I’m really excited. Because I get to chat with you about Christ-centered love.
I’ve been dating this really cool guy for almost three years now, and we’re saying “I do” this summer. God has taught us a whole bunch of incredible things about His love—and this list of twenty lessons on dating and love just scratches the surface.
First, I have three disclaimers for you:
- 1 Corinthians 13 is God’s Word on true love. Those verses will never fail you! I’m not trying to add to what God has already told us about love. My goal is to share truth and practical advice that reflects what 1 Cor. 13 tells us. Sound good?
- You may be single right now, and this list may leave you thinking, Uhh . . . I don’t have a man to love in the first place! That may be true, but learning these things before you ever enter a relationship could be crazy awesome.
- I’m still enrolled in True Love 101. I don’t know everything there is to know. We’ll always keep learning more and more about Christ’s love. So I’m not claiming to be a love expert. I’m just offering to you what I’ve learned so far.
Here we go!
1. Christ is the source of true, selfless love.
We’re meant to fall completely in love with Him, and He fills our hearts to the brim—and no one, nothing else could ever possibly compare. But sometimes we try to make someone else our heart fill-er up-er. And that’s when we start to face conflict with each other . . . because we’re expecting a person to fill only what Jesus can. So allow Him to be your starting point, your real source of true fulfillment. He’ll do it. He’ll make it incredible. Trust Him.
2. One sinner + another sinner = two sinners.
That’s some pretty simple math that has big implications. We don’t always expect to encounter so many conflicts or so much pain in a relationship. But we do, because two sinners will sin against each other. But here’s some good news . . .
3. Grace is glue that binds.
When two sinners choose to submit humbly to Christ’s way of true love, His grace heals wounds and binds the two of you together. It’s a beautiful thing that we never deserve.
4. Accept apologies, and freely forgive.
When the goodness of grace comes into play, apologies and forgiveness should follow. We can’t be stingy in our forgiveness—that’s sin. Christ tells us to be forgivers that keep on forgiving.
Matthew 18:21–22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”
This is less an invitation to keep a tally of how many times you’ve forgiven someone (“You messed up, seventy-eight times! No more forgiveness.”) and more the big idea that we are supposed to forgive over, and over, and over. Thankfully Jesus practices what He preaches and forgives us way more than seventy-seven times.
5. Real love sacrifices.
Love says, “I’ll put aside my own desires for yours.” That’s tough stuff. But it’s God’s pattern for love, and it’s part of the equation for an incredible romance.
6. Your guy may not match your “list.”
Have you written a list? The one that describes everything you want in a guy? I made one of those lists . . . and truth be told, my fiancé doesn’t have all the dreamy qualities I imagined as a fifteen-year-old. I don’t think anyone ever could. That list was extensive! No, you don’t have to stop writing your list. But let me encourage you to keep your heart open to who God has for you—He doesn’t need a list in order to write your love story!
7. Your man will be his own unique person—don’t try to squeeze him into your mold.
Encourage him to fulfill his potential in the way God made him. Your guy won’t be just like you. Embrace that fact.
8. Don’t forget how much growing you have to do.
We’d rather focus on their faults, not our own, right? Resist the temptation to “fix” your man, and focus your heart on loving Christ, serving your guy, and becoming the woman Christ has called you to be.
9. You just had an argument? That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to call it quits.
You’re not the only couple who’s ever had an argument. Trust me! It happens. (Because of that sinner equation in mentioned in lesson #2!) Don’t forget about undeserved grace and freeing forgiveness.
10. He won’t have mind-reading capabilities.
This is fact. No matter how much you’d like him to possess this quality, your man will not be able to read your mind. Love on him by kindly telling him what you’re thinking. Don’t make him play a guessing game!
11. Communication is a two-way street.
Healthy communication is worth its weight in gold in relationships. Don’t withhold your heart because you’re angry. Love fosters an atmosphere that encourages open pathways for communication.
12. It’s all too easy to tear your guy down.
Real love builds others up, but women are way too good at tearing men down and discouraging them in their pursuits. Be careful what you say about your guy. Be intentional, and love with your words. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
13. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. He needs it. We’re commanded to give it.
Just like we want our men to love us, our men want us to respect them. This is a biggie! It comes straight from the Word:
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ” (Eph. 5:24–25).
14. Love doesn’t take advantage of the other.
Remember how love sacrifices? Taking advantage of someone is the opposite. As women, we should be careful not to manipulate men by using our emotions. The enemy is good at making us think tears will get us what we want. It may work on your guy, but it doesn’t display the love of Christ.
15. Counseling? It’s good stuff.
Oh yeah. It’s healthy to talk to a godly and trusted pastor or mentor who has been married for a while. They have wisdom beyond our years, and we need accountability.
16. Always carry your pom-poms in your purse. He needs them.
Your guy needs you to be his biggest cheerleader. Encourage him. Make up cheers for him. If you can do a cartwheel, do that for him!
17. It’s a blast to be your 100% genuine self with him.
Part of a love relationship is opening yourself up to someone else, and allowing them to see you with all of your quirks—and knowing they’ll love you anyway! My fiancé is so good at this. He knows he’s getting a quirky wife, and he’s excited anyway.
18. Learning to love the things he loves is one fun part of being in love!
I hated baseball. My fiancé is one intense baseball fan. But I started going to games with him, and I started asking lots of questions. And now I know more than I ever expected to know about America’s pastime. But you know what? It’s been fun. (P.S. Baseball hats can be cute!)
19. Love listens with undivided attention.
Mary Kassian recently shared what undivided attention looks like. I think it’s a huge part of showing love, and it’s something we don’t always do very well.
20. There are no shortcuts, no cheat codes, no easy buttons to press.
Real-life love isn’t so much like a Disney movie—but it is better. Because it requires work and sacrifice and time and effort and lots of other things. The struggle to truly love someone like Christ makes beautiful love stories. It just does. Because God creates beautiful things like that.
What has God taught you about His kind of love? Can you add anything to my list? Leave me a comment!
Here’s a bonus for you!
God has used some great tools to teach me some of these lessons. If you’re interested to learn even more, check some of these out!
For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric & Leslie Ludy