Saturday, November 20, 2010

Community and Dating: Abide


Luke and I always knew that God had to be the center of our relationship. We've always said that was our goal. We've always been told that's what it means to live life together as a Christian couple. God had to be the center.

So now let me tell you:
We had no. idea. what. that. meant.
And we're pretty sure no one telling us knew either.

In an effort to be the "spiritual leader" in our relationship (whatever that meant), Luke was always searching for ways to make God the center. He sought after Christian dating books, advice, we even thought about doing a bible study once a week together.

Although these are all great things in a relationship, I knew that this wasn't it. We were still missing it. Yes, we wanted God to "be the center," but I just kept feeling that these tactics had us still missing the point. I kept telling him that I didn't know why or how these things wouldn't work, or what would, but that I still thought there was something else that needed to be done to make Him the center. 

Throughout the years, we figured it out. And the answer was abiding. If you know me well, you know that this is a topic that is near to my heart. I've spoken on it a little bit before, but to sum it up, a few years ago I realized what it meant to truly abide. And then I realized that most Christians were clueless as to what it meant. And THEN I had a yearning to teach people what it meant. Throughout all of this, I realized that abiding was not only the foundation for a life with Christ, but also the foundation for a life with Christ with Luke. 

In a nut shell, abiding to me is more than reading your bible in the morning during "quiet time." It's more than saying your prayers on a timely basis. It's more than listening to klove all day. It's more than going to church. It's an all day, every day process that keeps your heart aligned with His constantly. Your actions reflect your heart when it is rooted in the Lord all day, and eventually you won't know what it's like to make decisions without going to the Lord first. The Lord is your default. His in your head all day. Everything revoles around Him. And I believe that that abiding looks differently for everyone. God has created us all so wonderfully different, wired us up all uniquely, so your abiding will be 100% yours. Your prayers, your time in the Word, your life will look different than another's who is abiding as well. And you should always be on guard when someone else counsels you to abide a certain way that doesn't line up with scripture.

When you are living life in a community of believers (your church, your friends, your family, etc.), each of you have to be abiding separately. Whenever my community group meets together on Tuesday night, if we haven't been abiding alone throughout the week, there is no way we can abide together. There is no way we can grow, mature, and bear fruit together if we haven't been growing, maturing, and bearing fruit on our own. Same with church on Sunday. We can't just take what we learn and leave it where we learned it. If we're not actively seeking out the Lord by ourselves, then we can't seek Him together. It just doesn't work that way. We can believe that our times together are bearing fruit, even if we aren't doing anything on our own in the week, but it's a disguise. Our hearts as a whole won't reflect Him, if our hearts alone don't. End of story.

And that's what it takes to make God the center of our dating relationship. Luke and I have to abide separately to abide together. There is nothing we can do together to make us work, if we aren't doing those things alone. It's crazy how it works really. If I'm living my life from the Lord, and if he's living his life from the Lord, somehow our life together becomes from the Lord also even if there weren't any kind of works that we did to make it that way together. Abiding separately = abiding together. I don't know how or why the formula works, but it does. Yes, we can still pray together, worship together, have a bible study together, and those will all be great things that will strengthen our relationship, but those works will all be for nothing if we aren't doing those things individually.  Abiding is our foundation. Having our hearts separately lined up with His (which also means together lined up with His. remember the formula) will truly solve every other Christian dating relationship problem we ever come across. Everything else from here on out will come from that truth and that foundation. 

Just like community.

(And here are some Sufjan songs I can't stop playing.)

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