Riiiight, so I totally forgot to post last Friday, and I very nearly forgot to post for this week! Welp, baby steps :B!
I would like to dedicate this post to Mrs. Patricia “Tita Patty” Villa, my spiritual mommy. April 8th was her birthday. She discipled me in getting to know Jesus; and her constant encouragement and exemplary faith (not to mention her enviable marriage with Tito Geno – yeehee ♥!) is a daily reminder of how God uses people to move in our lives. As Francesca Battistelli’s song goes, “… to me, you are the hands of God.” A belated happy birthday po, tita!
And a shout-out goes to my Victory Group leader, Glo – whose words of wisdom bely her age, who does not judge me when I ask her seemingly elementary questions about our faith, and whom I miss terribly – thank you. Thank you for bearing with my 4:00 a.m. thoughts and late night agonies, and for being a channel of comfort and grace when I need them most.
I am quite the follower of Relevant Magazine, and in the last two years (and counting), I realize that one of the most (if not the most) talked about topic is on relationships: on one hand, you have marriage; and on the other, dating. I would like to talk about the latter, and of the most recent wrestling I have had with God regarding “Biblical dating”.
My journey with Jesus only started three years ago, and I admit, I still have a lot to learn in terms of the Biblical perspective of dating. I have only been on (and seen) the un-Biblical side of “love” after all, and learning about the “waiting for marriage” and “Biblical dating” has earned quite a lot head-scratching and, “… seriously?” moments from me.
I grew up being able to speak my mind. If I like you, I might as well let you know; if I don’t, then I will let you know as well. My heart was constantly on my sleeve in that I can be vocal with my emotions, and I am quite proud of my communication skills. With this upbringing in mind, it was frankly unacceptable for me to think of waiting on a man to court me. Couple that with the fact that I have been raised by my parents to be an A-type, go-getting achiever. If I want something, I freaking get it; and if I am rejected, I shake it off and move on – it is their freaking loss.
One of the things I learned about myself is that I am not good at waiting. This bleeds into other aspects of my life in that there are times where I tend to start strong, lack follow-through, and finish weak to eventually give up. I am not proud of that aspect, and quite honestly, I would like to change that.
One of the more recent articles on Relevant is on how it is okay for women to ask men out on dates. I actually agree. I am all for talking to a guy and asking him to just join me for lunch, one-on-one – no biggie, right? But my mentors (and the singles empowerment talks throwback) gently reminded me: that God designed men to pursue women, and women are designed to wait. The Filipino culture I grew up in supports that seemingly medieval idea helped hammer in that fact.
If I had a guardian angel, I could swear I could hear them heave in pulling me back from backsliding and dropping my Bible on the floor right at that moment. Good thing I was on my way to sleep, as I wanted to then-and-there send to send my crush a message to ask him out. I signed my prayer off with a frustrated, “This isn’t cool, Father. Not cool. More waiting?? InJesus’nameamen.”
I woke up the next day, and wow, I demanded answers from God. “Lord, Ruth made the first move on Boaz and it worked super great for her – their union carried on the bloodline that would bring about Jesus – Jesus!!” (as if God really needed to be reminded of that!) “Why can’t I do the same? Show me a verse, show me the exact words where you say a woman should not pursue a man!”
I am only 80% through the Bible (my first attempt at reading it cover-to-cover), split between the Old and New Testaments, and so far, I have not encountered such a verse. I could just laugh at the irony in that the opposite is not explicitly stated either; everything else is about marriage. But I did not want to give up – ‘“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”’ (Revelations 1:8) His word stand the test of time. God has answered my prayers and I know that He will not deny me this.
At the end of the day, I got my answer. He did not point me to a verse: He highlighted His character. I am currently going through the Book of Ezekiel, and I was reminded of how God likes to show Himself in human imagery: as a Potter being involved in His art as He is involved in our lives (Jeremiah 18:1-11), as the Shepherd laying down His life for His sheep (Isaiah 40:11), as the Father waiting for His prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), and what struck me most was the image of Him as the Husband and Bridegroom to His people, His church (Isaiah 54:4-8).
In each of the images, God is taking the role of leader, but in the imagery that served my query, He shows Himself as a suitor (see alsoHosea 2:14-16). In the book of Ezekiel, God has likened the sinful Israel as a cheating wife. Human justice would have us calling for divorce or for violent revenge, and of all people and things, God has the right to demand justice for sin (Romans 6:23). Instead of raining fire and brimstone on His people right then and there, He sends the prophets – one after the other; from Jeremiah down to Micah – and calls His people to repentance.
This is the image of a husband who has been wronged, and yet still has the heart to call his cheating wife home. Human minds would scoff at that as stupid – like, He’s the Great G-O-D and yet He calls after – pursues – His people like a hopeless romantic. I say it is radical. It is what brings the famous John 3:16 – the Good News – to life.
Those who are new(ish) to the Christian faith might relate to this, but we did not pursue God when we “became Christians”. Weanswered a call, and made a choice. God does not kick down the doors of our hearts, but gently, He calls – He does not even knock. He waits, as a suitor does in pursuing His bride.
Medieval? Maybe so. But I choose to wait because I want to learn how to wait. I want to see God break through with Sarah-levels of miracles. I want the peace brought by trusting in Him, instead of burdening my heart and mind with drama I did not want in the first place.
Let me wrap this up —
When my parents separated with I was 15 years old, I believed that marriage may not be for me. I have closed myself so much that some kind of relationship repellent hovered around me like an insane amount of perfume. I engaged in relationships I believed to be “commitment-free” and bailed when things did not go my way.
Today however, I believe that getting married is a desire God planted in my heart. Many times, I prayed that if this desire is not from Him, if it is just something I react to because of peer pressure, then He must take it away – but He did not. On the surface, it would seem like I am just asking God to get me married already, but the prayer actually served to open up other prayers, like necessary detours on a road trip: I wanted to get to know Him better (Psalm 37:3-6), I wanted to learn how to love like He does (John 15:13), I wanted to learn how it is to put the full weight of my trust in Him (Isaiah 43:2).
And if that means waiting, then I will do so for as long as it is necessary. Besides, waiting on God has never disappointed me. If I can wait on God, I can wait on that man – and if he does not come along (because, free will)? All I have to say is that Jesus died single, and He’s okay 😉 . I will be – I am – more than okay.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
— Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)