broken-heartFor those of you too young to remember, back in 1997, there was something call a “courting movement” in the Evangelical Christian world. This was kicked off, more or less, by the release of a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by one Joshua Harris. The gist of the book was that dating is bad because it can lead to premarital shenanigans, so as Christians we need to practice something called “courting”, which is totally not dating, but promotes wholesome relationships that will maybe one day lead to marriage. But, it’s not dating. Never could figure out the big difference, there. But, this lead to oodles and oodles of youth group kids suddenly jumping on the courting bandwagon, swearing that doing this would keep them from ultimately getting their hearts broken in the process.

I’m not writing this to give my thoughts on the whole Courting Vs. Dating debate. What I am going to attempt to explain is that, no matter how noble and pure your relationship is with whoever you’re dating/courting/giving your heart out to, you run the risk of having your heart broken.

You don’t have to have sex with someone to form a very strong bond. You don’t have to engage in physical pleasures to connect so closely to another person that, when the relationship ends, it can shatter the heart so badly that it feels like a significant part of yourself has been torn away, and you feel like Anakin Skywalker lying by the lava, his limbs sliced off and most of his skin burned away from the spontaneous combustion for being so close to molten lava.

I know this all too personally. I was engaged to the woman I was certain was to be my wife. During the time we were first dating, then engaged, we never engaged in anything more than a couple of smooches and hugging each other hello, goodbye, and just to say “I love you”. We were always fully clothed around each other, and I even went so far as putting a 9pm cut-off time of our nights together, just so there wasn’t any temptation presented. Mind you, I had a bit of an hour’s drive, otherwise I would have settled with 10pm, but that’s besides the point. There was no misbehavin’. We held hands, we put our arms around each other while watching movies or at church. That was the extent of our physical engagement. But, because we both prayed together, worshiped together, talked openly and honestly with each other, there was a bond that formed there on both the spiritual and mental levels that was solid and strong; and when it ended, my heart was shattered into a million pieces because of this. My motives were pure, we did everything right–you might say, “by the Book”–and yet I was still not spared the pain that I’m still recovering from a year after the fact.

Look, I’m not trying to say that you should give up trying to have integrity and have sex before it’s time; neither am I telling you that you should give up on any relationships that lead to something more than friendship. What I’m trying to put forth here, is that whether you’ve kissed dating goodbye, or have given dating a chance, understand that there is no perfect formula to emerge out of any outcome unscathed. The idea of the chance of your heart being broken is a scary one to face, I know. At this moment, I can’t really see myself in any kind of relationship beyond coffee time. But, rather than trying to find a way to keep your heart from being broken, sometimes I wonder if getting your heart broken isn’t a good thing. Sometimes you have to burn the forest to make it grow stronger.

Mind you, again I’m not advocating premarital sex; I’m all about the abstinence, and waiting for the wedding night to pretend to know what you’re doing. But, you don’t have to be sexually active to be vulnerable with someone.

All it takes, really, is to choose to love someone. No matter the outcome.