Looking for Love 1. The Dating Game.

  My goal in life is to play for Liverpool Football Club. 

     Like many fans, I lie awake at night before a big game and imagine (we have good imaginations) getting the call up from the manager. “Corey, I’ve been watching the tapes from your recreational games and I need you this weekend!”. Then I say “How much will you pay me for playing in the game?”. He says “Will $10,000 be enough?”. I say “Yes!” and the rest is delusional history…
     It’s not enough to have a goal in order to win the game, you have to play by rules.
     If my goal is to play for Liverpool, there are three rules I’ll have to play by/obstacles to overcome:
1. Physical Conditioning. I’ll be honest, I could use some…
2. I’m Bereft of Talent. I have none.
3. I’m too old. This is a problem.
Should I find a way to win through these to my Goal, I could do it!
     In the game of love, who’s winning? Do you even know anybody who is? Hollywood isn’t. Yet they project themselves as experts.
     Have you ever had a goal dating? How about a goal for your marriage? Erin and I were out walking the other day and I was bouncing sermon ideas around (she is very creative), and she asks “Did you have a goal for our marriage?”. “Hmmm, not really…”
     Now I am a very specific and driven person and leave little to chaos or chance, yet in the most important relationship I have (except of my relationship with Jesus), I didn’t have a goal? Weird. Wait, I had assumptions! They’re the same thing as goals, right?
     The older married reader is having a chuckle at my expense right now… Yeah, assumptions are what we spend the rest of our marriages fighting about. What a shock to realize that a win for me is not a win for Erin!!! I’m a perfectionist and have little tolerance for not moving at the speed of light (I get bored easily). I actually enjoy conflict because it means progress! Never ever tell me something is impossible! It can’t be done? WATCH ME!
     Erin is very sharp, but she’s a peacemaker, she doesn’t care about that stuff. If I was sensitive, my feeling(s) would be hurt! We are a good pair that way. Opposites attract:)
     Is your goal Perfection? Great sex? Good cooking? To be loved by someone? These things are great, but if you could only have one thing, would it be these?
     What rules are you playing the dating game by? The dating game makes huge assumptions! Here are a couple:
1. Dating spends its energy asking if she “could” be the one?
  • Not if she should be. Huge difference. All the energy and chemistry (which is about all you’ve got dating) is geared towards the wrong question. You’re running headlong towards your goal of proving she could be that we don’t stop and ask if she should be. It’s too late to ask that when you get married.
  • THE RIGHT ONE AT THE WRONG TIME AND IN THE WRONG WAY BECOMES THE WRONG THING
    • The step from being “the right one” to being “the wrong one” is not that big. Take a look around. Relationships are falling apart because we’re expending all our energy trying to reach a type of euphoria (goal) that exists only in the marketing minds of people trying to sell things. Real life need not apply! We’re buying concepts from people who are failing miserably in their own relationships. Why?
  • Special Note: If you’re dating right now you won’t listen to me… just thought I’d throw that in there. You have chemistry. You have ideals. You have theories. What would I know about marriage? I’ve been married for 15 years and made it through 2 major possible breakdowns, but you have a “song”! When your theory plane crashes into a mountain and you find yourself trying to survive for weeks or months, you’ll do things you wouldn’t have done sitting in your armchair at home. You’ll eat people. Don’t believe me? Have you ever watched a child custody case get nasty? People eating the people they once loved. But do what you’re going to do and when your kid is 16 tell them to listen to someone like me. But they won’t. They’ll have a song…
2. Dating looks at strengths.
  • This is where the attraction is. The two or three areas of your life where you “shine”. Use them well, when you’re married she’ll be more like “…yes, I know you think you’re good at that! Who cares?”. Careful how much you build around your strengths, what you don’t know now is that your weaknesses and glitches are far more in number and go way deeper than your strengths do. Utilize your strength, but understand something much more profound: one day you will look back at your life and realize your strength didn’t connect you to people.
  • “We might impress people with our strengths, but we connect with them through our weaknesses.” Craig Groschel
  • “If you aren’t comfortable talking about your weaknesses with him don’t date him, you’re not ready. If you couldn’t live with his weaknesses for the rest of your life, don’t date him either.” Corey Kope (me. stuff looks cooler when you quote someone)
  • Weaknesses and quirks are what married people talk about. If you can’t laugh at or talk about your weaknesses, what are you going to talk about for the next thirty or forty years? That’s why some married people don’t laugh anymore. They take themselves way too seriously and try to ignore or perfect their natural weakness. It becomes one more conversation that’s off limits. It’s also no fun.

Jesus crossed social lines to talk to this Samaritan woman. I don’t have time to tell you how no Jewish Rabbi would ever EVER talk to a woman like this! Jesus doesn’t really care what society thinks, when he wants to get to someone, he does. It’s what I love about him!

     He immediately puts his finger on her problem: she’s played the dating game a lot and it’s not working for her. She’s failed over and over and over. Five husbands and now she’s given up, is just living with a guy, and wakes up every morning regretting what she did last night. Like some of us. Wishing she could change but not knowing how. Just like us.
     This is where it gets interesting and Jesus says something that shocks her. She tries a couple of sidetracks to get him off of THAT topic with a “the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story”. Jesus slams it back home with this: “I am HE, you don’t have to wait any longer or look any further”
     Personal translation? “Quit trying to fill the central puzzle piece of your life with men. You’re really looking for me.”
     There is a gaping Jesus-shaped hole in the lives of every human. Every other piece of our lives were meant to fit onto it. You’ll never find what you’re looking for in relationships if you’re not looking for love in the right place. She can’t do it for you, so quit asking her to. No one can, they weren’t made to fill that gap.
     Jesus said his Father was looking for “those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.” No more facade. Ground floor vulnerability and honesty. “Just as I am, without one plea…”
     So what is your goal in dating, in marriage, in life with people?
     What if it was simply to connect?
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 
― Brené Brown
     Connection. With your God and with your people.
     I think we could actually do this!
Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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