Tag: Dating

Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life and Love in the Modern Age by Ben Stuart [Book Review]

Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life and Love in the Modern Age by Ben Stuart is  one of the most important books I’ve read this year (apart from the Bible, of course). This book gave me a lot to chew on. It definitely made me rethink how I approach my dating life and how I’ll navigate engagement and marriage.

Single: Devotion

During singleness, this is the time we really get to figure out who we are, what we want, and focus on using our God given gifts to glorify Him. It’s in the seasons of singleness where we really deepen our relationship with God. Where we are so dependent on Him we don’t depend on our significant others to fill in the blanks or voids for us.

Sometimes the most loving gift God can give us is singleness.

Dating: Evaluation

The next phase is dating. This is the part where we need to pay attention. Dating exists for evaluation. Dating isn’t mean to find someone out there to complete us, but we should pay attention to the person’s character. Stuart says we need both character and chemistry in order for a relationship to work.

You want solid, Godly character and fun, easy, chemistry.

Engaged: Union

Engagement is about union. It’s about bringing two people together in every respect (except sex … not yet!) Stuart says, engagement focuses primarily on the union of three key areas of our lives: Family, Finances, and Future. All three must be out in the open for the relationship to move to the next stage; marriage.

Ask questions so you can minimize friction in the first years of marriage.

Married: Mission

God designed marriage to be a picture of Jesus and a pursuit of Him. The strongest bonds are formed when two people live out their marriage on a mission together.

God designs a husband and wife to complement each other.

This book put so many things in perspective for me in how I’ll navigate engagement and marriage. Marriage is a big deal. If two people have common vision, their marriage will work. There are so many other details that need to be worked out before we get there though and this is why I appreciate Stuart’s wisdom.

I highly recommend this book if you’re single or dating.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

What Being Single At 32 Will Teach You

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Honestly, I didn’t think I’d still be single. I thought I’d be married with children by now.  God must have other plans.

This the reality I live with – God has a different plan for my life than I thought I wanted. 

I’ll be frank. I hate being single. It’s bothered me more in the past year than any other time in my life. Most of the time, I just write it off as I’m just lonely and need someone in my life who can fill a void. But the truth is, I don’t hate being single because I’m lonely. I hate it because there’s a part of me who believes I’m going to die alone.

As a woman who believes in the Lord, standing firm in my own convictions and realizing, settling would go against God’s will and best for me in this area.  Men say they want a woman who loves the Lord with her whole heart and follows Him closely, yet, at the end of the day, most settle. I’ve met married people unhappy in their marriages so they flirt their way through other people hoping they will erase the ache. I’ve met single people afraid of commitment so they settle for dead end relationships.

One of the most difficult things for me is knowing what I want, that God has it covered, to going my own way, doing this dating thing my way, and hope for the best. But it doesn’t work that way. I know what obedience in this area feels like and it’s the way I feel now.

I know God wouldn’t have led me to the people He has over the years without their lessons. Lessons about what I truly need and want in my relationships and never settling for less than I know I deserve.

Love is blind, but with God as my guide, He makes those things clear. 

Being single at 32 is not the love story I envisioned for my life. I saw things differently, very differently, but it’s just proof I know nothing. When I asked God into my life back in 2011, I also allowed Him into my heart. And though my heart is messy, He’s always protected me. Though there were times it didn’t feel like protection, looking back, I know He knew what I needed better than I ever did.

The brutal reality is, I could be single for another year, 10 years, or God could choose to leave me single. The unknowing is the difficult part of it too but there’s also beauty in watching God’s plan for my life unfold before me. 

God’s fingerprints are all over this area in my life and though it’s difficult at times to trust, surrendering this area of my life to Him completely is freeing. I don’t have to search for the man God has designed and prepared for me. He will bring him into my life when He knows I’m ready and without my help.

If you’re single like me, surrender this area of your life to God completely and leave it there. Trust His plan over yours and your heart with Him over your lusts and wants.

Singleness isn’t punishment, it’s preparation. God is preparing the love of my life the way He’s preparing me.

I trust Him. 

 Will you?

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Do Not Awaken Love

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I feel like my whole life has been one bad love story after another. Looking back, most of it could have been prevented with more careful consideration of who I was choosing to allow into my life and heart. However, in hindsight, I realize there’s a reason for every relationship regardless of their length. I’m writing this in a torrid season and confused heart.

To clarify, I can only speak from experience, my experience, and I feel the topic of dating is one I kind of hit and miss in my writing. I write a lot about having my heart broken, my past, and having faith through it all. I’ve been through a lot over the past year. Last year was my best year, especially in the area of relationships.  God opened a door and I walked through it with confidence and trust.

Over a year later, my confidence and trust is broken.

I didn’t intentionally seek anything on my own strength or through my own understanding. I was led by obedience to God and trusting Him when nothing He was asking of me made sense, I simply obeyed.  Every area of my heart was surrendered to God and His plan and purpose. Over time more of His plan was being revealed through each step of obedience. Then out of no where, the confirmations, connection, and everything built in those four months slowly fell apart. I still believed in the Lord and in His goodness but everything changed.

We changed.

Over the last few months I’ve gone back and forth from wanting to let go and hold on. My heart says “let go“, my gut says, “hold on,” God says, “trust Me“.  I’m leaning now towards trusting God through this than wanting to throw up my hands in defeat and call it quits.

Every area of my life is never meant to be in my hands or within my control, everything is in His.

I’m currently reading, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris and I feel the book is rewriting the last year of my life only in reverse. I see things I did right, things I did wrong, and things I will do better in the future. I’ve never dated just for the sake of dating. I don’t feel it’s necessary for two people to date or “see each other” without the purpose of it leading to a long-term commitment. Whether it’s marriage down the road or mutual understanding of where both of you are in life.

If any one struggles with commitment, they have no business dating. 

Let this truth settle in your mind and heart because I’ve had it settle in mine. The truth hurts, but the truth is better than being led on or lied to. We can manipulate our heart and life into believing relationships can fill the voids in our life or worse allowing our flesh to rule our hearts, but only God is the author of our life and what better author to write our love stories than Him?

The question shouldn’t be whether or not it’s right or wrong to date. The real question should be, “Do you trust God and His timing?” or better, “Do you trust God, period?”

I’ve experienced the joy and reaped reward for waiting on God’s timing in this area of my life. I’ve seen God’s hand do beautiful things between two people who surrendered their entire hearts and life to His calling. But I’ve also experienced the heart ache of allowing my feelings to dictate the choices I’ve made recently. Yet, I know beyond a shadow of doubt God’s plan remains and through all of this His purpose will prevail.

Dating for the sole purpose of dating will only lead to temporary fulfillment, it won’t last. Commitment doesn’t happen in short-term relationships. Dating isn’t wrong but the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.

It’s through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Lord real love is awakened.  Genuine love is best in God’s timing

Song of Songs 8:4

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Are you willing to wait?

#heartcheck

photo credit: Helga Webercc

How to Keep Opposite Sex Friendships

As I look at my life and inner circle, I notice something. Most of my closest friendships have been with men. I realize I’ve been able to keep these friendships because all friendships are worth the effort as long as both parties are willing to invest in it. Some friendships ended. Some remain. And some hang in balance. There is no secret formula for successful friendships because every relationship takes work.

Opposite sex friendships are possible as long as both parties agree in the beginning they will in fact remain friends. Unfortunately, with most of my male friendships we never established this. And so began a downward spiral of broken hearts and pity parties.

I won’t lie, navigating the gray area of these friendships has been difficult. And even now I’m still healing from a broken heart of a friendship which ended almost a year ago. It taught me three important lessons about opposite sex friendships and how to keep them WITHOUT getting hurt. Yes, it’s possible.

Define the relationship in the beginning.

Yes, have ‘the talk‘. Because let’s be honest, we know right away whether or not we’re interested. Maybe not in the first few seconds but if we’re around someone long enough, we know if they are someone we could develop a relationship with. Some of us don’t have this talk out of how awkward it is and wanting to take ‘things slow’. Here’s a little advice and something I learned the hard and brutal way: If ‘slower’ turns into two years of stringing along and no commitment, needless to say, it’s not going to develop into anything more. And nothing we do or say will change their mind.  I’ve been through this and it sucked. It hurt. It was disappointing. Not to mention embarrassing. Have the talk early on, it will save you the disappointment, heart break, and embarrassment down the road. Trust me.

Accept being ‘friend-zoned’.

Yes, that awful thing we hate but find ourselves in without warning. I can count on hands and toes how many times I’ve been friend zoned. So much in fact I’m pretty sure at this point I’ve created my own layer to it. No one likes to be friend zoned. It sucks. For opposite sex friendships to work, both of you have to accept being friend zoned. If you define the relationship in the beginning, being friend zoned won’t bother you. You’ll accept the friendship for what it is than trying get the other person to fall in love and want you. Applying this has helped me appreciate and value my friendships for what they are than what they could ‘maybe be’ one day. In my case, never. 

Have mutual respect and unconditionally love each other.

Even when he or she gets engaged and marries. Even when he or she jumps from relationship to relationship and you give hours and hours of advice. EVEN when they ignore your advice and do what they want anyway. Respect them and love them. Part of keeping and securing  friendships with the opposite sex is realizing we can’t change or fix people. We may love and want them. We may really love them more than we admit, but if we define the relationship in the beginning, accept being friend zoned and if the friendship is worth keeping – all that is left is unconditional love and respect.

As of late, I’ve come to some pretty harsh realizations about my friendships. And I realize most, if not all my friendships failed because my expectations were higher than my ability to love and respect the other person. It’s easy in our head to say and even confirm we really love and accept someone, but when they fail to meet our expectations, we bail. Worse, we stay but hang on to hope they will come around and be the person we want them to be. They won’t. 

Therein lies grace.

These are lessons I’ve been applying in my life for the last two months. The transition from expectation to acceptance has been challenging but I value everyone God places in my life. What I want to make clear is I’m not saying this applies to all opposite sex friendships. Because I know a couple who is currently married who did all of this and ended up marrying. It can happen. The important thing to take away from this is to communicate. Talk. Get to know each other. Grow together. Accept each other for who you are separately and enjoy each other’s company without expecting anything.

Appreciate the friendship for what it is and leave the rest in God’s hands.

Proverbs 18:24

24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

 Have you been able to keep your opposite sex friendships?

What worked? What hasn’t?

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