There's no denying what you already know: Dating is hard.
Every suitor is a potential husband, and every woman is a possible wife — not to mention father or mother of your future children. It's no exaggeration to say that outside of following Christ, who you choose to marry is the of your life.
More than anything else, it will dictate your future happiness and success.
In large part, it will determine who you become and the life you lead.
With this perspective, it's easy to consider anything less than a ring on the finger a failure.
Should you give up the dating game entirely and accept perpetual singleness until God brings that special person into your life? Even if someone cleared the bar one day, I found myself consumed with doubt the next day. Instead of holding me to my promise to never date again, God taught me four important lessons that transformed my understanding of dating, marriage and love.
Or double-down and immerse yourself even deeper into every relationship in hopes of chancing upon your future spouse? And there was always the possibility I might not meet her standards. Perhaps like me, you too grew up believing God preordained one person for you to marry.
Perhaps there's another route, a pathway between hopelessness and franticness. Then the unthinkable happened: A woman I truly cared for broke my heart. Maybe you've ended a relationship because the other person didn't measure up. And while I still hold to this belief, some of us take it a step further.
But this zero-sum mentality leaves us in a precarious position, since, according to this definition, dating is always unsuccessful — until the one time it's not.
That's not to say dating anyone other than your future spouse isn't worthwhile. Even after answering these questions satisfactorily, I never really stopped asking them.
For most of us, though, all we see while dating is one failure after another. They continued circling my mind, driven by an unrelenting fear that I hadn't covered every contingency; I hadn't considered this quality or that characteristic, this angle or that lighting.
He breaks up with you, or you end things with him; she crushes your heart, or you devastate her dreams. Perhaps more relevant, how are you as a Christian to act if you believe God has called you to marriage? As you might imagine, no girl measured up — the truth is, no one ever could. Fortunately, God had other plans for me — and I believe He has other plans for you, too.