If you haven't heard lately, there are more and more people with fiancees lately (as well as ladies with babies). It's pretty cool if you ask me. Not even a year and a half ago, some of these people were looking around at the Feast saying that the church single's scene was just like high school. I didn't blame them necessarily, it can be, but I often wondered what made it that way. I mean, I have no real clue, honestly.
I was different (and still am in more ways than one) in that I got to get married to a great gal at an earlier stage in life. In a way, I did everything wrong growing up and still managed to get it right in the end. I dated way too early in and out of the church, mostly out, and pretty much threw anything that Mr. Weston told us to do out the window. Not out of rebellion, but because I was a romantic little moron. I would listen to the Righteous Brothers and sing Unchained Melody, dreaming of the day where I could be dancing with the woman of my dreams to it. I would go to Y.O.U. dances and look for that girl at age 13 and yet I was a tad too nerdy to get anyone to notice me... Or so it seemed. Desperate would be a good word for it. I would envy the guys who were able to ask a pretty girl to dance, but I was too dumb to figure out real confidence. "Everyone looks stupid, Mike, just go do it anyway," I would tell my 13-year old self today.
By 16, I gained that confidence, but still remained the same old romantic. And this time, I could play the romantic music. I taught myself how to write poems. I learned to dance at SEP camp when hardly anybody came back and knew how to swing dance (or they just didn't want to). I put my best foot forward to every girl that I figured would give me a chance, and some did. But with worldly girls, you have to take the good with the bad, and I did. After struggling with several relationships from 16 to my first two years in college, I had completely destroyed my innocence. Sad... And yet, the romantic inside me stayed lit up. Literally... See, romantics have this tendency to overindulge in love, in poetry, in music, in wine... Anyway, I didn't do myself any favors. To put it simply, not have a steady girlfriend in my life set my confidence level back to that of that silly little 13-year old kid. I realized that I wasn't being honest with myself or with the girls I was friends with. It was time to change.
From then on, I tried to be myself. I wasn't a poet, I was a nerd. I liked corny, warped humor. I liked Unchained Melody, but I also like Metallica and Phil Collins and UB40. The girl I was to marry had to fall in love with those sides of me. All of me. I could still be the romantic, but that wouldn't carry us through the long-term. However, I did later realize that the romantic in me always seemed to keep the opposite sex as a positive force in my life. I never let a bad relationship ruin my image of what a wonderful mate I would eventually need. I would hear a romantic song (stupid 80s music) and it would make me want a long-term companion. Someone to balance me out. A woman who sees me as I am and loves me for it. A marvelous lady who tells me that I'm worth so much to her. It's that loving nature that a woman had that I needed. In the end, it wasn't romanticism, it was a total appreciation for the significance a woman made in my life that made it such a powerful force.
They always say behind every good man is a great woman... You can't tell me that George Washington didn't have Martha at home telling him just how much of a stud he was. She also told him so about not brushing his teeth enough. Women keep us humble, too. :) Great men can't stay great if they're tyrants.
So I've given you a small slice of my life story on dating and marriage, but I wanted to draw a couple of conclusions from these stories. I've heard plenty of theories on dating in the church in the last several years. In the end, I can't honestly put myself in your position if you're currently single and wondering what's wrong with the opposite sex in this church. I was 21 when I met my future wife and 23 when I married. But I can tell you this: Fully appreciate what a man or woman could do in your life. Realize your short-comings and understand that God, through His endless sense of humor and mercy, will pair you up with someone who will change you, if you allow Him to. If you feel that the problem lies with the opposite sex, you're wrong. I've generally found that if someone sets me off, it was often times just as much my attitude problem in the end as it was theirs. Or if it was their attitude, not everyone is like that, so move on to someone else. I've also found that being appreciative of the opposite sex can make you want to spend the right kind of quality time with them talking about the right kinds of things. If you notice only tight abs or a fair face, you'll treat them that same way. But if you see your completed self in the opposite sex, a total image of God's character, then you will treat them as such and they will respond in kind.
It was fairly common that my female friends would respond positively to me when I was putting my best effort to make them feel comfortable, to be the center of my attention, and using my natural talents to show off. Cuz that's what us guys do. :) And then occasionally screw up so the girl would find something to fix. :) God wants us to find true joy and love in our lives. We do need to fix ourselves first (giving up evil habits, getting baptized, getting over past bad relationships, etc.), but then we can put our whole self into a positive relationship with the opposite sex and maybe one day find a spouse that helps us build perfect godly character.