The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I am a 15 year-old boy who really likes this girl at my church. The problem is, she is about two years younger than me. I like to think that I am a strong Christian; I am a co-leader of a small group and I'm on my church's youth worship team and I do personal devotionals every night. She is also a strong Christian as well. We have known each other for about ten years now, but I haven't really started getting interested in her until recently, and our families are really good friends too. I like this girl, I mean I really, really like this girl. Sometimes I question myself and God if this is maybe love? That's one question, but another is that if I'm only 15, do I or can I understand true love? Also, is the age difference a big deal? To add to all this, I see her every week and we are really close friends, but I'm not sure if she wants to go beyond that. I'm scared to ask her out because I'm afraid once I do, I might get rejected and it will have an affect on our relationship and our families relationship and otherwise make it awkward to interact with her again.

I pray about my relationship with this girl every night, but I also pray that God will help me understand what true love is from His point of view. I could really use some help!


Answer

One of the interesting things about love is that it can constantly grow; there is no upper limit to love. I remember the moment, when I was dating the woman I eventually married, when I realized I was in love. But after we did marry, I realized I didn't have a clue as to what love was because the depth of my love increased dramatically. A few years later, it occurred to me again that the love I had then was so much greater that obviously I had no clue what love was like earlier. It has continued that way in our life together.

Can you, as a 15 year-old, understand love? I think the answer is "yes." You have love for parents, siblings, and friends. The excitement you feel now is the spark of love beginning to develop on a more personal basis, but it won't be like the love you will know in the years ahead. What you are missing right now is not ability but experience. It is often hard to a young man to distinguish sexual desire from true love. They are two different things, but for the next several years the difference will be hard to see.

I'm glad you have found someone you deeply like. But don't rush things. The heroine in Song of Solomon told the ladies, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases" (Song of Solomon 2:7). The image given is a person wanting to get close to a deer. If you rush up to the deer, it bounds off in fear. To get close you have to approach gradually and gently. Love is much the same; push it too fast and you lose it.

It isn't that you are too young necessarily to go on a date, but she is. Dating is for getting to know someone well, so each of you can decide if this is the person you want to marry. But you two could not marry for a minimum of another five years. At this moment, dating would be rushing things. Also, both of you are still developing and maturing. By necessity, things are going to change. I usually illustrate this by pointing out that the foods you liked when you were eight are not the same as those you like now or what you will like when you are twenty. In the same way, the personalities that you like might change during this time as well. You and she might change together, or you might drift apart. It is just too soon to tell.

What I would like you to do is work on developing your friendship. It is fine to let her know you really like her, but make it clear that you know it is too soon for any serious commitments. You value her friendship and you hope that one day it will grow to something greater.

I know it will seem like forever at your age, but if you will wait two or three years before dating things will go more smoothly. Meanwhile, you two will have a more solid foundation from which to build your love.

If you haven't guess, the age difference isn't a problem. It looks big to you right now because you only have 15 years under your belt. Think about it at the other extreme and a 92 year-old married to a 90 year-old doesn't seem odd at all. If, when you are twenty, you decide to marry this eighteen year old woman, people won't think it odd. What makes it a greater difference right now is the difference in your maturity because you are both in your adolescent years. On the other end of adolescence, it won't feel like such a great difference.

Thank you so much for telling me this.