I grew up in the generation that “kissed dating goodbye.” Joshua Harris’ book was passed around Christian schools like drugs in public schools. Well-meaning parents handed it to hormone driven teenagers thinking it might be the key to somehow turn off those hormones until the time was right. Around the same time, if not before, came the Valentines campaign of True Love Waits. In and of themselves, these two avenues were not bad. The messages were great and made very good points. And for some people, the book and the campaign probably changed their lives for the better. However, in many ways, it seems that message often falls on deaf ears with this generation.
And that is where True Love Dates comes in. Debra Fileta helps the next generation see that dating, when done right, does not need to be kissed goodbye; it can be embraced and done in a God-honoring way. What is that way? I am not going to give it away in this review, you need to go pick up the book for yourself to find that out. But I will spend a little bit of time highlighting some of the parts that really struck me. I knew Mrs. Fileta while at college and we never had a lot of heart to heart conversations but I really enjoyed the conversations we were able to have throughout our college careers. She was as sincere a person you could find and you could tell when you talked to her, she was there, not planning her afternoon or evening activities. This remains evident throughout her book. She is not writing from simply her own experience, but also the experiences of people she has counseled as a professional counselor. While reading this book, I found myself wishing I was reading this while in college because it would have really helped me through my college years. Though I would never have said it out loud while in college, I would agree with it now, I spent a lot of time at college trying to find my future wife. While I went about it in a way most people would not see as harmful or problematic, for me, it was harmful.
In the book, Debra introduces the best way anyone should approach dating, and this is with a three step process: 1- Inward Dating, 2- Outward Dating, and 3- Upward Dating. This is what I needed while I was in high school and college. What many people skip is what Debra introduces as the first step to dating well: dating inward, which means to basically get to know who you are. Many young people, and older people for that matter, spend so much time focusing on the type of person they want to be with and ultimately marry without spending time molding themselves into the people they need to be. If we skip this step, we are destined for heartbreak. This is a step I missed and it caused me many heartbreaks. Without truly knowing who I was, I would jump in to a friendship with a girl and rush a little too much. When the girl would throw up her hands to signal this, I would try to reason I was simply trying to get to know them when deep down, it was pretty obvious I was looking for more. So I would step back and realize it was going nowhere, give them their space, and eventually find another girl to pursue. All the while, I would be reasoning in my mind that what I was doing was okay but it was distracting me and through this time, I should have been focusing on truly figuring out who I was. Mrs. Fileta presents three questions for this first part each person should strive to ask themselves to help figure out who they are:
- Where do I come from? The colors of our past.
- Who am I now? A picture paints a thousand words.
- Where am I going? A vision for my future.
These three questions will help anyone work through figuring out who they are and this is one of the most important things to do because then as you approach dating, you will be confident with who you are which will help you as you move on to the next step.
The next part is dating outward. Figuring out who you are will help you discover what kind of person you want to date. This is also important. If I had gone through this process, it would have helped me see many of the girls who were distracting me were not for me because their goals and visions for their life did not align with who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I should have taken time to truly figure out what I wanted in a relationship and the author presents one way to go about it. If you want to know what way this is, pick up the book. In this part, Debra introduces a great way to go about dating someone from truly experiencing the seasons of relationships to the importance of protecting your heart and having physical boundaries.
The last part of this book is one I see as being the most important part: dating upward. The problem is many Christians believe when it comes to dating, God is not that concerned. It seems we believe as long as we strive to not mess up too much and not get pregnant before getting married, then God is ok with whatever we do. However, that is simply not true. God is concerned with every part of our lives right down to who we date. One quote from this part of the book really stood out to me:
Something has gone terribly wrong when young Christians believe that their main purpose in life is to find marital love…when we see marriage as our sole purpose, we find ourselves with nowhere to go when we finally arrive.
And then, one quote that truly puts this part of the book out there to grasp is this one:
There is something magical about a relationship that is birthed out of the overflow of the heart. In this kind of relationship, two people are giving to each other out of their fullness, rather than taking from each other out of their emptiness.
Too many people these days are dating out of emptiness. They are trying to fill their life with what they think will make them whole. This is what it seems so many young people are doing today, dating because they believe it will make them whole. However, only one relationship can make us whole and that is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All other relationships are secondary. When we date out of the fullness of our relationship with Christ, it changes things, it fills us and helps us move forward even after marriage. If we believe a relationship is going to fulfill us and make us whole, we are mistaken and will have a rude awakening in the future.
Lastly, throughout the book, Debra presents some frequently asked questions which she then takes time to answer at the conclusion of the book. Questions like does God want me to be single forever? Or how do I deal with the pain of a breakup? She goes into great detail to answer many questions people have when it comes to dating.
With all of that said, if you are not ready to kiss dating goodbye, then give this book a chance. I highly recommend it and believe it will help any male or female learn how to date well and in a way that keeps you from heartbreak and mistakes you will one day look back on and regret. I loved this book and will definitely be using it in my ministry. True Love Dates is a great book for anyone who is still single but wants to honor God with their dating. I praise God for the vision and voice He has given Debra Fileta. I am also honored to call her a friend and see how she is serving God today.