Q: How do you deal with people who say that God is speaking to them about the relationship? I believe God does speak to us but can this sometimes be an over spiritualistic way of avoiding making a decision?
A: Oh, man.
Best. Question. Ever.
I’m trying to contain myself, because I have so many different things to say about this brilliant question that is so full of insight. Whoever submitted it clearly has a wise and perceptive heart.
So let’s start off with answering this question: do people sometimes over-spiritualize things as a way of avoiding decisions?
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALLLLLL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!
Because it’s so much easier to blame God than to take responsibility for our own life and relationships, isn’t it?
Here are three times that we tend to do that:
1. “God told me not to date you.”
Out of all the excuses we make and then blame on God, I think this one is the absolute worst. Talk about stabbing someone in the heart. Because not only is the person who is giving this message totally avoiding responsibility for their decision to end a relationship, but they’re also causing the person they’re “breaking up with” to question whether or not they’ve heard God correctly – or whether or not they even hear God at all: If God is telling you, why hasn’t he told me?
Not only can this damage someone’s faith, but it can cause them to grow resentment and bitterness toward God.
When it comes to break-ups, God’s Spirit can absolutely lead us in the direction of moving away from a relationship that isn’t best for us. That’s a normal and healthy part of life. As I look back at my relationship history, I’m thankful for the times God was working in my heart and giving me the wisdom and courage to break off relationships that weren’t in my best interest.
But the problem with this over-spiritualized response is that it’s completely avoidant, and emotionally immature. Instead of giving someone actual reasons with a thoughtful response as to why things won’t work out, people who use this simple answer of “God told me so” are avoiding the hard conversations and dodging the difficult questions.
Let’s acknowledge God’s role in our life, all while take ownership of our decisions, especially as we relate to others in a loving, respectful, and honorable way.
2. “God told me that you’re the one I’m going to marry.”
In my lifetime, I’ve been approached by two guys (neither of which are my current husband…) who claimed that God told them I was the one they were going to marry. Say what?!?! God told two men to marry the same woman, who then married a third man….you see how this over-spiritualized phrase could become slightly problematic?
Not only that, but if God told you all this really important information, why on earth didn’t I get the memo!?
I have to admit I get so bothered when people walk around looking for signs, voices from heaven, or some sort of spiritual confirmation that God told them to marry “so and so”. Because, when it comes to relationships, I really don’t believe that’s how God works. Oh, I know there’s someone out there who will disagree with me, saying that God told them to marry their current spouse….and if that’s the case, good for you!!
I simply don’t believe that this is a model we should apply to all people and all relationships.
God may not speak from heaven, or send a spotlight pointing us in the direction of our spouse, but that doesn’t mean He hasn’t FULLY equipped us with everything we need to make a wise marital choice along the way. We are the most educated generation there has ever been because we have everything we need right at our fingertips. We’re surrounded by resources, churches, pastors, therapists, and mentors. We’re richly blessed with books, articles, blogs, and information that will help us know whether or not we’ve found real love. But most of all, we have God’s word, full of His principles, and His Spirit, alive and at work in our hearts.
Getting to know if someone is worth marrying isn’t an instantaneous decision, it’s a step by step process. So don’t blame God, but please, do honor Him by making good relationship choices along the way.
3. “God is telling me to wait.”
Imagine your professor or boss comes to you with an important job and a strict deadline. All of a sudden, you now have a responsibility. You will either choose to accomplish the task at hand, or you will choose to forgo your responsibility and deal with the consequences.
Now imagine on the day of the important deadline, your boss approaches you for the outcome and you proceed to respond to him by saying, “To be honest, I haven’t completed it. I’m still waiting on God for this one….”
You might as well kiss your job goodbye…..
But the funny thing is, whether a job, college, or financial situation- we would NEVER deal with real-life situations with this kind of a response. But why is it so easy then, to pass off our decision-making in Him when it comes to relationships?
How many times do people tend to use God to “stall” instead of owning their stuff and making a choice. And in the name of “waiting on God” we usher so many people into the twilight zone of false hope all because we’re afraid to tell them what’s really on our heart and mind (and let’s be honest….usually this excuse is the avoidant way of saying ‘NO, I DO NOT WANT TO DATE YOU’).
I’m not saying that we instantly have to answer someone who asks us to enter a relationship with them. Many times we do need to take time to think and pray in order to make a wise choice. But what I am saying is that it’s time to stop using God as a cop-out; a way to stall, or to avoid making a choice, all the while stringing someone along the rest of the way. It’s not the “nicer” way to answer a question by blaming it on God, in fact, it’s the crueler way because it doesn’t offer the other person the freedom to move on and live their life.
If you’re not that into them, be honest enough to let them go so they can find someone who is! Because everyone deserves a chance for reciprocal love.
So let’s stop blaming God for everything we’re not willing to do, and instead bring Him glory by everything we choose to do as we engage in healthy, God-honoring relationships that point people back to Him.
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If you liked this article, check out the rest of my Dating Q&A series!
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life as well as the 21-Days To JumpStart Your Love-Life Program, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of the True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!