Today’s blog is written by rising senior, Kirsten Anderson. The topic is one we all deal with – the puzzle of learning to honor God in our romantic relationships. As you read, you will hear her honest, vulnerable journey with respect to these things. Enjoy!
I grew up in a nominally Christian home where we attended church once every few months (if that), my parents said prayers with me before bed occasionally, and I went to Catholic school. For reasons I’m sure God had planned from the beginning, my parents decided to go to a Baptist church down the road because of a New Year’s Resolution they’d made. We went every week and soon I was involved with the youth group as well. Shortly after I turned 15, I began my intentional walk with Christ. I was learning so much about the Bible, how to love, and how to share the Gospel (our Youth Pastor had a knack for evangelism). I was incredibly excited to learn things and reading old Bible stories that were new to me was nothing short of amazing. God felt so near, and it was awesome! Looking back, I can see how God was laying a strong foundation of head knowledge for the day my heart would be tested.
My high school days were quite lonely because I had no close friends. I wasn’t invited to do much with my school peers because I didn’t drink, nor could I relate with many in the youth group because they had very different lives from me. One day I met a guy from a different school who was nice, also ran cross country and, well, talked to me. After a few months of friendship, he started to like me, and I was still lonely, so I let our developing friendship continue to the “talking” phase. My rationale was, “why not?”
“At this point I knew I was living in my sin but felt too guilty to bring myself before a holy God. How could I pray to Him when He knew what I was doing?”Kirsten Anderson
If I could talk to my past self, I would have a long list of reasons why not. I recall having a conversation with myself, convincing myself it was okay to emotionally date him. “I guess I can see myself with him,” “he’s not that ugly,” “I don’t deserve better,” “Nobody else will ever notice me,” “he says he’s a Christian so it’s okay,” “he has pretty eyes,” and “he’s going to be a doctor someday” were the top of my many reasons. For the first time in my walk with Christ, I ignored the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Emotional dating eventually turned into real dating. By the beginning of my freshman year of college, I was emotionally and mentally abused, physically taken advantage of, mostly numb to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and sad much of the time. Dear reader, if you take nothing else from this blog: “why not?” is not a good enough reason to give your heart away! I was adamant about not having sex before marriage because I knew it was a sin. However, I did not understand God’s intent behind that command, so I found myself doing just about everything else with him physically. At this point I knew I was living in my sin but felt too guilty to bring myself before a holy God. How could I pray to Him when He knew what I was doing? He was surely disappointed in me. He would never love me as much as He once had. I was forever tainted. Right?
When I came to VT, finding a Christian community was a top priority. Luckily, God led me straight through the doors of the BCM and He helped me feel at home. I quickly made deep friendships that made my sin difficult for me to ignore. There is beautiful and natural accountability in community! By Lent, God was directly commanding me to end my romantic relationship and to pursue His own heart. I was no longer lonely thanks to the many genuine friends I had made, and I no longer tried to fill a God-sized hole in my heart with a boy. I confessed my sins to three very close friends during a discipleship group one day in April of my freshman year, and soon after he and I broke up peacefully. I began the process of finding my self-worth in Christ, forgiving myself the way God had already forgiven me, and moving on. After reading a couple of books about dating I was resolute about not dating again until after college. I wanted to be the woman my future husband would want before I even met him. I had learned many lessons about giving my heart to the wrong guy. And God had better plans for me.
I met Jakob during my first few months at VT. We both participated in FTLT (Freshman Transfer Leadership Team) and family groups at BCM, lived in Lee Hall, and led a DNOW retreat in January of 2018 with three other BCMers. I was genuinely focused on my schoolwork, being a BCM leader, and my own walk with the Lord, so I didn’t think Jakob would ever be more than a friend. I had thoroughly convinced myself that I couldn’t see myself marrying him, so I didn’t want to entertain the idea of dating. People at BCM saw us and even people who didn’t know us well asked us if there was “something there.” I found this greatly annoying and it added to my resolve not to date him let alone like him. During March of our sophomore year, I was visiting a staff member (hey Katy!) when she asked me the same sort of questions. I told her the usual “I can’t see myself marrying him” to which Katy replied, “why not?” To my surprise I didn’t have an answer. I had made lists before of characteristics I wanted in a future husband. I went home and looked at them… Jakob met every single one!
By early April I had told him, “I can’t not see myself marrying you” and less than a month later we admitted our feelings for each other. We were often on the same page, and our first reactions were to talk to BCM staff members Scott and Chelsea Anderson about it. We each had separate conversations with our mentors and decided that over the summer we would both read a book by Ben Stuart entitled “Single Dating Engaged Married” and pray about what God was calling us to do. We agreed that as soon as we got back to Blacksburg, we would have a conversation about the book and our feelings. As I read the book, I was still coming up with reasons not to date Jakob. I liked being single, dating him would hold me back from my career, he would distract me from Jesus, I didn’t want people to think I dated around… But as I prayed all the worries and fears I had melted away one by one. I had conversations with Chelsea and other close friends who all encouraged me to listen to what God was telling me. Again, there is so much value in community!
When we met up again at the beginning of our junior year, God was obviously pushing me toward him and opening my heart. He was so intentional and patient with me and our conversation was over three hours long! He led the conversation so well (and had 10 pages of notes; I had 3 and thought it was overkill!) and allowed me to comment on anything he was saying at any time. God was giving me peace through the conversation because we agreed on every single point throughout the entire book. We talked about everything from learning about Christ through one another to the dreams and goals for our lives God had laid on our hearts. I prayed God would show up in our conversation and give me a yes beyond any doubt that we were supposed to date; and that’s exactly what happened!
Since that day, we have built our relationship on the immovable foundation of Christ. We have made it our goal that as long as we’re in a relationship we will be an example of Christ’s love for the Church. There are many important things I’ve learned, and I’d like to share just a few of them with you:
- Dating is a process you move through, not a status you stay in – the goal of dating is marriage
- Even if your dating relationship doesn’t end in marriage, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t godly – it’s okay to break up with someone who loves the Lord if God is calling you to
- God, the King of romance, invented it for His glory and our enjoyment – dating should be fun!
- God loves you and will gift you beyond what you think you deserve – all I did was seek Him and then He gave me more than I could have asked for in Jakob
Although I still struggle with my past, I am redeemed and loved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father; I’m not tainted in any way. I seek Him constantly in my life and relationship, and I love showing Jakob the same love God has shown me. I’m not asking Jakob to fill a God-sized hole in my heart because it is so full of the Holy Spirit. I’m constantly learning from him about Christ’s love (Enneagram Twos are so amazing), and we are pursuing Him together in all things. We are vigilant for God’s will for our relationship and we are still excited to be together (it’s been almost one year!). I pray God alone would fill your heart, reader, that you would trust His timing, and that You would seek His will for your life in all things.
If you ever have questions about anything (life, dating, BCM, VT, etc.) please feel free to contact Jakob or me!
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jakob’s email: jakobL7@vt.edu
Books that changed my perspective on dating: Single Dating Engaged Married by Ben Stuart, When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy, and The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller