When I was a kid I loved basketball. I loved playing it, watching it, listening to it on the radio and then re-enacting that game in the driveway the next day.
As I got older I began to actually work really hard at it. I was coached by my dad (who still has a quicker release on his shot than me). Later different coaches spent time with me and coached me up. I played spring and summer ball. I went to the outdoor courts to practice. I did drills. When I reached high school I conditioned and even bought strength shoes to help my vertical. I shot endless free throws making sure I made 10 in a row before I quit for the day – no matter how long it took – even in the dark.
Now I never became a star. I got a few awards but I was no where near good enough to play division one. But I did get better – a lot better. And even now I can still bang it out in the post against most people. I can’t do physically what I could 20 years ago, but the flow and movements come naturally – because they are ingrained. They are a part of me.
Practice and coaching are a part of almost everything we do in life. Think about it. If you’ve learned to play a musical instrument, learned math, got a degree in anything you’ve been coached and you’ve practiced. When we enter the workforce we are trained by someone. When you get a new job, you have to learn the culture of that company or industry. Someone helps you – at least hey hand you a manual or something.
Even in church this is true. To be a small group leaders usually means you have to be in a small group first. Then there is at least a training weekend. Someone should check in on how you are doing. A new Christian can usually get help on how to read the bible. There are membership classes. Need help in an area? There’s a class for that. Marriage, parenting, spiritual gifts, bible study, all of it.
But when it comes to helping single people get married, not so much. We are so lost in this area and there is very little help.
There are all sorts of things that keep us single. Some of it is situational. Some of it is our own sin or lack of commitment. No doubt. Some of it though, has to do with skill.
Now we all hate that it takes skill. But we hate this in every area of life. I mean I wish I could be good at stuff without working at it. Who doesn’t? But that’s not the typical situation. I’d love to be able to hit the golf ball where I want it to go without ever practicing. I wish I never had to study for a test in college but I did.
There is skill involved in getting a date. There is the inner confidence part. The approach part. There is the body language part. Many of us have never even considered most of this. Most of us have never worked at it. And almost none of us have ever been coached or mentored in it in any way whatsoever.
Many of us grew up without a dad or without one who taught us this stuff. A lot of us learned all the wrong things. It’s a mess. It doesn’t have to be. But you probably aren’t going to wake one morning, flip a switch and do it different.
This is why a lot of the spiritual platitudes in Christian dating are a complete waste of time. “God will bring you someone” is pointless if you can’t close the deal when He does. Telling me about marriage is helpful but won’t help me get married.
Most in the Church basically say don’t date. Don’t pursue someone unless you are sure it could go somewhere. Don’t practice. I get the idea. But to me it’s unfair to assume that someone can never go on a date, and then just turn it on at the right moment for the right person.
Am I saying go on hundreds of dates? Am I saying ask everyone out, or hit on every girl. Heaven’s no! But what I am saying is that somehow we need to help people work through their stuff and develop their ability to actually move with confidence when they feel led to.
We need to quit focussing solely on keeping people from marrying wrong. People are already not getting married. Instead we need to somehow become proactive (within our principles of loving others) in helping people figure out how to get married right. That has to include more than who not to marry. It has to include how to make the right thing happen.
I have more questions on this than answers. How do we get better at dating/relationship starting? Where did you learn what you do know? What do you wish someone would have helped you with in this area?