Dating. A touchy subject. I want to share with yall what I believe a Christ centered relationship should really look like. **HEADS UP I want you to know I personally have never been in a relationship, but I want to share what I have learned and taken to heart in preparation if I ever do decide to pursue one. (pretty sure that was a run on sentence)**  We might not see eye to eye on the subject, but try to be open minded to what I have to say:) You never know! You could potentially be inspired! Here we go...

How we date NOW ultimately becomes how we treat our marriages in the future, so we need to begin learning how to date in a God glorifying manner. There are four key steps to take before a relationship takes off:

(1) Talk to your parents. If you don't feel comfortable discussing dating with your parents, you are not ready to date. This is harsh, but it's the truth. You need to be able to openly talk about your relationships with your parents because they will be able to help and GUIDE YOU. Hey! Guess what! They have done this whole dating thing before, and I guarantee they know way more than you do! If you want some advice on the do's and don'ts of dating, your parents are the key, not your friends.

(2) Have godly mentors. I can not stress this enough!!! It is muyyyy importante! Yes yes yes your parents are some of the best people to go to for dating advice, but I definitely recommend having other godly mentors to help point you in Christ's direction with their advice. Make sure this is an older mentor! Not some friend around your age, but someone who is older than you and knows how to properly respond to the world of dating. (i.e. small group leaders, camp counselors, church leaders).

(3) Don't always listen to your friends. I have already mentioned this a few times, but lemme re-emphasize this point:) Friends are great. Trust me I know...I have some pretty terrific friends myself. They love the Lord and always seem to know how to encourage and point me back to Christ. Yes, I admit that I go to them for some answers, but I try not to rely completely on them. Because we have barely experienced this world, sometimes our answers to a situation can be slightly narrow-minded. It's hard for us because we rely on our friends for mostly everything. In the moment, their advice seems 100% the best, but sometimes it can lead us down some sketchy paths. We can be blinded by the consequences of following foolish "words of wisdom" from our friends. They might have some answers, but they definitely don't have all. Our parents & godly mentors (and of course God) are more reliable sources when it comes to advice. 

(4) Pray. You guessed it! God wants to hear from you...especially about your dating relationships! He wants you to talk to him and seek guidance from him! Write it down or say it out loud. Whatever you want! I just know that talking to the Lord will give you peace and comfort if you are stressing a situation. God will help you, so lean on him!!!! He loves you and will guide you down the right path, so if you are ever in doubt, talk to the Lord!

Now for the three P's of dating:

Pull = the attraction phase. This is the first step to a relationship...getting to know the person. The best tip I can give you about the "pull" phase is to just be yourself!! You definitely don't want someone liking a person you are not. Remember your faith develops your character which in turn develops your personality. (See 1 Peter 3: 3-4 & Proverbs 31:30 below) Lastly, before starting to date a someone, make sure to do a "background check". What I mean by this is to check if this person has good healthy relationships with friends because how they treat their friendships is how they are going to treat their relationship with you.

Pursuit (this is for the guys) = pursuing a healthy relationship with someone you have gotten to know and enjoy. My first words of advise are to NOT lead a girl on, especially by giving her empty compliments. (GIRLS...our value is in Christ not in temporary compliments we receive!) Next, talk to the girls dad. I might seem old school, and a ton of my friends make fun of me for encouraging this...but who cares! I think asking the dad is a key component of showing not only the father but the girl that you care and respect her. This action takes a lot of courage (in my opinion) because a conversation with a girls dad can be somewhat "scary"...what if he says no??? Well that's okay. He is trying to protect and do what's best for his daughter. Now comes the hard part. Asking the girl out. I have two simple tips...ask face to face & have a plan (don't be spontaneously asking a girl out just cuz). These our four things I encourage a guy to do while pursuing a girl.

Purity. Seriously Danielle do we have to go there....**rolls eyes**. This will be short and sweet. I promise! (Not exactly my cup of tea either, but it needs to be said.) Satan wants to do everything possible in order to bring you "together" before marriage and everything possible to tear you apart during marriage. So with that in is NOT for personal pleasure. Remember we are trying to honor God every step of the way! Even the slightest temptations should be avoided...for example, movies might seem super innocent and okay, but they can be a real temptation. Dark room + all alone = NO THANK YOU! Btw side note: A guy should take a girl out to do something that involves CONVERSATION and getting to know each other better. The harsh truth is that he probably does not care that much to get to know the girl if he only takes her to movies. Every once and a while movies are okay, but don't let it be the only thing yall do together. GIRLS I want you to remember to be modest with the clothes you wear! "What type of bait you use, determines what type of fish you catch". And BOYS makes sure you set the boundaries for the relationship, and if the girl has stronger boundaries than you, RESPECT THEM.

I want to end with this: "You will always want love to fill the emptiness of your soul, when love is all that you seek; But, you will never fill that hole, because love is not something that we fill, it is SOMETHING THAT WE POUR OUT. Only JESUS can fill that empty void in your life, only Christ can fill that cup so that it may be spilled into the lives of those who thirst for something eternal. Drink deeply, beloved, drink deeply from the well that Jesus offers us, so that you may never thirst again." (T.B. LaBerge). This quote hits home! Because of what Christ did, we can share his love with others. Makes sure you stay on mission for Christ while you are pursuing a relationship. Christ centered relationships are always the strongest! Find someone who loves you for you and points you back to Christ daily!

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." -1 Peter 3:3-4

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." -Proverbs 31:30