I've been dating a wonderful girl. She is witty, intelligent, adventurous, talented, and above all she loves God in a way that I really see as a gift. She has a true passion for Him. It stirs my heart to pursue Him through her example. At the same time, I believe I could lead her spiritually in marriage. We've dated for the better part of this year and are now looking at marriage.
Yet I find myself backing up quickly. I have a pride issue. I'm a good-looking, guitar-playing, God-loving man. I've never dated anyone else, and I find myself wanting to know who else is out there. I keep telling myself to stay put, but my prodigal son-like heart wants to leave.
I know I'm being petty and stupid. She is truly an awesome woman, but my heart isn't in it anymore. The heart is deceitful above all things, and I'm trying to work through that, but I cannot seem to change it. I've been praying over this a lot. Any help you could offer would be appreciated.
I don’t believe this is a case of “cold feet,” based on the content you share about your heart struggles.
If you want to leave, you better do it now. And that is exactly my advice, for her sake and for yours. Simply put, you are not ready for any level of serious relationship, much less marriage.
The good news is you can get yourself ready, but it will require time and the transforming work of God’s Spirit in your life. Until you get some critical things settled in your heart, you need to put your relationship pursuits on hold. Adding a girl to the mix only hurts her and confuses you.
No, at the moment you could not lead this young woman spiritually. But eventually, you can lead her or any other woman.
I want to make this clear: It is OK to not be ready for marriage. It is not OK to never be ready for marriage. There’s no shame in needing to mature, as long as we recognize it and do something about it (see "Brother, You're Like a Six" and "Man Enough to Love a Real Woman").
You need to mature, as a young man and as a believer. You need to discover who you really are in Christ, which has nothing to do with the outward self (meaning appearances and musical abilities in your case) and everything to do with the inward self.
I am not saying that you must rid yourself completely of sin before you pursue a relationship, but it is critical that you address the issue of “wondering who else is out there.”
The question is not whether there is someone else “out there.” For the rest of your life, the answer is yes; there are thousands of others “out there.” The other side of the fence is not lacking any green grass.
The more pertinent question is, why do you care who else is out there?
You’ve got to come to a place where you are grateful, excited and entirely content with the gift of another person in your life. But where pride is blooming in the heart, there is no room for true gratefulness.
I have found in my own life the best cure for pride is a good dose of perspective. Understanding that every good gift — whether a talent, wisdom, food, a job, a roof or a spouse — comes from the very hand of God, and I’ve done nothing to deserve it, causes my heart to well with gratitude.
I want to encourage you. I believe you’re sincere in your desire to change. That’s the kind of heart that God can work with. This is a good thing.
Start asking God to help you be thankful, and start thanking Him more often. Ask Him to give you better perspective. Confess your sin to Him as you have to us in your note. Receive His forgiveness and start the journey of transformation.
Be honest with your girlfriend and tell her that you are in no way ready for what will be required of you in a thriving relationship. Tell her you need time to make some changes, that it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with you. Tell her that to keep moving forward in the relationship would be detrimental to everyone involved.
This will obviously rock the boat, but not nearly as much as what would happen down the road if this decision isn’t made now. I know this will be difficult, but it’s the right thing to do, and God will honor your decision.
Copyright 2011 John Thomas. All rights reserved.