In a way, it’s the most important key, but if you want a dating life that eventually leads to a life-giving, life-long marriage, you’re going to need all three to win. Preferably before you ever start dating.
The first key is simply discovering your junk: that entangled mess of past hurt and secret sin which will keep healthy relationships forever out of your grasp.
The second is declaring your junk, instead of hiding it and hoping it won’t hurt you. Your brokenness can’t help but hurt you, whether you tell anyone about it or not.
That’s why the third key to a successful dating life is so critical, and it’s this: dealing with your junk.
It’s not enough to know about your brokenness and freely confess it. You have to find the healing you need before you even think of pursuing a serious relationship. The success of your dating life depends on it.
If your junk were like a family heirloom you dropped and broke, you could imagine just forgetting about it, unless someone else found out. And then you could disavow any knowledge of what happened.
However, your junk isn’t something separate from yourself. It’s a part of you. In that sense, your emotional brokenness is like a broken leg.
Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s more like heart disease. Because unlike a broken leg with which you can get by with crutches, heart disease has to be treated or it will eventually kill you. In the same way, your secret sin and hidden hurt, will just as assuredly kill your relationships if left untreated.
So are you ready to deal with your junk? Here are three crucial elements:
One of the main points of this post, is to discourage you from making the error common to so many: saving up all your junk for some perfect lover to deal with in the future. More often than not, only after you’ve married them.
But marriage vows cannot vow to heal your brokenness. No matter who you marry.
So, instead of waiting for some magical being known as “the one” to fix your junk, you need to seek the wise counsel of those with greater life experience than you.
The good news is this: whatever your junk – and I mean whatever burdens you bear or sin you can’t shake – others have dealt with it before. Successfully!
So get the insight and advice of those people. Read books, join a support group , find a mentor, get counseling! Do whatever it takes! In fact, a healthy dating life thrives on wise counsel, whether you have significant junk to deal with or not.
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. – Proverbs 4:5-7 (ESV)
Forgive me for being blunt, but if you can never forgive someone for what they’ve done to you, than you can never be free of what they’ve done to you. It’s as simple and as serious as that.
Forgiveness and freedom go hand in hand.
But you can forgive. People have forgiven everything from adultery to deception to slander to murder to abuse to rape to theft to genocide. The cross of Christ offers you that same power. And, trust me, forgiveness is a mighty power indeed.
Plus, unless you only date perfect people, it’s a power which will come in handy in even the most successful dating life.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. – Luke 6:37-38 (ESV)
For five Biblical realities to set you free to forgive, check out the book, Forgiveness 101. We offer it in PDF for free just for the asking.
If you are going to get to the bottom of your past hurt and how it’s hurting you now, you are going to have to take responsibility for the part you played in your brokenness. Most of your junk isn’t entirely the fault of someone else. Even if the “fault ratio” is 90% them, 10% you, the only percentage you have any direct control over is… uh… well… yours. So determine to do something about your percentage.
And if you were a victim forced to deal with the choices of others over which you had no power? If that is you, I am truly sorry. However…
Here is the power you do have: the power to get help, to change, to seek healing and wholeness, to let your hurt grow you, instead of define you.
But you have to be willing to humble yourself. The proud person demands the world change for them. The humble person submits to the changes they know God is asking them to make for His glory and their good.
And, yes, humility is an essential quality in relationships, dating or otherwise.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. – James 4:6-7 (ESV)
Dealing with your junk is so critical to relational success, we talk about it at length in the third study guide in our Beyond Sex & Salvation discipleship curriculum. I encourage you to check that out.
A successful dating life awaits!
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!