There is only one honest thing to say when the weight of dating uncertainty weighs heavy: “We don’t know.” We must confess that, to the experience of besetting and anxious uncertainty in dating, there isn’t an answer or at least not a concrete and immediate answer.Maybe the whole point of dating — and the fact that Scripture says so little about it — is that we don’t know what we’re doing, we can’t do it well (alone), and it isn’t sustainable.
The answer is very clear: There are a lot of chips on the table and with blind odds.
The risk in dating is never higher than when sharing intimate, vulnerable, breakable pieces of ourselves — in appropriate ways and at appropriate time — without any certainty this will lead to marriage.
In dating, disappointment exists in the form of breaking up.
In marriage and parenting, the disappointments and pains can be much more devastating, and sometimes even permanent.
If it made sense, or it was easy, or it wasn’t soul-splittingly uncomfortable, there would be no propulsion forward, towards marriage or otherwise. Uncertainty is the soil of the Psalms (Psalm ; 88:3).
Uncertainty in dating propels us forward with purpose. Uncertainty dangles us from our ankles and reveals all of the unspoken (and often ungrounded) expectations hanging loose in the pockets of our faith: You don’t need to pretend you haven’t thought those things — like you haven’t wanted to say those things to God, to other Christians — like you haven’t preached those things over and over again to your own heart. The uncertainty of dating peels back the floorboards of our presumptuous theologies — our crystallized ideas about what God for us — and shines the light on all the threats beneath the otherwise comfortable world we live in: “Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets” (Lamentations 4:5). The uncertainty of dating is a microcosm of the otherwise forgotten truth: Life is uncertain.
The same God says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs ) and, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Dating literature, for too long, has offered too many of the wrong guarantees, and too few of the relevant graces.
I once heard someone pray, “We pray against a closed sky.” It may be easy for some to feel ignored in the abyss of uncertainty. Many attempts to resolve this tension result in a self-pandering theology.
It is an unsustainable (but not purposeless) relationship-form in the long term, meant to lead you to depend on a heavenly Father who cares for you, and promises to provide for you, regardless of your relationship status or prospects.
But uncertainty is a mercy, if we’re prepared to receive it — it reveals to us the tensions of life itself, especially when we can’t sit still long enough to listen. Life in the midst of “We do not know” (John 14:5) and “You know” (Psalm 139:4) can, at times, feel like we’re fastened to a torture rack — pulled between a big God and real life.
We need not be uncertain about everything in dating, though.