God's grace can cover your dating mistakes
- Friday, August 25, 2000
The one thing that usually stands out to people in chapter 1 (of I Kissed Dating Goodbye) is Anna's wedding nightmare. I've had several tell me they broke down crying when they read it. Many were made aware for the first time of the harmful and long-lasting consequences of their past relationships.
But at times I've wondered if the dream was too strong, too effective at reminding people of mistakes, without being redemptive. Would they feel hopeless and believe that their chance at a happy marriage was ruined?
I did my best to make sure that wasn't their experience. Throughout the book, I pointed to the hope and forgiveness God offers through the death and resurrection of Jesus. No matter how many former boyfriends or girlfriends we've had or how much we've sinned, God will forgive us and give us the grace we need to live obedient lives through faith in Christ. That's the good news of the gospel.
But that's not all the Bible tells us. It's also replete with warnings about the danger of sin. As Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." In one verse we're given both warning and hope.
I wanted to give both in I Kissed Dating Goodbye. That's why I started with something as stark and nightmarish as Anna's dream. The wages of sin are stark and nightmarish, and I wanted to grab people's attention and awaken them to the reality of sin's awful results.
I've received thousands of letters from people of every age who wish they'd been awakened earlier in life. One girl, a freshman in college, wrote me this letter:
When I was a little girl, my parents made it very clear that they were against dating. However, when I turned 16, I decided that I was old enough to make my own decisions regarding relationships. I believed that dating was my teen-age right.
If I had only known that a few years later I would regret not listening and obeying what my parents said. If I had known all the hurt dating would cause me, I never would have done it. The pain is now unbearable.
It has been over a year since I broke up with my boyfriend. I have done everything possible to erase his memory from my heart. My parents helped me burn the hundreds of love letters he had given to me through the years. I threw away all of the birthday presents and Christmas presents. I took down all of the pictures of him. But I haven't forgotten him.
I now attend a Christian college thousands of miles away from my old boyfriend, and I've dated many different guys. I thought a new boyfriend would make me forget him; and when my old boyfriend called me at college, I didn't return his phone call. When he e-mailed me, I erased his address from my computer and refused to write him back. I did absolutely everything to try to forget, but I still remember.
This girl now understands that giving your heart to someone is serious. It's not as easy to walk away from an intimate relationship as some think.
You might relate to her story. Maybe you have regrets and are now doing your best to live for God. Don't lose hope. God's grace is sufficient to cover your sin and help you move on. But there are others who are still wavering. Obedience to God looks boring-pursuing the world and its pleasure appears tantalizing. Please take this warning from this chapter to heart. May it shock you and sober you-and in doing so lead you to life.
Copyright Multnomah Books Used by Permission
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