Five Years in the Making.


I proposed five years ago to the light of my life.

Marriage is hard work, a daily deliberate choice to merge, invest, pour out, and share dreams alongside, even when they collide. It’s not poetic or romantic most of the time, not the way we’ve seen it in soundbites and highlights. Real love meets down in the dirt, the grit, the mess of the other. That’s where the good stuff happens.
— J.S.

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I’m Too Old to Find Love: How Do I Start?

Anonymous asked a question:

How do I find Christian love at 27? I find that so old to start afresh…

Hey dear friend, first I’d like to point you here:

– 7 Thoughts on Singleness: Is Something Wrong with Me?

I know that being single when you don’t want to be is painful. There’s no way around it. I also believe that singleness is a perfectly legitimate life-choice, and that it can be a gift in itself.

Continue reading “I’m Too Old to Find Love: How Do I Start?”

Why Do You Love Your Wife?

Anonymous asked a question:

What are the top 3 things you love about your wife ?

There are a ton of things I love about my wife. Even if she didn’t have the following “traits,” I would still love her. These are not necessarily a top three, but an “at least three.”

Continue reading “Why Do You Love Your Wife?”

Healing from a Breakdown Over a Break-Up

Anonymous asked a question:

How to heal from a broken heart? Going through my first break up and even though we weren’t officially dating, I’ve never felt so much pain in my life. Every time I think I’m over it, I end up on the floor having a mental breakdown. When does it end?

Hey dear friend, I’m very sorry. Break-ups are incredibly difficult. I wrote about it once before here. 

I think break-ups are similar to grieving over a death. While I don’t want to equate the two entirely, the two journeys look similar. I say that to say: No one is allowed to diminish the pain you’re going through here. It hurts. Break-ups are awful. You’re allowed to grieve.

Like any kind of grief, it will feel like you’re going crazy. Some days it will feel like you’re getting better, and then you’ll remember that one joke or the one movie or the one meal, and it will hit you all over again. I wish I had better news, but it will be terrible for a while. I say that to say: You’re not crazy. This is what it’s like.

I suggest at least a few things:

Continue reading “Healing from a Breakdown Over a Break-Up”

A Relationship Is Not a Wishlist


Look, a romantic wishlist is a nice thought, but it’s also creepy and unfair. It’s setting up an impossible monstrosity of expectations and you’ll be disappointed for no other reason than you played yourself.

I don’t mean lowering your standards. I mean setting real ones, for actual people who exist. For people who are just people and not a customized Frankenstein creature.

The person you’ll end up with is going to be their own personwith their own hopes, dreams, goals, anxieties, and weird little habits. They’re not a checklist trophy that will meet your every size or quota.

They’re going to be way different and in fact way more interesting than the stitched up hologram made from half-baked movie cliches and choir-preaching memes.

Relationships are about compromise. Not compromising yourself, no. But about two weird people making it work. It’s a wild mix of chemistry, compatibility, non-negotiables, history and trauma, highs and lows, disagreements and pushback and feedback, augmenting goals, and lifelong change.

“Get you a guy/girl who” only works if you see yourself as a main character-savior-hero and you see others as a secondary prop to fulfill your romantic comedy narrative. In that case, you have other issues and you can wait.

And waiting in the meantime is a really good time for growth, for self-discovery, and for becoming the kind of person you never knew you were looking for. Singleness, really, isn’t waiting. It’s being.

J.S.


Photo from Unsplash

3 Habits Every Married Couple Needs to Know | Marriage & Faith


Marriage can be extremely difficult work. Here are three daily habits which I strive to practice (imperfectly with much stumbling) in marriage. Also, how Christian faith becomes practical in our relationships.

The video is slightly adapted from my viral post “3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage (That I’ll Need For Life)

This is part of a series of videos called “Where Faith Meets Life,” covering topics like politics, abuse, marriage, and mental illness.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/jsparkblog

Be blessed and love y’all, friends!
— J.S.

A Video of My Wedding.


A short video of our wedding at the Rusty Pelican in Tampa, FL. Wedding photos here and engagement photos here. We just had our one year anniversary. I also proposed two years ago on Valentine’s Day. Quite an adventure, it’s been.
J.S.


The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating”

Anonymous asked:

How do you feel or have personally experienced the Christian subculture’s treatment or approach towards dating/courting/romantic relationships?

 

You know, I had really bought into the modern “Christian” idea of dating because it appeals to the legalistic Pharisee in all of us.  It’s not all bad, but it often results in a panicked paranoia about the opposite sex that leads to unhealthy self-slavery.

Basically, the Christian subculture of dating says:

– Don’t date.

– If you date, do “courtship,” which is dating only for marriage.

– The warning: if you decide to date, you give your heart and soul away.

– If you break up, you’re practicing for divorce.

– Sex is bad, filthy, gross, and disgusting.  So save it for marriage.

 

The thing is, I completely understand this rigid idea of dating.  It’s a reactionary philosophy to all the messed up Hollywood values perpetuated in dumb romantic comedies.  So to the average Christian, it makes sense to “only date for marriage” and “guard the pieces of your heart.” 

But the opposite of one idea doesn’t make a good idea.

To unabashedly quote myself, this is essentially what “Christian” dating is saying:

Screw all those people who have a traumatic past of dating because they’re obviously evil serial daters and life is black-and-white and there’s no hope for people who have given away pieces of their purity.  Just line up all your ex’s in a room and look at how dirty you are.  Jesus can restore broken people to a brand new life, except if you dated some loser who played your innocence and stole your childhood when you didn’t know any better since Freud says that’s subconsciously all your fault.  Sorry, Jesus saves — his salvation-juice for only the good people.

 

I absolutely believe that we should be careful about who we date and to set high standards for it.  You should never have to settle for less than what you feel you deserve.  There should definitely be safe physical boundaries, and yes, sex is awesome and it’s only awesome within marriage.

BUT: We need to relax a little here.

Continue reading “The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating””

“When Pastors Give the Sex Talk”



An article by Jay Thomas from The Gospel Coalition.

Talking about sex in church — how to and how not to.

Excerpt:

“A little more than a year ago I was a college pastor. The topic of dating, purity, and romance seemed to be an ever-present area of commentary, question, and struggle. (Many of my former students are smirking right now, thinking that I am the one who kept bringing it up.) As I prepared to teach a series on romance, dating, and marriage, I was taken aback by the lack of theological depth among evangelicals on this topic. Many books and essays (on the left) properly noted that dating cannot be found in the Bible, but then wrongly concluded that therefore the Bible has nothing conclusive to say on this topic.

Bearing these challenges in mind, here are some preliminary suggestions on how you can keep your sex talk fresh.”

Continue Reading at The Gospel Coalition


Read Related:
– Question: Premarital Sex Is Bad?
– Question: What about oral sex?
– Question: How To Get To Know The Ladies (The “Christian” Way)
– Question: The Weird World of Online Dating
– Question: What do you look for in a future spouse?