> DATING care about how they have hurt you, and to work hard not to continue in that pattern. Anyone who sees where he or she is wrong and tries to change is on the right path and can probably be trusted if that path is not just a momentary turnaround. If it is truly a path and is continued upon for the long term, that is a good sign. Here are the traits of someone who demonstrates the ability to work on their imperfections: • • • • •
• • •
A relationship with God Ability to see where one is wrong Ability to be honest Ability to see the effects of the wrong on the other person Ability to empathize with those effects and be truly sorry for the other person as opposed to just feeling guilty for themselves Motivation to repent and change Ability to sustain repentance and change Commitment to a path of growth, a system of growth, and the involvement of other people in the growth process Ability to receive and utilize forgiveness.
• . If someone can do those things, that is an imperfect person who might be worth betting on. (We also suggest that you work hard at being that person yourself!)
A person of good character will still fail occasionally, but generally they have sins that you can live with. These sins are “yellow lights” in your relationship — things that cannot be ignored, but are not relationship stoppers either. Here are some examples of things that will annoy you but won’t kill you, and you could learn to accept in mild doses: • Disorganization • Difficulty with opening up and being direct about feelings or hurts • Tendencies toward performance orientation • Tendencies towards wanting to appear strong and avoiding vulnerability (often a male disease)
• Perfectionism • Some attempts to control (like a naturally assertive person being pushy) • Avoidance of closeness • Impatience • Messiness • Nagging • Mild forms of other things. We all have imperfections, but these flaws will not kill our relationships if we have them in some mild forms. Sometimes, they are not even relationship killers in more significant forms if there is ownership of the problem and the ability to work on it. All of us have ways that we “miss the mark.” (That is the Bible’s definition of sin.) We all do not get everything right in relationships, and as a result are somewhat of a pain to be with at times. That is normal. So look at what bothers you. You might be bothered by a normal sinner. You might have not learned how to put up with humanity and be too judgmental or perfectionistic in your demands. Remember, since you have to date sinners, decide which sins you can live with, or at least, work with.
Major Imperfections You Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Live With But not all sins are in the yellow category. Some are bright red — as in stop! I have often heard people say, “All sin is sin”. If by this they mean there is no difference among sins, nothing could be farther from the truth, and that is not what the Bible teaches. It does teach that all sinners are equally guilty before God, and that we all stand in the same state of guilt before him, but not that all sin is equal. Some sins are more damaging than others. As Jesus said clearly, there are “weightier” aspects of God’s law, and those are the ones that destroy relationships and hurt people, things like the lack of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (see Matthew 23:23). These sins are inherently destructive, and are more hurtful than the “yellow” sins. (Being messy or impatient with
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Trinitarian Magazine Issue 4/2011