The Great Relationship Drama
Generally, many of the Orthodox blogs online written by women are written by dedicated, married women who have years of experience under their belt in marriage and raising children. A lot of these blogs have personal stories of the latest homeschooling trip or lenten recipe.
There exist a group of young women who are just beginning to figure it all out. Within that, they are teetering the line between childhood and womanhood. In the middle lies this very strange existence: college and/or the early-twenties, single and dating, and sometimes a whole lot of drama and inevitably they seek out other twentie-somethings who are also trying to figure it out for advice.
The drama may disappear with time and maturity but the questions do not. I know I am not alone in admitting that at some point (or many) I feared that I would pass up or never find the right person and that dating is some strange mysterious game that you have to conquer.
I want to offer some solace for the ladies (and men) who are trying to get it all figured out right now.
Firstly, I will preface this in that if you came here sad over a situation in your life right now, I understand one-hundred percent that most of which you read here you are going to put off as “idealistic” and “that’s a nice idea, but it’s never going to happen to me” and perhaps even a bit too “church-y”. I also promise one-hundred percent that whenever you do get your relationship stuff figured out, you will be offering the same advice.
Everything you know about dating from the movies and most of your friends is a lie.
You probably know this already, but deep down you’re not ready to admit it. What is the point of dating? I would think most of us would agree is that it is ultimately a means to an end of finding someone to settle down with. Now let’s look at this in the lens of Orthodoxy. Marriage is one path to salvation. SALVATION. Marriage is not about living happily ever after in a house with 2.5 kids and a dog. Those things are all nice, and certainly participating in the creative act of children IS an expected, natural result of marriage; but in the even bigger picture, marriage is a path to salvation. God said in Genesis that “it is not good for man to be alone” so He makes Adam a help-mate. If we realize the “dating-game” is really about seeking God’s will, there is no game to it at all. We focus on the life God has put in front of us, and when we are ready, God will put the help-mate in front of us that we need.
|Society Tells you…||Orthodoxy Tells you…|
The “right” relationship is simple, not messy
Have you ever heard from your older and wiser friends that “you know when you know” or “when it’s right it’s just RIGHT”? You’re not going to like hearing this, but it is true 100%. Can you think about a time you thought you knew what was best for you and then something happened and BAM you somehow found yourself in some other situation and it was WAY better than you could have imagined? That was God working for you right there. You were working so hard at the path you THOUGHT was right, then God slammed you in the head with a frying pan to guide you the other direction. Funny thing is, some of those things we don’t dramatize over as much as we do our failed and failing relationships. Here’s a check-list you may want to consider:
- Am I 100% myself 100% of the time when I am with him/her, basically from day 1? No secrets, no games.
- Does he/she make all of my experiences in life BETTER?
- Does he/she bring me closer to God?
- Does our relationship feel like it all “fell into place”?
- Do I get really excited and look forward to when people ask me about him/her?
If you have even a small bit of hesitation when answering this questions or find a need to justify yourself from giving a 100% yes, this person may not be the person God has chosen for your help-mate. However, this person may be an individual God has put in your place to help you grow in the faith.
“Choose a person who loves God more than he/she love you so that he/she brings you closer to God”
You may have seen the triangle before. God is at the top of the triangle and you and your other half are on the other ends of the triangle. By coming closer to God, you also HAVE to come closer to one another. Marriage is a path to salvation. It is about the highest level of love, sacrificial love. Marriage is supposed to model Christ and His Church. If your other half loves God more than you, relationships must become about God and are no longer about “me”.
Evaluate a breakup in the lens of Faith.
Breakups are always difficult and usually messy. Deeply-rooted within a breakup is a sense of pride because we can’t understand why we weren’t good enough for the other person. What is it that went wrong? Why could’t we work it out. So may friends said we were perfect for each other. We had so much in common etc. etc. All of these questions are either from our own sense of pride, or from the messages society sends us.
If the goal of dating is marriage, and the goal of marriage is salvation, then our spouse must be the one God chose for us. If it didn’t work out, it was because God didn’t have that person in store for you. When things settle down, reflect on the relationship to see where you grew as an Orthodox Christian. Perhaps you were in an interfaith relationship that make you question things in Orthodoxy you took for granted. You had to learn more about your faith to explain it to another person. Perhaps you came to the realization that your faith means a lot more to you than you realized–that you need to share Orthodoxy with your other half. Perhaps you learned that you were always trying to be someone else and grew stronger in your own personality. Break-ups are not the end of the world, but they are definitely a teaching opportunity, like most things that do not go the way we had hoped.
God created us as creatures of free-will, and as creature able to love and comprehend beauty. Too often we cling to the first part of this and forget the second. Out of His ultimate love for us He granted our free-will. In return we are to seek his love and sumbit ourselves to him. This is our Faith in a nutshell. Let the rest come as it comes, focus on the present, and focus on God.