Dating. Oh dating.
Now I will not even pretend for a minute that I am any type of expert when it comes to dating.
I have been divorced for almost a year and a half and I have gone on like 5 dates total.
And all but one didn't go past the initial first date experience.
I often feel like a nerdy school girl trying to figure out this dating thing.... except I have two toddlers, a full-time job, a home to maintain, stretch marks, and about 3 seconds of spare time.
It. Is. Rough.
Not only are we processing feelings, managing past hurts/rejections/lies, but we have these little lives to consider.
I have some basic guidelines I am trying to hold while I walk through this new territory of dating as a single Christian mom.
It’s okay to wait
Wait? what?? I thought we were talking about DATING... not waiting! And we are! But it’s okay to not rush. It’s okay to listen to the Holy Spirit and respond when He says to wait a little longer. I know that there are counselors, forums, websites, DivorceCare, and many others that will tell you WHEN you should start to date after a divorce. I have seen that the general rule is a year after the divorce is final. BUT what if you were never married? What happens when the divorce process lasts 3 years but you were separated that whole time? What if your divorce process was super quick (like in my case)? So many questions.
But I would say.... ask the Lord. And ask yourself tough questions.
Listen to your heart, listen to Godly council, and don't be afraid to take some time for you and rest in the wait.
Fiercely protect your kids
My boys are my world.
I fiercely protect them while I am venturing out in the dating world. My boys are young enough to not really realize what is going on but I still don't talk to a guy on the phone in their presence. I don't introduce men to my boys and I won’t until there is REAL commitment. My heart will be able to recover but I don't want my boys to experience any more heart break or even heart confusion. I make it a priority.
Cling to Purity
Ladies, this is huge! And so hard to do. The world tells us that it is old fashioned, not important, out dated, unrealistic, and judgmental.
I say no!
It is Holy.
'How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.' - Psalm 119:9
Just because we have done it before (even if it was last week) does not mean we cannot stop and start again fresh and new.
Sex complicates things, creates false attachment, and confuses our feelings. The Lord desires for us to remain pure. (Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 1 Corinthians 6:18)
Find friends to be accountable to. Let them into your world and be open to answering tough questions.
Make boundaries early...
If you wait until the heat of the moment....
It’s a little late.
Enjoy the process
Dating is not a pass or fail situation (fail if it doesn't work out, pass if it does), it’s about learning and growing. Learning about what we want and don't want. Growing into the woman God has made us. I want to be a Godly wife... that means I need to LEARN what it means to be a Godly wife. I need to be a GODLY WOMAN first! Learn. Grow. Pray. Hope.
Choose to be content in the Lord and maintain a desire to remarry.
I struggled with this for a loooooonnnngggggg time. I was being told that I needed to be content in the Lord; the end. I became so discouraged that I was still had a deep desire to be a wife again and to have more children. Somewhere in my wait (see how good the wait can be?) God reminded me that He placed this desire in my heart. Furthermore, He longs to give me the desires of my heart as I take delight in Him. (Psalm 37:4)
I LOVE my life. I love my house, my children, my independence, my job, and that He is pursuing me. But I still have that underlying feeling of wanting to be a Godly wife to a Godly husband.
Now, if I never get married again... my life will still be great! I will still do amazing things for God. I will still raise great boys!
My hope is in the Lord NOT in getting married.
I have learned that there is this sweet balance with being content in the present situation while maintaining hope for something else. My marital status does not define me.
I will choose to give up what I think I want in exchange for what God has for me.
Because it could be bigger and better and sweeter then what I have ever imagined.
What are your dating guidelines and how have you developed them?
Thinking about dating after going through the trauma of a broken relationship is not an easy step. Maybe you’re at the point where enough time has passed and you’ve been asking yourself, “How do I even know I’m ready to date?” After being in a marriage for 26 years I never thought I would be asking myself this question. This is not an area I took lightly, it’s sobering. Before I ventured out into this new territory I wanted to prepare myself. I wanted to be a WHOLE package, with a healed heart, EMOTIONALLY and SPIRITUALLY. A great place to start was by doing some self-examination. I asked myself some hard questions.
Let’s just start with, “Am I the kind of person I want to attract?” I had in mind the kind of man I wanted to attract but was I that person who would be attractive to him? This is where the years of hard work and character building come into play. If I’m not willing to make myself who I want to be I can’t expect someone else to make me better. (I said these were hard questions)
Do I love and respect myself? Jesus sums up the commandments in Matthew 22:37-39 with,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
.You can’t love your neighbor unless you first love yourself.
In practical terms, I have nothing to give anyone else if I’m not taking care of myself.
Do I know who I am? I needed to rediscover my identity. Maybe like me, you were married for a long time and had really given up my identity for being just a mother or wife. God created individuals in Adam and Eve. Individuals get married. That’s right, we’re still are individuals even in relationships. We don’t give up our identity for another person. I am, first and foremost, a child of God. I invite you to spend some time on this list of who we are in Christ. I have found my identity in Him and knowing Him.
Have I let go of the Past? As we go through life it’s like our brains are backpacks holding all of the memories, thoughts, feelings, and hurts from the past. It’s all tucked into our DNA and shapes how we respond to life. Do I have any bitterness and forgiveness towards my ex? This is a biggie. If not dealt with, you’ll be dragging the old relationship with you. Wherever you go there you are. This is a good area to do a self-exam to see if there’s anything in yourself that caused the failure in your previous relationship.
Psalm 139:23-24- “Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me.
I can trust my heavenly Father to test my heart and see what I need to own up to. None of us is perfect, we all have areas that can use improvement. I’m sure we would all agree we would not like to repeat our failures so let’s do everything we can to be honest with ourselves and make changes if we need to.
Another question I had for myself is how in touch am I with my own emotions? Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a buzz word I’ve heard a lot about lately. It’s simply defined by these attributes:
Lastly, Have I made the most of my singleness? Develop your singleness first and make the most of it. Vacations, mission trips, living out your dreams, pressing into God in an extravagant way, you’ll never get that time back when married. Be content with your singleness.
Here’s a truth bomb- If you can’t be happy in your singleness you won’t be happy in marriage.
I heard a saying years ago that marriage is only good as your singleness. Marriage doesn’t take away your aloneness, it exposes who you really are. I had to overcome this area of lost identity and get ME back.
Are you embracing who you are in Him and allowing yourself to just be? Just be uniquely you? Cultivate who you are.
I am not an expert in dating by any means. I was just lead to ask myself the hard questions. Are you at a place where you feel lead to ask the hard questions? Ask the Father to help you with the tough questions. Invite a trusted friend out for coffee and ask them to weigh in on the questions too.
Let’s pray: Lord, thank you for your leadership in my life. Thank you that you have created me just as I am and I am good. I am complete in you. I am made uniquely in your image and I have a unique purpose on this earth. Examine my heart and show me the areas where I need wisdom and understanding. Show me any unforgiveness and bitterness I’m carrying. Prepare me for my future spouse. Build me and shape me into the person you have created me to be. Show me how to be content and filled with joy in you first. Let me be a gift to the person you have chosen for me.
Many single mothers find themselves singing the blues on Valentine’s Day. The reality of our aloneness presses in. Friends receive flowers from significant others, going to the grocery store can remind us that there is no one to bring chocolates, no candle light dinner awaits. Quiet emptiness echoes through our soul as we long to BE-Loved in a special way by a special someone.
I am 20 years into this journey of going it alone for the holiday and in all honesty, I still feel the pang of longing as the day approaches. The ache is real, we can’t run FROM it so over the years as my journey with Jesus has matured I have learned to run INTO it. Yes, you heard me right, I run into the ache; I don’t deny it or brush it under the carpet. I choose to feel the sadness, sorrow or longing and I know that I am made to be loved. The ache just reminds me of how important love is to me, that my heart, my soul, my emotions are created to be loved and Valentine’s Day is a strong reminder of what God put in my DNA.
We can allow our emotions to control our actions.
These moments of longing can be very powerful. Without good spiritual guidance, they can lead us to destructive relationships, or into a place of depression and isolation. These places of pain can also open the door to the onslaught of the lies of the enemy. He loves to harass us with lies such as, “no one will love you, you are unlovable”? Or the lie that I get trapped in, “you are too much.” These voices in our mind can lead down a slippery slope as well. When we give ourselves permission to feel, especially if it’s a new practice, it’s a good idea to be aware of our weaknesses and invite a prayer or accountability partner into our lives.
Is there any HOPE
We can’t repent our way out of these feelings.
We are made to BE-Loved. As this truth has hit the bulls-eye of my heart time and time again over the years, I have been awakened to the caverns of my soul that are dark and longing for love. I must admit, in my earlier days, my darkness, and my longing to be loved could be overwhelming at times. Through a happenstance encounter with a godly woman, I learned to cry out in those moments; “What must I do to be saved.” (Acts 16:27-30)
This idea of asking to be ‘saved’ came years ago, in my living room:
A wonderful woman of God sat in my living room after an incredible worship service at our church. With a broad smile on her face she exclaimed, “I got saved tonight.” We laughed but one of my daughters later asked, “Mom, I thought she WAS saved.” I went on to explain that although we are saved from our sins, God continues to save us, redeem us, restore us, heal us, deliver us, it’s a PROCESS of salvation and receiving His saving Grace. I learned that night the magical wonder of continually being saved.
When we FEEL the ache, the sorrow and the suffering our HOPE is in Christ.
HE WANTS TO SAVE US
What does this ‘saving process’ look like?
The answer to that question will be as individual as each of us. In the Song of Solomon 4:6, the maiden in the love story cries out, “I will go MY way to the Mountain of Myrrh.” In other words, I have a way that is unique, not the way that others have gone because I am unique. Yes, I will learn and glean from those who have ascended the hill of the Lord before me, however, I must not expect my journey, or my experiences to be the same.
I have learned that the best way to ascend this hill, is by simply saying, “YES, LORD”. Really, it’s as simple as that. Our journey into healing, into knowing we are BELOVED is simply to say, “Yes, draw me after you.”
We position ourselves to receive His love by saying yes.
We give Him permission to show us the way by saying yes.
We courageously say, ‘not my will but Thine be done’ by saying yes.
We choose to lean not on our own understanding, but acknowdege His way is good by saying yes.
gives Jesus the ability to change our Valentine Blues into Valentine Red
we come under His banner of love,
the work of the cross,
His redeeming love.
Our YES has the power to shut the door to the accusation of the enemy and open the door to the truth of His love.
Time and time again, when I have been lost in despair, hurting and sad, I have simply whispered, “yes, Lord.”
Let’s take a Selah moment (pause and think about it) to agree in prayer.
“Lord, you see me, you know me, you created me to BE-Loved. You know my weaknesses and you God are able to keep me as I open my heart up to you. On this Valentine’s Day, I give YOU permission to love me. I say, YES LORD, come and make your name known in me.”
Our journey, much like Mary (the mother of Jesus’ journey) BEGINS with a yes (Luke 1:38), it continues with a yes. However, the Lord will illuminate our steps (His word is a light and a lamp) Just like Mary took steps, we too will be invited on the journey to learn in the deep parts of our soul that WE ARE LOVED.
Steps might involve
Keep in mind that it is YOUR Journey and the Holy Spirit will guide you. These are just ideas to get you thinking, considering, and asking.
This Valentine’s Day, how will you allow Jesus to change your blue into red?