After I posted a Valentine's Day testimony from my friend, Mandy, I received this email from another reader who was reflecting on what had happened. She wrote:
First off, let me just say that it is such a neat and encouraging story of God's faithfulness and goodness. But there was just one detail of the story that prompted some of my own questioning.
Mandy said that her cousin invited her to dinner to meet Randy. This is where my question comes in...what do you think about being set up to meet a person of the opposite sex?
I am 23 and single, and have encountered a few instances where people have wanted to set me up with a guy. I tend to back away from these opportunities because I do not feel like I should play any part in trying to find "the one." Rather, I desire to trust in the sovereignty of God and want to allow Him to work His will in my life.
That being said, I hear instances like Mandy's, where she complied and she ended up marrying this man, so obviously that was God's will for her. Seeing how God can work through situations like hers, it makes me question: should I be more open to being "set up"?
When I responded, I told this woman that she had asked a great question, so I had two more for her:
In fact, I would think the complete opposite of you. ;) I think it's perfectly normal--even preferable!--that people are introduced to each other through the relationships they already have. I actually go around encouraging married people to introduce single friends to each other. It's only an introduction--not an engagement. But if the church would help singles meet and marry, we wouldn't have big business rushing in to make money on this need to meet one another.
Be flattered that people think about you and want to introduce you to others that they know and like! It won't always turn into anything, but you never know! And that could be the very means that God uses to bring you to your future husband. At the very least, you would know another brother in Christ and that is blessing in and of itself.
Our correspondence went for another round, in which this woman clarified that she does not mind meeting other singles in a group context; she's just not fond of blind dates. Ah, yes. Well, who is? They are usually exercises in prolonged awkwardness. But she also added that by showing up for a blind date, she felt like she was pursuing a relationship. So I asked her permission to share this on my blog, because I wanted to think about it further.
After some reflection, I'd like to offer a perspective to both the "target" of the set-up and the one(s) doing the matchmaking. First to the matchmakers: Please know the difference between being a busybody with a self-appointed agenda to "fix" every single person and a friend who truly believes God can use you to network on behalf of your single friends. The difference often lies in how much prayer you put into the situation and how discerning you are. Do not force two otherwise-incompatible people to meet simply because they are single, of the opposite gender, and they show up in church occasionally. Please consider mutual interests, energies, temperaments, and shared outlooks. You aren't in charge of creating the spark, but you can at least foster a good friendship--and that means the two being introduced shouldn't have to wonder why you thought they could be friends!
Okay, now that I've poked some fun there, let me also encourage you not to grow weary of doing good, either. I was quite serious when I told my correspondent that I go around encouraging married couples to consider introducing their single friends to each other! I'm always plugging this at women's events and I urge married women to enlist their husbands in the cause. They are the secret weapon of single women everywhere, for no one can envision a single man for marriage quite like a married man can. In fact, when I was in Ethiopia this past spring, a married man told me he had invited two of the single men to his house for lunch after church because he wanted them to see how much he enjoys his wife and married life. So this is a worldwide cause, my friends!
Some practical tips: Invite your "targets" and some other people to your home or other outing for a group event. Don't tell the woman what you are doing. Just let her be herself. There's no point in stirring up her hopes if the man is not going to initiate. But feel free to tell the man that you've invited a woman he might enjoy meeting. Talk her up a bit, but not too much. Don't make him feel the pressure--just get him thinking about it. Whatever you do, try your hardest not to make everyone revert back to middle school. And avoid the blind date at all cost, unless your "targets" think blind dates are preferable (you should know their opinions here). You are introducing friends, that's all. So keep it chill.
Now to the "targets." Of course, you know that you never have to accept such overtures. However, I would urge all of us to examine our hearts before we respond. What are our motives for accepting or declining? Are we thinking too highly of ourselves and too poorly of others? Are we unwilling to invest a few hours in meeting another person rescued and loved by Christ? Do we have an unyielding expectation of how God should provide a mate for us? And have we possibly contorted the feminine role of joyful response into a lethargic passivity? I paint that with a broad brush, but I do want to caution us from swinging to extremes. When it comes to relationships, we have to show up. And more than show up, we have to be willing to make an investment and participate.
Finally, we have to reserve judgment until we have enough facts to merit a decision. That speaks to both those who jump off the deep end into romantic fantasy before the introduction and those who fear getting hurt and so they reject the introduction. Neither response is grounded in reality. Get the facts. Ask good questions. Go with a smile and an open mind. Remember that it's not just all about you, so seek to be a blessing to the other person.
And never forget that even if you don't spend another moment in this man's presence on this earth, if he is truly a believer in Christ you will be forever with him in heaven. Let the eternal perspective rule your conduct and thoughts now.