30 July 2012

Courtship No. 6 -Friendship

In essence a courtship relationship is a friendship. Two people come together to know each other better. As they interact and by the grace of God it becomes clear whether they are compatible enough to enter the permanent relationship of marriage.

Why is friendship important? Well that one is fairly simple. Feelings change. If you're married for 30 years you will not likely be head over heels in love with your spouse for all 365 days by 30 of your marriage. There will be days when you aren't just feeling it. That's human. However, if that is the only thing that brings you together you will be in trouble. If on the other hand there is a real friendship going on, a blast is guaranteed.

Building Friendship

Friendship is built by spending time together. As you relate with someone your knowledge of a the person grows. In order for this to happen however, you need to have things in common. I've always thought it ideal that men and women who end up courting and eventually marrying must meet in the particular places where they serve God. I have since discovered that this is not always the case on the ground, in fact it appears rather rare. But if that was the case, already the couple is guaranteed that they will have certain things in common on which their friendship can thrive.

A couple must find common interests and spend time enjoying them together. Interests are diverse, from animals, plants, birds, poetry, writing, music, art, acting, cooking, sport and so on. Granted, there must be a willingness by each party to take interest in things that interest the other person even if they may not interest them particularly. There are examples of couples where before they were together, one had no interest in something what so ever but because of the other, interest was developed and sustained. However, if there is nothing of common interest that you both love, friendship will be tough to build.

Back to the area of serving God in the same place. It is a fact that the quality of relationship that a couple who serve together in the same areas will be better than the couple that serve in different areas. The former will have a particular dimension to their relationship that the latter will not. A pastor once testified of the blessing of a couple in one of his pastorates. The wife was exceptional with children but she left that area of ministry to join her husband in the media ministry and they served faithfully together there. Again whatever you think of her decision (some would say she neglected her gift), her relationship with her husband had a certain dimension to it that otherwise would not be there. They had something in common.

If there is really no common areas of interest,  you may not be compatible.

27 July 2012

Courtship No.5 -Love

What is the opposite of love? Self. If you love someone then you are concerned about that person more than you are concerned about yourself. The greatest lover therefore, would be the person who is the most selfless in his or her relationship.

When I was in my teens, I knew that most of the relationships my peers where involved in were mere games. I knew that the boyfriends and girlfriends my peers had at school and even at church would not end up being their husbands or wives. Those relationships weren't going anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I liked girls and was tempted to get a girlfriend for myself. My ability to perceive the futility of the relationships my peers ventured into wasn't what stopped me from looking for a girlfriend. Lets just say I was spared from getting into those premature relationships. I was shocked, however, to discover that the guys would actually tell the girls that they loved them when they proposed! That, for me was astounding. If I ever got myself a girlfriend then, there was no way the words, "I love you" would escape my lips. "Like" perhaps, not love! It was absolutely inconceivable for me. "Love is what my parents have after 15+ years of marriage," I would tell my friends, there was no way I was going to claim that what the men I saw around had for their wives was what I had for some girl I liked. The word love was quite weighty for me.

I think I was on to something. Love is a weighty thing. "For God so loved the world, that he gave us His one and only begotten Son..." That's what love is. That's what love does. What does this have to do with courtship?

Well, two people can spend years together in courtship but will never really know each other as well as when they are married. When they spend day in and day out together. However, courtship does provide a platform for two people two know each other quite well, especially if both parties are real when they relate. This weighty thing called love, such as the one that God offered mankind is necessary in courtship. Two sinners different on many fronts, will need God's kind of love to survive together. Love is necessary to bear with each other's shortcomings. Love is needed to survive differences in opinions, priorities, interests, worldviews, likes and dislikes etc. Pray that God would grant you the grace needed to love your mate in spite of all the differences. Without him, your courtship is doomed. You maybe wondering how do non-Christian courtships and marriages survive. The grace of God. They may not ask for it or even want it, but without it, survival would impossible. Thank God that he doesn't wait for us to ask.

Let me conclude with a story. You see, this love will serve you well in marriage. I watched a live performance by an established Christian musician from way back in the 80s. He was married and had a young daughter then. Before he sang, he narrated how devastated he was to hear that his parents were getting divorced after some 25-30 odd years in marriage. It made him question his understanding of love and marriage. "What was to stop that from happening to my marriage 20-30 odd years down the line?" He asked. He went on to explain that if love was a mere emotion then marriage would never work. But if love is a deliberate commitment, there is hope because feelings change but commitment is up to us and by God's grace we can stay committed. "I don't necessarily feel like being married to my wife and being the father of a screaming baby every morning I get up," He said, "but I am committed to being a loving husband and a loving father." That is love.