In the list of qualities to look for in a spouse, I think there is one that is often over-looked but that is actually quite important: commitment.
When you read “commitment,” did you automatically think I was going to encourage commitment-phobic men to “man up” and get married? Not at all. Imagine the following scenario, which is ripped directly from my Facebook newsfeed.
In my early 20s, I befriended two guys who were roommates and were part of a young adult Bible study I had joined. They were funny, smart, quality men who were serious about God.
About a year into the friendship, they both stopped coming to the Bible study. Our social circles stopped intersecting, and I only kept up with them from a distance via Facebook. I noticed that every year or two, they changed groups. Different friends, different churches, different social networks. I knew a lot of the people in their various groups, so I would see photos of them and their new group. A year or two later, it would be a completely new group. There was no consistency in their church community. I find this lack of consistency a bit troubling.
Researchers have started identifying an interesting social phenomenon among millennials: FOMO (fear of missing out). With every social interaction documented and posted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other new network, it’s easy to always look for the next best thing, including people. Bored with your friends? Find new ones who look like they have more fun. Dated all the girls in your Bible study? Avoid the awkwardness and find a new one. Is your pastor going through a dry spell and you’re finding the sermons aren’t as entertaining? Find another church.
It says a lot about someone’s character when they stick it out. Whether it’s with a job or a church community or a group of friends, it’s refreshing to see young adults not move on to the next, hopefully better thing, just because they can. A mature believer is someone who is consistent and shows commitment not just to people, but to other things in life.
I heard a comedian say the difference between dating a boy and a man is that a boy sleeps on a futon from his college days and has bare walls, but a man has a grown-up bed and pictures on the walls. It’s a joke, but there is a bit of truth in it for men and women: Mature adults aren’t afraid to commit.
When I began dating my now-husband, I was impressed with his consistency in his church community. He had joined the church plant when it started, during a time of deep pain in his life. Church members and the people in his community group had walked with him through that dark time, and because of that, now there is a tried-and-true loyalty earned over time.
Because we were set up on a blind date, it was important to me that he have people in his life who could vouch for him and who truly knew him beyond the surface-level.
And as we dated and got engaged, I reaped the benefits of Tyler’s commitment to “his people.” They were quick to welcome me into the church community (with a little bit of healthy skepticism about this random girl he started dating long-distance), and because of their love for Tyler, they also loved me. Tyler’s commitment and consistency in being an active member and leader in the church meant we were overwhelmed with gifts, prayers, offers of help, and wise words of advice during our engagement and on our wedding day.
As you’re dating with discernment, let me encourage you to place a high value on consistency and commitment, especially to a church community.