I'm the girl who still believes in fairy tales. I'm the girl who believes that my Prince Charming is still out there. I mean, right now He's trying to reroute because Siri gave him the wrong directions, but he's on his way. I'm the girl who believes one day it will all fall into place, like every pop song tells me. I'm that girl. OK, so maybe I've listened to one too many Taylor Swift songs, but hey, I'm a hopeless romantic. I believe I'll meet him one day while I'm hanging out, just minding my own business. He'll ask me to dinner, and I'll say, "Chipotle, yeah?" And we'll just know.
But can I be honest? Real-life romance kind of feels like an anomaly these days.
This past April a new Christian dating app was released called Collide. The tagline is "Christian dating. Reimagined." Here's the thing, if we're being honest - to me, it looks exactly like Tinder, but with less "I can see the stars in your eyes" and more "I can be your Boaz." The creators of Collide are admittedly not even Christian. I don't know how it is in your city, but in Los Angeles, Tinder is a dating app that, for the most part, has less to do with relationships, and more to do with casual encounters. Collide puts a new spin on things by asking users for their denomination and favorite Bible verse.
But is that what we are really looking for as Christian singles? Do we really think if our Bible verses "collide" then so will we?
Keeping God in the Mix
A few months ago, the church I'm part of in LA did a relationship series, which makes sense, seeing as 85-90 percent of the congregation admitted to being single or dating (if you need a date, look no further than Oasis Church!). It became quickly apparent in the Q&A section that people wanted to know if online dating was OK. Pastor, what do you think about it? Is it OK to use apps like Tinder? Could I meet my life partner on Match.com?
The thing is, I'm absolutely not against online dating. In fact some of my best friends have done online dating and love it, some have even met their spouses. So the real question isn't whether or not online dating is bad; the real question is what is our motive?
One of the beautiful/messy things about being a pastor so young is that I'm trying to figure life out with the people I pastor. It's an interesting dynamic to say the least. I have to check my motives the same as anyone else, and ask myself, Am I dating to marry or just to fill an insecurity? Am I talking to this person because I'm lonely, because it's late at night, or because I'm looking for a husband?
When my sister Leah was a little girl, she was independent and bossy. By the time she was 2 or 3, she was telling my parents, "I do myself." As they tried to feed her she would say, "I do myself." As silly as this story seems, doesn't it sound a little familiar? Often we have an, "I do myself!" mentality.
When we don't invite God into the mix of finding our forever person, we take on an "I do myself" outlook. We try to fix our singleness, as if it were some type of disease. The problem is we were never meant to do it ourselves.
So when it comes to online dating, or any dating, consider if your motive is, "I gave God a shot at handling this, He didn't come through. I gave it a shot in church, no one came to talk to me. I'll just do it myself," I think that's a dangerous area to be walking in.
You were never meant to do it yourself. Take the pressure off. Let Him take care of you. He knows the desires of your heart. (click to tweet)
Tips to Keep Dating Healthy
These days you can find out everything you want to know about someone, their dating history and weird Starbucks order before ever going to dinner with them. Between Tinder, Collide, social media and Google, we can find out any answer about anybody at anytime just by knowing their Instagram handle. In a moment, we can play detective, sometimes at the expense of trusting God with the mystery.
Here's my opinion: Online dating is a great way to meet people. If you like it, you go for it. But at the end of the day, it's just that; a great way to meet people. It's not a way to get to know a person. That still has to happen face-to-face. Awkward coffee dates and all.
So how can we keep a healthy perspective on real-life dating in our virtually obsessed world? Well, I'm still trying to figure it out - ah, the beauty of being in my 20s! But here are some things I have discovered:
- Engage the person, not the profile. It's great to be a little street-wise to make sure the person you are meeting wasn't just on America's Most Wanted, but give them a chance to explain their awkward high school photos before you've Googled them (this coming from a self-admitted Instagram stalker!).
- Listen to the Holy Spirit. His peace is the ultimate judge of character. If you don't feel settled, don't sprint to the altar.
- Read the gospels. There are so many times Jesus shows us what to look for in our spouse by being the example! He was kind. He always responded with grace. He made time for everyone. He didn't get caught up in the opinion of others. I could go on, but why not make a list yourself?
- Keep good people around you. I love the story of Ruth. Boaz sees her in the field and his first reaction? He pulls one of his workers/friends aside and says, "Who's that?" I love that. Surround yourself with close friends who will listen and be a sounding board when it comes to your dating life.
- Don't get too serious too quickly. In that same story, Boaz invites Ruth to eat lunch with him, and brings her into a group setting. He isn't like, "Hey, I saw your profile. Let's get married."
- Don't lose your sense of fairytale wonder. I love the possibility of going out and wondering, "Could I meet him tonight?" You just don't get that when you swipe right or swipe left. Get dressed up. Get your friends together. Get out there. Who knows? Maybe tonight is your night.
Regardless of how you choose to meet someone, whether online, in person or going all Taylor-Swift-Love-Story, it's important to remember that God sees you and He's got a plan. He knows what you need, and who you need, and He knows how to get you there. Don't rush the journey; enjoy it.