At sixteen, you think you have it all figured out. I did! I knew exactly what kind of man I was going to marry. Taking every male in every Jane Austen novel I’ve ever read and throwing in a few verses, I had come up with every “standard” needed in my future husband. But in my naivety, I had fashioned a man that didn’t exist, that couldn’t exist, namely because Mr. Darcy was neither biblical nor real.
But shouldn’t we have standards? Where do we find the balance between being as picky as Tyra and dating every bad breath that asks us out? What’s the difference between having ideals and having standards?
Ideals put God in a box and you above God.
When what his favorite TV show is or what his height is affects what type of guy you’re willing to date, you’ve successfully derailed what God could potentially do in your life and placed Him in a box. The God of the universe, who created you (Psalm 139:13), who intimately knows everything about you (Psalm 139:1-3), who knows something as inconsequential as how many hairs are on your head (Matthew 10:29-31), knows what’s best for you, His daughter.
But ideals fashioned after movie characters, Jane Austen novels, or even someone great like a father, can tie the hands of God in your life and block out a truly great dating relationship. There are character traits that you may not even realize you need; character traits that God in His divine knowledge knows about and has orchestrated. Ideals can stunt this, because they cause us to cross off any guy that comes around, simply because he’s not the “ideal.” When you have certain criteria set in stone for your future husband, you’ve assumed the position of God’s authority in your life.
Standards keep you anchored to the Word, trusting in the Lord, and in a state of prayer.
One of the biggest differences between ideals and standards is focus. While your ideals keep you locked on celebrity news and focused on so much of the outward appearances, your standards can keep you fastened to and guided by God’s Word.
The Bible is your source of evaluation. Characteristics describing a godly man taken from Scripture create the questions to ask about the guy you are dating, or even thinking about dating. There is a huge element of trusting God that comes into play when a woman is ready to burn The List. We must remember that God knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-4). He’s looking out for our best interests (Romans 8:28-29).
Ideals are often things we hide behind in an effort to protect ourselves.
Some of us may cringe at this, because it’s exactly why we have these ridiculous ideals…they serve as a shield behind which to hide. For some of you, that 70 foot wall around your heart you call “standards” is your crutch, your safeguard, your first line of defense. But what you don’t realize is that you are isolating yourself, not protecting yourself. And you’re potentially missing out on what God wants to do for you.
Standards allow safety in the dating scene.
Having biblically-based standards in dating is your best option for protecting your heart from devastation.
Because much of the journey is based on prayer, guidance of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom from Scripture you can have confidence that as God is leading you into the relationship, He’s also safeguarding your heart. Even if you don’t end up as husband and wife, there can be some amazing lessons learned from dating biblically.
So where do you go from here? Am I suggesting that you date the next guy that asks you out? No. But a balance needs to be found. How do we formulate these standards if we can’t base them off of Chris Pine and his dreamy eyes?
1. Keep it simple.
Standards should not be long and exhaustive; instead keep it short. Keeping your standards short does a few things for you. First, it leaves room for growth in both of your lives. Secondly, keeping it short allows you to memorize your standards, and memorized standards allow you to think clearly when Dreamy McDreamerson gives you that wink.
2. Keep it biblical.
Having a portion of Scripture that coincides with each standard not only legitimizes the importance of that standard, but also anchors it to the very thing that should be guiding your life. Keeping your standards biblically-based allows you to evaluate him by basing them on something tangible and not your emotions.
3. Keep it in prayer.
The power of prayer is of utmost importance when it comes to navigating through the labyrinth of dating. It’s essential in developing your standards, as well as in keeping them. Since dating eventually leads to marriage, it leads to one of the biggest decisions of your life. It should take priority in your prayer life.
Valentine’s Day is here, and unless you plan on developing a time warp that can shuttle you into the world of Pemberley, I very much doubt you’ll be dating the ideal Mr. Darcy. You could, however, be dating biblically and dating someone who fits godly standards.