When #VUValentine Isn’t Your Story

AUTHOR: Lauren Francis | Vanguard University Alumna | BA in Communication (2010) and MA in Theology (Biola University, 2014)

I used to work in the Alumni Office here at Vanguard, and one year we hosted a contest called #VUValentine over – you guessed it – Valentine’s Day. We asked alums who met at Vanguard and are now married to submit a picture and their story.

My job was to sort through them – to read each and every single story about “how Bill met Jenny in Mike Wilson’s History class” or how “Amanda and Drew were ‘just friends’ during their whole time at Vanguard but something just clicked and they fell in love and got married upon graduation”. I especially loved the “we met on Welcome Day or GYRAD and the rest is history!” stories.

As a single girl in her late twenties who, yes, loves her life and independence, but also deeply desires to be married and have a family…this was not the most enjoyable task. Sifting through beautiful wedding photos or family Christmas cards or maternity photos was actually more difficult than I thought it would be.

Now, I loved my time at Vanguard. I learned so much from my classes and cultivated a relationship with Christ that I will be forever grateful for. I made incredible friends and was mentored by people that still check-in with me today. I would never, ever say that my time at this school was anything less than spectacular.

But, as I’ve attended Vanguard wedding after Vanguard wedding…after Vanguard wedding (20 weddings in the last 4 years folks), things get a little hazy. I will admit I start to feel like I missed out on something really big by not meeting my future spouse at a place that I love so dearly. I start asking myself lots of questions…

Did I miss my chance? Did I really do everything I could have done to put myself out there or be more approachable? Should I have just asked HIM to coffee for God’s sake?

These questions swirl around in my head from time to time, and while I don’t know the answer to any of them, I do have a few pieces of wisdom that I think are valuable for current students navigating the ever-confusing Vanguard dating world.

  1. It is OK to pursue relationships during your time at VU.

I outwardly roll my eyes when I hear people mention “looking for their future spouse” at VU – but I inwardly was totally on the same page while I was a student. I get it. We come to college to learn and grow academically, but also to establish relationships. One of our natural desires as a human is to want to be in a romantic relationship with someone who shares the same values as us. So, it makes total sense. If you’re a Christian young person, Vanguard is full of other people just like you. It’s 100% natural to think about that during your time here. I believe there is a weird stigma and shame if you are someone who is actively dating and seeking a relationship with a person (or over time, persons) at Vanguard. There is nothing wrong with exploring the possibilities. Grabbing coffee (oh, the sweet cliched Alta date) is actually a super good way to get to know someone. Asking someone out on a date or saying yes to someone that asks you on date is an OK thing to do. Your years at Vanguard are prime time to get to know yourself in the dating world. By all means, put yourself out there while you’re here.

  1. It’s OK to not pursue relationships during your time at VU.

For some people, college is a really special time to be on your own, discovering who you are and what you believe and think and value. Some people are able to do this while in a relationship with someone else. Others aren’t. And that’s OK.  I talk to tons of friends who say that they just weren’t ready for a relationship during their time at Vanguard. It is OK if you feel like you want to spend part of your college experience or ALL of your college experience focusing on yourself and only yourself. You have plenty of time to date and fall in love and get married, so don’t rush it because you feel some weird pressure to get that “ring by spring.” It would be a massive disservice to everyone involved if you were to date someone just because you felt like you were supposed to.

  1. If you don’t get asked on a date or ask anyone on a date at VU you are not a failure.

You might have read the first two bullet points and thought something like this…”Well, I want to pursue a relationship, but nobody asks me out/says yes when I ask them out.” I get that. It’s tough. It’s a valid feeling to ache for a relationship when it’s not happening. But know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you don’t have any romantic relationships at VU. It might happen after college – and since 27 is the average age for a woman to get married and 29 is the average age for a man (National Marriage Project) that is highly plausible. It might happen when you’re 30 or 35 or 40. It might not ever happen. There was a sobering moment when an older, single friend of mine stopped me (mid-whine) and asked me this: “what if you are single for the rest of your life? Does that mean you don’t have an important place in the world? Does that mean your life is worth less?” These words really hit me because it’s true, I often think about singleness as this awful plague that needs to be cured. Singleness could very well be something that God calls me too. It could very well be something that He calls you too. The point is not to try and figure all of that out right now, but to live a life focused on Christ and pleasing toward him in any stage. Single, dating, or married. You are significant with or without a significant other. Your story matters.

  1. If you do get married to someone you meet at VU that is incredible.

Some people will meet their future spouse here. You’ll see him/her in chapel and get butterflies. He’ll walk into the cafe and you’ll hear a symphony of angelic music in your head and time will stop. She’ll raise her hand in a lecture and answer a question so brilliantly that you’ll melt right then and there (pardon the cheesiness. It worked, didn’t it?). You will graduate from this University with a degree, and also a future spouse. That’s tremendous. I don’t want it to sound at all like I resent any of my friends who met someone at VU and ended up marrying them. Some of the best memories I have are from “Vanguard weddings.” I love and appreciate all those I met at Vanguard who are modeling what a Christ-like marriage looks like to me as a single person. I am grateful for their friendship, and I need their perspective on life and love and everything in between. To all those, a sincere congratulations.

I am not a relationship expert by any means. I just know that there are some really confusing “rules” and “guidelines” when it comes to Vanguard dating, and I hope that if anything, you’ve learned that the most important thing during your time here is to listen to God, follow His leading, and pursue a life that’s honoring to him. Whether or not you meet that special someone and “ring by spring” is a reality for you…you are loved and known by God in a unique way.