How Will I Know

Women especially have been asking the above question since the beginning of time. How do you know if he really cares? How can you tell if it’s really love?!

The reason so many of us have asked the above questions is because we can’t stand the suspense. Am I right? I hate the feeling of not knowing. The endless “what ifs” can plague me to no end! I want all the questions answered and details filled in almost from the beginning of a spark. All that needless worrying does absolutely no good, though. It’s wasted energy.

Something I have learned (very slowly and with much repetition) in all my years of studying the opposite sex as well as studying God’s word is this: All things will be revealed in due time.

If you’ve been following this series on singledom and dating with dignity, you’ll know that finding a partner God’s way is different from the world’s way. We are called to be holy, set apart for His glory. That means we should control ourselves and even behave counter-culturally.

When I get the feeling that someone is interested in me romantically, modern society would say, “Take the bull by the horns. It’s 2017. Not 1950. Ask HIM out. Ask him point blank if he likes you. You’re a strong, independent woman…” And so on.

First of all, there is nothing in the Bible that specifically addresses women asking men out on dates. There’s not even anything in the Bible about dating at all due to the culture and time in which it was written. Dating wasn’t a thing. (I would even argue that “dating” as we know it still shouldn’t be a thing.) The Bible tells us plenty about interpersonal relationships. It spells out clearly how men and women should behave, what love looks like, and what good character is. It even has an entire chapter describing the ideal standard of a woman. If you want to write the ultimate To Do List, read Proverbs 31.

So technically, there is no biblical rule against a woman asking a man out. That is to say I don’t believe it is a “sin.” But it can be a major turn off.

So if a guy is acting like he’s interested, but you’re not getting a clear read, in my experience, it’s one of 3 things:

  1. He’s just not that into you. Harsh. But sometimes true. You might be misreading the signals. If you start chasing this guy, you’ll lose a friend and look desperate. Nobody wants that.
  2. He’s still trying to figure out if he likes you. Ladies, we have intuition on our side. We’ve talked to woodland creatures and daydreamed about the one day when our prince would come. (Or was that just me?) At the very least, you can figure out fairly quickly if you’re attracted to a particular guy. However, that is not how the male brain works. They aren’t as closely in touch with their feelings (not hormones; feelings). They have to analyze and assess. And sometimes it takes them a minute to catch up. If you start chasing this guy, he might get spooked or you’ll force him to make a snap decision that won’t fall in your favor.
  3. He’s waiting for the right time to begin to pursue you. He likes you! And he knows it. At this point, it will be glaringly obvious to most women. But if you’re one of those people who needs all of the answers right now, don’t spoil it. Let him lead. Enjoy the tension (if that’s possible). If you start chasing this guy, you run the risk of him changing his mind.

Bottom line is this: If a good, honorable man wants to pursue you, let him do the pursuing. This kind of man is above board and will let you know where he stands as soon as he figures it out for himself.

Conversely, if a man is clearly flirting with you, but not making an effort to talk to or pursue you and significant time has passed, he’s just stringing you along. Men who string women along for extended periods of time would not be considered men of good character in my book.

Exercise your patience muscle in this situation. If that’s a struggle, then the best thing you can do is hand it over to God and ask for divine wisdom. God will reveal all things in His time. But for the love of everything good and holy, don’t force it.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6

Livin’ On A Prayer

“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Jude 1:20

There is something so powerful about joining in prayer with a brother or sister in Christ. Particularly if you have feelings for that person. It is encouraging and builds each other up in your faith. It also strengthens the relationship by uniting you in spiritual agreement.

When your partner lifts you and the relationship up before God, it shows you their heart. You hear his faith and trust in God. And vice versa. Praying together creates a unique bond and directs the purpose of the relationship. It places Christ at the center of the relationship.

That’s the strong relationship that Ecclesiastes 4:12 is talking about, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” 

I’ve heard that scripture used in weddings a hundred times. But it’s not a verse only for marriage. It’s talking about any relationship. When I stand in agreement by faith with one of my girlfriends, we have a stronger bond and know how to hold each other up in prayer. Moreover, if you want a marriage with that kind of “threefold cord” strength, why wouldn’t you start laying that foundation from early on in a relationship?

I can tell you from personal experience that the difference between being around a man who has the boldness to pray with you at every opportunity is night and day from one who doesn’t. The unity and spiritual direction of the relationship is directly effected by praying together. I’ve dated Christian guys that said they were praying for me, as I was for them. And that was all well and good. But for all I knew it could have been a token “you’re in my prayers,” with no follow through.

But then when I had a man ask me to pray with him, out loud, together on a regular basis, it was totally different. I could see his heart for God and his desire to put His will before our desires. I could hear the genuine passion and pursuit of Christ. I could feel his longing for the guidance of Holy Spirit.

In a marriage, one of the husband’s jobs is to be the spiritual head of the home. He is to lead the family closer to God and keep them on the right path. The responsibility for the family’s spiritual direction lies squarely on his shoulders. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to put a high level of importance on spiritual leadership, boldness, and prayerfulness in a suitor? In fact, this quality/character trait has gone straight to the top of my list!

Moreover, because it is the husband’s job to lead the household spiritually, early on in the relationship, I let the man lead the way on this one. I don’t necessarily initiate praying together because I want to see if he will. I definitely participate. But I want a husband who leads, rather than just heeds my suggestions. The best way to get a husband who leads is by allowing your man to lead during the courtship/dating period. It’s important to see the spiritual maturity and leadership in a man long before you say, “I do.” Also, I don’t ever want to put a potential suitor in a position where he has to fake a relationship with Christ in an attempt to win my heart.

I’ve said this before from the pulpit, and I’ll say it here, too: “I want to be so hidden in Christ that a man has to pursue Jesus whole-heartedly in order to find me.” That kind of hunger and passion for God can’t be forced or fabricated.

A truly godly suitor will pursue his relationship with God first and therefore, lead you in prayer when it’s appropriate. Wait for that kind of man. He is a spiritual leader in the making.

Save The Best For Last

The worst part about our modern dating culture is that everyone is fake. Whether intentionally or not, the expectation is to give the best possible first impression. With the introduction of internet dating, it’s even worse. Our society wants to fast forward through the initial process.

We want to quickly assess chemistry and compatibility with a simple swipe to the left or right. Then you meet a practical (if not literal) stranger for coffee or dinner. It’s a sales pitch from beginning to end. Both parties are convincing the other of what a great catch they are. And we’ve all heard or experienced a dose of false advertising: the profile photo isn’t entirely accurate; they said they love the outdoors, but really they’re a couch potato, etc.

After all that rushing and fast-forwarding through the “getting to know you” phase, we’re somehow shocked when we find out the person is not as amazing as they initially advertised. We’re left disappointed and disillusioned. Just another good ol’ “bait and switch.” Trust me, I’ve been there. For a long time, I was a total cynic when it comes to dating.

But, alas, I have discovered the solution to our modern day dating dilemma. I would even venture to say that the vast majority of relationship problems could be solved with this one incredible remedy. Have you guessed it?

It is this: slow down and get to know a prospective partner. It sounds remedial, I know. But in our fast-paced, instant gratification, western culture, we are so busy rushing, achieving, and otherwise careening through life like it’s a race that the concept of slowing down seems almost counterproductive. But if you want to eventually have a marriage that withstands the test of time, you have to lay a strong foundation. And the building of that foundation starts long before even the first date.

As I’ve previously pointed out in other posts, it is so important to take the time to heal your own wounds, develop your own character, and draw close to God. But there are two people in this potential (if not hypothetical) relationship. How do you know you’ve found someone who is equally mature, heading in the same direction, and deeply spiritual? You have to get to know them, of course. And not just in a superficial way that modern dating forces us into.

“But how do you do that?!” I can hear some saying. Rest assured, I’ve asked the very same question. And recently God has provided an opportunity for me to walk it out.

I have a friend. We’ve known each other for over 3 years. He’s been safely tucked in the dreaded “friend zone” for the majority of that time. To be honest, I never considered him as a viable suitor. Until just a few weeks ago. Our friendship has grown a bit over the last month or so. We were slowly starting to spend more time together and swapping stories as friends do in group situations mostly. Then one glorious Sunday afternoon, I had a barbecue at my house with a few friends over. And almost out of nowhere, I noticed that he was looking at me differently. You know, the little inside jokes and nudges, mildly flirtatious comments, and playfulness that can mean only one thing: he is attracted to me.

I must admit, after that day, I was a bit smitten. I never looked at him in that way before. He was always just a friend. But as I took a step back, I realized I already knew his character. He loves God with all of his heart and worships in the most whole-hearted, authentic way. He is gentle and kind. He is respectful of women and would never put me in a compromising situation. He is a student of God’s Word and strives to be a the man God is calling him to be every day. He humbly seeks out mentors and wise counsel within the church.

I know that if we at some point feel God calling us to move forward into a dating relationship, that he will protect me and care for me as a friend and brother in Christ ABOVE any romantic desires. I know he has his relationship with God securely placed in the number one spot on his priority list, as it should be. On the flip side of the coin, I know what his flaws and weaknesses are. I know his testimony and what things have tripped him up in the past. My eyes are wide open as to who he is and what his goals and aspirations are.

However, if we don’t become anything more than friends or decide at any point not to pursue a relationship with each other, we’ll still be friends. Because we both put God first and behave in a way that honors Him, there should never be a reason to avoid eye contact if we go our separate ways.

How can I possibly know all of this? Because we were and are friends first!

Over the course of a friendship, you learn who a person truly is without the sales pitch or ulterior motives. Only time will show you what fruit a person is bearing in their life. As friends, there may be times you can contribute to each other’s spiritual growth as iron sharpens iron. I don’t know about you, but that is something I deeply desire in a spouse.

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” -Luke 6:45

Be smart about who you choose to get involved with and take the time to really get to know who they are. Don’t just follow what “feels good” as the world does. Wait for God’s best by using discernment rather than letting your emotions drag you around. Choose wisely. It can save a whole lot of disappointment and unmet expectations down the road.

Ready To Love Again

“How has the enemy used fear against you in your life?”

The small group leader’s question took a minute to sink in. As person after person in the group shared their fears and how they’d been affected by them, I contemplated my own fears.

In high school and into my early 20’s, fear of rejection and what others thought of me steered me further and further away from God’s plan for my life. I wanted to be accepted. To the point that I compromised my values and self-worth in pursuit of “love.”

But that was a long time ago. I don’t live there anymore.

As many women do, I have waffled between a fear of not being enough and the fear that I am too much. I’m not enough because every day I fall short of the glory of God. I’m imperfect. On other days, I’m too much. Too loud. Too opinionated. Too silly or too serious.

But thanks to a strong group of sisters around me, I have learned that I am not alone. More importantly, I am a daughter of the Most High King. The Creator made me “just right,” as Goldilocks would say.

As a mom, I have often feared that I am failing. Surely I’m a terrible parent. I lose my cool. I say the wrong things. I react. I’ve read a hundred (seriously more like 94, but who’s counting?) parenting books and talked to every mom I know. And while they all disagree on many topics, the one thing I hear loud and clear is that if I love my children and consistently try to be a better parent, I’m on the right track.

As I processed through these fears I have battled over the years, one of the members spoke up, “I’d like to share about a fear that I am currently facing…” He proceeded to be courageously vulnerable as he shared his fear. Then it hit me: My current and recurring fear. That ugly thing that has stayed just below the surface of consciousness yet always manages to control my decisions.

I am afraid of repeating my mistakes. More specifically, for the last 6 years, I have been afraid of ending up in an abusive relationship again.

I’ve subconsciously kept myself closed off to any long term relationship for fear of being hurt. It hasn’t even been a conscious thought. It’s just a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. If I base my judgement off my past experience alone, I am left feeling nauseous at the prospect of another ride on the roller coaster of abuse. Because all I have known in relationships is abuse and unhealthy behavior. The fairy tale image we’re told as children (though equally damaging) has been completely erased. All hope of a “happily ever after” ending has dissolved.

The revelation of this fear came to me the other day as I shared my story with a girlfriend. I told her that I had recently read an article that said something along the line of, “If you’re not attracting good men [healthy relationships] into your life, it’s because subconsciously, you are not open to love.” The article went on to explain the different reasons we slam the door on love.

Fear is a big one. For all the fears previously stated, I have been sending a “don’t you dare even look at me” signal to the world without even realizing it. Fear of being vulnerable and getting hurt. Fear of rejection. Fear that any prospective partner will see me failing at parenting and bolt. Fear of abuse. Fear of failure. Every relationship has failed thus far. Why would it be any different the next time?

In our small group, we discussed what fear really is. Sometimes our fears aren’t even real, but rather, scenarios we’ve created in our minds. Lies that the enemy has fed us and we’ve adopted as reality.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

The leader then read 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. He posed the question: “What is the opposite of love?” Many of us responded, “Fear!” Wrong. He said, “No. The opposite of love is selfishness.”

Let that sink in. Perfect love is selfless in every way. It’s trusting, kind, not boastful, not envious, and so on. Conversely, fear is rooted in self-preservation. When we go through life thinking we “gotta look out for number one,” we become guarded, fearful, angry. Truly selfless love cannot operate under those conditions.

God’s love is perfect. Every good and perfect thing comes from Him. So if I’m allowing fear to control me, I’m not only blocking an opportunity for a good relationship, I’m blocking God’s selfless love from doing its perfect work in me. Moreover, my fear is only indicative of my lack of faith that God will come through.

If I truly believe that my loving Heavenly Father is working all things together for my good, then I have nothing to fear. He is cultivating me to be a wife just as he is preparing my future husband for me. I have to trust that. I have to trust HIM. God does not want to withhold any good from me (or you) and that includes a godly spouse and healthy marriage.

So tonight, I boldly cast my cares [worry, fear, doubt] upon the Lord for He cares for me and wants only the best for His children. And I declare, “I am open to love in your timing, God.”

I challenge you to do the same. Whatever you’re afraid of, let it go. Give it to God and trust that He has your best interest in mind.

You Can’t Hurry Love

I’m sitting here in my bed, cuddled up in my favorite blanket, with a box of tissues, and a vomitting 5 year old next to me. Jealous yet? The only thing worse than being sick is taking care of a sick child WHILE you’re sick. As a single parent, this isn’t my first rodeo. When illness strikes, single parents make due. We do what we must.

As I try to coax my teenager to “man up” and cook dinner for a house full of sickies, I realize first how fortunate I am to have a young man who wants to learn how to cook. My second realization hit me like a ton of bricks… For the first time in a very long time, I have a desire to be taken care of. So often, our image of an ideal mate is more rooted in fantasy than reality. But the older and wiser I become, the more I long for the practical.

Today, I dream of a man who can cook soup and let me Netflix binge for the afternoon without too much complaint. Willingness to run to the store for tissues and TheraFlu wouldn’t hurt either. Haha!

I must pause here to say that I’m not a big baby when I’m sick. Normally, especially as a single mom, I would push those feelings down and say, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” Our society publicizes this idea that I should be a single, independent woman. I’m expected to prove that I don’t need a man for anything. No room for vulnerability. Weakness is not allowed.

But today I let the feelings of longing come to the surface and explored them with curiosity. Desiring to be cared for, to be vulnerable to another, and to possibly even be provided for are not bad things. In fact, they’re natural, human feelings. Perhaps even, uniquely feminine feelings.

God designed us to be in relationship with Him and with each other. To fall into the trap that we can do everything ourselves is just that: a trap. That way of thinking is actually self-defeating and keeps us isolated. It holds us back from the more of God that can be expressed within a healthy relationship.

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” -Genesis 2:18
There’s a hole in our heart that only God can fill. A dating relationship, friends, or family can’t fill that hole. But there are aspects of Himself revealed through those relationships. He called us to be a friend to the lonely. God created us to be godly romantic partners. In the very beginning, as we see above, God created a helper for Adam called Eve. She was called to help alongside her mate. Not to run ahead and do everything herself. And not to fall behind all wimpy-like. He created marriage and the complimentary male/female roles in the very beginning.
As I seek a deeper relationship with Jesus, I am also learning to pray that He develops me to become the helper that my future husband needs. I pray that God grows me into a supportive and diligent wife while I wait for His best. In the meantime, pass the tissues!

Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?

So we’ve safely established in this series how to embrace your single season and wait for the right person. I can hear some of you saying, “But how do I know if they’re the right person?” I’m glad you asked.

There are a ton of books out there around this particular topic. I’ve read several excellent books with a Christian perspective on what to look for and what should be your deal-breakers. I’m not going to repeat all that stuff. However, there is one thing that is worth discussing at length.

The most important thing to look for in a partner. Something worth its weight in gold. Something more important than looks, attraction, or even personality. Chivalry can’t even touch it. This one thing will determine the success or failure of a potential relationship more than any other factor. Have you guessed it yet?

I’m talking about character. It’s the one thing we don’t talk nearly enough about in terms of dating, but will have the greatest impact on your relationship. Think about it. If a man has integrity, he won’t cheat. If a woman is honest, she won’t lie. If your partner has strong character, they won’t put you in a compromising or harmful situation. Character is what will determine how your partner treats you. Physical attraction waxes and wanes, but how a person treats you will have a lasting effect.

How many of us have fallen for someone charismatic, physically attractive, or with a great personality? I’m willing to bet all of us at some point. But charm and charisma alone, can’t be trusted. If they’re charming you, they could likely be charming someone else. My favorite example of this is a line from the Broadway musical turned big picture, “Into The Woods,” when Cinderella catches Prince Charming cheating…

As for physical attraction, that can change over time as we age. I’ve seen sad stories of people who left their spouse because of physically altering accident. True love, the kind that lasts, isn’t there only because of outward beauty. Proverbs 31:30 addresses this well, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” Men aren’t exempt, though. It goes both ways. A partner who fears the Lord (has a real relationship with God and genuine, good character) is of far more value than anything else.

So how do you find someone of good, strong character? “Where have all the good ones gone?!” I hear some of you lamenting. It’s simple really. The only way you will be able to find someone of good character is to BE someone of good character. Because people of good character have already figured out how important it is to find someone who values integrity, honor, and compassion. So naturally, they are looking for someone who exhibits those same values. Like attracts like.

So how do you become a person of good character? What are good character traits? Start by reading the book of Proverbs. It is a book full of wisdom. And that will set you in the right direction.

“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” ~Philemon 1:11

You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You

I love me some Michael Bublé. He does an amazing cover of the above titled song. Dean Martin sang the original swoony, croony tune. As much as I love the song, it’s just not true. You’re NOT nobody until somebody loves you.

As silly as it seems to state the obvious, this flawed way of thinking is more prevalent than you may at first realize. Love songs definitely push the idea that our value is found in what the object of our affection feels toward us. You’re thinking, even if it’s not totally true, it sounds good or just rhymes well in a song. Okay. Fine. But Disney movies, romantic dramas and comedies, by in large, tell us that our “happily ever after” comes only when we meet Prince Charming. Disney and Nicholas Sparks have effectively ruined a generation’s expectations and values in relationships.

Between movies, music, pop culture, and society, we are told from a very young age (especially as women) that our highest and best purpose is marriage. Therefore, if you’re not married you must be defective. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the following conversation:

Me: “You know ‘So and so’ is single.”

Other Person: “Really? How old is he [or she]?”

Me: (ballpark age)

Other Person: (If the age is over 30ish) “What’s wrong with him [or her]?”

Me: (Laughing) “What’s wrong with me, then?”

Other Person: Immediate, profuse backpedaling

We have been so indoctrinated to think that love or marriage have to happen by a certain age. And if not, there must be something innately wrong with the person. They somehow offer less value as a potential romantic interest. I’m here to tell you that is a big, steaming pile of crap!

You were loved and valued by the Creator from the very moment you were conceived. He has loved you from the beginning and will love you to the end. No matter your mistakes or character defects, God’s love is eternal and truly unconditional. He extends the greatest gift: a personal relationship with Him. That is the only relationship worth finding your value in.

In your single season, seek out what your value is in Christ. (I could tell you, but where’s the fun in that?) Who does He say you are? What is your personal and specific purpose on the planet? What is God’s plan and will for your life? What are the character defects He would like to help you eliminate?

Once you’ve discovered the answers to these questions, I would contend that you bring MORE substance into a future relationship. When you know who you are and where your value is found, you’re less likely to obsess or settle. You also understand how much God loves your partner and can offer grace authentically without being a doormat.

Those who believe they are nobody till somebody loves them tend to be what I call “serial daters.” They hop from one serious relationship straight to the next without any healing time in between. They’re never single long enough to even begin to explore who they are on their own. And why would they? They’re convinced their value on the relationship stock market begins to plummet the minute their Facebook status goes back to “single.” I knew someone once that treated relationships like most people treat a job: She wouldn’t quit one until she had the next opportunity lined up. You may be laughing at that analogy, but it was heartbreaking and frustrating to watch.

One of the most obvious problems for serial daters is that they don’t take the time to process and analyze why the previous relationship didn’t work out. Instead, they drag their hurts and baggage from one relationship into the next, building up a stockpile of relational damage.

I’ve never been a serial dater, but I realized that I was “masking” my hurts by “going out with the girls” in an unhealthy way. In my mid-twenties I would go out a lot. Karaoke, ladies’ nights, or just dinner with the girls. Nothing wild or crazy. I’m just an extrovert and needed to be around friends. Or at least that’s what I told myself. God showed me that I was using “girl time” to avoid being alone. In turn, I was avoiding my own healing process. I would do anything to not be stuck at home, especially when my son was visiting his dad. I couldn’t bear the thought of the total quiet. Because then I’d have to deal with what was going on in my head and heart.

Solitude is not a bad thing. Nowadays I enjoy it. That’s where God can speak to my heart without distraction. That’s where He can gently encourage and love my soul. That quiet “alone” place is where I find peace. It’s where I’m reminded of who I am: a daughter of the Most High King. There is my value. In Him who made me and loves me more than any man ever can.

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” ~Psalm 139:17-18

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

If I could sum up my previous dating experiences in a single phrase, the above line from an old country western song would be it. Needless to say, I’ve dated the wrong way- the world’s way. I’ve tried online dating, blind dates, and “shopping” for dates at the local bar scene. But the problem with my dating blunders wasn’t so much the places as it was the looking.

Last week, I talked about where to place our focus (on Jesus) whether single or attached. Well, the problem with dating in the way I’d experienced before was that it first caused me to take my focus off of God and start looking to and fro for a person. Mistake #1.

As the title implies, looking for love in all the wrong places leads no where. It only brings more heartache. As they say in the real estate business, “location, location, location!” Mistake #2.

Many years ago, my dad said, “If you look for a husband in a bar, you might find an alcoholic.” Boy was he right! I met my son’s dad at a bar, through a co-worker who I worked with at (you guessed it) a bar. He was an alcoholic through and through. He always wanted to go to the bar on weekends, drank 6-12 beers 7 nights a week, and when I was ready to settle down, he was still out carousing and partying. He was the life of the party. And the charisma and charm that drew me to him at the bar became harsh words and heavy drinking in our home. My dad had tried to warn me with a common sense quip. My dad was right. I should’ve listened. Mistake #3.

Several weeks ago a single friend of mine asked if I “put myself out there” and where does a good christian girl meet a good christian guy. Short answer: not the bar! I’m not saying EVERY person who goes to a bar is an alcoholic. Nor am I saying every person who goes to church is a saint. However, the odds of meeting someone who is authentically seeking God are far higher in one than the other.

Now I can hear someone saying, “Stop everything! You want me to look for a date at CHURCH?!” Yes. And no. You’re probably imagining singing songs during a worship service while looking up and down the rows of people, hoping to see an eligible bachelor that makes eye contact with you. And right there during the chorus of “How Great Thou Art,” you give the call-me-maybe hand sign.

No. Don’t. Just stop.

Let’s back up for just a moment. My parents have been married for nearly 40 years. They have one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve witnessed. They adore each other to this day and are true life partners. They’ve been through a lot and they have never bailed on each other or hurt one another intentionally. Guess where they met? That’s right. Church. Now, they weren’t hunting for partners. They were in a Bible study together; strictly friends for a year before they ever talked about taking their relationship to the next level. Then they dated for a year before my dad FINALLY proposed to my mom.

The beauty of their story is that they were friends FIRST. He knew her background. She knew his character. They had the same circle of friends, so there were no surprises. He knew she wasn’t going to turn psycho out of nowhere and she knew he wasn’t going to turn out to be an abusive jerk. There were no facades to try to impress one another. It happened naturally and S-L-O-W-L-Y.

Don’t start trolling your church foyer. That’s creepy. You should be attending church to learn more about and draw closer to God. First and foremost, keep your priorities straight. Do get involved with things that are important to you. Serve at your church. Volunteer with ministries and organizations where you feel you can contribute. Enrich your life with things that matter and when God’s perfect timing strikes, the right person will notice you.

It’s not so much about searching for the right person as it is about focusing on God while becoming the right person. Then and only then can He open your eyes to see what’s right in front of you.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”   ~Matthew 6:33

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

The Apostle Paul, who was unmarried, said this in Colossians 7:32-35, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”

I had a hard time with that scripture for many years because, quite honestly, I’ve always desired to be married and have a healthy, whole relationship with a partner for life. It wasn’t until the FIFTH consecutive year of being single and seeking God’s kingdom first that the lightbulb came on. I’m a slow learner, I know.

First, Paul very clearly says that this is a suggestion, not a commandment or restriction. He’s just saying, “Hey, this is my recommendation.” That always made it easy for me to brush off this segment of scripture. I could say, “Well, that’s his opinion because he was single. So of course, he’d suggest everyone do it his way.” But what he’s really saying is that Christ should be our central and foremost focus.

Second, my deep revelation about this scripture had less to do with the married versus unmarried aspect, but more to do with the heart condition. I realized it has more to do with where our focus is. God’s greatest concern is always for our heart and if it is turned toward Him.

If we truly call ourselves Christ followers, we must follow Jesus first, above all else. Dating, marriage, and relationships can be a distraction from our primary focus. Though that’s not always the case. And romantic relationships aren’t the only culprit. Many things can distract us from our relationship with God. Television, friendships, activities, and even our own kids can be a distraction from God.

I’m not saying you need to cancel your cable, disconnect your phone, and move to Tibet. What I am saying is that it’s important to look at all of the distractions in our lives and take note of what/who is pulling our eyes away from Jesus. What or who is leading you away from God rather than drawing you closer? And then the tough one: What do I need to give up partially or completely in order to draw nearer to Christ?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”    ~Hebrews 12:1

To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn

Life is made up of seasons. After winter is spring. After spring comes summer. After summer is fall. And so it goes. We learn this in kindergarten. Yet it takes us until much later in adulthood to realize how profoundly true it is in every area of our lives. There are times of abundance and times of lack. Friendships that ebb and flow. The tide rises and then it falls. As the late, great Jim Rohn said on the topic, “…When you get your own planet, you can set it up any way you like, but as long as you’re on this one, it’s just the way it is.”

You can either enjoy each season as it is, while it lasts or you can spend your life miserable, fighting against the rising and setting of the sun. You know those people that are always wishing things were different? If it’s summer, they wish it was winter. When it’s snowing, they wish it was 70 degrees. If it’s night, they wish it was daytime. If they’re married, they wish they were single. If they landed a new job, they want the next big promotion. And if they had a car, they wish it was a plane. They’re miserable no matter what because nothing is as they want it to be. We all know someone like that. They could be living in Tahiti, sipping Mai Tai’s and undoubtedly praying for snow.

Many of us fall into this trap. We want to get to the next stage. We want to hurry up the process and move to greener pastures. But in doing so we miss out on the beauty around us right now. I’m a planner. So I totally get it. I’ve fallen into this snare more than once myself. Hoping for things to change, wishing for circumstances to be different, pressing toward a goal. But I missed out on the season I was in. Change comes. It’s inevitable. Circumstances will always shift. And while ambition is great, it can also lead to discontentment.

Singledom is also a season. You can choose to embrace it and enjoy the season of getting to know yourself, your Creator, and who He made you to be. You can maximize your time of learning who you are, Who God is, and what He has planned for you. Or you can get caught up in discontentment, missing the beautiful perspective and priorities that being single allows you.

Think about it. As a single, unattached person, you can come and go as you please. You can cook whatever you want for dinner. Or not cook at all. You have the freedom to serve and volunteer as much as you want. You can go to lunch with your friends without a second thought. Whether you have children or not, as a single person, you have certain freedoms that are easy to take for granted. You can sit up in your bed until 2am, reading your Bible and writing on your computer with the lights on… Hypothetically.

Enjoy those freedoms. Embrace this season of singledom. If for no other reason, so that when the time comes to be in a relationship, you can move fully into that next season without regrets.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1