“Whoa,” my mom cautioned from the passenger seat.
“Mom, it’s okay,” I replied.
“I am not comfortable with you following so closely to other cars.”
I backed off from the car in front of me.
“You need to slow down. Please keep it within five of the speed limit.”
“Mom, I’m driving with the flow of traffic.”
“I’m not comfortable with you driving this fast.”
My mom is used to my dad’s driving. He’s a smooth operator, and all his driving changes are gentle and
gradual; he drives just above the speed limit and has been doing so ever since I can remember. That’s
how my mom likes it.
At the time of this conversation, however, I was young and, let’s say, more of a spontaneous driver. My
mom once had me pull to the side of the road so she could drive because the way I drove was not
relaxing for her.
As I got older, I determined to master the skill of driving with my parents whenever we went
somewhere together. To do this, I had to respect how they wished to be driven. First, this meant driving
with more space between my car and the one in front of me and not being in a hurry to get to our
destination. Second, it meant driving the same speed and not “accidentally” ten miles per hour over the
speed limit. (This typically happened because I wasn’t paying attention to the speedometer.) I practiced
making smoother lane changes and began to look farther ahead, so I would be better prepared for
slowdowns or merging lanes.
Finding my driving acceptable, my parents began to feel more comfortable in the car with me. I took
pride in gaining their comfort and peace.
What does driving a car have to do with dating? Nothing at all. But this story highlights my point: Doing
the right things now will lead to doing greater things later. Respecting others now—your housemates,
your family, the girls you are dating, your coworkers and parents—will eventually lead to your future
girlfriend and wife placing her trust in you later on.
How you treat those around you now, and especially how you treat your mother, is a direct indicator of
how you will treat your dates and future wife. Though I think I’ve treated my mom with respect throughout my life, the way I handled her driving preferences was a reflection of an area of respect that I needed to grow in.
Respecting someone’s preferences at the specific point where they differ from yours clearly reveals
what your respect level looks like. It puts it right up in your face. The more you respect the women in
your life, the more you will be interested in asking them out and being in an actual relationship.
You may think you already respect women, and you may be a cool guy with lots of female friends, but
the true test of respect comes when women have a different opinion than you do or when they want
something that you feel isn’t a big deal. Like my mother and my driving. When this occurs, do you laugh
at them and what they are saying, or do you respect their comfort level, even though it is totally
different than yours?
Ephesians 5:21–27 (TPT) is a popular passage about love and respect between a husband and wife:
Out of reverence for Christ be supportive of each other in love.
For wives, this means being supportive to your husbands like you are tenderly devoted
to our Lord, for the husband provides leadership for the wife, just as Christ provides
leadership for his church, as the Savior and Reviver of the body. In the same way the
church is devoted to Christ, let the wives be devoted to their husbands in everything.
And to the husbands, you are to demonstrate love for your wives with the same tender
devotion that Christ demonstrated to us, his bride. For he died for us, sacrificing himself
to make us holy and pure, cleansing us through the showering of the pure water of the
Word of God. All that he does in us is designed to make us a mature church for his
pleasure, until we become a source of praise to him—glorious and radiant, beautiful and
holy, without fault or flaw.
What do I do with this passage if I’m single? Do I disregard it because I am not married, or is there an
application for me right here, right now, toward the ladies in my life?
I would like to propose that even when I am single, I can live in a “laying myself down for her” way in
everyday situations: in conversations, interactions, and on dates. What do I get out of this since I’m not
married? Is it just me being a martyr? Not exactly. I get to practice laying myself down for others. I get to “die” to myself with women, friends, authorities, family, and vulnerable adults and seniors. And the
rewards I receive for doing so are beautiful things like maturity, becoming “radiant,” and enjoying being
Christlike. Jesus is freedom, which means that laying down my life for others actually makes me freer
than I was before.
I get to be unselfish and let Jesus be everything to me, so He can flow into me and overflow toward
others. The more I practice being a true friend and acting and communicating out of love, the more I will
be able to do these things when I am married. Learning how to do these things now is a much better
plan than choosing to live for myself in the moment and having to learn how to die to myself later, after
I get married. – Judd Palmer