It is also important that we do not base our identity in someone else other than Christ because when that someone else disappoints or dissatisfies, we will shatter. So if you can comfortably say “Yes” to the question mentioned earlier, it means that you are assured of who you are in Christ. You are anchored on Jesus and not merely on what the world dictates you should be or must become. Not that dating or getting married is wrong; it’s just that it should not be anybody’s basis for living.
Before I came to Christ, I was in a four-year relationship with a decent-looking guy from college. We were crazy infatuated with one another (“love” as we call it that time) to the point that nothing else mattered more than our relationship. The intense infatuation led me to unknowingly place my identity in him and what we have. If he is a happy, then I am happy. If he is not, then I am also not. If we’re okay, then I am okay. If we’re not, then you’d see me drowning in self-pity. His plans became my plans, and his desires became my desires.
Since we were both emotionally unstable and insecure, especially me, the relationship was a rollercoaster ride. It was so unhealthy not only because we were both living in sin and self-centeredness but mainly because we threw God out of the picture. Unfortunately, we were blinded by how crazy and immature the relationship was. We did not want any opposing opinion about our relationship. We justified every sin and rebellion. We wanted to fight it through until marriage.
I used to anchor who I am and what I am about to relationships founded on feelings and the flesh. My decisions only led me astray as sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).
Thankfully, as God can open up a path through a sea (Exodus 14) and provide water from a rock (Exodus 17), He had straightened a path I tangled and choked myself from. By God’s grace, when I came to Christ, He forgave all my sins and gave me the privilege to be His child (John 1:12). Sealed with that, I am no longer identified by the standards and ambitions of this world, I am now identified by who Christ is (Romans 6:6, 1 Peter 2:9).
I have a friend from college who got her heart broken from a guy whom she thought to be “the one”. He was her first boyfriend and indeed her first heartbreak. She did not entertain suitors for four years. Then on her 28th birthday, it dawned on her that she needs to be in a relationship already because according to her, she needs to get married by 30.
So she got into a relationship with the first guy who pursued her at age 28. She collapsed all her standards and compromised her values, even her faith in Jesus, and rationalised her decision of doing so just to settle with a guy for the sake of not being single at 28.
Few months in the relationship, her boyfriend asked her to choose between her faith and family in Christ, and their relationship. Sadly, she chose the latter. When I asked her why, she said that she could not see herself going on with life without the guy. I shared to her God’s truth and promises, but she held on to her decision.
Today, as I am still trying to reach out to her in love and prayers, she remains unhappy at 32. She has been with the guy for many years but the guy remains to have no plans of looking for a stable job, finishing his education and even marrying her. She admitted that she kind of “lost” herself (i.e., not knowing who she is anymore) while being with the guy. She encircled her plans and who she is around a guy whose mindset is not towards Christ but the world. Since she has invested so much in the relationship, according to her, leaving the guy is not an option. She desires to marry him for the sake of not being alone when she gets old.
My friend’s decision breaks my heart until today but I put my hope in the Lord. I trust His plans. I know that He loves my friend more than I do.
My past story and my friend’s story provide classic examples of consequences that people face when they put their identity at the wrong place — guys/girls instead of Christ. Truth is, we won’t find the fullness of our existence by being someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife; not even being a mother/father. We won’t find our purpose and worth in being needed and wanted by someone.
We can blame the world for being too romanticised (like labelling people based on their relationship status, or alluring people to believe that being married/in a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship will make someone whole) or just too temporal in thinking (like labelling people based on what they do or what they have). But deep down, it really is not just the world, it’s also our longing to find fullness in our existence.
Two weeks ago, I was memorising the verses in Colossians 1:15-16. It says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
This verse tells me that we won’t know ourselves unless we come to Jesus. Sure, we can have what we call “self-identity” – to look within us and what we do or passionate about, and then come up with our own identity. But, as Colossians 1:15-16 shares, we cannot truly know ourselves apart from the One who created us.
A misplaced identity, whether single or married, will remain as a misplaced identity. But an identity placed in Christ, whether single or married, will remain as a solid foundation of truth and love.
More than a month ago, during a day-in prayer and fasting time with some friends, I joined a small group led by a young married man. Somewhere along our discussion (of our individual reflections) in the chapter of Mark 4, he shared that he has been asking God for something. But instead of a “yes”, “no” or “wait”, God asked him back: “Will you be content and thankful with or without what you are asking for?”
The question led him to check his motives before God: Am I seeking God for the present more than His presence? So his personal response to God was, “God, with or without what I am asking for, I am content and thankful because I have You.”
Then he shared to our small group, “God reminded me of this verse from 1 Timothy which says: But godliness with contentment is great gain. Now, I have joy and peace because I am reminded that I am already complete in Christ Jesus.”
What he shared to the group indeed made an impact on me. Am I sold-out complete and identified in Christ? Paul expounds it best in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” I am sold-out complete and identified in Christ, whether single or married, because He is my core — my strength.
So to anyone who’s asking, “Am I really ready for courtship and marriage?” The answer lies on who Christ is in your life (your security) and who you are in Christ (your identity).