Opinionated I am! But it is personal to me.
I’ve been a youth pastor for nearly 40 years. That is a lot of teenagers I have loved. That is a lot of teenagers whom I have walked through broken hearts with. Many of these teenagers I’ve been privileged to walk with them all the way to marriage and even when they started having children. I have grown teens who now have teens as children. We’ve come full circle.
I have been a part of healing a lot of broken hearts. One of the aversions many adults have to teens is the part of their development where they experience real emotions for the first time. It’s simply brain development stuff but this means that when they have their hearts broken for the first time it is a major because it has never been broken before. I’ve gone through this first major with so many many teens.
I have also had my heart broken over the choices some of these teens have made. I’ve watched teens with a growing faith make decisions in the area of love that changes their innocence and too often their futures forever. Those broken-hearted times have probably shaped my opinions the most.
Not that I will ever prevent teens (and young adults, I keep them all until they stop returning my texts, emails or phone calls) from experiencing pain. Pain is their beginning too. I say often that I don’t want any of them dating until they are 18 (for so many good reasons which I also have strong opinions on) but I don’t discourage them from dating so they can protect their hearts. Being dumped, having to make the hard and wise choice to create an ending is all a part of growing up. I’ve chosen as my life work to be a part of that growing up.
I have learned a lot in this work.
I also have learned a lot in my life. Early on I started living this purpose statement which is now the Brave Dating definition:
I didn’t get married until I was 33. That is a lot of years of having guys trying to keep up with me. I experienced heartbreak but I continued on, didn’t compromise my boundaries or my call, and finally found someone willing to keep up.
There is a little vanity in all of that. Because I knew my identity in Christ and the match that I was. And I trusted the Promiser that following the call on my life would lead to the desires of my heart. (Though when I turned 30 I did freak out quite a lot!) Notice how every Brave Dating article circles back to these two truths.
I know from my personal life that this purpose statement is true. And I’ve seen this purpose statement become true in many grown teens’ lives. I know this to be true.
So now I have created this Brave Dating space to share my opinions I know from deep in my soul and from years of firsthand experiences that are true. I desire so much for my grown teens to find these kinds of love for a lifetime marriages. I desire for you, reader, to have the same. So much so I won’t stop sharing my opinions. I think this may be the heartbeat of my ministry heart as I continue on in youth ministry.
When I re-read this I noticed how many times I talked about having my heart broken or someone else having his/her heart broken. This is heart-breaking work that has the beginning of pain and grows into great joy.
This is why I am so opinionated about Christian dating. And I have years and years of wisdom share.
(photo credit: https://converselife.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/rough-dirty-hands/)