Landry Jones of Oklahoma on dating from a Christian perspective

Uploaded by on Nov 29, 2010

Sports always came easy for Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Everyone wanted him for their team. Everybody loved him. He had friends, girls– the world was at his fingertips. Yet he still desired more.

From the I Am Second movement (iamsecond.com) meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.

______________________

I have a lot of respect for Landry Jones. I love the points made at the end of this article concerning scriptures in the Bible that apply to Christians dating.


Jan/Feb 2011 Dating Game Jill Ewert

“You tell it. You’re so much better at telling it than me. I always leave out too many details.” Landry Jones scoots back deeper into the couch in the middle of FCA Area Representative Kent Bowles’ sports room. He’s surrounded by everything a college athlete could find comforting: a ping pong table, framed college football jerseys, a gumball machine and his girlfriend: OU shooting guard Whitney Hand.

He says this not because he doesn’t want to tell the story himself, but because he’s humble about it—almost sheepish—and he doesn’t want to blow his own whistle.

“OK,” says Hand, her grin widening by the second. She can hardly wait to dive in and brag on Jones’ brilliant scheme.

 
“Landry is not my walk with Christ, and I don’t want to be in that position in his life, either. I never want him to love me more than he loves Jesus.” 
                             – Whitney Hand

They’d both arrived on the OU campus as freshman in 2008 and were immediately attracted to each other when they met through orientation and began running in the same athletic circles. Jones tested the romantic waters all summer and into the fall by jokingly asking Hand on dates, comments to which she’d always reply with rolled eyes and a playful, “Oh, shut up.” But when October rolled around, Jones decided to take a legitimate shot.

“No, I really want to go on a date with you,” he’d said. When she agreed, Jones knew he had one chance to sweep her off her feet.

Hand tells the first date story with animation. “I met him downstairs in my dorm, and immediately he tells me that he forgot his wallet at his parents’ house in Oklahoma City, which is, like, a 30-minute drive.”

She rolls her eyes.

“I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’”

Jones stares at the floor, grinning. She glances over at him, smiles and continues the story.

“We get there, and he’s like, ‘Wait here.’ So, he ran inside and left me waiting in the car. I actually called one of my friends and told her, ‘He forgot his stinking wallet!’ But then he came back outside a couple minutes later and told me to come in.”

Hand got out of the car, followed Jones through the front door and was completely shocked to find flowers and a candle-lit dinner waiting for her. Granted, it was only Raising Cane’s Chicken, but that just made the story even more interesting.

“He didn’t know that I absolutely detest fast food,” Hand reveals.

In an environment like that, though, the menu was of little concern. She’d been wooed. And while the actual relationship wouldn’t take off until three months later due to the interruption of another potential suitor from Hand’s hometown (a story for another time), it was the start of what has now been a 2.5-year dating relationship between the Sooner stars.

Officially dubbed “the First Couple of Oklahoma” by the local press, Landry Jones and Whitney Hand, both Christians since childhood, have watched as the Lord has used their time together to both bless and challenge them in life, sports and faith.

“We’re not dating experts, but the Lord has taught us so much through being together,” Hand says. “Whatever He shares with us, we want to share with others and help them grow in their faith, too. We believe that right now we’re a better witness for Him together than apart.”

Two years ago when their relationship began, neither Jones nor Hand would have guessed that they’d be called to support each other through two major injuries: one Hand suffered herself and the other sustained by then-OU starting quarterback Sam Bradford.

 

It was the fall of 2009, and the two athletes had been dating for almost a year. On Sept. 5, Jones, just a redshirt freshman, was called onto the field to replace Bradford, who had injured his throwing shoulder. It was an event that put tremendous pressure on Jones as he was forced to lead one of the nation’s most prominent college football programs, and he needed support.

As the faithful girlfriend, Hand utilized her position to speak words of God’s truth to Jones and encourage him. What she didn’t realize was that the favor would need to be returned just two months later when she would experience a season-ending injury of her own: a torn ACL.

Following his girlfriend’s example, Jones began speaking Scripture and godly encouragement to the discouraged shooting guard.

“I don’t think I would have made it through this injury as spiritually healthy without Landry,” says Hand, who had started her college career as one of the top freshman in the nation. “When Satan spoke lies throughout the injury about me not being good enough, being forgotten or being replaced, Landry came back with, ‘No, this is what the Lord says. This is what Jesus thinks of you.’ And that just spoke to my heart so preciously. It was like Jesus was teaming up with Landry to love on me.”

It was a defining time for them both individually and as a dating couple. By walking together through two of the most significant challenges athletes can face, they learned lessons about perseverance, patience and selflessness.

Now, looking back, they realize that, as tough as they were, the challenges only made them stronger.

 
“You have to fall in love with Jesus first before you can love another person correctly.”
                              
 – Landry Jones

“It’s helpful to reflect on it now and be like, ‘OK, we’ve gone through an ACL injury and a tough season together. How bad could it be?’” Jones says. “I think one thing Satan tries to do is to get us to forget the hard times we’ve gone through and the lessons we learned from them. By going through them together, we can help each other remember those times and see that we can endure other things, too.”

Words of godly truth, however, would be more likely to fall on deaf ears if they weren’t spoken by someone who truly understood an athletic mind.

According to both Sooner stars, a shared understanding of sports has been an asset to their relationship, helping them not only through the career-marking challenges, but also the day-to-day irritations of sports.

“Because we’re both athletes, we’re able to be on the same page on a lot of things,” Jones says. “Whitney can come over and tell me that she had a bad practice, and I’ll be able to say, ‘Yep, I know where you’re coming from. I know that feeling, and it stinks.’”

Hand nods in agreement.

“It helps so much that he doesn’t just say, ‘Oh, it’s OK. You’re still great.’ He really understands. And when he comes back from practice and says something like, ‘Man, I wasn’t accurate today,’ I can totally relate. It’s just a different level, and it’s a huge blessing from God.”

Inevitably, though, learning to date in a godly manner has involved more than spiritual encouragement. As part of the Christian dating experience, Jones and Hand have had to face familiar battles like the one for sexual purity, and both admit to struggling with appropriate boundaries.

After early difficulties in what Hand calls their “infatuation stage”—the time in which neither could do wrong in the eyes of the other—both began being discipled and involving the accountability of others in order to maintain godly standards.

“We realized we needed help,” Hand says. “Our struggles had really put a cloud on everything and even affected how we performed in our sports. It was just an ugly domino effect.”

To counter the temptation, they turned to the Word of God, their churches, their FCA teammates and, most importantly, the Holy Spirit.

“As our relationships with Christ grew both together and apart, our desire to please Him became greater than our desire to please each other physically,” Hand says. “He helped us realize that we weren’t married and couldn’t act like we were. He loved us enough to ask us to stay pure so that He could bless us in the future.”

 
   Jones and Hand with the OU FCA leadership team

FCA SOONER STYLE

Landry Jones and Whitney Hand have been dynamic parts of the FCA Huddle at the University of Oklahoma since arriving on campus. They both attend the Tuesday-night Huddle meetings and speak frequently at local FCA events.At a recent ministry outreach for young female athletes hosted by Central Oklahoma FCA Area Representative Sarah Roberts, Hand shared her and Jones’ dating story, including her battle with idolatry and placing Jones in a position above Christ in her life.

“It was something that all the girls really needed to hear,” Roberts said. “She was so honest with them about her personal struggles, and that made such a difference. God is really doing something special by bringing Whitney and Landry together.”

Through events like these, the FCA staff in Oklahoma are making an eternal impact on the lives of athletes and coaches. And with the help of athletes like Jones and Hand, their reach is only being extended.

“Landry and Whitney are tremendous blessings to the entire community,” said FCA Area Representative Kent Bowles, who works directly with the OU Huddle. “They are constant reminders of how God orchestrates all areas of our lives for His glory. These guys love the Lord first, and, because of that love, they are truly growing closer to Him and to each other as well.”

For more information on FCA in Oklahoma, visit okfca.org.

Their stance of purity paid off in more ways than one, blessing both their relationship and the lives of those observing it.

As OU athletes, Jones and Hand know they’re on a platform—one that is only heightened by their relationship. Instead of shrinking back from the public, the “power couple” has embraced their status and used it as an avenue for ministry by showing those around them not only two individual models of Christ, but also one example of a Christ-centered dating couple.

“It’s not what you’d expect, but when guys ask me if Whitney and I have done anything and I say no, they usually say, ‘I respect that,’” Jones says. “I know I shouldn’t say that it’s a weird response, but it is in today’s culture. But it goes along with what I’m finding out about Christ in general. More people really want to know about Him than you’d think.”

It’s something that the two Sooners take to heart: the fact that, through their relationship, they get to tell others about Jesus Christ. It’s become a great desire for them both and yet another shared passion.

They agree that they’re living blessed lives of position and influence and that they have a significant chance to make a difference for the Lord. The fact that they get to do that together is just icing on the cake.

But it’s not the cake itself. That, of course, is Jesus.

“It’s something that we’ve struggled to learn, but we both have come to understand that no other person can completely fulfill you—only Jesus can do that,” Hand says. “And until you know who you are in Christ and understand His love for you, it’s going to be difficult for you to love another person correctly. You’ll always be putting them in a position they weren’t designed by God to hold in your life.”

Says Jones, “I would agree with that. You have to fall in love with Jesus first before you can love another person correctly. As it says in the Bible, you can’t be unevenly yoked. For guys especially, because we’re so visual, we might see a girl and want to date her, but, if she’s not a Christian, it’s not going to work out.”

For Jones and Hand, it goes back to the analogy of running the race together—pursuing Christ side by side at the same pace and remaining focused on Him. And, when it comes to dating advice, both cite Matthew 6:33 (NIV)— “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”—and point to the greatest commandment of loving the Lord above all else.

“I want to be more in love with Christ than I am with Landry,” Hand says. “If Landry and I were to break up, I wouldn’t want my walk with Christ to disappear with him. Landry is not my walk with Christ, and I don’t want to be in that position in his life either. I never want him to love me more than he loves Jesus.”

In a candid moment, Jones looks over at his girlfriend and beams at her. The wheels of revelation turn in his mind as he sees more of Christ being revealed through her.

He can’t put it any better than she did, and he wouldn’t want to. He likes to see her shine. It’s part of the selfless thing he’s learned through the dating process. Instead, Jones embraces the chance to encourage Hand and support her point.

“Yeah, that’s great. Definitely take her advice.”

She smiles back and receives the support with gratitude.

Mission accomplished.

DATING ADVICE FROM THE WORD Dating is a tricky subject, but it’s one that must be addressed. While the Bible may not offer black-and-white dating instructions, it does give clear commands regarding proper conduct in relationships. If we follow those instructions, we can be sure that we’ll find success in dating regardless of the relationship’s outcome.As a starting point, we encourage you to read the following Scriptures, which can serve as basic tips for how to date in a Godhonoring way:1. Matthew 6:33 – Seek God above all else. Staying focused on Him and letting Him guide your thoughts, words and actions is the most sure-fire way to achieve victory in any area of life, including dating. Read His Word daily, pray and prioritize your time alone with Him even as your social calendar fills up.2. Matthew 22:37-38; Romans 12:10 – Love Him and love others. Keep in mind that relationships involve other people who are also God’s beloved children. Put Him first and then put the other person’s best interest second. If an action you take would displease God on their behalf, don’t do it.

3. Proverbs 15:22 – Seek wise counsel. In dating, you will experience new challenges as the emotions, habits and choices of two people come together. Put yourself under the influence of godly advisers who can help you remain above reproach and make wise decisions.

4. Ephesians 5:11; James 5:16 – Stay accountable. Dating will expose you to areas of strong temptation. Keeping your struggles a secret is a guaranteed way to set yourself up for failure. Enlist the help of a Christian friend or mentor who can ask you tough questions about your conduct.

5. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – Don’t be weighed down. The Bible says that believers should not be “yoked” with unbelievers, and it does so for good reason. As Christians, we are clearly set apart as vessels of God’s holy light in a dark world. If another person does not have that light, according to Scripture, they are walking in darkness. While we should still love them through Christ, we should not be bound together with them or with anything that would dim the light of the Lord inside us.

When done the right way, dating can be a great experience. If you choose to enter into a dating relationship, see it as a way of growing in your relationship with Christ. Take the opportunity to learn about serving and honoring another on behalf of the Lord, about pointing others to Him, and about further discovering who God created you to be.

Again, there’s no formula for dating, but there are basic instructions we can follow that will help us survive the process and enter into marriage without unnecessary emotional baggage and with our godly integrity and purity intact. Our only role is to say yes to the Lord and stick to His plan.

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