Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Search thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews that celebrate God's truth.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news, and reviews that celebrate God's truth. delivered direct to your Inbox!


How I married your grandmother: dating advice for a young man

As best as I can describe it, the letter below simply materialized on my desk – it wasn’t there, and the next moment it was. Opening it only deepened the mystery: dated May 1, 2049, it is from a “Grampa Dykstra” to “Tim.” I can only suppose that a quarter century from now, an elderly me was working on this for a grandson I don’t yet have, and after placing the completed draft down on his (my?) desk, it somehow slipped back to the here and now through a crack in the time/space continuum. I’m sharing it with you because, really, how could I not?


Dear Tim,

When I first married, I expected to write a letter like this to one of my sons, to share with him hard-won lessons on how a young man might go about meeting a godly woman. But God, in His wisdom and humor, decided to give me a passel of girls instead. Me and the cat, we were the only testosterone in our household for the next couple of decades… and it was wonderful!

Then, one by one, my girls got married, bringing some fine young men into the family, and, soon after, some very fine little men too. And as those little men got bigger, I began thinking again to the letter I would have written a son, and concluded that, even if it skipped a generation, the letter was still worth writing. Some things are very different since I first courted your grandmother (including folks no longer using the word “court” – I’m not sure we even did back then). But to paraphrase the Preacher in Eccl. 3:15, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and I’m quite confident that you’ll find benefit in hearing how I met and married your grandmother.


I think I should begin though, with the story of how I almost didn’t marry your grandmother. 3 Ps stood in my way: priorities, pride, and poltroonery.

First off, I wasn’t looking to marry. That impulse probably began way back when my friends were pairing off in highschool. There was pressure then to find someone, anyone, just to be paired off too. In my cousin’s school it started earlier, with Grade 6 and 7 kids trying to deal with their teen-esteem issues by laying claim to a “cute boy” or a “hot girl.” I wouldn’t have put it in these words, but I realized even back then that dating should be done for a better purpose than fitting in.

But every good impulse can be taken too far. Or as Martin Luther may or may not have said, there’s two sides to fall off a horse. And in my case, that equal and opposite error was to make a show of not needing anyone. In pride I declared (thankfully, only to myself) that I was the only one not acting desperate. When our Grade 12 grad came, it would have been a great excuse to ask someone out for a fun night, but I, as a matter of principle (so I told myself) went it alone. That was just dumb (though it did lead to one fond memory – while everyone else got a picture with their date under the balloon arch, I got one with my own very elegant grandmother). For quite some time after that, I kept falling off the horse in that direction. When others headed off to Young People’s Study Weekends to see if they could meet someone, I wrote them off as “meat markets” and again, insisted I wasn’t that desperate. I’d date… if I met the right girl. But how could I meet the right girl if I wasn’t going where all sorts of right girls were congregating?

To add to prioritization and pride problems, there was also my poltroonery. I don’t know if that’s a word kids are still using these days – it might be a bit too 2030s – so I’ll translate. I was a coward. I was too scared to risk asking anyone out. I did still date, but only because a few girls were willing to ask me. Now role reversal isn’t always a bad thing. A Sadie Hawkins dance, where the girls ask the guys, could give the ladies an opportunity to ask out some clueless guy who might still have potential. But it’s not me being old-fashioned to insist that, as a rule, the guys should do the asking. Why? I’ll take you right to Ephesians 5:25:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

When it comes to dating, someone has to stick their neck out and do the asking. And sticking your neck out comes with the risk of getting your head lopped off and handed back to you. Rejection hurts, and as it’s our nature to avoid pain, many a guy simply won’t risk it. But if marriage is worth pursuing – and it is – then some risks are worth taking. And if someone might get decapitated, shouldn’t it be the guy? God says husbands have to give themselves up for their bride, and while you ain’t a husband yet, that is the role you’re auditioning for. That means if you want to impress the right sort of girl, you should start things the right sort of way, and take the risk so she doesn’t have to. I’m going to lay it on thick here, because I’ve seen many a young man shut themselves down for fear of failure. So let’s just imagine an absolute worst-case scenario. You stir up the courage to ask out the girl who’s been sitting two pews up from you in church and who hasn’t been far from your thoughts for months now. Her response is complete surprise, and she doesn’t just say no, but your invite prompts a quick nervous giggle. She’s not trying to be hurtful, but it’s clear she has just never, ever, even considered you that way.

Pretty devastating.

But now see that same situation as God does. She might have laughed, but God is smiling. He saw you act the very man He made you to be. Yes, you got your head handed to you, but to the glory of your God because you did it His way! You can honor God in failure, and many times that’s exactly what we’re called to do.

You can’t honor Him in cowardice.

Better to fail boldly than be a poltroon.


All this while, God was busy teaching, and I was slowly learning to get over those three Ps. (One hope with this letter is that you might be able to skip over them all together.) This, then, is how I met and married the love of my life.

First, I made the decision to move. I hadn’t found the right someone where I was, so I headed a province over to BC, where there were all sorts of Reformed churches. I promised myself, introvert though I might be, that I would accept every invitation that came my way. And if, after a year, I hadn’t found anyone, I planned to head down under and give Australia a go. I was going to pursue marriage.

Pursuit is not, of course, the same as success. But I was determined that, should I remain single, it was going to be because that was God’s plan, and not because of any lack of effort on my part.

So I moved, headed to church, and met a lot of very welcoming people, especially my uncle and aunt who let me rent out their basement. And that brings me to the topic of “wingmen.” Finding your match is rarely a solo activity – talk to any married couple and odds are they’ll tell you a tale of some key friend, or two or three, who gave a needed assist. This is just one of the many reasons God gave us the blessing of the communion of saints. That help can sometimes amount to a firm push, as was applied by all the guys in Grade 12, when our buddy was dithering about whether or not to ask out the girl who was obviously crazy about him. Other times it can amount to actually walking alongside – I doubled-dated with one friend, us two guys heading to a hockey game with two new girls. The one girl was also a wingman – neither of us were interested in each other, but we were making that first date easier for the other twosome. In my own case, God gave me a few different wingmen, including my aunt and uncle.

When they invited me to someone’s 40th birthday party across the border in the US, I said yes, because that’s what I’d pledged to do. But when I found out that they weren’t even going, and that it’d just be me walking into a room of strangers, that was too much. So my uncle and aunt went too. Turns out, they’d been talking with a couple across the border about a certain someone it might be nice for me to meet. I knew the fix was in… and I was up for it. I got there, made the rounds shaking hands, and exchanged just a few words with a very beautiful young lass. She was a sister-in-law to the birthday boy, and helping out with the food, so she didn’t have a lot of time to chat. Instead, I ended up talking for a good while with her mom. Not quite the way I’d imagined things going, but your great-grandmother made me feel welcome.

After an hour or so, chit-chatting with one stranger after another, I needed a break and headed outside. There on the back patio sat a little boy, with a big dog, and the former was very happy to tell me all about the latter. God, in His providence had provided just the breather I needed: the beautiful night sky, a cool breeze, and a boy willing to share his dog. That was also the idyllic setting where I first had a chance to really talk to your grandmother. She was just popping out to get some more food from the outdoor freezer when she came upon a handsome young man showing kindness to her sweet nephew by taking an interest in his dog. So, another couple of wingmen had accomplished their work, one quite short, and the other four-footed. Your grandma came over, and we started chatting. I’d pledged also to make the first move, so I decided to ask her out. But I chickened out a bit, and made it a group thing rather than a date. I told her that a bunch of friends were heading down to an NBA basketball game in Seattle, and would she like to come too?

She said yes!

There was a problem though: when I got home that night I had to quickly organize this group event. Sure, I’d thought about getting a gang to head on down to the game, but I hadn’t actually invited anyone to this point. And as the invitations went out, one “no” was followed by another. No one else could make it to my “group” event.

At this point, I decided to phone her up, come clean and actually ask her out on an official date. So I checked out when the next Vancouver Canucks game was, found out I could get a couple of cheap seats for $50 each, and decided to invite this American lass to her first hockey game.

And she said yes!

But there was a problem. In the time it took to phone her, all the cheap seats got bought up. Now the only ones available were more than $100 each. I was up for it, but I didn’t want your grandma to think I was trying to impress her as a big spender, so I briefly debated whether to get some scalped seats, originally $50, but now also going for more than $100, and as far as she would know these would be the cheap seats still. I was, however, too much of a Dutchman not to get my money’s worth, so I got the good ones. Getting ready for the big date I got some help from a female cousin – I didn’t have any sisters to go to for fashion advice – and she got me decked out in a nice shirt, and what she assured me were a great pair of jeans. (I later learned that your grandmother agreed.) But in addition to being the most expensive pair of jeans I’d ever bought, they were the most uncomfortable and I spent a good portion of that first date wondering if they were going to fall off. I also spent a good portion of that date explaining the game of hockey to this lovely American lass, only to figure out at one point that she was getting excited about a play that was still developing. It was almost like she knew what was coming. And that’s when I discovered this American beauty was a former Canadian.

And that wasn’t the last surprise. One date led to another, and soon enough it was time to get to know your grandma’s parents. That’s when we both learned that her parents knew my parents… really well. I’d looked through my mom and dad’s wedding album before, and seen the picture of them with their wedding party. The flower girl and maid of honor were two of my aunts, but there, beside my dad, stood a tall young fellow I didn’t know. It turns out my dad’s best man became my father-in-law! And some people think God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

That, then, is how I was equipped, encouraged, aided and abetted, corrected, and even pushed to go out and meet your grandmother. And I’m so very grateful to God that she said yes.

My hope for you Tim, is you’ll recognize sooner than I ever did that a godly spouse is worthy of pursuit. I’m praying that you’ll be the godly man that a godly woman would find attractive, and praying too, that you’ll be the sort of wingman you’d want your friends to be. I don’t know whether God intends you to be married or single but I do know you can honor Him in both success or failure.

So don’t be a poltroon.

Love ya kid,

Grampa Dykstra




Enjoyed this article?

Get the best of RP delivered to your inbox every Saturday for free.

Dating, Parenting

Marriable Men

Two qualities dads should look for in boys who want to date our daughters ***** Here's a topic that's best to get to too early rather than too late - what sort of men should our daughters marry? Dads are going to have a lot of input in this decision, one way or another. If we actively try to influence our daughters – by example, through conversation, and by requiring interested young men to talk to us first – we'll point them to a certain sort of man. And if we don't talk about what makes a man marriable, if we aren't a good example of a godly man and good husband, and if we have no role in our daughter's dating life, then we'll point them to another sort of man. What kind of man do we want for our daughters? The answer is simple when we keep the description broad: a man who loves the Lord, and will be a good leader to his wife and children, who’s hardworking, and also active in his church. But what does this type of man look like as a boy? If our daughters are dating and getting married young, they'll unavoidably have a "work in progress." That's a description that fits all of us – sanctification is a lifelong process – but which is even more true for a boy/man in his late teens who hasn't yet shouldered the responsibilities of providing for himself, let alone a family. It's hard, at this point, to take the measure of the man he will become. How do we evaluate potential suitors when there isn't a lot of track record to look back on? We need to find out how they react to light and to leadership. 1. Light And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:19-21 Does a young man love the light? This is a characteristic that is easy for us dads to check up on. It's as simple as asking his parents if they know where he is on Friday and Saturday nights. Does he think it's no big deal to tell his parents where he will be? Or does he want to keep what he's up to a mystery? Does he have a problem with having his parents around when friends come over? Or has he introduced all his friends to them? When he goes out to other friends' houses does his group pick spots where parents are home? Or do they want their privacy? Many young men in our congregations are planning or attending events that take place late at night and far away from parental, or any other type of, supervision. They may not have a specific intent to get drunk or do other foolishness, but by fleeing from the light they've created the opportunity. A teen who tells his parents that it is none of their business where he is going is a boy who loves the dark. Another question to ask: does he have monitoring software on his computer – Covenant Eyes, for example – and would he be willing to show his smartphone to you? Would he be happy to let you know where he's been on the Internet? This would be a young man who is unafraid of, and loves, the Light. 2. Leaders Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... – Ephesians 5:25 There's a reason that young women are attracted to "bad boys." When the other young men they know are doing nothing all that bad and nothing at all remarkable, then an arrogant kid who doesn't care what anyone thinks can look like leadership material. He, at least, is not lukewarm. But this is the last man we would want for our daughters. His "leadership" recognizes no authority but his own. In contrast, God tells us that as heads to our wives we are called to serve, imitating Christ. Godly men don't dominate their wives; they die for them. So how can dads spot this sort of servant leadership in young men? It shows itself in big ways and little. In a church service, does he hold the songbook for his sister? Or does he have his hands in his pockets while his sister holds the book for him? Does he sing? Or is he too cool (too lukewarm) to praise God with enthusiasm? How does he treat his mom? If he treats her with respect – if he readily submits to authority – that is a good sign that he can be entrusted with authority. If he treats his mother shamefully, yelling at her, and ignoring what she asks, every young lady should beware! If he's a terror to someone placed over him, we don't need to guess how he will treat those under his authority. Another question to consider: did he take the servant-leader role in the relationship right from the beginning? In any boy-girl dynamic, someone has to be the first to say "I like you" and with that comes the very real risk of being the only one to say it. When that happens, it stings. So was this boy willing to stick his neck out for your daughter? Was he willing to risk looking the fool so she wouldn't have to? Or did he wait for her to take the lead and ask him out? How does he take correction? Any boy who dates our daughter is going to be, at best, a godly man partly formed. While we are all works in progress, not all of us recognize this – arrogant young men think themselves beyond the need of correction. If a potential suitor bristles at any suggestion from his elders, or if he's unwilling to apologize when he's wrong, then he is definitely the wrong sort for our daughters. We, instead, want the young man who, as we read in Proverbs 15:32, "heeds correction gains understanding." Conclusion Young men hoping to get married are aspiring to a leadership role. But while marriage makes a man a leader, it won't magically make him a good one. Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be learned, and love of the Light something we can grow in. So fathers shouldn't be expecting perfection. But we also shouldn't settle for lukewarm. It's one thing for a young man to not yet be the leader he could be, and something else entirely for him to not be aspiring to this role or preparing for it. It's one thing for a young man to not be seeking the Light as consistently or vigorously as he should, and another for him to be fleeing from it. Fathers, we want our daughters to marry young men who love the Lord and want to honor Him in their roles as husband, father, and elder. Let's be sure, then, that we teach them to look for true leaders who love the light. A French version of this article can be found by clicking here....