Life is too short to be worried and dissatisfied during seasons of singleness. I was certainly not a satisfied single during my teenage years, nor into my early twenties. Looking back, I realize how desperate I was to find someone to love me—and how afraid that no one ever would. In high school, I was deathly afraid of girls. I had extreme difficulty talking to girls, let alone sticking out my neck enough to ask one on a date. Eventually I did date a girl—during my senior year of high school. She was a freshman, and I quizzed other friends mercilessly to be absolutely certain that she liked me before I mustered the courage to ask her out.
In college, I dated many different girls. But I had set myself up for a big let-down by assuming that I would meet my wife at the Christian college I was attending. You could say my dating in college resembled the behavior of a small child chasing a butterfly. I jumped and grasped with all my might, but every beautiful butterfly was always just out of reach. Every relationship I began seemed to blow up in my face. Looking back, I think I know why they never worked out: I was trying too hard.
Now, when I counsel young people in their twenties about relationships, I usually say, “desperate is not attractive, but devotion to God is.” I quickly add that devotion to God must not be manipulation to catch someone’s eye, but rather a sincere faith in Jesus’s challenge to “seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness,” which comes with the assurance that “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). I tell them the best way to catch a butterfly is not to chase it at all. Rather, sit down and focus on something important (that is, God), allowing the butterfly to eventually land on your shoulder. In some ways that is exactly what happened when I met the woman who would become my life partner. Julie lived in Canada and I lived in the United States. Before our relationship began, I didn’t even know that she existed, so I wasn’t tempted to chase her or pursue her. This one time in my life, I didn’t try to make a relationship with a girl happen. Not only that, but I didn’t even try to find her; the Lord simply gave her to me. The butterfly landed on my shoulder.
REFLECTIONS: Copy the text of Matthew 6:33 on a 3×5 card and place it where you’ll see it often as a reminder to seek first the kingdom of God. Reflect on the amount of time and energy you spend thinking about and searching for “the right person.” Make some hard decisions that will allow you to put that time to better use, focusing on you becoming “the right person” through increased devotion to the Lord and his affairs.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.