Posted in Reflection

In hindsight: 3 Pre-dating Tips

Hindsight is 20-20, they say. If I could rewind 8 years, back to the “me” before I ventured into the world of dating, here’s 3 things I would tell myself.

 

Number 1. Stop looking for someone.

 

Seriously. Stop. You’re so wrapped up in finding someone that you’re missing what is right in front of you. The gift of singleness. Now, I know. It’s natural to WANT someone. To WANT to be dating. To WANT love. To WANT acceptance. I remember so many times when I would call my Mom up when I was at college – and i’d say, “Mom! Everyone literally has somebody. When will it be my turn? Is there something wrong with me?” I dated in high school – starting at 16 – for about a year – don’t recommend doing that. And, then I didn’t date until my 20s. I was not the “hot” commodity, you could say. I didn’t have 17 guys talking to me or vying for my attention. My Dad – who is one of the wisest men I know – wanted one thing. For me to go to college single. I didn’t understand that – especially while I was 17 and in a relationship I thought I liked. My Dad knew the “whole” picture. And, I’m so grateful I trusted his judgement, even when I didn’t understand. You see – – If I had gone to college dating, I wouldn’t have had nearly the friendships and memories that I have today.  Dating takes up a lot of your time – that’s not always bad – there’s a season of life for it – but that’s just the truth.

 

I’m being dead serious – –  By looking and focusing CONSTANTLY on that guy to date, that relationship you want, that affirmation you think you need — YOU MISS SO MUCH. You miss life. You miss growth. You miss friendships. You miss happiness. You miss contentment. And, more times than not – you settle for less. You get your heart broke, probably more than once. You get the label as the girl who “is only at college to find a husband” or the girl who you should stay away from because she “is crazy about guys and doesn’t care about much else” – – Honestly. It isn’t attractive to guys.

 

And, let’s just say this – the moment I gave up on the thought of Travis even liking me or seriously putting more emotion into the whole idea – He started seriously noticing me. Now, it’s not like I cut myself off from him and didn’t talk to him when I saw him in class or around campus. But, I knew this. I couldn’t make it work one-sided. And, just like that – when God knew I wasn’t expecting anything – He started letting all the pieces fall into place.

 

Song of Solomon says – in Chapter 2, verse 7 – “I adjure you, Daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and the does on the field, do not awaken, or stir up love until it is ready.”

 

What I’m trying to tell you is this: No mate can fulfill eternal satisfaction. No one. Not even the perfect man. Not even marriage. So, stop. Stop trying to find him. Let it happen. Don’t worry. God tells us that if we delight ourselves in Him, he WILL give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) But, that doesn’t mean to figure it out now. Or figure it out by yourself. Focus on the things you DO have control over. And, that leads me to my second point. . . Not only do you need to stop looking for someone. But, you need to start discovering who YOU are in Christ.

 

Number 2. Start discovering who you are in Christ.

 

What do I mean? I mean this. Stop worrying about dating and start worrying about the woman you are becoming. I don’t know all of you, but I do know this. You each are beautiful, and you were created in the image of God.

 

In fact, Psalm 139 says it this way: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works. And my soul knows it very well. . . Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

 

God has amazing plans for you. And – furthermore – He’s already planned out what your life is going to be like. Rest in that. And, in the meantime, let’s be honest, even though we are created in His image, we ain’t perfect – or anywhere close to it. Myself included. We all have things we NEED to work on. Ok?

 

The good guys don’t want the bad girls. The guys don’t want the insecure girls. The guys don’t want the obnoxious girls. That’s just real life. It might not seem like that right now. It seems like the forward and pushy girls – or the girls who post semi-sketchy pictures on their snapchat or Instagram, they are the ones with all that male attention. Get this. You don’t WANT that attention. How about your relationship with Jesus? Is it really first in your life – – – above friendships, above school work, above goals, above guys? A guy isn’t going to solve those deep problems that you need to get taken care of. If you are insecure, dating is not going to solve that. Once you get through the honeymoon stage of dating, your boyfriend is going to probably share that you have an annoying habit or two. He is probably going to let you know that he doesn’t always like your style. And, sometimes your personality is a little annoying to him, too. That’s normal. I tell people all the time, there’s no one I love more than Travis, but there sure ain’t anyone that drives me crazy more than he does either. Are you going to be able handle that constructive criticism when you start dating? You better begin finding out who you are in God – before you try to find someone to date. From personal experience – – – Travis Stroup would not have dated Freshman year Courtney Fourman. From the time I went to college, to the day I graduated – – – I was a much different person. God had to knock some rough edges off my personality, God had to get me to the point of complete and full surrender to WHATEVER and whoever He had for me, God had to show me that dating couldn’t solve all of my problems, God had to teach me discretion, God had to teach me how to handle disappointments, God had to teach me how to handle constructive criticism that brought tears and pain and frustration into my life. I thank God for growth. And, right now that’s what YOU need to focus on. Growing. Keeping your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it!” Above all else – Jesus. Get into your Bible. Start discovering. Growing. Why look for someone to “complete” you now, when you aren’t even completely sure WHO you are. I’m thankful for every moment of singleness, and I just wish I would’ve appreciated it as much then – as looking back I do now.

 

Number 3. Don’t forget about your future self.

 

Every. Single. Decision. That you are making right now is going to impact who you are in 5 years. Who you are as a girlfriend, who you are as a wife, who you are as a mom. There’s so much more to life than right now. Life is so much bigger than just you. You have to live with the person you are becoming. And, so will your spouse. And your kids. Do you have bad habits? Do you have hidden sins? Are you caught up in pornography? Are you watching shows that you’d be embarrassed to watch if Jesus was sitting right next to you? Are you a true friend – or are you a gossiper or back-stabber? Do you judge people? Do you spread rumors? Are you a different person on social media than you are in real-life? Are you obedient to your parents? Have you surrendered everything to God? Have you even done the first step of accepting Jesus as your Savior? If you are dating, are you committed to staying pure? Are you in a relationship that you aren’t proud of? Have you made some sexual mistakes? Do you need to start over?

 

God. Is. The. Answer. To all of that. He’s waiting with open arms. He has forgiveness for you. He has grace. He has a lesson or two to teach you. He has patience. He has a plan.

 

Don’t lose heart, sweet friend. Make Jesus your main focus. Everything else – including your love life – will fall into place.

Photo by Zack Minor on Unsplash

Posted in Introspection

No happiness leaks.

Happiness is a fleeting state, or so it seems.

One minute incandescently happy – the next annoyed at everyone around. I mean, really. . . Who hasn’t been there at least a time or two?

Sometimes it’s the tiniest detail that can ruin a good day. Other times it’s worrying about minor issues that pop up out of nowhere. Perhaps it’s a self-made to-do list of optional or wishful thinking items that’s become too much to handle.

Whatever the triggers are — I’m plain fed up with them. Done. Over.

I’m tired of letting small things or unmet, wishful expectations or random, dumpy situations get in the way and – frankly – create opportunities for my happiness to leak out.

Sometimes it’s our perspective that is just whacked — for lack of a better term. We overthink, We overreact. . . We get in our own heads.

We react wrongly – for the most part. I firmly believe that the way we react to situations determines the rate of happiness leakage in our lives. Do we CHOOSE focus on the positives? Do we downplay the negatives? Do we deal with things and just move on? Do we expect too much from those around us? Do we ever stop thinking about OURSELVES?

Seriously, friends. We are selfish. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. We want more than we need, we ask for more than we should, we complain more than we compliment, and we sigh more than we smile.

In fact – (personal confession) – two days ago, I had a “lightbulb” moment. God let me see that sometimes I’m the one who creates holes for happiness to seep out of my own life.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m newly married to the man of my dreams, working an incredible job, and now involved in a new ministry alongside my husband. Life is good, and I’m blessed abundantly. I have no complaints that are substantial. However, instead of enjoying and cherishing the moments, more often than not I feel that I need to meet the next goal, check the next item off my list, compare my wardrobe with the newest fashion, or plan my next vacation. When did I get so self-absorbed without realizing it? My focus is out of balance.

Instead of creating an environment for unhappiness or discontentment to sneak in and happiness to leak out. . . I want to establish a new trend that focuses on thankfulness, positive self-talk, and proper balance.

Yes, I can be disappointed the day didn’t go as planned, but that gives me no excuse to treat those around me worse or project my feelings of frustration on to them.

Yes, I can listen to the problems of friends and family and offer advice, but I shouldn’t make those problems my own and let them zap my emotional energy. (And – P.S. – I definitely shouldn’t gossip about those problems and build myself up off of another person’s insecurities or baggage.)

Yes, I can expect those around me to treat me with respect, but I shouldn’t expect those people to be perfect – because they are human, too, and are in need of as much grace as I am.

Yes, I can be frustrated that minor problems or miscommunications come about, but I shouldn’t blow my minor problems out of proportion and discredit those friends and family members who are facing much bigger troubles.

And the list could go on and on. . .

 

I challenge you! Take a moment or two and look at your own life. . . are there happiness leaks that need fixed? Is there a focus that needs balanced? Is there a grateful attitude that needs cultivated?

 

A Practical Application: In order to work on this new, balanced focus. . . One of my friends suggested that us Bible Study ladies keep each other accountable for a gratefulness check EVERY DAY. For the next week or so, my two friends and I are texting each other just one thing we are thankful for each day, and there can be no repeats. We do this in the morning – before work. I have personally noticed a change in my attitude going into the work day. I’m spending time praying and thanking God for so many things on my (long) drive to work, and I notice the day starting a little bit brighter. What practical applications can you start that will help your focus start to balance? (Comment or message to let me know!)

 

Side note: I’m not trying to be harsh. I’m not downplaying the struggles we all face. We have frustrations, problems, and disappointments. We have sick family members and friends. I’m not saying you’ll always be “happy.” I’m simply saying – don’t let happiness sneak out because of a dumpy outlook on life.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash