When dating, it’s easy to believe that finding the right person and saying the right vows will solve everything. Maybe it’s time we debunk those myths.
- While we know that real life is not like the movies, what makes common love stories in movies appealing?
- Have you ever fallen victim to the Right Person Myth: “Once I meet the right person, everything will all right”? Explain.
- Andy mentioned that Jesus’s specific brand of love requires Christians to love other people as he did for everyone. Does this type of love differ from your own understanding of love? Explain.
- If you’re dating, what are the top three things you’re looking for in a person? How do you measure up to those three things?
NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.
Hey, today we’re kicking off our brand new series that I’m super excited about, Love, Dates, and Heartbreaks. And as we jump into this real quick, I wanna tell you who this is for. This is for students who want to date and hope to date, this is for graduates who want a date and hope to date, this is for singles who are dating, this is for married people who are trying to make their marriages better, this is for people who used to be married and are jumping back into the scary, awful aquarium of dating, where it just seems so complicated and it’s not like it was when you were 18, and you were trying to figure that out. So this series is really for anybody who’s in a romantic relationship, wants to be in a romantic relationship, hopes to be and is trying to figure it out. And one of the reasons that I’m super excited about this series as well, is this series gives me an opportunity to talk about something that breaks my heart.
And one of the things that breaks my heart has to do with what we’re gonna talk about. Because watching people make relationship decisions that undermine their relationships, that just breaks my heart. Watching people make decisions about their own relationships, whether it’s marriage or dating or whatever it might be that I know and I’m not super dialed in. Most people would watch them and think, “Oh no, you’re gonna do what?” Watching people make what’s already complicated more complicated, with making relationships that are already complicated more complicated, that just breaks my heart. There is already enough, and it is true, there’s enough unavoidable pain in the world. The last thing we need to do is to add to it with our own decisions. And like you, it’s not just me, sometimes I watch people and I think, “Have you thought that through? Have you really thought that through or have you… Come on, have you really ever seen that work out anywhere else with anybody else?”
“It works out on Netflix, but you’re in the real world. [laughter] Have you ever seen that actually work out in a real relationship?” You’ve had these same thoughts. Or I think, “Has no one warned you about this? Did your mama not warn you, or your grandmama, or your dad or a friend or a roommate?” Am I the only one trying to get in your way to say, “Hey, you need to think this through.” And so it breaks my heart to see people unnecessarily complicate their future relationships with current relationships, complicate a current relationship with just a bad relationship decision.
And I’ll tell you who else I’m excited about to be a part of this series, for those of you that are dating and you’re serial daters, For you, if a date doesn’t end with sex, you don’t even… You just chalk it up to a loss, you’re just in that place where you’re like, “One day some day, I’m gonna settle down. But that’s one day some day, it’s not this day.”
In fact, you don’t even really call it date, that’s something your parents did. It’s a dark ages thing. But you’re in a season of life and you’re not ashamed of it, you’re not bashful about it, it’s just, this is just where you are. It’s a use them and lose them, rotate through.
And that’s your business ’cause it’s your life but I just gotta tell you, and you may not care, but that’s heart breaking to me, too. And the reason it’s heart breaking to me is, and you don’t have to believe this, is you’re hurting you and you’re hurting somebody else. And here’s what I know about you, even though we’ve never met, you don’t wanna hurt yourself and you don’t wanna hurt other people. In fact, if I were to confront you, you would say, “No, no, no, no, it’s consensual. I’m not hurting anybody.” But there’s such thing as consensual hurt like we’re gonna both agree to hurt each other.
It’s consensual, but if it’s consensual and it still hurts a person, come on, it just still hurts of person. And you don’t wanna do that. And here’s the other thing that concerns me about you if that’s the season of life you’re in, I don’t want you to be, and I made this up so I don’t know if this is like a real thing, I don’t want you to be a liar for life. I don’t want you to be a liar for life when it comes time to tell your story. Because what you’re doing right now morally and what you’re doing right now relationally, these are chapters of your story. And they are permanent parts of your story. And one day, believe it or not, somebody’s gonna wanna hear your story and you’re gonna wanna hear somebody else’s story.
And depending on what you do now, you’re gonna be tempted to lie about parts of your story. And you’re gonna be a liar for life because you’re gonna have a secret, or you’re gonna have a series of secrets, or a season of life you don’t wanna talk about. And when it gets to that season you’re gonna snooze over it a little bit. And I’ve talked to too many women guys, who married a guy and he told about half the story. And a year later, she found out the whole story, or 15 years later, she found out the rest of the story and she’s broken and she’s heart broken. Because she didn’t get a chance to choose you with your whole story because you lied about your story. And the reason you lied about your story, just to use an old-fashioned word, is you were ashamed of your story, you were embarrassed by your story. And here’s the thing, I’m not getting on you, I don’t want you to write an embarrassing story. I don’t want you to write a story you’re embarrassed about. I want you to write a good story.
And I don’t want you to be a liar for life because of decisions you make now. Because that breaks somebody’s heart. And I don’t want you to be somebody else’s regret when they tell their story. When your name comes up, I want them to say good things about you, don’t you? And let’s face it, when your name comes up, they’re gonna say something about you. You know they will because you say something about the people in your past. And you’re deciding what they’re gonna say. And I don’t want you to be somebody’s regret. I want you to be somebody’s, “Oh yeah, I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but he was such a great guy.” “She was so great and her family, and she was… ” Isn’t that what you want said about you? And guys I don’t want you to be a hypocrite. And here’s what I mean by that. If someone did unto your sister as you do unto the girls you date, you may want to do something unto them.
If someone did unto your niece or your single mom, as you do unto the girls you date, you may want to do something unto them. I don’t want you to be a hypocrite.
Don’t let there be duplicity don’t live a double life, don’t live with a double standard because ultimately, that hurts you and that hurts other people and that just kind of breaks my heart because it sets you up for trouble that you don’t need in the future. And ladies and I don’t like to really talk to ladies I’ve never been one. Okay, so, I realized as soon as I was moving this direction, I step out on I’m very thin, so I’m just put out there and head back stage, but ladies, [laughter] I don’t want you to be treated like a commodity. And you know what a commodity is? A commodity is something that’s bought and sold and traded and sometimes eventually just discarded. And maybe, depending on your life and culture and the way you’ve managed your relationships maybe you started to feel a little bit like a commodity. I don’t want you to feel that way. I want you to feel like someone who has extraordinary value and extraordinary worth not just based on what God says about you, but based on the way that men treat you. And men, I want you, I want you, and this is an old fashion word too. I want you to step up, I want you to be gentlemen. See gentle men gentlemen, is powerful, self-control is powerful, deferring to the wishes of another person is powerful, kindness is powerful, grace and mercy is powerful. And ladies, don’t you wish there were more gentlemen? And ladies I wish you would do whatever you have to do whatever is in your control, to decide, “I am no longer going to allow myself to be mistreated.
Now, there are two myths that drive all this confusion relationally, especially when it comes to how we manage our sexuality and how we do dating and relationships and even within the context of marriage. And like most myths, once you surface a myth and look at it, you realize, “Well that’s just ridiculous.” But these two myths actually sit in the under current of our thinking and our assumptions about relationships in fact they are really unexplored assumptions, and in any area of life, financially, business, whatever you might do. Whenever there’s an unexplored assumption, it’s a very dangerous thing because an unexplored assumption will inform your decisions, but you don’t know it’s informing your decisions and you make bad decisions. And these two relational myths inform so many of [chuckle] the decisions in our culture and honestly, everything in our culture fuels these myths. These two myths, these two myths for many of us actually drive our relationship decisions.
The first one is this, you may have heard me talk about it before. I just call it the right person myth, the right person myth is not that there’s not a right person for you. The right person myth is this, that once you meet the right person, everything will be all right. And all the married people grumble and go, “Yeah, that ain’t true. [laughter] That ain’t true.”
Because I met him. It’s not true. [laughter] It’s not. Right, right. The myth is that once you meet the right person, everything’s just gonna be all right regardless of what you do between now and then the myth is this; I can play, I can play around, I can do whatever I want, I can treat guys the way, I want girls the way I want I can just do whatever I want but when I meet the right person, everything’s gonna change. The past disappears. So you think your problem is you just haven’t met them yet or you met them and moved in with them or you met them and you married them but now things aren’t all right, anymore. And you are slowly coming to the conclusion that you must have chosen the wrong right person, [laughter] and now you are looking out for, you’re looking for who? You’re looking for the next right person.
And when I say it that way, it sounds ridiculous, but let’s be honest, this way of thinking fuels our relationship decisions and oftentimes it informs the direction that we take when it comes to relationships that I’m unhappy ’cause I’m with the wrong person. You’re unhappy because you’re with the wrong person, so you just need to find the right person, and then everything’s gonna be alright.
That is a myth that once you find them, once you find them, everything is going to be just fine. In fact, not only is everything gonna be fine. Here’s the deeper part of the myth, the assumption is that once you find the right person, everything is gonna be fine, including you, that you think somehow you’re gonna quit all those bad habits, you’re not gonna be interested in porn anymore, once you meet the right person, right guys? That your insecurity is just gonna go away, your financial bad habits are just gonna go away ’cause you’re gonna find somebody’s little coin and he’s gonna help you manage all that and it’s just gonna get better. If I could just meet the right person. Not only is everything gonna be all right, I’m gonna be all right, I’m gonna be a better person. I love that the line in Kacey Musgraves song, “Thinking we will be fixed by someone else. Thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else.” And it is a myth because as you know, there is more right? You’re adults. There is more. There’s more to a satisfying relationship than finding or even being found. We just don’t hear much about this. This does not make great film, this does not make great television series, this doesn’t make great reality TV. What makes great a reality TV, and what makes great film is people falling in love, that’s what the whole movie is about. They finally find each other, you know, they’re supposed to be together. It takes an hour and 45 minutes for them to figure it out. [laughter] And then they figure it out and they’re together and then what happens, the movie’s over. We love being entertained by people falling in love but here’s what we know about falling in love because we’re adults, falling in Love requires a pulse, falling in love requires a pulse, if you have a pulse, you can fall in love staying in love requires so much more and this series is about the so much more, but of course we’re not entertained by this so much more. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it is.
The second myth I call the Promise myth, there’s the right person myth and the promise myth. And this myth maintains that basically when it comes to satisfying long-term relationships that all we did need to do is make a promise that when it comes to relationships, a promise actually replaces the need for preparation—that you can commit, promise, or vow your way into [chuckle] a healthy satisfying mutually-satisfying relationship, that you can vow or promise or commit your way into a successful future, which is ridiculous. And that everything that came before can be overcome with two things: A promise and a party. A promise and a party, you’re gonna stand at an alter and make a promise, then you’re gonna have a big party the past disappears you’re gonna be a brand new person or a completely different kind of person, and you can promise or commit or vow your way into the future and your spouse, your new fiance can promise or commit or vow his or her way into the future as well.
But promises you know this? Again, you surface these myths, it’s like, “Yeah that can’t be true.” Promises are never a substitute for preparation. We know this in every other arena of life, except relationships we know this in academics. You can’t promise yourself to a degree, you have to study, in sports, business, medicine, discovery, business preparation, preparation for a presentation. In every single arena of life, we know that in order to win, you have to prepare.
Every coach knows. You don’t promise to win games. What do you do? You have to prepare to win, and this is true in your relationships. But who teaches us to prepare who prepares us for relationships? Nobody. Every single day, we’re told if you just fall over the right person, everything’s gonna be all right, and it’s a myth. In fact, rationally, you know it’s not true. And the whole idea that you don’t have to prepare for something to winning something you know that’s not true, which means, and this is tough to say. That when it comes to relationships, commitment. Commitment is way overrated.
Let me put it this way. I do, doesn’t mean you can. But come on, we’re adults, you don’t vow your way into a successful future relationally. You have to prepare.
Listen, especially if you’ve never been married, saying I do does not make you capable, saying I do makes you accountable. Saying, I do doesn’t make you capable it makes you [chuckle] accountable. And here’s the bad news, when you’re accountable, but not capable, you’re miserable.
When you’re accountable, “Oh I’m stuck in this but uh-oh I don’t know what to do with this, and I don’t know how to fix it, and I don’t know how to make it better.” You’re just miserable. So here’s a brilliant statement it’s amazing, my intellect.
If you aren’t preparing you won’t be prepared.
I probably need to explain that. It’s pretty deep. Let me go slow. Again, it’s just common sense, but I’m telling you, you know this when it comes to relationships, common sense is not common. We just ignore all the rules that we employ in every other arena of life. I want you to be prepared. And for those of you that are in a relationship or you’re married, I want you to start preparing, because you’re in. And yes you love her and yes you love him and you have kids together and you’re wondering, “Can we fix this?” Of course you can. But you don’t fix it by just trying to do what you did in the beginning and try to keep falling back in love with each other. There’s a way forward and that’s why we’re doing this series.
Now, this is where the message of Jesus just comes alive. This is honestly, this is where following Jesus makes all the difference right now in this world, in this life, in your current relationship. You’ve heard me say so many times following Jesus will make your life better, following Jesus will make you better at life. Well, following Jesus will make your life better and following Jesus will make you better at relationships. It’ll make you a better boyfriend, a better girlfriend, a better husband, a better wife, a better parent, a better fiance, a better future husband, a better future wife. That following Jesus will make you better at life, in fact, following Jesus will make you better at life, before you come to the conclusion as to whether or not you believe Jesus is the Son of God. Because Jesus left us with one relational principle that is so extraordinarily powerful, so defining, it’s kind of the driving force behind everything else that we’re gonna say throughout this series. Because whereas the teachings of Jesus won’t help you find the right person, primarily because people had arranged marriages back when Jesus came along, and by the time they were 13, it was all set and done, it was all buttoned up. And we didn’t have much choice but following Jesus, this is the game changer, following Jesus will help you to become the person.
It’s why every once in a while, maybe you’ve had this experience, and you meet someone from your past, and you run back into them and they’re different and they’re good different, they’re kinda cleaned up and buttoned up and their eyes are clear, and there’s happiness on their face, they seem to have their life together and you start asking questions and you discover they became a Jesus follower and they’re different, they didn’t meet somebody new, they became somebody new. It’s why when sometimes, when you meet people from the past, it’s like, you became a different person. Following Jesus will help you become the kind of person, that the person you’re looking for is looking for. Following Jesus will help you become the kind of person that the person who was hoping for was hoping for.
Which brings us to this question for all of us. Married, single, students, graduates, whatever set season of life you’re in, are you the person, are you the person the person you’re looking for is looking for, are you just looking or are you becoming? And Jesus says, “Follow me, you’ll become.” If you’re married, here’s your version. Are you still the person, are you still the person they were looking for, are you still the person they were hoping for or have you allowed life and kids and money and stuff, and busyness and business to get in the way of what you were becoming of the person he or she believed she was entering a relationship with.
So Jesus steps into the pages of history. We don’t have time but, I mean, the world that they stepped into is unimaginable. And in spite of that, Jesus introduces a brand new relational paradigm, a brand new relational paradigm that was a game changer beginning in the 1st century and eventually, got the attention of the Roman world, and became central in the life of Rome and since then, it has circled the globe. A relational paradigm that is simple, it’s compelling, it’s demanding of course it is, and it’s also rewarding.
So toward the end of his ministry, Jesus has gathered with his guys and he’s gonna give them the sort of, this is part of that last minute, if you forget everything else, remember this pep talk and these words I’m about to read to you that Jesus said. And he begins with an illustration that they were totally dialed into, they were immediately like, “Huh?” Here’s what he said. He said, “I am the true vine. I’m like a vine and My Father God is the gardener.” Whenever Jesus told a parable, there’s a God part, there’s a Jesus part and there’s an us part.
He says, “Okay guys, here’s how I want you to think about your relationship with me. I’m like a vine.” Now, they understood great vines, they totally got it. “I’m the vine, and My heavenly Father is the gardener, the one that’s tending the vine. He, God, cuts off every branch that’s plugged into me, the vine, that doesn’t bear any fruit.” Why? Because the goal of Jesus and the goal of this whole conversation is to explain how people get connected to Jesus and Jesus bears fruit through them. He says, “While every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes it.” Why? So there will be more fruit, so the goal clearly is some kind of fruit bearing to which we say, “What’s the fruit?” And he’s gonna tell us in just a minute.
By the way, your life is bearing fruit too. Everybody’s life bears fruit. It’s your reputation, it’s the outcome of your decisions, it’s that story that you like to tell and the story that you don’t like to tell.
So he says, “Here’s what you gotta do,” and this is all relationship language, “Remain in me and I also remain in you.” no branch can bear fruit by itself. It’s gotta be remained in the vine.” Again, he’s talking about something so familiar. If you take the branch off the vine, the branch dies, it doesn’t bare any fruit.”
He says, “If you’re gonna bear the fruit I want you to bear, you’ve gotta stay plugged in to me.” And now the application. “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain connected or plugged in to me.” That we can’t bear fruit the way that Jesus wants us to bear fruit, unless we lean into him or to use another word Jesus used, continue to follow him. And then he says to them, what they’ve already figured out. “I am the vine,” you’ve already said that, “And you guys are these branches I’m talking about. And if you remain plugged into me, and I in you,” this is so cool, “I wanna make you a promise,” he says. “You’re going to bear much fruit. You’re not gonna bear much fruit ’cause you’re gonna learn how to be a fruit bearer; you’re gonna bear much fruit because you’re plugged into, and following, me.”
And then he defines what he means by fruit. And this is so powerful. He says, “Just as the father.” This is amazing, that he makes this comparison. “Just as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” So wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Okay, you change the subject. We were talking out gardens and fruit and vine. Okay. We’re n ow talking about love. He’s like, “Just hang with me. I’m getting there. Just as the Father has loved me, just as the Father has demonstrated his love through me, I have demonstrated the Father’s love through you.
Now, here’s what I want you to do, I want you to remain in my love.” The same word he used to talk about the branch. Staying connected to the vine. So it’s like, “Wait. So God’s the gardener, you’re the vine, I’m the branch. I’m to stay connected to you, and when I think about staying connected to you, I’m supposed to stay connected to your love.” Exactly. And then here’s the surprise. “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.” To which we say, “I knew it was a bait-and-switch. This is just all about commands and rules. I knew it. It was so relational. It was so warm and fuzzy, and something’s gonna happen in me. And one day, my wife’s gonna go, “You’re the man of my dreams, after all. I’m just gonna become.” And then you do what every church person does. Now, we’re gonna talk about the 10 Commandments or some new commands. And I’m sure the guys siting there with Jesus are like, “Great. I thought we were headed down a new direction, but you’re saying, if you keep my commandments, you will stay, you’ll remain in my love.” To which they’re thinking, “Okay. You’re Jesus. We’re with you. So what are the commands? Somebody write these down. I bet there’s a bunch of them.”
And here’s the shocker. Here’s why you should follow Jesus. Here’s why you should consider following Jesus if you’re not sure who Jesus is. Jesus smiles, I think, and he says, “Okay, I’ll tell you. John, write this down. My command is this. Okay. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Vine and branch. We’re plugging in. It’s all about back and forth. And somehow it’s all about the Father’s love. And now we’re talking about commands. And now you’re saying, there’s just one command. Right. Just one command. Alright, what’s your command? Love each other.” We don’t even need to write that one down. We’ve heard that so many times. That’s not new to us. Jesus would say, Hang on. I’m not through. Because this isn’t just about love the one you’re with. This isn’t just about love. This isn’t about, “Oh, if we just all get along and love each other.” No, Jesus said, “Remember this is vine and branch. This is a different kind of love. This is a very specific kind of love. I don’t want you to just be more loving. I want you to love specifically. I want you to have a focus love.
Here’s the kind of love I want you to have. I want you to love each other as I. Because this is about a relationship with me. I want the love that you have seen demonstrated towards you. I want that same brand. I want that same type. I want that same combination, that same formula of love to flow through you. I want you to love as I have loved you.” And I’m telling you, sitting in the room that night, they had some idea of what he was talking about. But a few days later, Jesus would put on a demonstration of love, take their breath away, because it would take his breath away. And on the other side of the resurrection, it’s like, “Oh. This isn’t some kind of permissive figure-it-out-on-your-own kind of love, this is the kind of love where you put the other person first. This is the kind of love where you lay down your life for a friend. This is the kind of love that takes everything I have going for me and makes it available for you. This is the kind of love where I do unto you, as my father through Christ has done unto me.”
This is what Jesus means by abiding in him. It’s not complicated, it’s not super intangible, super spiritual, it is about learning how and allowing the love that God has for you to flow to others, specifically to those with whom you have a relationship. Saint Augustine. By the way, St. Augustine is in Florida. Saint Augustine is in heaven. I just wanna clear that up. Okay? Saint Augustine makes this comment based on this unique focus Christ like, kind of love. He says this, he wrote this, he said love and then basically do whatever you want. Love and do as thou wilt. Once you understand that the framework for all of your relationships, the framework and the guiding force and the guiding principle, the North Star of your behavior toward the people around you, the people that you’re raising, the people that you live with, the people that you’re married to. As long as you know the North Star is my behavior will be monitored through then looked at through the filter and the grid of God’s love for me as demonstrated in Christ. He says once you have that down, you’ll figure everything out.
That this is how you become. This is how you become a person worth looking for, this is how you shift gears from just finding, finding, finding and if your marriage, if you’re married, controlling, controlling, controlling and conforming, conforming, conforming and pressuring and pressuring and pressuring. And if I can just ever get her to act the way I want her to act I’ll be happy, and if I could ever get him to stop and to start and to begin and to stop. If I could just get him shaped into the image of what I want, then I would be happy. And Jesus says, That’s never gonna work.
I have an idea, just follow me and learn from me. In another place it says, Because I’m gentle and I’m humble in heart. And you will find rest for your souls and you will find peace in your relationships because I want to teach you how to love as I’ve loved. And I’m telling you, when two people get on board with this, when two people embrace this approach to relationship, it’s amazing what happens. This is how you become a person worth finding, but this is how you become a person worth staying for. This is, as we’re gonna see, this is how you prepare to commit. This is how you prepare to stay committed. This is how you make whatever relationship you’re in better because both people are becoming and they’re becoming in the same direction.