I have had a desire in my heart for intimacy and admittedly there’s an attraction to the opposite sex. This is natural, as far as I know, but I cannot help but feel like I am superficial sometimes. I’ll look at a girl and think, “Wow, she is pretty!” without thinking about her soul or character. It seems like my flesh comes in when I focus on the easy part of love, which is finding someone attractive and acting on my passion. What makes me realize just how superficial I’m being is when I start to think about the character of that person. I see their immodest dress, their profane mouth, the immaturity of their thinking, their bad circle of friends, and how worldly they act.
Suddenly the initial attraction I had for them seems to dwindle into a black hole because I realize that if I was with this girl, I would start being uncomfortable and mismatched with her character and dress. I know from past experience with my first relationship how this ends: the mismatch turns into insecurity that comes across as controlling to other, so in turn she fights back. You two get angry and consider breaking up or taking a break. You start having communication issues and can’t seem to understand each other’s hearts. The passion that your love once had from initial attraction and similar interests just can’t withstand that kind of test because it wasn’t built on solid character and a compatible purpose in Christ.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying it is wrong to appreciate female beauty (as long as its not out of lust) or that it is wrong to start with beauty. We are by nature visual creatures, so it is impossible to avoid first impressions, but we must not make it the foundation of our pursuit. Can beauty be a factor? Of course! But remember, Scripture tells us that beauty should not come from outward adornment (her cover) but from the inner self, an unfading beauty (1 Peter 3:3-4). This is all about prioritizing your reasons and desires, not eliminating your natural desire for beauty. However, if you are willing to date a girl merely because of her cover or are willing to excuse behavior for her cover, you have a wrong foundation. By cover here, I do not only mean her outward beauty but also similar interests in music, movies, or the like. That’s all superficial if it’s your foundation.
Passion based on a cover lasts at its peak for about 4-6 months. But during those first few months it can be so blinding and deceiving. It’s like you’re on this love high and you think that you two will prove to the world how a relationship should be. You believe that this love will last forever and you won’t be like your parents, or that you won’t make the same mistakes others make in their relationships. How could you fight with each other when you’re this much in love? All you can think about is each other. But then reality slaps you in the face. The difficult part of love comes when you realize that love requires sacrifice and trust. Sin and brokenness can creep in like a terrorist waiting to tear down your relationship’s Tower of Babel. You’re so unprepared for it because you’ve been living in a paradise without walls. Little did you know that there were wolves waiting to devour you.
Soon you begin to hide things from each other because you might start an argument or hurt the other person. But the truth tends to get revealed sooner or later. The blaming is persistent and the hurt builds up these hidden scars that come out into one ugly climax. You start finding yourself not in love with the other person, wondering what happened to the love that you once had. With every relationship you bring the struggles of your past and present into it. Is that person ready for that? Have you really laid the foundation of that relationship in order to endure through the necessary struggles? It’s not a matter of if you will experience struggles, it’s a matter of how you will deal with them when it happens. No relationship escapes this; no matter how perfect it may seem to be at first. Love is like a distortion field and you need to be careful to guard yourself against it.
I have found that my flesh desires the easy and the immediate, but my spirit goes after what’s difficult and fulfilling. It’s easy to look at the appearances but it’s hard to go after the character. Ask yourself why you love this person. Is it only because you think she is perfect to you and looks smoking attractive? Then I can almost guarantee you that your relationship will burn to the ground. Your relationship might last longer than expected, but only because it is covered with patches from the holes that seem to be leaking in your heart. Those patches will give way sooner or later from all the pressure. What will you do then? Wallow in misery and hope you’ll find someone else to fill that hole? You’re bound to repeat the cycle unless you fix your mindset. Don’t rely on the flesh. It’ll take you places that you don’t want to go. Let it take you too far and you’ll find yourself sleeping with dozens of women while your hole becomes deeper and emptier.
Love is difficult but worth it. If you think love is easy then you’ve already lost the battle because it isn’t. Life isn’t easy, so uniting two lives into it won’t make it any less harder all by itself. Your expectations can be the downfall. At the height of your passion you may think of your significant other as perfect, but when that image is shattered, your heart gets shattered with it. You need to understand that all men are sinners. None of us are perfect and so you should expect imperfection from the other. Love isn’t seeing the person as perfect, it’s about seeing the person accurately for who they are (both their struggles and their strengths) and still loving them. Can you do that? Can you point to Christ in that relationship rather than trying to handle everything yourself? You can’t change her. Just love her as she is and you’ll find that this divine love is what will change the BOTH of you. This is a journey between you and her. You’re not her savior, you’re co-partners in life.
Love can lose its flame and it can easily fade into non-existence if not properly nurtured. Care for it like a delicate flower because it blooms at its season, but can seem like it is dead when it is not in its season. Love has its seasons. You can’t expect to have the same level of passion at every moment of your lives. All you can do is expect that there will be times when that fire is not there just as you do when you expect that there will be seasons when the flower is not blooming. But you still take care of that flower, knowing that your care will pay off in the end. Similarly, don’t give up on tending to the heart of the other. It’ll be hard sometimes because it seems like your efforts are in vain, but it’s a slow process and you need to be patient and understanding. Shower their hearts daily with whatever acts of love and kindness that you can. Show them that you’re still there even when sometimes you aren’t as there as you should be. Forgive wrongdoing.
Learn From My Mistakes
Unfortunately I speak all of this from experience with the first relationship that I had. Since I had a kind of inferiority complex, I had some neediness in terms of filling that hole in my heart. I suppose this neediness was on both of our ends to the point that it caused us to find our value and happiness in each other rather than primarily in Christ. We attempted to ground it in Christ but despite this, I think we were striving in our own strength rather than in God’s. That neediness brought insecurity, and sometimes my insecurities were correct but this didn’t justify myself in God’s sight. We were each other’s first love, but that love’s passion become blinding and controlling.
She was a non-believer when we took interest in each other – which should tell you something right away because it’s unwise for a Christian to be romantically involved with unbelievers – but it turned out that she became saved a few months later. Despite that miracle, I later felt that we had different goals. She sought security, academic prestige, and financial success (not wrong in itself) whereas I felt unsatisfied with that and I wanted to do something radical for God that would be the complete opposite of what she wanted. Later on I just didn’t see the light in her; it was almost as if it died. A part of me died as well and I thought that everything was a lie.
Please don’t do what I did. Find your happiness and value in Christ alone! Understand what God’s love means, what your identity is, and accept His forgiveness. Don’t date a girl because you need her for self-worth or the like; date her because you love her. It’s easy to say that this is obvious and that I should’ve known better, but it’s entirely different when you experience it. I came to a point where I completely gave up on finding someone. Whenever my heart wandered with desire, I would stab and crush my heart until it bled itself dry of that desire. If I didn’t fall so hard, I wouldn’t have acquired the wisdom that God has given me now. I know who I am now and I will be what I am in Christ even if that means I must spend the rest of my life alone. But you never know, God is full of surprises.