“But I shall show you a still more excellent way…” – 1 Corinthians 12:31
Before I begin this week’s (potentially epic) blog, I feel as though a disclaimer is in order: This blog, in no way, shape, or form, should be taken as a “holier than thou” or “I’m way better than you are” blog. As I said in last week’s song of the week blog, my heart is changing so it only makes sense to explain why its changing and what God is showing me in all of this. I’m not necessarily saying what is better, but what I believe is a more excellent way, straight from the heart of God Himself. That being said, God is working wonders in my heart.
One of my friends last night said that he thought people only courted in the 14th century. Perhaps the idea and/or practice of courting seems a bit antiquated, but perhaps it needs a bit of a revival. The nerd in me looked up the definition of “court” as a verb…its definition number 17 in the dictionary I checked. Seventeen? Clearly we’ve neglected this practice, this way of understanding why a man and a woman are brought together. “To try to win the favor, preference or goodwill of…” Eh, next definition please. “”To seek the affections of; woo.” While I love the word “woo” even this definition falls short. After that one the definitions get a bit ridiculous, “to attempt to attract a mate by engaging in certain species-specific behaviors.” Really? Now all I’m thinking about is that scene from “The Ugly Truth” when Gerard Butler is talking about Bonobo monkies. Why do these definitions fail to…be good? They don’t even begin to describe or explain the awesomness of courting so I’ve made it my new mission to redefine courting:
Dating on God-infused steroids.
Ok, even that falls short. As I’ve been praying about all of this I kept coming back to the verse that precedes Paul’s famous discourse on love. “But I shall show you a still more excellent way.” I’ve dated, let me just start by saying that. And, I’ve had my heart broken. For months ever since I started writing this blog I’ve been talking about marriage and love and the kind of love we are called to with our future spouse, whether we know who that is yet or not.
Friends, there is a still more excellent way. Whenever I was dating someone we always thought we were going towards marriage, otherwise we wouldn’t be dating. But in the end that general sense of direction just wasn’t good enough. I’m sure you (or I) could count how many times since the beginning of this blog I’ve talked about how a woman should be a woman, a godly woman who knows what she deserves (by the grace of God) and isn’t afraid to ask for it, and if a guy can’t accept that he’ll either MAN UP, rise to the occasion and pursue your heart…or he’ll walk away. And enter me eating my own words…and courtship.
Courtship is a beautiful way of understanding God’s plan for our lives. Courtship is centered on and rooted in prayer, and therefore in God Himself. Antoine de Saint Exupery once said, “Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction.” I think that quote could possibly sum up courtship: we aren’t looking at each other (as can often be the case with casual dating), but we are looking at God TOGETHER. Sure, we look at each other, its not as though I wear a blindfold when I spend time with my significant other. But we aren’t focused on each other, we are focused on God, and subsequently we focus on getting to know each other’s hearts. We fall in love first with God. Only after we love Him do we look at each other. Our time spent together is centered around prayer, around God. We both pray that He would show us the other’s heart and through that prayer He reveals our hearts to each other.
Courtship begins with direction and with discernment. Whenever I dated in the past we had that vague understanding of where we were going and what the end goal eventually was. When courting, we both know from the beginning and are constatnly praying about where He is calling us: to the Sacrament of Marriage. We don’t just want a wedding or a marriage, we want a life together, a life spent sharing in the kind of relationship that is known to the Trinity alone. We want a life rooted in the Trinity, rooted in Love, rooted in the Sacraments. We take our hearts to God, and by His grace, and only if it is His will, He gives our hearts to our significant other (courtmate? courter? Labels fail here).
Again, I’m not saying that dating is a bad thing, however I’ve come to see in recent weeks that there is a still more excellent way. I give my heart to God, I constantly throw myself at His feet and yet He chooses to trust my heart, to show my heart to the man who is courting me. This entire relationship began and continues in prayer. He prayed about his feelings for weeks before he brought them to me and when we talked about courting he gave me the opportunity to pray about it, to bring my own heart to God. He challenged me to pray more, to throw myself deeper into His arms of love. He laid his heart on the line and placed his trust in God, trusting that He would guide my heart and his heart as he waited for me in prayer. As I prayed about entering into this courtship, he prayed for me. Its crazy to look back now and see how those first fruits of prayer are continuing to blossom. Its amazing to read old blogs and realize that God knew exactly what I wanted and that He was, and in fact is listening to my prayers. He and I pray together everyday, even if we can’t see each other and we both know that it is how He keeps us close to one another. (The first “he” in that sentence is referring to the man who is courting me, but because its “He” it appears as though God and I pray together everyday, which is completely true. I pray to Him and with Him. He guides my prayers.) We take our hearts to God in prayer everyday, and by praying together He not only keeps our hearts close to Him, but to each other as well. “A still more excellent way” to be sure.
I could go on and certainly get all mushy about how fantastic courting is, but rather I’ll challenge you – what is God calling you to? Is He calling you to a still more excellent way? Are you looking at your significant other or are you together looking towards heaven? Towards God’s heart? Towards the Sacrament of Marriage? Take your heart to God in prayer and ask Him to show you His plans for you. He may not answer instantly or on your time tables. That is okay! I can promise you that when (not if, but WHEN) He answers it will absolutely blow your mind just how much love He showers us with. Choose the still more excellent way – choose God. Love God.
Lord, may Your words in my heart be what Your children need to hear, may they grow closer to You through the words You place in my heart. Continue to guide our hearts as we seek always to fall deeper in love with Your Son, Jesus. Reveal to us a still more excellent way. AMEN.