The dating world is a little difficult to navigate right now. Depending on who you ask, “dating” could look like anything from summer hook-ups to hyper-serious courtship; it’s complicated and the rules are out the window. On top of that, every relationship involves beautiful and unique individuals, so giving general “dating” advice is difficult at best and sometimes downright harmful!
However, there are deep, inherent principles which can help work as a guide through the dating world and help with discernment in general. I’d like to start with an incredible quote I once heard:
All women must make the journey from Eve to Mary.”
This idea of journeying from fallen to redeemed can be applied to both men and women. We must all move from Eve and Adam, from our fallen, grasping, blaming tendencies, to the beautiful trust, surrender, and sacrifice that are shown to us by Mary and her Son.
There is something broken in all of us that is going to complicate our love lives; we are flawed, fallen creatures who will hurt each other and act selfishly. We all come with wounds. Honestly, being human can be pretty frustrating sometimes. But in the midst of all this, it’s important to remember the beauty of the Incarnation; we can look deeply into our own humanity and see Christ. God became man and was born of a woman. Looking to the Queen of Heaven and Earth has helped me better understand how to approach dating, how to respond to God’s call, and how to love others.
So how do we move from Eve to Mary? I’d like to offer three questions to help us reflect and hopefully gain a deeper understanding of ourselves in order to make that journey.
First of all, do I truly believe that God knows and wants what is best for me?
The lie that Eve fell for was that she knew better than God. We can fight to get what we think want, but the truth is, we don’t know ourselves as well as the God who loves us and made us. We can believe the lie that we are better at making ourselves happy than God is. We can try to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting Him. But the truth is, a lack of surrender is going to lead to a lack of happiness.
It’s okay to be scared. Mary showed us that. “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered…” (Luke 1:29) and being honest about our fear is actually really beautiful. We can be troubled. We just have to remember to end with, “Let it be done unto me according to Thy word” (Luke 1:38).
God loves us enough to die for us. He is definitely going to take care of our love lives; He is love! Understanding this helps us make the journey from grasping, fighting, and fearful, to trusting, excited, and peaceful.
Do we truly believe that He knows and wants what is best for us?
The second question we can ask ourselves is: Do I understand that God wants to love us intimately and deeply at every stage of our life?
Dating can look glamorous. It can be fun to get dressed up, to go to dinner, and to embark on adventures. This discernment time can be exciting, glittery, and beautiful. It can be easy to want it, especially when you are single and think those fateful words: “I’ll be happy when…”
Eve looked at the tree and snatched at the fruit out of desperation. She knew she was not supposed to take it, but she just wanted it so badly! It’s easy to do this in relationships as well. It’s easy to want things to work out and try to force it when it’s not right. It can be tempting to pine away as if we are missing the one ingredient we needed for a perfect life.
The truth is, God desires to love us deeply and intimately in every moment of our life. Yes, dating is exciting. Marriage is beautiful. God loves to show His love to us through others in a powerful way. But God doesn’t wait till we are married. He loves us now. Are we open to that love, open to enjoying the entire garden of wonderful things that He has given us? It’s so important to enter fully into the grace of the present moment so that we are ready to become who we are meant to be when God calls us to give ourselves away.
And finally we should be asking: Am I afraid?
Eve was afraid. She was afraid of the serpent. She was afraid when God came to see her in the garden. She must have been terribly afraid when she was kicked out of Eden. Fear infiltrated her life and, as her children, it so often gnaws at us as well. It changes our actions from great and beautiful to smaller and weaker. It lames and limits us.
This can impact our dating life. Fear can make people snatch at a date instead of more prayerfully discerning if this is where they are called to be. Fear can make people run from true, authentic love because the commitment seems too great and terrifying. Fear can make people settle, can make people wound each other with cowardly actions, can make people do things in relationships that they know will just damage the relationship and leave both parties with more wounds.
But Jesus tells us countless times, “Be not afraid.” Mary trusted despite the terrifying experience of giving birth in a stable, losing the Son of God for three days when he was twelve, and watching her beloved Son die a violent death. She certainly understood that life wasn’t easy, but she also knew that God loved her and had a plan.
Do we let our mother wrap her mantle around us while we discern? Do we take that bold leap of faith and jump out into the deep? Discernment is a wild adventure. The ache keeps tugging, tearing at our hearts:
We want to be loved!
We want to give ourselves in love, and the beautiful thing is that is exactly what we were made for! Every single one of us is living a love story that God is writing. We could be Eve. We can be Mary.
So whatever my next date looks like, I know this much:
Let it be done unto me according to Thy Word.”Luke 1:38
Jacqueline is an adventurer, writer, teacher, and gardener who loves to travel though road trips, planes, and books. When not teaching writing and literature at Adventures in Excellence, she can be found exploring new hiking and running trails, learning a new language, or writing novels. She loves to share her thoughts and adventures with others via Instagram or on her personal blog.