5 years ago I was talking engagement with a guy 3 months into the relationship. I knew in my gut the relationship had red flags, but I was unsure how this whole thing worked in a faith-based culture, so I assumed it was just what couple's did. People would tell me "I feel you will get married soon," or "God has hand picked you both for each other" when in reality I was far from ready and he was unsure of his own feelings. One day he would tell me we should discuss our financial future and the next he would question the relationship all together. I had convinced myself God had chosen us for each other and would relate everything back to God, when in reality I was exercising control. I 100% believe that God longs to be a part of every area of our lives, especially this one, but it looks different for each person just like your relationship with God is unique to mine. There is a fine line between manipulation and faith and it is important to maneuver this area with some core values and self-awareness. This goes for both guys and girls, but this post is specifically directed at the ladies.
Here is a list of 5 ways to tell if you have crossed the line of faith into control - forcing him to be 'the one':
- Obsessing over saying & doing the right thing - If you've convinced yourself the future of the relationship weighs heavily on you doing or saying the right thing at all times, you are now locked into a pattern of control. It can be hard, but we cannot sit there and analyze everything with a magnifying glass ie. every text message, how many snapchats he sent me today vs yesterday etc. Believe it or not, this is supposed to be fun and when you start analyzing the fact that he wrote a period over an exclamation point, you need to take a step back and breathe. Your guy will want to be with you because he likes you - you being you. Dare I say it? There is an element of God's sovereignty in this, take it up with him and know who you are so that you are confident in being just that - you.
- Everything is a sign - This is a controversial one but relevant to every area of our lives, not just relationships. I love signs because they feel like a continuous arrow pointing you in the right direction, but if I start to obsess over getting those signs and leaning heavily on them as the only thing guiding me rather than my relationship with God himself, I've crossed over to control. My friend put this in a good way. "Being with Ryan now, I can see how God would speak to me but it wasn't like I was obsessing about it - it was more of a conversation where He would show me things and it would grow my relationship with God, not Ryan. When I was in my teenage years, I remember obsessing over a guy and being like 'he messaged me at 6pm yesterday and today so that must be a sign from God that he's the one'. The difference is one is seeking the sign, and the other is seeking God".
- Obsessing = Idolizing - My friend Angela has an amazing story of how her and her husband got together. You can read this story here. She says the concept of idolizing came to light when she realized her hope was not in everything lining up in her favor or whether or not her now husband would 'realize' she's the one. Her hope was in God. When we anxiously analyze or think about a guy day in or day out, it's unhealthy. We are virtually saying that nothing else in our life matters but this person and we need this person to make us happy. God's plan for our lives if for peace, so if you don't have peace, you need to bring it up and ask, why don't I have peace? There is a root for this kind of thinking but once you unwrap it, you're on the path to freedom. This all comes back to identity and what you believe about yourself. Strive to know yourself.
- Telling him he's 'the one' - If you believe God has given you a sign about who you will marry and you tell the other person, you have crossed the line into major manipulation. I know situations where this has happened and let me tell you, it did not end well. Let's think about this for a second. You're dating someone for two years and you really want him to propose and feel like God has somehow told you this is the person you will marry. Going to him and saying "We're supposed to be together because God gave me a sign" is by far one of the most manipulative things you can do. You're not even giving him a fair say in the process. If God is telling you something, that something is to help you grow in your relationship with God. It actually has nothing to do with the other person. You are on your own faith walk and if you want to let go of control, you need to do just that - let go and trust God.
- Giving God an ultimatum - "Okay God, I want you to please confirm that he's my husband by Friday April 10 or else I don't believe you are God". This may sound crazy but this happens, a lot. It's as if we are giving God a homework assignment with a deadline and basing his character on whether or not he performs. We may try, but we cannot manipulate God. He wants to be a part of everything that concerns us, but he will not feed our need for control. It's important to be raw and real with God, especially in this area of our lives. He isn't threatened by us but He will kindly show you how your thought process is rooted in something other than his truth. Let him teach you what real faith looks like. It's actually quite peaceful.
Alright so now that we've shattered your dreams, let us tell you that we are here to give you hope. When you deal with the emotional baggage you are walking around with, you walk in a level of freedom that could've never been experienced had you not gone through. You can help people only from a place of learning and growing so we challenge you to face the unhealthy patterns in your life so that you can share your journey with others. We are excited to share the stories of our favorite couples who have come together in all sorts of ways - if you have a story you'd like to share, make sure to email us at email@example.com. Thanks for reading!