm and unwilling to compromise on what you deserve and how you should be treated. You are worth the wait! In Gareth’s defense, this episode was not his fault (it was the fault of the other young lady and her immature attitude), yet ultimately it became his responsibility. And, as a genuine man of God he took responsibility for that which was not even his fault. He “MAN-ed up”! His respect for the anointing on my life and our friendship caused him to respond with a sincere apology. He vowed to never put me in that situation again. He has since, kept that promise. We established such boundaries early on, and committed to maintain them. This requires real maturity.
It takes real maturity to be able to carefully navigate the waters of such a relationship and recognize that you have areas of your own personal life that require growth, development, and transformation. My relationship with Gareth revealed areas where I needed to work on my attitude, my love walk, my discipline and my selflessness. I had to take a careful inspection of the unsupervised areas of my life. After all, someone was about to come into the innermost parts of my life, my home, my finances, my family and my faith. Was I truly prepared for that? Are you prepared for that? Being single for 34 years created an independent, self-centered, me-driven disposition that needed to be submitted to God and reformed into an inter-dependent, Christ-centered, others-driven disposition. It takes maturity for us to allow the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts and do a work that only He can do. According to Philippians 1:6 MSG, “…there has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God Who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Spiritual maturity is a process that never ends and is necessary for successful relationships.
This excerpt is taken from The Best Sex of My Life: Confessions of A Sexual Purity Revolution by Lindsay Marsh Warren, MD. To purchase this book visitwww.iamworththewait.com