then and now When I first met Raleigh, I didn't know that he would be the one that I'd want to spend the rest of my life with.  We were sixteen and seventeen, and our main concern at the time was if I would have to drive him home that night. Neither of us were thinking seriously about relationships or the future.  We just wanted to have fun.

But, the more time we spent together the less I wanted to spend it with anyone else. Raleigh and I like to say that we grew up together. We cheered each other on while playing soccer in high school, watched each other graduate, and did the long-distance work of staying together my first year of college.  I was with him during pledgeship and his late hours of architecture and he was there for me with all of my activities. We spent Sunday nights eating Chinese food and watching movies. While growing up, we grew into two people that couldn't stand the thought of not being with each other. 

Whenever I speak at girls' retreats, the girls love hearing how I met my husband. It seems like something out of Mayberry, where the girl marries her high school sweetheart and they live happily ever after. While our love story is a bit 1950's-ish; it is really more of a story about two people that met early in life and worked incredibly hard at keeping each other.  It's still that story today.

charleston scenery collage

I'm not a relationship expert and I've made many mistakes over the years.  But, with those mistakes I'm learning how to be the kind of woman that loves gently, wholeheartedly, and meaningfully.  If I was to give any advice about relationships, it would be this:

1. Don't take the one you love for granted.  Early in our relationship, Raleigh and I had love goggles on.  We would do just about anything for the other one. Over the years, this turned into false expectations of what we could do for each other.  And, let me tell you: false expectations don't do anyone any good. False expectations of the one you love leads to disappointment. Relationships need to be respectful and have boundaries.  By not taking the one you love for granted, you are more mindful of the expectations you put on each other and what each other can realistically do.

2. Be humble. Recently, I heard that a definition of the word humble was "restraint."  I love that.  When it comes to dating, it really helps to have some restraint with each other. It is okay to take things slow. It might be reaaaalllly hard to have restraint but it really is worth it if you want to have a long-lasting relationship. Your heart is worthy of waiting. If you show no restraint, your heart is going to get hurt.

3. Have trust. Being truthful with one another is a key foundation to any relationship, especially marriage. Establishing trust starts with honesty.  I don't know a single marriage where partners haven't made mistakes.  It is important to own up to your mistakes and not hide issues from the one you are with. If some of these issues stem from fleshly desires, hiding it is only going to make things worse.  If you are dating someone and you feel like something shady is going on; it probably is. Honesty is at the heart of any real relationship.

4. Be Patient. Finding the one you spend the rest of your life with takes time. Sometimes it takes the wrong guy to find the right.  Other times it takes saying no and then saying yes to the same person after you've both grown. It could take years after you originally planned. Or, you could be like me and have to date forever until you were mature for marriage. Whatever your circumstance might be, have patience and wait on the right one and the right time.

Trust. Be humble. Don't take the one you love for granted. Make mistakes and grow. Be patient. Don't compare your love story to anyone else's, it was written specifically for you.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

Material in this post was taken from two talks that Christen gives to youth called "Having a Real Relationship and Not a Romantic Movie Relationship" and "Matters of the Heart."  If you would like for Christen to speak at one of your events, you can find more information on her speaking page

throwback thursdays

If you’ve missed some of our earlier throwback thursday posts you can check them out here:

why teenagers and college kids make me smile | 3 ways to make choosing to go a little less scary | confidence in you |without passion