My junior year of college I felt called to date Jesus, me and my Maker going steady all summer long.
Of course, being a guy, I didn’t exactly label it as such. I wanted the “intentional time” we would be spending together to sound more “Mancave with a couple of beers” than “Song of Soloman with a dash of A Walk to Remember”.
While I admit I wasn’t exactly sure what dating Jesus would look like, I was excited for me and the Almighty to spend so much time together. Driving to the ice cream parlor. Dancing at the summer sock hop. You know the usual 1950′s dating fare as that seemed like the proper decade to attempt such a thing.
And through the month of June, Jesus and I’s relationship blossomed. Long conversations down by the river. Hours lying side by side on the hood of my Honda, Jesus telling me the story behind the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt, all were memories I’ll never forget.
It was like Sleepless in Seattle While You’ve Got Mail, minus AOL and Meg Ryan.
Then about halfway into June, a miracle happened. I met a cute blonde girl named Katie who was also dating Jesus exclusively for the summer.
Praise be the Lord.
Within a week it didn’t take C.S.-Lewis-like wisdom to know that Katie and I were meant to date Jesus, together. This way we could keep each other accountable from our eyes wandering to all those heathenly humans focused on merely dating each other. Katie, Jesus, and I — together. It was ordained before we were born, of this we were both sure.
But everything changed at the 4th of July picnic. The Holy Spirit joined us for the evening, and as Jesus and H.S. left to grab a few brats and lemonades, Katie and I’s eyes turned to Jesus, and then to each other — the fireworks finale one I’d never forget.
Katie and I didn’t even notice when the fireworks finished. Or that Jesus was standing next to us — a gasp and falling brat, snapping us back into reality.
I’ll never forget the look on Jesus face as the last firework exploded across the sky. Betrayal. Pain. The agony of the third-wheel. Before I could say a word.
Jesus was gone.
I wanted to run after him. I wanted to plead that it wasn’t him, it was me. That I still really valued him and didn’t want to lose our friendship. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
But hey, it’s not like it was all my fault. Dating Jesus wasn’t always sunbeams and hallelujahs. I mean, what about all those meals he never picked up the tab for like I expected? How about the times in our relationship that he felt distant and aloof? Or how about when he said some downright hurtful words that he claimed I needed to hear.
Dating Jesus wasn’t all sock-hops and sugar-plumbs.
The Problem with Dating Jesus
But maybe there are a few inherent problems with going steady with Jesus. Maybe we’re not meant to, you know, date God. Maybe when we try to date Jesus, we riddle Him with our expectations of what we think dating should look like.
We substitute our memories and experiences of dating Michael or Mary and we put The Alpha and the Omega in there instead.
When I decided I was going to date Jesus my intentions weren’t bad, my label was. I think if we had a DTR (Define the Relationship) with Jesus sitting on park swings or on that wall by the ocean, Jesus would be one of those “let’s not put a label on this” kind of people. Because the kind of relationship Jesus wants to have with us is much bigger and all encompassing.
Because most of the time when you date, you break up.
Yes, I think God wants to be in a crazy scandalous intimate love relationship with us. I just learned the hard way that dating him is maybe not the best way to get there.
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Paul Angone is the creator of All Groan Up, a community for emerging adults searching for self, faith, and a freaking job. Snag a free copy of his ebook 21 Secrets for your 20’s and follow him at @PaulAngone.