As a (mostly) dateless single for nearly a decade, making choices in my personal life that would benefit a future relationship wasn’t always on my mind. For example, I should be a way better cook by now. But the busyness of single life and a lack of desire to cook fine cuisine for one has left me woefully handicapped in the kitchen. It’s OK, it’s not too late to learn, I hear.
However, I did focus on some things that would benefit a future relationship. In “Single While Active,” I wrote: “I can wait on the Lord and trust His perfect plan for my life, while taking steps to prepare myself to be a good wife and mother.” Those steps included cultivating a proper attitude toward men, praying for a husband, living a full life, finding a marriage mentor and trusting God.
I can honestly say that those five focuses really benefited me as I began this season of dating. Living a full life allowed me to interact with Kevin through children’s ministry, improv comedy and a young adult Bible study. Disciplining myself to have a loving and gracious attitude toward men made me stand out as an encourager. Praying, trusting and inviting wise counsel, encouraged me in my singleness and kept me from giving up on God and what He was doing in my life.
To those of you non-dating singles, I say this: What you do now will affect your future relationships. One area in which this became apparent both through my experiences and those of friends is the area of purity. When I was not in a relationship, I sometimes let the purity of my entertainment choices, thoughts and attitudes slide. It didn’t seem as important when I didn’t have the temptation of a live person in my everyday life. In “Leaving the Edge,” I wrote:
Putting our sexuality under Christ’s lordship is a lifelong discipline, whether single or married. I know that I have struggled with purity issues just as much outside of relationships as in them; the impurity just manifests itself in different ways. As my friend says: “Being in a relationship just brings to the surface sin and impurity that was already lurking beneath the surface.”
Loose sexual boundaries in a dating or even engagement relationship will carry over into to marriage. Adultery, pornography, abuse and all types of sexual dysfunction plague Christian marriages and families. And these are simply behaviors that overflow from a heart where sexuality has not been brought under Christ’s control. A heart where gratification trumps God’s way. Sex is about giving sacrificially to another person within a covenant relationship, not taking whatever you can get away with.
I understand now how the disciplines I have developed (and not developed) affect my current relationship. Cultivating holiness is a lifelong pursuit for the believer, regardless of marital state. Seeds of righteousness planted in your single years will bear fruit in your future relationships and marriage. Likewise, weeds of sin left untended will certainly harm them. Singles (and not-singles) should heed the words of Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
It is prudent for believers to sow good seeds at every stage. Reaping a good harvest is sweet.