Blake Snyder and Jordan Blankenbecler are dear friends of Redeemed Girl Ministries. Blake, once worked on staff with RGM and is now living in Nashville, TN, pursuing a masters degree in counseling at Lipscomb University. We miss her dearly, but we’re delighted to have her and her fiancé join us on the RGM blog. Blake and Jordan’s story of pursuing Jesus in their dating relationship is one I felt needed to be shared with our readers. Grab a cup of coffee, (or tea) and settle in for some heartfelt honesty and wisdom! -Marian Jordan Ellis
We all know what we are supposed to do. But how many of us have honest conversations about what the Bible calls us to in a dating relationship? The truth is, the bible says nothing about dating, but it has a lot to say about your heart, your character, integrity, and how to love and serve one another. So with that being said….
Keep your clothes on.
Don’t watch Netflix after midnight.
After you have the DTR, make sure it’s okay with your roommates and remove all light switches. Your purity is worth more than the annual cost.
Hire an adult Christian chaperon at puritycircle.com
All joking aside, as believers we should hold ourselves to higher standards and be curious about more than the question of “how far is too far?” Let’s ask better questions and engage our hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies to His truth. Christ in you IS the hope of glory and the Bible has a lot to say about who we are called to be as followers of Christ whether we are in a relationship or not.
We thought we would share a few practical things we learned about ourselves and each other as we’ve dated over the past year.
Being kind is being clear
I (Blake) learned fairly quickly that even with all the feels of falling in love, the serotonin overflow did not compensate for us still being wired completely differently as a man and a woman. Being in love doesn’t magically mean he can read my mind and we all know saying “I’m fine” just ain’t the truth. So tell the truth; the messy, hard, and honest truth. My shame tells me it’s better to keep it to myself, that it will be too much and then inevitably I’ll be too much for him. But scripture says something different. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (NLT) What this isn’t saying is that we are never afraid, I’m afraid all the time! However, God’s spirit is not one of cowardly fear that keeps us in our shame, His Spirit gives us the courage and strength to take the risk and tell the truth! While being clear may not feel kind, it’s incredibly kind and courageous.
Invest in your Relationship
For Valentine’s Day last year Jordan got us both tickets to a marriage conference put on by my favorite author. I know I’m a nerd, but it was seriously the kindest gesture. Not only did we walk away from that conference with a better vision of what marriage calls us to in the lens of the Gospel, we constantly go back to things that were shared during those sessions. We even bought the recordings so that we could go back and reference them. Doing that costs money and it costs time, but what we sacrificed at the expense of our comfort and dollars is sowing seeds of future joy in our relationship. Jordan is a big fan of podcasts and he is constantly sending great sermons and teachings my way. After we both listen to it we are able to have really good conversations about what we learned about ourselves, God, and one another. We need outside influences in to stir us and teach us and grow us! We both have a knack for reading, listening, and immersing ourselves in wisdom that teaches and challenges us to know God and be who He created us to be. It’s so worthwhile to set aside time and dollars to put towards strengthening your relationship. Dating ultimately leads to marriage so it’s important to have dialogue with one another about that as well. Investing in your relationship always reaps benefits.
Get Past the Surface
I’ve watched the waters get real murky, real fast when oversharing and vulnerability get confused. I’m sad that vulnerability has lost a lot of it’s essence in the same way words like community and intentionality have. It’s no question that an important part of any healthy relationship is unpacking each other’s story. However, unpacking all your suitcases for the other to see on the first, second, third, even fourth date is just asking for trouble. Jordan and I have very different stories and from very early on we were careful about sharing. We certainly didn’t do this perfectly or with ease. But we did understand that we needed to spend time building a strong foundation that could safely hold the weighty stories of loss, brokenness, and heartbreak that are true for both of us. We needed to do the hard work of learning that intimacy and trust take time to build.
One practical way we do this is to set aside a few hours each month on the weekend to spend time engaging more with our stories to try to better understand, know, and serve one another. We’ve spent time talking about our families, how we came to know Christ, sexuality, our fears and desires for marriage, etc. The list goes on for eternity because there is always more to know. Dan Allender talks about how our hearts are vast terrains that will take a lifetime to know and our shoes need to come off as we step into the holy ground of another person’s story. Jordan and I were both fortunate enough to engage with our own stories through counseling before we started dating one another. This gave us a language that made it a lot easier to share. If unpacking your story or counseling is not something that y’all have ventured into, it’s okay! No time like the present to begin.
State Your Needs
(Jordan here) Being an independent person from a young age means that asking for what I need directly has never been easy for me. I would much rather pull myself up by my boot straps and muscle through the situation than pause and ask for what I need in that moment. If I’m honest I believe being needy means being weak. If I’m weak, Blake would see right through me and would never respect me. I hear the echo’s of this same sentiment in the corners of coffee shops and in small groups throughout our church community… “How can I be needy and still lead?” The answer lies directly in scripture.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT
Jesus came after me and restored me to Himself, for His glory. I’m set free from culture’s opinion that to be a man I need to forever be the knight in shining armor. The white horse is broken. Leading looks a lot less like saving and a lot more like learning how to invite someone else into your neediness because you can’t do it alone. Blake and I found that telling each other what we really need takes us further than the off handed comment that leaves us feeling like a 6 year old who just got his Juicy Juice taken away when we don’t get the response we were hoping for, but too prideful to name. Commit to being your true self around one another. Using shame, fear, and chick-fil-a nuggets is never the answer. Confess and surrender your need to be needless before the Great Healer and to one another. Vulnerability in this case, is inviting the person you love to step into your neediness and trusting that they will meet you there. Just because you state your needs does not mean you will get a yes. Blake is not responsible to meet all my needs, but I am responsible to name them.
I (Blake) know that none of us have ever been friends with someone who gets a boyfriend / girlfriend and said person suddenly disappears from the face of the earth. That would be crazy talk! Oh wait, we’ve all seen it happen and maybe you’re one of those people who fell in love and fell out of reality. Oops! The excitement of a new relationship can sometimes give you community amnesia, it happens to the best of us. However, it’s only a matter of time before the two of you won’t have a whole lot to offer the relationship without being filled from the outside. Speaking from experience, there are places in me as a woman that only other woman can speak to and understand. The same is true for men. If Jordan was the only person that I was confiding in I would run the poor man down so fast! We’ve found that we are our best selves when we make time spend with our same-sex friends and mentors. They drive us closer to Christ and make us better people together in our relationship. The Gospel is most vibrant and full when lived out in community. We need to be in relationship(s) with all different kinds of people to learn and grow and experience the fullness of Christ!
Dating is hard work y’all! I remember being disappointed when we had been dating for two months and all my problems were still there even though this newfound love had taken up residence in my heart. Jordan’s love is such a gift to me, but it also doesn’t save me from myself, my past, and my wounds just like my love doesn’t save Jordan from Jordan. We will likely be learning that more and more deeply as we step into a new season of marriage. Relationships needs to be cultivated, cared for, weeded, and tended to. We hope and pray these things we mentioned are ways for you to better care for your own relationships whether single, dating, or married!
Below we’ve included a few resources that we’ve recommended to friends and family in regards to relationships and Gospel living:
Meaning of Marriage | Tim Keller
Eros Redeemed | John White
Sacred Search | Gary Thomas
Voice of the Heart | Chip Dodd
Scary Close | Don Miller
Gospel in Life | Timothy Keller Sermons
Sermons / Audio:
Intimate Mystery Conference | Dan Allender
Marriage and Friction | Scott Sauls
Marriage in Gospel Focus | Tim and Kathy Keller
Blake + Jordan
Blake Snyder is a counseling intern at Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, TN and is working on completing her masters degree in counseling at Lipscomb University this fall. Jordan Blankenbecler is a booking agent at an entertainment agency in town and helps to lead the Young Professional ministry at his church. They are planning their upcoming wedding that’s happening in approximately 136 days!