I really didn’t date until after college. The little bit of dating I did during college consisted of meeting men at bars and seeing them once, or maybe inviting a guy from my writing class as my date to a sorority party. Dating wasn’t a priority for me, and honestly, I was fearful to date given my lack of experience.
Post-college, I was suddenly much more interested in the dating scene. I said NBD to any fear around dating and my lack of experience. I began to flirt, I began to date, and date quite a bit. Truth be told, I liked it. I liked the attention from men. I liked living the way I saw in magazines and on TV. I bought into the idea that “the one” would complete me, and I spent a lot of time and energy trying to ready myself for the perfect man.
When I did find myself in my first committed relationship in 2013, I let the world dictate that, too. I made the relationship my everything. I made him my everything. As you can imagine, that relationship grew sour. The sweet exterior faded until a painful, toxic root remained. Friends pointed this out to me on more than one occasion, and as the breakup hit, it became so clear to me that they were right. The relationship was past the point of healthy. Being in a relationship simply for the sake of having someone isn’t worth the cost. We broke up, and God protected me greatly in that.
Throughout 2013 and 2014, God was working, refining, pruning, and pulling me closer to Him.
My eyes were opened like never before. I saw where I had veered (way) off course, and I started to see the beauty of God’s way. He had a better way for my relationships all along; I had simply been too blind to see it.
I announced my faith publicly through baptism in early 2015. Things in my life began to click. It was as though a weight was lifted off. I knew from that point on that my relationship with men would be different. My approach to dating forever changed. My understanding of marriage and “the one” was turned right side up.
God created man and woman in His image, to be fruitful and multiply. God set this way from the beginning of time!
For most of my life, I didn’t get that. I didn’t understand His beautiful design. I did what I wanted. It took years of struggling, of loneliness, and of heartbreak to realize there is a better way for relationships and dating. As I read more and more about God’s way, the scales began to fall off.
The book of Ephesians rocked my world. Relationships are not about ourselves. Marriage is not about me finding ultimate happiness and fulfillment. It’s not about my Prince Charming saving the day. It’s about sacrifice. Marriage is holy. Marriage is loving someone in spite of them—and in spite of yourself. Dating is an earlier degree of that.
No small request, right? But that’s love in light of eternity. That’s the glory we can partake in here on earth. That’s the way God will bless.
After my first breakup, I decided to pray for my love life.
I found a specific prayer online that I wrote down in my journal and prayed in earnest for a long time.
That God would give me a relationship (Matthew 7:7)
That He would grant me patience and insight to wait for a good one (Isaiah 40:31)
That He would be working out anything unhealthy in my life (Jeremiah 33:8)
That He would shape my heart for nourishing interactions with others (Colossians 3:12-14)
That He would bring healing into my past so I’m free to embrace the present (Philippians 3:13-14)
That He would protect my emotional world and give me wisdom of how to set healthy boundaries (Proverbs 4:23)
That He would open my eyes to the joys of doing sex His way (Hebrews 13:4)
That God would be the focus of my life now and forever (Psalm 37:4)
I prayed this and even thought I met someone a month or two later who was an answer to that prayer. He was not, and that was okay. Life moved on. I found myself investing more in Christ, in the one who was now my primary love. I learned to enjoy and appreciate my singleness as a gift. I couldn’t be tempted or distracted by others; my focus was finally on Him.
Still, I prayed that prayer, and I prayed the Lord would inject continual peace and contentment into my status as a single woman. I prayed He wouldn’t give me what I wanted but give me His best. (Yes, that same prayer over my career worked pretty well on my love life, too.) I stopped dating for a bit. I stopped planning. I stopped comparing and asking everyone, “How old were you when you got married?” I stopped looking at my ex on social media. I stopped doing things that weren’t what I desired and weren’t what would bring me closer to Christ. I let go and let God.
Yes, I desired a boyfriend during this time. I wanted to know if marriage was in the cards for me. I hoped and longed for someone special, a partner in ministry, a man to love me boldly and like Christ. This is a good desire! I asked God to take the desire away if He wanted me to be single instead and to live missionally, singularly focused on Him, like Paul suggests we all do in 1 Corinthians 7.
So that’s what I did: live the life God has called me to.
God wasn’t done with me, or my love life, quite yet. He had a few surprises in store in 2015 and 2016. He opened my eyes to doing a relationship His way, to doing sex His way, to living focused on Him above all else—not as an afterthought. And God brought someone into my life who helped me see the beautiful design He has for our relationships. That design is not impossible or irrelevant but transcends all ages and eras. That design is as real for us today as it was for the early church thousands of years ago.
Dating like I used to date does not even compare to the joy I’ve experienced in dating His way. It’s like I went from having fat-free Splenda-sweetened ice cream to having creamy Italian gelato with hot fudge and a cherry on top. I mean, hello. No comparison.
Dating is a special and unique season, and I’m thankful for how God has used this time to make me more like Him. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. I now actually enjoy looking back on the heartache and pain I once experienced because I can see God’s hand over it all. It’s been a sweet, sweet journey, and I look forward to what’s next. Thank you, Jesus.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.