I was planning to take a break from the “love” topic for a while, but I decided to write about this question. I was recently asked this by a young man at one of my seminars. This is an excellent question and I want to spend some time answering it.
First and foremost, I want to say that this article is for those who are ready for a serious relationship (please see my article on the right age for a relationship). If you are not ready for marriage, this article is not really for you. If you have a few years of study left, then the answer is “no, you shouldn’t search.”
Are you at a point in your life where you are ready to consider a serious relationship that will lead to marriage? Read on . . .
I’ve heard some interesting clichés about love. For example, have you ever heard this one: “love will come when you least expect it.” Here’s another good one: “you’ll find love when you stop looking.” Maybe these clichés are true some of the time, but they should not be taken as Biblical truth (I actually find them to be quite silly).
Some Christians seem to think it is not Biblical to look for a husband or wife. Searching, they would argue, means that you do not trust God. I disagree. I can give you a biblical example of a father who searched for a wife for his son:
Abraham was now a very old man, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”
Abraham wanted to find a godly wife for his son. In Abraham’s time, this was often the father’s responsibility (we now live in a time when it is our responsibility). He prayerfully made a plan to search. Does this mean Abraham did not trust God to fulfill His promise (Genesis 15:5)? Of course not! This story in the Bible is full of divine intervention—God guiding and blessing them as they searched. Abraham trusted God, but he knew that some practical steps should be taken. The “local” women were simply not suitable because they worshipped the pagan Canaanite gods. If he was to find a wife for his son, he would need to search in the right place.
I do have friends that met Mr/Ms Right without putting much effort into their search (or perhaps no effort). These are inspiring testimonies to hear, but we should not take them as the rule for everyone.
I also have a great friend here in Manila, for example, that has never once applied for a job—job offers have just come to him. Does that mean we should all stop applying for jobs and just ask God to send them? I think you know the answer. If someone told you they are praying for a job, you would naturally ask them where they have applied or distributed their resume. Why do we think we are supposed to be 100% passive in our search for a soul mate?
God has already done a lot to help you get a spouse. He’s put the desire for marriage in your heart. He’s filled the earth with millions of single people. We live in a time in which it is easier than ever to network with other people (due to the automobile, internet, etc). It is up to you to put some effort into making new friends.
Let’s say you are in you are a young adult and you want to be in a relationship. You have prayed and God has affirmed that the timing is right. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
*How many new, eligible singles do you meet in a month/week?
*Are you making time to have a social life or do you just bury yourself in your work?
*Do you see the same people over and over, or do you frequently meet new people?
If you are already meeting new eligible singles on a regular basis, then you probably don’t need to change anything. Just keep praying for the opportunity to meet the right person. I suspect that some of my readers, however, have sad answers for the above three questions. The older we get, the easier it is to get into a monotonous routine—a “rut,” as we often call it. I think this is also true in Filipino culture, where the social life revolves around the barkada.* It’s easy to spend all of your time with one group of friends, get comfortable, and never expand your social network.
Abraham realized that his son Isaac was not getting any younger. There were no “prospects” in sight. Any changes in this situation would require them to step outside their “comfort zone” and do some searching. He prayerfully took some practical steps to find a suitable wife for his son—nothing wrong with taking practical steps.
Let me give you a recent example from my own life. I skipped a ministry meeting on February 14th to attend a Valentine’s Day banquet. They scheduled the meeting after I had already bought my ticket, and I knew it could go on just fine without me. Keep in mind that I also did six seminars that week, including one on Valentine’s Day itself (before attending the banquet). In other words, I was already investing plenty of time to ministry–I needed to make it a priority to invest some time in my social life. Did I meet “Ms Right?” No, at least I don’t think so. Did I have a good time and make new friends? Absolutely! It is great to meet new friends, and all of these friends have single friends, family members, etc.
That’s the beauty of expanding up your social network–you make new friends and increase your chances of meeting a potential spouse. It is not a failure if you do not immediately find a girlfriend/boyfriend. Failure is expecting changes without making any changes (some have defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results).
Is it OK to search? Sure! Trust God, pray, be patient, and expand your social network in the right places. Even if you don’t immediately meet “Mr/Ms Right,” you’ll still meet many friends along the way.
*For my non-Filipino readers, barkada is a Tagalog word. The best translation is “group of friends,” although there is no exact English equivalent. Fully explaining the whole concept would require more time than I have right now.
This is one of the many articles that you’ll find in my book: Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.