Several of my young friends have come through the Christmas break with new, promising relationships on the horizon. And I am happy that most of them seem intent on seeking God’s will about that relationship and where it should go in the future.
I say to them: Now that you are a couple, the hard work begins. The work of discernment, certainly. And from this point on, you are the adult in this scenario and have to determine where God is leading with this. Everyone will have an opinion, but no matter how much you respect the person who has the opinion, it is still up to you to try the words that are said to see whether there might be any truth in them.
(Disclaimer: I will not here venture onto the territory about the opinions of the actual parents who gave birth to you. There is much to consider about that, Scripturally, but I am not sure that one size fits all in that scenario, particularly if the parents who gave birth to you are not Christians and don’t hold your same values in that area).
What I will say is that this can be a confusing time, with some friends, surrogate parents, fellow churchmembers, etc. convinced that your relationship is the best thing ever while others think you are “settling” for someone who is not a good match for you. Some folks may even tell you they knew your special friend in the past and have some “dirt” on that person to share.
Accept nothing without proof. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if I am trying to discredit your beloved, I could have my own motives to do so. The world is full of broken relationships due to an evil report against someone that wasn’t, in fact, true. If I could get just one point across in this post, this is it. It is up to you to verify the reputation and the integrity of your beloved. Don’t let anyone unilaterally trash it. Check and verify, in the case of serious allegations, and let the person making the allegations know you will do so. Your beloved should always be given the benefit of the doubt, from the very beginning, and everyone should know that about you. Fair is fair.
I believe those truly seeking God’s will for their lives find it. Why would a loving God hide it from you?
That said, I once played a part in breaking the engagement of one of my best friends (she was my college roommate at the time). I was not singlehandedly responsible but . . .
Our story (and a testimony to God’s sovereignty).
My friend always had several suitors at a time. She is beautiful, inside and out, and brilliant and a great conversationalist, so it is not surprising that men were attracted to her, back in the day.
One semester, a particular man who was already graduated from engineering school and in a good job was introduced to my friend by people at church who went on a double date with them.
It was immediately obvious that this young man was looking for a wife and that the shorter the engagement, the better. It turned out that he had a parent or grandparent who was dying and was feeling under duress to reassure that person about his future before death occurred. We humans can be complex like that. That was not something to be held against him. It was understandable.
After a whirlwind courtship, an engagement did, in fact, occur. That, in itself, was not necessarily a warning sign. People have whirlwind romances all the time. Many of them end up in stable, loving marriages.
What started to concern me, as the closest friend of this young lady, was something completely different. lt was that I only ever heard the couple talk about their future plans. There did not seem to be any shared interests. Everything was wedding talk.
Again, it is common for engaged couples to major in wedding talk. What is not usual is for it to be their only subject of conversation. That, put together with the short courtship, started to concern me.
One night, after praying all day long, I tremulously asked my friend whether I could speak with her about something serious. We prayed together and I very carefully launched into the best explanation a 22-year-old could give for the above feeling of alarm.
Believe it or not, what I said, immediately resonated with her.
In fact, we both left the session with a phrase we used a lot later. I believe it was under God’s leading that I said to her, “All you talk about now is your future wedding date. What will you talk about after that date passes? Will there be anything left to say?” She concluded, by God’s guidance, not mine, that the answer to that was “no.”
I am glad I took the chance of losing that friendship by speaking up. We both graduated college single, later finding wonderful men while pursuing our careers in government service.
There is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. However, the main point is that God will lead couples to know what He wants for their future. People outside a relationship who know the couple well may indeed sometimes ask permission to speak. But this must be done with respect that the couple (and God) get to ultimately decide. We can advise, but the decision is not ours to make . . . And if we act as though it is, we are, ourselves, sending up a big red flag, not about the relationship, but about our own lack of trust in God to lead two adults in the way they should go . . .