I have spent the last two blog posts in this Eternal Family series talking about why God-ordained marriage is important, how we can become an eternal family, and how God's plan of happiness relates to and supports the concept of an eternal family.
Hopefully I have been able to paint a clear picture on why God has blessed us with families and how important they are in His plan of His children. I also hope that you have been able to understand why marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and how it provides the ideal setting for family life to begin. (Notice I said "ideal setting". I realize that not every family is able to consist of a husband, wife, and children. The discussion that could revolve around that is for another day.)
The concept of traditional dating is in trouble. It is "the most endangered part of the modern context of dating" (Hawkins 12). This leads me to why I chose the title for this blog post. I want my kids to know the importance of dating in their lives. I want them to understand how following "a divinely directed approach to dating and courtship" will help them in their quest to establish and maintain their own eternal family relationships (Hawkins 12).
Why I Want You to Date
While pondering what I wanted to say in this blog post, your cute faces kept popping into my head and I realized that what I want to say in this post, is exactly what I want you all to know about dating and why it is an important stage in your lives.
Although your dad and I didn't date each other for very long before we got engaged, we continued dating through our engagement and throughout our married lives. We realize how important it is for us to continue dating because it provides us with an opportunity to continue to get to know one another, have fun together, and stay close to one another.
Traditional dating offers opportunities for you to have meaningful conversation and dialogue with your dates. It also provides you with "greater self-awareness, greater appreciation of the range of potential partners, and greater preparation for marriage, which [leads to] wiser decision making about a marriage partner and increased confidence in later courtship" (Hawkins 12). That was a lot of words to basically say this...dating will make you more aware of who you are, who you want to be, and where you want to go with life.
I mentioned that dating will prepare you for marriage. Maybe you've thought about getting married and have some ideas about what your future spouse will be like. I want to just offer some words of prophetic counsel that will help you as the process of dating leads you to the one you will want to marry.
From Elder David A. Bednar-
Have I convinced you of the importance of dating yet? I hope at the very least, you are feeling a little more confident in your knowledge of why dating is an important step in a relationship.
Maybe you're feeling a little scared or apprehensive about dating and marriage. That's perfectly okay and totally understandable. These are big decisions that you are facing in your life and with every big decision comes a mountain of uncertainty and anxiety. Elder Holland offers some words of advice to help you manage those feelings.
"Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You separate dating from discipleship at your peril" (Hawkins 7).
And so it comes back to this, doesn't it? Here goes Mom again...teaching and talking about Jesus. :) I know that you know how I feel about the Savior and I hope that you also know how much I believe that He is truly the answer to any problem, question, or decision in your life.
"The starting point for becoming ready for marriage is to develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His divine plan for marriage and families" (Hawkins 7).
Dating prepares you for exclusive dating. Exclusive dating prepares you for engagement. Engagement prepares you for marriage and marriage prepares you to live in an eternal marriage relationship. It's a recipe to follow and if you leave an ingredient out, the cookies will just not taste as good as they could.
Now that we've had a little chat about how important dating is, I want to spend just a moment on how to choose your eternal companion when that time comes. It can be a daunting task if you let it, but once again...trust in the Lord and all will be well.
When Faced with "The Big Decision"
It's all about three words... WHEN, WHOM, and HOW.
If you are doing all you can do through obedience and faith in the Lord to consistently draw as close to marriage as you are able, when the time is right, you will know (Hawkins 9-10). If the world tells you that you are too young or too old, do not listen. Listen only to the sweet whisperings of the Holy Ghost. He will not lead you astray.
I know that Hollywood has romanticized the idea of finding your soul mate, but you have an opportunity to have something even grander than a soul mate. You have an opportunity to become an eternal companion. "While soul mates are found, eternal companions are chosen and made..." (Hawkins 11). Follow the pattern of divine dating that I talked about above and I have no doubt that you will find a companion whom you can learn and grow with.
It all begins with dating and so I come back to my original request... I want you to date.
I am so proud of you all for the good decisions you have made thus far in your life and I have no doubt that as you stay close to the Savior, He will lead and guide you through the exhilarating and scary world of dating, courtship, and marriage and bless you with the absolute love of your life.
Hawkins, A. J., Dollahite, D. C., & Draper, T. (2012). Successful marriages and families: Proclamation principles and research perspectives. Provo, UT: BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.