Cistothorus palustris CTCC BY-SA 3.0, - Own work
There's a lot of talk, at present, about the fact that Christian kids of marriageable age are not dating much. That's partly a manifestation of the state of singles in the general society, I'm sure. But I think it's also because we scared our Christian kids half to death by putting the idea in their heads that relationship failure is not a godly option. I'm sure we didn't mean it. It's certainly not what we said, but that may be what many of them heard. We set out to avoid throwing them to the wolves without guidance and support, but we ended up putting a wolf at the door that makes them terribly afraid to open it.
Life is not a safe proposition. It's full of hurt and error, false starts and corrections, mishaps and blunders. We were never told that nothing would go wrong; we were merely told that we wouldn't be given anything we could not handle, and that we would have Divine companionship on the journey. And, isn't that really the best set of promises to have? Formulaic approaches to life may seem safe; but they are terribly restricting, are not generally conducive to real growth, and they steal the glory, don't they?
I'm not quite sure how this happened, this tendency of my generation to wrap our children in emotional bubble wrap. Perhaps it is a vestige of the World War II generation that saw true horror, and wanted to make certain that their children would be shielded from knowing of its presence behind the curtain? At any rate, our good intentions may have pulled a curtain over their potential joys as well - because if one is afraid to lift the curtain, one can see neither, I suppose.
I still believe that dating should not be a merely recreational activity. It should not be undertaken lightly. It is not for children. It is meaningless for those below marriageable age. Ultimately, it is about discernment of vocation, singly and as couples- eventually. But, it may also be about learning to live. It may be about learning to navigate intimacy. It may even be about --gasp-- learning to fall down and pick oneself back up. We really need to lighten up folks, and give them a little room to breathe and learn and grow. We need to give them permission to experience joy, even when some pain, for one party or another, might result.
I continue to believe that dating / courtship- whatever we are calling it this week- ought involve family. Parents have a little wisdom to share, and life happens within the family embrace. Separating oneself from family to experience life may likely not be wise, and it is certainly not a means of clear discernment of ones own heart and soul, or those of another. Fathers have a role in the protection and headship of their daughters. The notion that another man should walk into that daughter's life absent of the discerning and protective gaze of her father continues to seem both absurd and disrespectful to me. (This has never meant to us that couples should not spend time alone, by the way. Only that some time should be spent with families, as well.)
Haematopus longirostris - Austins FerryCC BY-SA 3.0, - Own work
As Darcy has shared:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”~C. S. Lewis
Wondering where we started from?
This is part 6 of a series.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.
Part 4 is here.
Part 5 is here.
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