Question:

Hello,

I really don't even know why I am here asking this when I probably already know the answer. I guess I just need a second opinion.

You see, I met this girl a while back. I am a Christian and she is also, but she doesn't really live the way she should. She is more of a hearer of the Word instead of a doer. She does believe in God though. We have been friends for a while, and she is a great friend to me. We have admitted to each other that we like one another, but we agreed that we are so different. After not talking much for a month, she messaged me the other day. She said she has been thinking about us and her life, and she said she wants to change. She said that she knows she can't live a life of drinking and smoking and that she wants to be better.

This is amazing news, but also it makes me think. I am not one for "missionary dating" as some people call it. I have made a promise to God that I would be patient about relationships. I haven't dated for three years, but she hasn't dated only for half a year. She doesn't talk about her ex and she said it was a mistake. She tells me she wants to be with me because I am amazing and such a good influence. She shows signs of wanting to change more than she ever has, but I am not sure if she is doing it for me or for God. I am 23 years old and she is 19, which makes me wonder if the maturity level can be a factor too.

I want to make this work, but I get an uneasy feeling about it. I know the answer to a thousand questions is to be Holy Spirit led by God. It's just hard because she is so caring toward me and fun to be with, but it will be hard to wait for someone to grow to get on my level. I just ... I don't want to get my hopes up just to see her regress. Her friends are not good influences either, which worries me that if she hangs out with them, all the progress could be wasted.

I just need some help. I saw the answers that were given on the other questions and they really helped. I guess I just need reassurance.

Thank you for your time.


Answer:

The key point in this note is the fact that you don't know and the little you do know is doesn't make you confident. People do change and for a variety of reasons. Yet at the same time your qualms are justified. If you think you can take this slowly and keep your guard up because her idea of dating is probably different than yours, then no harm will be done if you become good friends. Tell her that you would like to see her become a strong Christian, but it has to be for herself that she is doing this. You would like to be friends, but you don't want to commit yourself to her or anyone else at this time or in the near future.

Spend time with her and encourage her growth in Christianity. Either things will improve or they will fall apart. I suspect three to six months will give you a better idea how things stand with her. If she doesn't improve and is always struggling, just remain an encouraging friend, but look elsewhere for a mate. The trap you have to watch out for is wanting to be the knight in shining armor riding out to rescue the damsel in distress. If she is in distress, it is of her own making and you can't make a person change. If you see improvement, then you can think about whether you want to take a risk on her or not.

"I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases" (Song of Solomon 2:7).

Meanwhile, I would like you to start making a list of exactly what you are looking for in a wife. I want you to do this now, before there is a possibility of getting serious about this girl. The list should be your hopes and not based on this girl. Next I want you to jot down a few of the more critical things that would need to change about this girl before you can seriously think about her as a possible wife. Don't let her know about your lists; they are there to help you organize your thoughts so that you don't get swept away by emotions later. When it comes time to decide if you want to go further, take out your lists and review them before making a decision.

You told me to make a list of what I am looking for in a girl. I did that and I have not told this girl about my list.

We were supposed to hang out last night. It was her first time in town in about a month. She started working with her dad out of town off and on. 9 o'clock came around and nothing -- no phone call, no text. 10 o'clock came around and still nothing. I called twice and texted twice but nothing. I keep telling myself that there has to be a explanation for this. She has not been the most reliable before also.

But here's the thing. We are taught to forgive and lately it just seems that is all I am doing to people is forgiving them. I know people mess up, but I feel like my ability to forgive gives people the thought that they can do whatever and know I will forgive. I want to get mad after last night but I know I should be slow to anger. It just frustrates me because I cancelled all my plans and waited for her, and waited, and waited, and nothing.

I used to be like this before I was saved and my friend, who is a strong Christian, went through the phase of me being unreliable to him. He was patient with me, but it never got like this with me. I almost forget how I should feel about this whole thing. Maybe this just makes me decision easier.

The problem you're having is that you are seeing this from two different viewpoints at the same time. Your friend was patient with you as you were turning your life around. That is necessary with many people. I can't tell you how many times I've had appointments with people and they didn't show or didn't answer their door when I came for an appointment. But you know what? I keep trying. I don't hound people, but I will leave a message saying that I tried and that if they would like to continue studying to please give me a call. I've also learned to have other things to do while waiting, just in case. It is less frustrating that way because I know that at least I was doing something productive.

Getting mad won't solve the problem. It won't change what happened, nor will it make it more likely that she'll change in the future.

But from the other viewpoint, you were wondering if you should date her. Here then is an indication that the answer is "not at this time." A person who is interested in someone else doesn't leave them hanging. Now, she might contact you and apologize for being unable to contact you -- I don't know. But from here on, I think you are better off thinking of her as just a friend whom you are studying with to become a Christian. If she shows marked improvement, then you can readdress the issue, but giving her your heart now will only lead to heartache.

Yeah, I realized that she didn't have much on my list at all, especially the two biggest things: loving God first, and honesty. I told her we can only be friends and that if she still wanted to be better, I will encourage her, but nothing more unless God says so. But I don't think she is the one for me. It is miserable how sometimes we really have to get hit hard to realize we made a mistake. I feel better now. I still am keeping my list. It's helpful. I guess it's onward for me.

I find it interesting how different our emotions can be from what we know is best. When your list and your emotions line up, then you'll know you found the right one.