I am reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey. It’s a best seller. He talks about paradigms that we all have and how “where we stand, depends on where we sit.” What is paradigm? It’s the way we see the world in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting. It’s essentially a map. A map is not the actual territory, it’s an explanation of certain aspects of the territory. We all tend to interpret things in terms of the way things are and in the way things should be. These maps actually produce behaviors and attitudes. And let me tell you as a single, this greatly influence our approach to relationships and dating.
I had a conversation with a group of people and one particular friend on a hot topic. My friend was a champion on the views put forth in a new book on dating and singleness that she recently read. She seemed to wholeheartedly to agree with the principles that the writer put forth. As I listened, I thought completely along a different vantage point. Her background, experience in life, cultural, family, and church experience has shaped her view. So has all of this shaped mine.
Our stories are totally different. I mean, everyone’s stories are different, but ours happen to be VERY different. I listened to her and thought honestly that she was agreeing with the writer’s own paradigm about the subject of dating. Her wants, desires, and experiences seem to line up with what he was saying, and she feels his ideas are true. Not really wanting to get into an intense conversation, I didn’t really say much. I respect where she’s coming from, and respect her as a person. She has much faith in her own paradigm. However, I have a fairly different paradigm at this stage in my life. It looks nothing like the paradigm I used to have in my 20’s. Thank God.
People sometimes use the Bible to support their ideas or paradigm on dating. I’ve read many different books on the subject. All of them having many valid points. Each one of them kind of coming from a different paradigm. Many of them are full of wisdom principles, and many of them are full of opinions based on each writer’s personal experiences. However, the Bible doesn’t really talk about the actual subject of how to go about dating in terms of: whether or not we should go on dating websites; go out a lot on one-on-one dates or only do it through community; or make sure we hear from God about His choice of a mate for us. Our beliefs about all of these things come from our own experiences and worldview. We all have different needs according to our past, and we all are wired differently in what our hearts can handle in our lives. So, of course, we all have different paradigms!
The Bible does discuss the matters of the heart as a matter of character. It describes the values and virtues that should govern the life of a believer, that should govern the life of every believer whether single or married. It talks of sexual purity, honesty, sincerity, unconditional love, unselfishness, honor, respect, etc. I’ve focused a lot more on those principles in the last years. I’d rather not argue with certain Christian single’s point of views on all the other matters. God knows I’ve been pretty adamant about my views in the past. Healthy discussions are needed in the Body of Christ, but arguing is not really profitable conversation.
How to choose where you sit!
- Be fully convinced and in faith in your own paradigm for dating.
Whether or not you “kissed dating goodbye” or you “date whomever you want whenever you want” it’s up to each person to do what is in his heart to do what is right for them. Some may exclaim that kissing dating goodbye ruined their lives, while others exclaim that it saved them from much heartache, and they met their mate in the context of community. (You would have to read Joshua’s Harris book to fully understand this concept.) Their love story was pure, beautiful, and completely designed by God. I’m not taking sides with either point of view, and I don’t really feel the need to explain my point of view right now. However, I do believe that, “Each one should be full convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)
I am navigating myself through this treacherous territory of my single life with my own “map” for this territory. Is it ever changing? Of course. It’s a beautiful and wonderful life that I have, and I am in a great place right now. My new paradigm is from a vantage point that has brought me more satisfaction than I ever have had in my life. I have thoroughly thought through it. I have some very strong convictions that other singles might laugh at or disagree with. And one of them is that I just don’t go out with any attractive Christian guy who asks me out. It’s just not gonna happen. Yes, I pray about it. That’s cliche for some people, but not for me. It’s real life. I don’t want to date and date and date for months and months because everything appears hunky-dory only to later really seek the Lord for peace after I’ve fully emotionally invested myself in the relationship. That’s an upside down paradigm that made me stand in a hurtful place for more than one season of my life. Not going back there. I am fully convinced and in faith that I am sitting in the right place now, and will stand in the right relationship for me at the right time. It’s about stinking time I got to this point. I’m healthier, truly happier, and have more purpose and vision than ever before. How did I come up with this vision, well a whole lot of time consulting the Lord. So above all else, make sure that you…
2. Consult God on His map for you and where He wants you to “sit”.
Ask God the hard question….What paradigms do I have that are not your paradigms? I want to see the world essentially the way He sees the world. I want to see experiences and people the way He sees them. I want to not just THINK that I am perceiving things with my spirit, I want to KNOW that I am perceiving things with my spirit through His vantage point, so that my behaviors and attitudes about all things are pleasing to Him. (Galatians 5: 16-24) One of my mentors talked about the other night how we should be a people who pray with such great confidence that when we pray, we know – it shall be done. That’s having a paradigm that exists at a higher level, and not just based on what is naturally seen with the human eye. Covey talks of how we see the world not as it is, but as we are. The Bible says:
1 John 4: 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
For years I read this as – I need to know myself by how God sees me, but that’s only one side of it. Really and truly when I cultivate intimacy more and more with the One who created me, then I more fully know who I am. My focus these days is in knowing Him, for this intimacy shapes my personal paradigm. When I am living in the love of God, then I am truly living and all else flows from that place of intimacy.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Furthermore, if “where I stand is where I sit,” then I want to make sure that I stay seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That takes a lot of effort and time, but it helps to keep my heart in the right place and ready to receive a mate at the right time.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.