I’m going to let you in on a constant struggle of mine.

When you’re in your early 30’s and still waiting for the right man to sweep you off your feet, you start receiving a lot of advice and opinions from friends, family members, and even strangers…and let me start off by saying they are not all created equal.

Often the advice from one person on a Friday is in competition with the advice from someone else on a Sunday. This constant back and forth has often left me feeling more confused and hopeless. While most people are well-meaning they unknowingly stir up more discontent and breed more discouragement that the right thing (not the perfect thing) will ever show up.

What I’ve found is that some people will harp on the practical, which sounds a lot like this:

“I mean, are you putting yourself out there? Are you on dating sites? Eharmony, Match, Coffee meets Bagel, Bumble? Are you in a co-ed small group at church? I mean the guy isn’t gonna just fall from the heavens and ask you out in an elevator or a coffee shop, you have to be practical, make sure you’re out there for them to see.”

Sound familiar to anyone?

What I’ve also found is advice that belabors on the spiritual, which sounds a lot like this:

“You can’t just casually go out on dates with some random guy who asks you, I mean do you know what his calling is, can he lead you spiritually? You need to wait on the ONE who has already done all the growing and is already settled in his calling. You really should only spend time with someone that already knows they want to marry you, otherwise what happens if you date and then break up? That obviously wouldn’t be God’s will for you.”

So, what I hear you saying is that I can be practical but not spiritual, or spiritual but not practical? Let’s play this out then. Let’s say I only pledge allegiance to being practical in dating and not acknowledge the spiritual. I may very well go on a lot of dates and get a lot of dating experience (again not all dating experience is created equal), but what about the unique promises God has given to help me navigate all the tricky decisions I’ll need to make in the dating process?

Let’s say I only adhere to the spiritual emphasis in dating and ignore all practicality. Granted, I may spare myself from relationships and dates that aren’t good for me, but is it possible that I’m constantly judging the book by its cover, so to speak, and living in preconceived ideas of WHO this person is supposed to be, and HOW he will come into my life?

Is it possible that because of these hyper spiritualized notions of how we think God will work that we say no to people we should actually say yes to, even if, GOD FORBID, it doesn’t end in marriage? What if God knows we NEED certain relationships to cause us to grow even if His purpose isn’t marriage, but we refuse them because we think God can only work in certain ways?

What I propose is that we can be practical AND spiritual when it comes to dating.

For me, being practical has looked like being more thoughtful and prayerful about dates I’m saying yes to. For you, it may look different. Dating isn’t bad, it’s actually really good, but I’ve learned I simply need to be more thoughtful about what dates I give my yes, time, and energy to. For me, the merge of being practical and spiritual is honoring the value of both. God is practical. He takes personalities, geography, circumstances, compatibility, callings, careers all into consideration when he orchestrates each one of our love stories.

The promises that God has, is, and will give you about your future spouse is almost like an anchor to a ship. It’s not a perfect analogy, but if you think about how the ship sways back and forth in the ocean we can see that although the ship is tethered to the anchor there is enough wiggle room for it to move back and forth with the waves. As we navigate dating we’ll cheat ourselves if we are hyper practical or hyper spiritual.

The anchor of God’s voice and promises reminds us what we’re worth and what is worth waiting for. The practical piece is that we have no idea WHAT that will look like or HOW that will happen. So, we need to be humble enough to lay aside our hyper practicality and over spiritualized ideas and confident enough to trust that God is wise (a.k.a. practical), and worth trusting our love stories with.