a word of encouragement (or why courtship doesn’t equal bliss)

A year ago, I was about a week away from our Labor Day trip when my now-fiance Trent would ask me to court him. I was in a precarious place with my heart. I was totally submitted to God’s plan and knew that it was best.  But over the course of a year and a half, my heart had become so attached to Trent that if he’d started courting someone else at that point, I would have been pretty hurt. I was so tired of the “not knowing”, and pleaded with the Lord that He give me some direction.

And He did!

You might expect the year that ensued to be one of courted bliss.

Think again.

God had to turn a selfish, intense, impatient 18-year-old into a less selfish, less intense, and much more patient 19-year-old. And God doesn’t usually do His work painlessly while we’re off humming on another trail. He challenges, lets us fall, picks us up, teaches us the same lessons over and over, and refines our heart.

This has been a challenging and very tearful year. Lots of hard things to deal with. It was like God’s marriage counseling crash course! Too much of the year, I practically ignored God. But ever since the end of this spring, God has been so obviously central in my life that there’s no way I can ignore Him now. He was patient to walk with me through this year, even though I was such a unwilling student and follower.

I want to encourage you, single friend.  God is sovereign.  He has a wonderful plan for your life!  But His highest goal for each of us is that we learn to love and submit to Him more fully as time goes on.

But don’t idealize romantic relationships.  Don’t imagine that when you are in one, you will all of a sudden know just what to say, have a designer wardrobe, straight white teeth, and romantic background music playing everywhere you go (especially when he is around, of course).

The reality is that you’ll still be you. You’ll still say dumb things. You’ll still have that same wardrobe and your clothes will still fit you not as well as you wish they did. Your teeth won’t change, and not every moment you spend in fellowship with your loved one will be wonderful. (There was a point in our relationship when I wondered if there was an even count of the amount of days when I cried and didn’t cry on the phone with Trent!) You will still struggle with the same spiritual issues that you struggle with now. You’ll still wonder if people like you.

You won’t even always like the one you love.  Sometimes he will frustrate you to no end. Sometimes a sharp word will flow out so much more easily and willingly than the loving word you should have said.

Your life will never be perfect.  Each season brings its own blessings and challenges.  Make the most of these days when you can have such un-distracted singleness of heart for God.


  1. Samantha R says:

    Thank you for sharing, Theresa! I read this on your blog as well but it was good for me to read it again. 🙂

  2. So, so true! Thank you for faithfully penning these words, …I needed to read this.
    In Him,

  3. This is very true! And if you are lonely now, your loneliness will not go away when you are courting/engaged/married, either.
    Despite the truthfulness and seriousness of this issue, the white teeth comment made me laugh aloud! Thanks!

  4. On my ride to work today I felt finding something that will nourish me and uplift me in that area…thanks be to God for using you to post this because sometimes we do have that battle that things will be better/perfect when that person comes but as I tell my youth and myself only God completes us 🙂


  5. Thanks for sharing this… encouraged me today.

  6. great stuff… Thanx and God Bless

  7. THANK YOU for this post! I almost lost my man from my perfectionist tendencies as well as the difficulties of the courtship (long distance, Army deployment, and more)! Our relationship has been anything but perfect (especially my own actions!), but so often I’ve gotten the impression that in order to be right and good, it has to be perfect (which is frustrating and untrue). I’m so grateful we’ve stayed together and grown through the hard times as we discern where we’re going. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned about authenticity and true holiness vs. legalism and whited sepulchres. The Lord’s still working in me, but I think He will be working in me for a lifetime. 🙂

    Blessings to all my dear sisters,

    1. Jessica Eve says:

      Wow, I was planning to comment after reading the other comments because this post helped me so much — but after reading yours, I was amazed that I could practically have written it myself!! *Especially* this part: “so often I’ve gotten the impression that in order to be right and good, it has to be perfect (which is frustrating and untrue).”

      In fact, it has been a huge struggle for me. An idealist and a dreamer, and also a pretty particular perfectionist at the same time, I have had SO much to learn. Unless I am totally focused on God working His will in my life and making my highest goal to GROW IN HIM, it can get pretty confusing or frustrating. But then it occurred to me, like in Theresa’s post, that God’s plan for us is to know Him more, even if it takes a lot of “less than perfect” to get us there. Perhaps the fact that my relationship is SO challenging and sometimes unclear, causing me to seek Him and evaluate myself more and more, and showing me where I have been wrong, is actually the biggest sign that it’s a GOOD thing. It’s amazing how our own limited perspective can see things totally different from God’s perspective. 🙂

  8. Thankyou so much for this encouraging post! Im 20 and have been engaged for about a month now and it is a great reminder that when my fiance and i get married we wont all of a sudden be these perfect and loving people (i cant count the number of times i have snapped and a sharp word has flowed out of my mouth!) but thankfully God is using this time (and posts like these!) to prepare us for marriage and to mould us into the people he has designed us to be 🙂

    Thankyou and may God Bless your upcoming wedding! (on another note i have been reading your blog ‘Theresa’s Tapestry’ (all the way from Australia!) and i think it is also very encouraging x

  9. Thank you for posting this. I’ve been married for 5 years and I always try to give this advice to new brides. When you first get engaged and then married everyone showers you with bliss and how wonderful it is and no one thinks to tell you how challenging it is too. They forget to tell you that once the wedding is over you are still you and your new husband is still the same as well, which always makes it interesting trying to blend the two together. I love being married and I highly recommend it, but women should know that marriage doesn’t equal perfection. Here we are 5 years later and God is still working on me and my husband and us as a couple. 🙂

  10. Laura in ID says:

    Thank you, Theresa. As a single young lady, that is precisely what I needed to read. 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement!

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