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 Growth

How do I feel more confident? How can you?

Confidence. Noun. A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

In a world where people are floundering, unsure of themselves and their purpose, and also critical of others, it’s time that we find confidence within ourselves to face the good days and the bad.

I’m not the most confident cookie in the jar, but I’m sure loving life and don’t have time for self-loathing.

Now, I’m not going to act like having a good sense of self-confidence is always easy – to get or maintain. I remember the days of constant insecurity, doubt, and defeat. In fact, I still have one of those days every once in a while. But, confidence can become a lifestyle, no doubt.

So, here goes…

5 ways that help me feel more confident!

    Have good hair. I get it. Not every day do I have time for a picture perfect up-do. And, let’s be honest, my hair hardly every gets curled or straightened. But, I have found that when my hair is put-together, my day goes better. Silly, probably. But, it works for me. And, it leaves a good impression with strangers, employers, and acquaintances. Frizzy fros and dandruff dos get you nowhere fast.
    Walk with purpose. Even if I have no idea where I’m going. Even in the grocery store. Never slump the shoulders and drag the feet.
    Get good at small talk. I try to stay well-versed in the current weather patterns, workplace happenings, sports world, and funny memes. Pretty much anything that doesn’t really matter. Even throw in a little Fox News topic every once in awhile. Find common ground with the person next to you at lunch. I’ve found most people like to talk about things that aren’t too personal.
    Dress up, not down. Always. Not overboard, but never underneath. Don’t do too much, but never do not enough. When I scan a room of people, I feel most comfortable when my style falls halfway between the least and best dressed.
    Realize you aren’t the best and move on. It’s not easy to take a backseat to someone prettier, someone more capable, someone higher up the chain than you. But, it’s life. The sooner you deal with it, the happier you’ll be!

Let me know if you try one of my tips… or comment one of yours! I’d love to hear from you!

From one confidence seeker to another, Happy (almost) Friday! ☺️

Posted in Growth

Seven ways to make your listening skills better.

Listening is a skill many of us need to brush up on. Myself included. Just this week, I was confronted with the criticism that sometimes I don’t put as much effort into listening to those around me as I should.

Ouch. That hurt.

However, the more I look into that criticism, I realize that it was definitely of the constructive type. Remember that blog post from last week? Well, it’s time for me to practice what I preach. I’ve evaluated. And, I see listening skills that need some work. Are my listening skills better than they were 3 years ago? You bet. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, though.

Building authentic relationships won’t happen if we don’t take the time to listen to those we care about.

I decided a blog post to keep myself accountable was in order. And, I’m taking a venture that I’m not the only one who needs to work on listening skills. . .

  1. Pick up on the hint & shut up.

    Social cues, people. Especially to those extroverted people like myself. We like to hear ourselves speak. We enjoy being in charge of a conversation. However, we should stop talking long enough to notice that other humans use the English language, too. Ok? We should be aware enough of what’s going on to know when our spouse, friend, coworker, or acquaintance needs to share something with us. It might be something small – a quick idea or a passing thought. Yet, it might be something deep and profound, and the speaker has chosen you (or me) to be the one they speak to. Own up to their expectation of you. You are the one they need to listen to them. Right there. Right then. Stop talking. Let other people carry the conversation sometimes. Let other people give their opinions. Give other people enough time to share their thoughts, too. Be aware. Shut your mouth.

  2. Make eye contact.

    When someone is talking to you, make eye contact. Not in an awkward way, of course. Just simply shift your attention to the person speaking. This affirms the speaker, showing that what they have to say is important to you. This seems like something small, but I know how annoyed I get when I’m trying to share an opinion and the person I’m talking to drifts off into outer-space or sinks into the abyss of the computer screen sitting in front of them. Don’t do that to people. Be better than that.

  3. Put aside all distractions.

    Earnest Hemingway put it like this: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Give the person talking to you the respect they deserve. We live in such a demanding and distracting time. There’s always someone to text, a call to make, a social media account to keep up with, or something to accomplish. Life isn’t about things, though. It’s about people. Pay attention when those people have something to say to you. Shut your phone off, clear your head, and focus.

  4. Get rid of pre-conceived notions or ideas.

    Whenever someone starts sharing, our mind usually starts racing. In fact, sometimes my mind is racing about the situation BEFORE the person starts sharing about it. Ooops! Let’s face it. . .  We are all opinionated people. We draw conclusions from one side of the story before we hear the other. We see the wrong in others’ lives before we see our own. We have 10 good solutions to someone else’s problem. Back up. Stop. Erase your notions, ideas, opinions, and solutions out of your head. Give the person talking the decency to solicit an unbiased opinion from you. Listen closely for their feelings, side of the story, opinions, etc.

  5. Gauge the emotional pulse.

    The emotional state of the speaker will determine your response. If they seem troubled, a blunt answer might not be best. If they seem broken, a hug might be in order. If they seem insecure, some sincere compliments might be the appropriate reply. Tune in. Pick up on the signals. Be kind. Saying the right thing at the wrong time could very possibly be the wrong thing to do.

  6. Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for.

    Yikes. That’s hard. I like to fix problems. Give my opinions. Offer solutions. Sometimes, though, that’s just not what’s needed. If they ask, fire away. If they don’t, wait patiently. You and I both know how irritating it is to get advice you did NOT want.

  7. Silence is acceptable.

    Pretty self-explanatory, I think. You can care for your family and friends by simply letting them know that you are there for them.  Cheer them on – pray for them – send them a card or a gift. Don’t overdo the talking – talking’s overrated.

I hope these seven ways challenge you like they are currently challenging me. I want to love those around me and deepen my friendships by brushing up on my listening skills – talking less and caring more. 

 

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash