Better Together: Cherished by Another
We all know that names and labels are a part of our everyday world. They mean something. They are either factual, complimentary or mocking. There is no difference when it comes to our dating relationships.
We all like to know where we stand with someone: whether it’s going on dates, hanging out, unofficial, official or just ‘Netflix and chill’. Whichever way you want to put it, we are all eventually led to ask, ‘what are we calling this?’
The next instalment of this series focuses on the truth that ‘we are cherished by another’. You may ask yourself: cherished? This seems like an old word that you would never say - and to be honest it’s a word even I slightly cringe at still when I say it in the context of romantic relationships.
I remember listening to adults tell me that I needed to be ‘cherished.' Cringe.
Unfortunately, as time has passed and I’ve begun to unpack these ideas for myself, I have come to agree that this is exactly what I want to encourage you to pursue. Someone who cherishes you!
The dictionary definition defines to cherish as ‘to protect and care for someone lovingly’. This definition is a helpful starting place, alongside the Bible, when thinking about our romantic relationships.
The Bible has very little to say directly in the context of ‘dating’ as culturally, in the time the Bible was written, dating was not a concept. Most families arranged marriages for their children because this was the means of strengthening family empires or survival. The choice to marry ‘for love’ was certainly not available for your own choosing, especially if you were a girl – can you imagine your family choosing this for you?
When talking about romantic relationships we can sometimes adopt a few patterns of thinking from the cultures or communities we exist in:
1. Culture says: We must be in a relationship in order to feel that we have made it or to feel complete.
2. Culture says: We must be in a relationship because our friends are.
At this point, let’s remember that Jesus was fully perfect, complete and he was single. And let’s focus on some more helpful ideas and truths around relationships…
1. God delights in knowing us whether we are in a relationship or single.
The label of either ‘single’ or ‘relationship’ can sometimes mean we don’t pursue certain dreams. But the most important thing is that you pursue a relationship with Jesus and follow all he’s calling you to champion, whether your status is what you want it to be or not.
We are, of course, all only on loan to one another until we are reunited with Christ! For some of us, relationships are what we desire and for others, it isn’t. The key here is to know why you would want to be in one, pray and discern in your heart if that’s a desire for you.
As we can see from our friendships, we all have different friendships because of who we are. Therefore, the personalities and looks we find attractive will all be different.
It’s important to note here that romantic relationships should be based on friendship.
We can’t expect to go from not having a friendship at all to (eventually) marrying our best friend… those just don’t line up!
Although, often in Christian circles, attraction can be downplayed. In our romantic relationships, we must also find them ‘easy on the eye’ too but neither one of these should speak the loudest. Girls, in my own experience, I have also found people to be attractive because of their personality even if in the beginning I didn’t notice them the minute they walked through the door.
Finally, and most importantly, focus on a relationship with Jesus.
For those of you who may already have boyfriends or about to clarify ‘what this is’, let me offer something to think about. Is your faith and relationship with Jesus critical to who you are? Can you imagine sharing with someone who perhaps is kind and appears to understand, but doesn’t fully know it to be true in their heart?
I too, as well as many friends, have had to ask myself this question. For some of you, I know you will disagree - but remember, what we focus on will shape what we become. If you share getting to know each other in the context of knowing whose image you are created in and for what purpose, this will grow in you both. If your main commonality is something else, that is what will grow.
God through scripture has lots to say about love and how we treat one another. Paul writes in Romans 12: 9–13, about what love looks like in action. In these verses, Paul outlines the behaviours as Christians we should adopt, beginning with love. Here, love sets the tone for which all the other behaviours follow.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
We see that love, in practice, looks like devotion, honour and putting someone about yourself. Sound familiar?
To love is to cherish; to intentionally protect and care for someone above yourself. We must learn to cultivate this if we desire to have healthy romantic relationships.
Girls, in your reflections this week, ask yourself if you need to spend more time starting from a place of love in the way you interact with others (romantic or not). From this mindset, we can
‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.’
Irrespective of your relationship label, God loves you equally. Whether you are dating now or desire to date in the future. He cares about who you are cherishing and that you are cherished by another!
Ruth became a Christian at a very young age and has been passionate about Jesus ever since! After moving around a lot, London has been home for the last 6 years, including studying for her Youth work and Practical Theology degree. An extrovert, she is passionate about authentic community, organisation and young people living out their full potential in wherever God has called them to be! She joined the team in 2018 and has written the series Better Together for Rise. During the week, Ruth is an Events and office manager for St Dionis church, Parsons Green.