Building a God-Written Love Story

Building a God-Written Love Story

Keeping Christ at the center

by Leslie Ludy | July 1, 2013

If you’ve read any of my books, you know that my message is all about making Christ the focus of your entire existence.  This principle isn’t just to be lived out in theory – but in practical, day-to-day life. I can honestly say that making Christ my first love was the reason that my love story with Eric worked. Over the years I’ve seen many young Christians attempt to build a God-honoring relationship without a vibrant walk with Christ backing it up. Every time, it falls apart. Without an active, daily, living, breathing, passionate relationship with Christ, it’s nothing more than human wisdom and human effort attempting to reach the heights of Heavenly romance. Without the power of Christ’s Spirit, it simply can’t be done. When I think about the early days of my love story with Eric, I don’t just remember the wonder of falling in love and the beauty of discovering Eric’s heart. Rather, I vividly remember falling in love with Jesus Christ and basking in the beauty of a romance with Him – a romance that was enhanced, not diminished, by my love story with Eric.  

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When my relationship with Eric began, everyone expected us to start living out the typical “boyfriend/girlfriend” pattern – becoming completely preoccupied with each other, spending every waking moment of our spare time together, expressing our physical affection for each other, and letting the focus of our thoughts and conversation be about our passionate feelings for each other. But we knew that God wanted something different for us. He wanted to remain at the center of our relationship – not just in theory, but in reality. We realized that if we started focusing on our feelings for each other rather than our mutual passion for Christ, we would push Him to the outside of our romance. So we entrusted our emotions to God. We asked Him to guard our hearts and not unlock passion for each other until the proper time.  

In the meantime, we agreed to keep our conversation, focus, and energy centered upon Jesus Christ and not each other. To most people, it seemed strange. Here we were, a young couple in a serious relationship with the intention of getting married someday – and we didn’t even act like we were dating. We didn’t hold hands. We didn’t kiss. We didn’t sit close together on the couch and whisper into each other’s ear. We didn’t have long, ardent phone conversations. We didn’t talk about our feelings for each other. We didn’t say “I love you.” People who hadn’t been directly told that there was something between us often didn’t even realize we were a couple. We didn’t spend time cuddling or gazing into each other’s eyes.

Instead, we encouraged each other to pursue more of Christ. We read Christian biographies and talked about how they impacted our lives. We shared stories of how God was working in our lives and what He was teaching us. We prayed for each other. We prayed together for people in our lives. We shared Scripture with each other. We supported each other in the individual ministry steps God challenged us to take. We joined our church community and family in doing outreaches. Eric spent several months away at missionary school  - we talked on the phone about once a week and wrote each other letters of spiritual encouragement (this was before the days of email and cell phones, if you can believe it!)

I am well aware that the way Eric and I built our relationship seems out-dated, restrictive and unromantic to many. But I want to tell you unequivocally that it was like a dream-come-true. Just think about what makes a Jane Austen romance so appealing. It’s the slow, delicate process of one heart opening to another. In old-fashioned love stories you don’t carelessly fling your mind, emotions, and body upon someone the moment that they say they like you. In fairy tales, you don’t go from zero to sixty in seconds. Rather, you savor each conversation, carefully weigh each word, and patiently wait months or years before you finally win the priceless treasure of the other person’s heart. Modern romances are sadly lacking in the dignity, nobility, and honor that was prevalent in the days of “knights and fair maidens.” The only way to gain the dignity and nobility that our feminine hearts crave is to carefully protect the sacred things, no matter how strange or old-fashioned they might seem.

Instead of spending mindless hours on the phone with Eric every night, I waited with eager anticipation for his once-a-week call from the payphone outside his missionary school. Every word was savored. We didn’t waste time talking about meaningless things. We cherished every moment and counted every conversation as significant. It was a thousand times more special and romantic because we only talked once a week. Instead of exchanging quick, shallow emails every day, we took the time to write long, thoughtful letters to each other. I still love to look through the box of letters that we wrote to each other during those years. It reminds me of a Jane Austen novel. I look at the carefully scripted, thoughtful words and remember the delicate way our hearts opened to each other. It was a thousand times more romantic and dignified than mindless emails or text messages.

This is not to say that you can’t have the “Jane Austen magic” if you choose to use email or cell phones in your love story! The principle that makes the fairy-tale spirit come alive is keeping sacred things sacred. Rather than allowing your communication with the other person to be careless and haphazard, allow God’s Spirit to make every conversation, letter, email and phone-call purposeful, thoughtful, and Christ-centered.

Because we were committed to keeping Jesus Christ at the center of our conversations, phone calls, and letters, we were able to build a strong spiritual foundation for our relationship. All too many love stories that start out with a spiritual focus speedily shift to an emotion-led whirlwind. Once you allow your emotions to lead the way, spiritual things quickly get squeezed into the background. But when you build your communication and interaction around the things of God, your hearts are knit together in Him. As you draw closer to Christ, you naturally draw closer to each other – but in a healthy, beautiful, Christ-led process rather than a lightening-speed human-led emotional roller coaster ride. As you make decisions about how to build your romance, don’t take your cues from the rest of the world.  Just because other “Christian” relationships look a certain way doesn’t mean yours should. As I said, when Eric and I built our relationship, it appeared strange, extreme, unnecessary, and even legalistic to others. But as we followed the lead of God’s Spirit rather than the trends of culture, we found a taste of Heaven on earth.  

Don’t be afraid of putting physical distance between yourself and your future husband. People often feel a pressure to be together on a continual basis during a blossoming romance – thinking that it might “fall apart” if they are not around each other twenty-four seven. But if God wants your relationship to stay together, it will remain strong no matter how many miles, months or years separate you from each other. I believe that being geographically separated from Eric during the majority of our love story was a huge factor in keeping our focus on Christ rather than each other, and in keeping the “magic and mystery” alive throughout the entire process. Take some time to prayerfully consider putting distance between you and your significant other in order to cultivate a Spirit-led, Christ-focused love story. It’s a great way to freshly surrender the relationship back to Christ and make sure that He is always honored above your human emotions and desires.

Often love stories that begin as God-scripted fairy tales can morph into human-led emotional flings. This happens whenever Jesus Christ is removed from His rightful position as the first and foremost love of your life. Be on guard against losing your own individual relationship with Christ as your love story is unfolding. While it’s certainly important to think and pray about your love story, don’t allow all of your thoughts, journal entries and prayers to center around the guy you are falling in love with. Rather, cultivate your individual intimacy with Christ – apart from the relationship that is forming. Meditate upon His character, listen to His voice, study His Word, and make plenty of time for heartfelt worship. As young women, it’s easy to transfer our affection for Christ onto our future husband--to lose our spiritual vitality as we become caught up in the drama and emotion of a human romance. But unless Jesus Christ remains our first love, we will always be looking to a mere human to meet the deepest needs in our heart – and we’ll always be disappointed, because they are needs that only Christ can meet.  

Your romance with Christ is not supposed to be a “stand in” until you finally meet the man you’ll marry. Rather, your romance with Christ is meant to be the lifelong passion of your heart and soul. Your earthly love story should pale in comparison to your love story with Christ – not just during your single years, but every day for the rest of your life. And if it ever comes down to a choice between Christ and your future husband – Jesus Christ must always come first. In my book Set Apart Femininity I wrote about one of my heroes, Sabina Wurmbrand, who was willing to be separated from her husband and son for ten years, suffering unspeakable tortures and heartache, in order to protect the name of Christ. Sabina loved her husband – but she loved Jesus Christ more. This is what it means, in practical terms, to make our King the first and foremost love of our heart. He tells us:

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26)

A God-scripted earthy love story is a beautiful thing. But if it ever usurps Christ’s position in your heart and life, it becomes an “idol” that must be removed. Nothing is worth sacrificing our relationship with the true Lover of our soul.

Even now, after many years of marriage to Eric, I must constantly remember that my husband is not to be the focal point of my existence – Jesus Christ is.  Eric is not to be the one who brings the deepest fulfillment, comfort, security, and joy to my soul – Jesus Christ is. To keep our marriage alive and beautiful – both of us must vigilantly guard our individual romance with Christ.  When He is at the center, everything else falls perfectly into place.