I don’t often post about dating or singleness, but today I have some things I need to say. I am almost 30 and not married, and hold your breath friends, I have had some boyfriends. That’s boyfriends with an S, as in more than one.
If you grew up in a conservative Christian community, you have heard it countless times. “Guard your heart.” “Don’t give your heart away.” This was coupled with countless analogies. One activity I recall involved illustrating a large red construction paper heart. The leader tore off a piece one at a time to represent different dating relationships. She dramatically held up the last scrap of paper. “And this is all you’ll have to give to your husband.”
From the beginning of my dating relationships, my desire was always to honor Christ in those relationships – just like in every other relationship of my life. None of those past relationships worked. That does not mean that my heart – the emotional center of my life – is tattered and torn.
Each relationship I have been in has taught me new things. Good things. There are elements of who I am today that were gained because of these pivotal relationships in my life. To imply to me that I will have something pathetic to offer my someday husband because of these relationships is insulting to me and to the grace of Christ.
I don’t have a patchwork heart. Because the constructs of my heart are not dependent on man, or men, or circumstances of my life. The beating of my heart and the strength of its muscles are because I find myself in Christ. This is who I am as a woman, a friend, a girlfriend, and someday, as a wife.
I don’t have a patchwork heart. Because grace and forgiveness are given not so we can walk in shame and regret, but so we can walk with head held high as a new creation. Grace and forgiveness extend to all relationships of our lives, and to imply to young people that these end where dating begins is to create a culture of guilt and shame that God did not intend for us.
I don’t have a patchwork heart. This does not mean that this area of my life has been without pain, but to tell me that my heart is irreparable and forever damaged denies me the healing of Christ. It denies me dependency on Christ and tells me that in this area and no other, there is no hope for me.
You don’t have to have a patchwork heart either. It is not the avoidance of relationships or the avoidance of mistakes that makes us whole. It is only Christ. It is only when we envelop our hearts into the perfect love of Christ that we are whole.