I am in a situation where I am worried about how much my girlfriend's past will affect the future. Her family life was very broken, and she is still new to trusting and walking with God. I am a young man in college with my own history, but my parents were both Christian and stuck together through it all.
They are concerned for me about whether she is the right one for me, as am I. I want her to be, but I was wondering if you have any thoughts.
As for her past, yes, that will have some influence on her future, as will yours. Some of it will be negative, and some will be positive. It might be that her family experiences were so bad that she's determined to work extra hard at not repeating her parents' mistakes.
Either way, God takes all of it and uses it for good if we'll submit to the process. That's up to you and her.
That doesn't mean she (or you) won't have a need to get help working through the past. We all need help doing that. The spectrum of help spans from merely changing a few bad habits we picked up to receiving professional, biblical counseling over a period of time. The key is admitting we all come with baggage, some more some less, and we all agree to patiently allow God to redeem it in His way and in His time in us, and partnering with Him as He brings redemption to our spouse. That's what we call marriage.
I think of greater concern, though, is your description of her as being "new to trusting and walking with God."
Depending on how "new" you're talking about, I think her priority at the moment should be discipleship and discovering more of the riches of her new found faith. Her commitment to growth in Christ would also serve as a sign that she's serious about the decision she's made to follow Him.
I have no reason to doubt her sincerity about wanting to follow Jesus, but people have different ideas about what exactly that means, and you want to make sure that it means the same thing to both of you. Conversion is the entry point, and we want to rejoice in that with her. But discipleship and fruit bearing and a transformed life need to follow, and that takes time.
So I share your parents' concern about moving too quickly in a relationship with someone in her infancy with Christ, no matter her family background. I think of how many times I've seen the "famous" converts be handed a microphone much too soon, showing no evidence of a transformed life over time, and by their lifestyle send a confusing message to observers about what it means to really follow Christ.
In the same way, I think it would be premature for you or anyone to assume too much too soon about your girlfriend (or any new Christian). It's true that we should "count the cost" before we ever decide to follow Christ, but often that happens on the backside of that decision.
For that reason I think you would show some good leadership by slowing down the relationship and letting her do some foundational growing. In fact, both of you should be involved in some type of regular discipleship, either through mentors or small group or some other avenue. If you'll both submit to leadership in your discipleship, then you can bring them into the mix in helping to determine if and when there is a right time to move the relationship forward.
That, by the way, will also help her determine whether you're the right one for her — because, yes — she has concerns about you too ... just thought I'd remind you.
Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.