The past few days have been spent sharing with my husbands Bible Classes at Jim Elliot Christian High School. He is currently teaching a section on dating, relationships & marriage and had asked me to come and share my personal life story and philosophy. Over the years many have asked me to share my story and recently a JECHS alumni asked if I could write it down for her to share with others. So here you go!
I began with my experience as a “typical” high school student…in many ways just like them (minus cell phones, the Internet & facebook). I was actively involved in sports, student council, music, my church youth group and more. I had many friends and enjoyed a very full social life. I began a relationship with a young man during my freshman year in high school that despite many ups & downs persevered throughout all of my high school years, to both of our detriment. Having both been raised in church, while we had the appearance of being “good” Christian young people, our hearts were far from Godly pursuits. During the summer before my senior year in high school I had an encounter with God that took my love for Him to a new height and began a personal journey of faith that continues to this day. I knew that the relationship I was in was a stumbling block to me in many ways and I felt that still small voice of God in my heart telling me that it needed to end. So with a faith and trust in God I sat down with this young man who I had given my heart to and ended the relationship of more than two years. I wish I could have told the students that from that point on there was “nothing but blue skies” as I joyfully spent my senior year in high school serving the Lord and growing in grace, knowledge, wisdom and service. But unfortunately, while there were many wonderful things about that year…because I kept going back on my decision to not be in that relationship (in fact I think we did the break up & make up thing several times that year)…we both suffered many devastating consequences. The relationship did finally come to a final and troubling end just weeks before my high school graduation.
As a result of that high school experience combined with a growing passion for the Lord and commitment to my faith I began to formulate a dating philosophy. After my first year at UOP followed by a very impactful summer serving at Hume Lake Christian Camp where I spent time in prayer as well as watching others date and go in & out of relationships, I made a commitment to a “season of singleness” in my life when I decided to no longer date but to give myself exclusively to seeking & serving the Lord while waiting for Him to bring me the perfect match. The Lord gave me this scripture during that time in my life –
But I want you to be free from concern; One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord, but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife and his interests are divided.
The woman who is unmarried, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
I wanted to be wholly undistracted & devoted to the Lord and I committed myself to seeking Him & Him alone and forsaking all other dating or intimate relationships until He clearly told me it was time! I desired that the next person I dated would be the man that I would marry.
That decision to not date resulted in four years of developing an intimate relationship with the Lord where He became my “everything” and I grew more into the person He wanted me to become. I was able to fully serve others and led many close friends to the Lord as well as becoming a full-time youth pastor ministering to hundreds of youth. (the funny thing is that several of the students in those JECHS classes I just taught had parents who were in my youth group!)
I also spent time deciding what type of man I actually wanted to be married to someday. My list included
- A man who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength
- A man who is self-sacrificing – who you see regularly denying his own desires and putting others before himself. (not only giving of his time, talent & treasure to help his family and friends but also volunteering and serving others without getting anything in return)
- A man who shared my priorities of faith, family, friends & ministry
- A man who shared my values – pro-life with a heart & passion for the unborn, liberty, service, patriotic, the Bible as the inerrant word of God, importance of corporate worship & fellowship with believers, God is in control of my life, my things, my money and my future, children being raised by their parents not by paid personnel
- A man who shared my purpose – to minister together to young people and make a profound difference in their lives
- A man who likes babies and views children as a blessing from God
- A man who respects his Mom & treats her with kindness
- A man who was kind, compassionate, patient, faithful and committed
- A man who was my very best friend with shared interests and enjoyment of just being together
As a result of making this “list” I also was convicted to become a woman that a man of this caliber would desire to marry. That was a bit more challenging than making the list.
A bonus to this “season of singleness” was being able to avoid the pointless dating, relationship & break up cycle that often results in a broken & damaged heart and physical impurity. I see too many young people who are hurt by dating and relationships and carry the scars with them for a very long time. I have to believe that God has a better way for them to live & learn.
I shared how this “no dating” decision was met with disdain & ridicule by some friends, family members & even other believers. I was considered “strange” or “out there” by many. But I held my ground, despite others opinions, knowing that the Lord clearly led me to make this commitment.
That season lasted a short four years and was an incredible and awesome time in my life that I will always cherish!
And the rest of the story? How did I go from not dating to a married woman? Well, this is the wonderful love story that God orchestrated just for me! It was in the fall of 1985 when God began to move in my heart and do a new thing in my life. Little did I know however that the man He would ultimately lead me to commit my heart & life to was a part of my life during the entire time I was in that “season of singleness.”
I had met Dan Lambdin as a freshman at the University of the Pacific. His sister, Jennae was one of my dorm mates and since my own family had moved 3000 miles away from California to Virginia, she invited me to join with her family for many occasions. Dan was not a Christian at that time and if someone had told me that one day he would be my husband I would have, well let’s just say, I would have laughed. He was certainly nice enough but his morals and lifestyle were starkly different than my own and spiritually we were miles apart. He was simply and only…my good friend’s brother. He came to know the Lord Jesus the following Spring and over the next few years we developed a casual friendship.
After college I became the youth pastor at a local church and very quickly realized that as a single young woman, I needed HELP from a few good men! I asked several of my brothers in Christ, including Dan, to volunteer with the youth & disciple the young men. During that next year Dan & I became close friends as we ministered together. I grew to admire and respect his strong faith as well as his incredible ability to influence the teens in the youth group. We, along with the entire youth staff spent much time together praying, ministering & fellowshiping. During this time there were several men of God all around me and many friends who desired to play matchmaker, yet I was determined to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord & do His work until He showed me the man I would marry.
One weekend Dan’s mother called & asked me to come listen to her share at a Bible study at her church. Over the years we had become close so of course I agreed to come & listen along with a dear friend. At the meeting, Dan stood up to introduce his Mom & pray. I can not explain to you in the natural the feeling that came over me. It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes & I was seeing this man for the first time. I felt the Lord impressing on me that his would be the man I would someday marry.
I left the meeting a bit shaken and wondering if I really had heard the Lord correctly. I asked that God would confirm it through His written Word & in prayer. I also knew that if this was really God that He would speak to Dan heart & that I was not to say a word. I was not to be the “pursuer” in the relationship (oh if only women could stop doing the pursuing because we so desire to be valuable enough to be pursued).
For the next several months I prayed consistently for God’s will to be done. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dan was seriously seeking the Lord for direction in his life. He spent a week up at Springs of Living Water Christian Conference Center praying & seeking God. During that time he decided to quit his job and pursue full-time ministry. During that week the Lord also began to impress upon his heart that he may pursue a relationship with me. He too took that to prayer.
Several months later in February of 1986 after we had driven together to the Springs of Living Water to pick up some of the youth group from counseling at winter camp, Dan decided to open the door to pursuing a relationship. As I was getting ready to go home that evening he took my hand looked intently into my eyes and said with a twinkle in his eyes – “Perhaps you need to pray about if the Lord really wants you to marry someone with blonde hair & blue eyes”. (Let me explain….over the years I had shared often with the youth group, which Dan was a leader in, my list of godly characteristics I would look for in a husband…ok so really 99% of them were NOT physical attributes but I did often throw in – “and I’d love it if he had blonde hair & blue eyes”) I knew when Dan said that he was opening up the way for conversation to begin about where this friendship may be headed. With my heart pounding, I blushed profusely, told him I had already been praying & quickly left….a bit amazed and very nervous at the events taking place before my very eyes.
We did spend the next month in prayer seeking Gods will & confirmation. Believing that the Lord often uses parents wisdom to lead & direct our lives, Dan called my father during that time to ask his blessing to marry me. My Dad said yes.
On March 18, 1986 at the end of our weekly youth service at church Dan stood up, took the microphone & said he had something to say. At that moment one of the girls walked out & handed him a bouquet of red roses as I began to turn white realizing what he was about to do. He told the youth group that he had a question to ask them – “I would like permission to marry your youth pastor”. The room erupted in cheers, screams, clapping & jumping over chairs as he turned to me, got on his knees, opened a box with a beautiful diamond ring and asked – “Beth, will you marry me?” I was a bit stunned but managed to say yes throughout all the chaos going on around me. After the evening came to an end and Dan left to drive some students home, I sat alone in he darkened sanctuary singing songs of praise & worship to the Lord and thanking Him for His awesome plan for my life and for answering my prayers.
We went on our first official date two days later at a romantic candlelit restaurant and thus began a nine month courtship where our six years of friendship and our new found passion would grow & develop into a deep and committed love. On December 20, 1986 we vowed before God & man to be committed to one another until death will someday part us. It was truly “sealed with a kiss” (our first kiss….but that is another story for another day) We have now been married over 23 years and Dan is truly everything I could have ever hoped and prayed for (and some!) – the love of my life, my best friend and partner in everything! God is the perfect matchmaker!
I pray that my personal story will not only impact and perhaps challenge the student’s who hear it every year at JECHS and anyone who stumbles across this post to think differently about how they view dating & relationships and perhaps begin to seek God for His perfect plan for their lives. May it cause you to think or re-think, question, be challenged, consider other possibilities, pray or even perhaps change your “dating & relationship” philosophy. With the divorce rate standing at 50% in the USA…what do you have to lose? Perhaps it is time to change the way we do things around here.
We are raising our children to:
- embrace a season of singleness in their lives and use that time to become the person God wants them to be
- pray for & establish a standard for what they want in their future spouse
- save their hearts, souls and bodies to give fully & purely to their marriage partner (without giving it away to others along life’s journey)
- wait on the Lord for Him to match them with the perfect person at the perfect time