Welcome to the fourteenth post in the Friends & Christianity series. Today we’ll be looking at The One With The Candy Hearts. In this episode, everyone is trying to get a date for Valentine’s Day so they won’t have to be alone. Phoebe decides to go out with creepy-Rodger again, Chandler ends up with Janice, and Ross goes out with his neighbor when he would rather be with his ex-wife. None of the friends ends up with a successful date, except maybe Joey depending on your definition of success. And the girls have an ex-boyfriend-souvenir burning party. At one point Rachel asks,

“How do we end up with these jerks?”

When I was in my early twenties, I got a great piece of dating advice. At that point I had had two serious relationships fail. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to make a relationship last, let alone find someone that the thought of marrying wouldn’t make me physically ill. But I took this advice, having nothing to lose, and it worked. In fact, several of my friends took this advice and it worked for them too. (I went to nine weddings the same year my hubby and I got married, and most of them were for people who had received the same advice we did).

The secret piece of dating wisdom:

Focus on running after God with all that you have. One day you will look over and notice someone running just as hard as you, and that will be the one.

Obviously, this is Christian dating advice. I’m a Christian, and this is a Friends & Christianity post. But it sooooo works. When I took my focus off of finding a guy and put it on growing closer to God, I changed from the inside out. I felt more secure, more confident. I cared less about impressing boys and more on living for God. One day my husband-to-be and I glanced over and noticed we were running in stride. We went on a date, and just knew. He’s the only guy I’ve ever dated that the thought of marrying actually made me relax inside rather than tense up. My wedding day was filled with peace rather than anxiety.

So, to answer Rachel from my own experience and from wisdom from the Bible, we end up dating the wrong people because we go about dating all wrong. We settle for whoever we can get. We lower our standards and values to appease them. We focus on getting a man/woman to make us happy rather than seeking God for our happiness and then adding the man/woman into our life as an added bonus rather than a necessity. We are desperate for a man/woman’s presence rather than His presence.

Another thing both the Hubby and I were advised to do was to make a list of all the qualities of our ideal future spouse. Then we were to put stars next to the non-negotiables on the list. For instance, we both had as a non-negotiable that the other person had to share our faith. The idea is to know what we want, to know what we won’t settle for, and to use that as a standard so we don’t waste our time with the wrong people.

A good tool to use when making this list is Proverbs 31:10-31 NLT, which outlines the ideal spouse (wife/woman and husband/man can be interchanged here):

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Rather than performing a burning ceremony to cleanse ourselves of our bad dating experiences, why don’t we have a burning of our old ways of dating ceremony. Let’s cleanse ourselves from the inside out, change the way we think, change our focus, and see what happens.