Courtship has been a buzz word you have either likely embraced or avoided in the last decade or more. There are so many really good article, books and speeches, outlining “why”. A few on “how”, but not many.
When I wanted to outline our “how” twenty years ago, my husband wisely advised we would wait, because each situation would be different, and any “rules” we laid down were likely to be affected by the circumstance. How right he was! Our plan, whatever it might have been, probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for our daughter courting a widower!
But one thing I have seen over the years concerns me. Standards are great, and there are some you shouldn’t waiver on—like is the potential partner is a believer who is walking with the Lord.
But I’ve heard about and seen many who expect 30 year marriage maturity out of couples who think they may be interested in each other, and discount a potential suitor (or “courtee”) because they lack maturity in some area.
Personally,I think what matters is where they are “going”. I know many couple who married VERY young, but are doing well!
While you evaluate if the man or woman that your child may be interested in is an appropriate mate, ask if your child “there”:? Are you even “there”? What defines “there” for you, and why? Is it born out of your own struggles within yourself or your marriage? Is it born out of fear or a sense that if you would just “do it right” everything would end up fairy tale for you and your child’s new family.
There are other ways to look at this. I will speak from the girls’ parent’s perspective, but it needs to be looked at from both directions. Does he have an interest in Christ? Is he growing? Teachable? Manage his money well? Look to the needs of others? (Not just :her” right now) Hard , diligent worker? Respectful to his parents and grandparents? Respectful of his church leadership? Given to too much pleasure? Self-centered? Insist on his own way? Manipulative? Given to anger?
What do they want to “be” in ten years? This may change. But do they have a heart for serving the Lord for How they thinks they can serve the Lord better together than apart? How does he expect to provide? Do they agree about children? What do his parents think?
Examine your goals for courtship. Are your “standards” out of fear or a need to control? Remember, the Perfect Parent raised His first “kids” in a perfect environment and it didn’t turn out so well . God raised Adam and Eve in Eden. We surely are not going to be able to manipulate a situation that is better than what God provided. And we are all now sinful, fallen beings.
So is it hopeless? No. We have a Redeemer. And He has a plan. Seek His face, not your plan. Seek His wisdom, not the approval of others. Seek to see through His eyes, hear through His ears, watch through His heart.
Rest in the Lord! Ask His guidance and trust Him. There are some times we have walked things that make me wonder …then I remember that He does guide, and just because something is His will doesn’t mean it will be easy. There will be hardships.
Like Teri Maxwell says in Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit, you know things won’t go right all the time. What we need to do is PLAN how we will respond in a godly way when they don’t. She says this in relationship to children and disobedience. We live in a fallen world. It will happen. But I think it’s applicable to so many other areas. And so many believers forget 1 Peter and even Jesus’ promise that in the world we will have troubles. Our children will too. It’s a strange, western “christianity” that thinks once we trust God, lifepo here will be smooth and happy! The point is we have Someone to live for, who loves and redeems us…we have a real future…a purpose…..and someone who can see us through hardships, even situations that are a result of sin and even use them for good.
So where does that bring us in the “how”? We still try to “do it right”, meaning in a manner that is seeking to please the Lord and the good of others. We don’t seek to please the crowd we run with (or want to run with) or to be control freaks trying to protect our kids of inevitable pain. Fear leads to sin.
Hopefully, we have started to train them to deal with disappointment, relational hardships and the like in a God-honoring way. The point is that marriage is a reflection of Christ and the Church. We don’t expect any many to embody the perfection of Christ. The goal matters most. The place on the field we are starting from matters as well.
But we don’t start at the finish line.