A Peek Into My Dating Life

I have had the joy of dating an awesome stud for the last 4 months or so. As I have wrote about before, I think dating can be difficult. I’ve learned a lot from mistakes in the past, and though not perfect, this dating relationship has been so peace-saturated and God honoring.

What is making it that way? 

Well I’m glad you asked, because I’ve thought of 3 primary reasons why dating has been such a blessing. 

  1. We want God’s will more than we want each other.
    • I’m a stubborn women. I think I know what is best for me. But I’ve learned the hard way that many times, I don’t actually have a clue. I’ve learned to pray with a sincere heart, “Thy will be done”. My boyfriend and I realize that God is sovereign and has a plan for both of our lives. He has a spouse for each of us who will best sanctify and love us, and if that is one another -praise the Lord! But if that is someone else-then that is what we want for each other. Because we know our Father knows BEST, and we can trust Him with our future.
  2. We concentrate on the 3 H’s.
    • In my phone, my boyfriend’s middle name is  “HHH”. Those three h’s in the middle stand for Happiness, Holiness, and Humor. Those are the three things we decided we wanted our dating relationship to be all about. Those are the three things we want to infuse into each other’s lives. If God keeps us together-what a great foundation for the future! And if God moves us apart-what great things to have added into our lives even for just a season!
  3. We’re serious about purity.
    • Mark my words, one day, I will write a book about this. But for now, I’ll just say that this victory has been one of sweetest blessings of my life. For those of you, like me, who have fought and lost battles with purity in the past, the joy that comes in honoring God in this way far outweighs any joys that came from the worldly pleasures of not honoring Him. And it definitely changes a relationship!

Dating this guy blesses me in other ways too. From feeling like (somehow!) I am the most beautiful girl on the planet, to being able to trust his character, leadership, and wisdom in taking things slow-to morning deliveries of bacon and roses-I’m super thankful to be his girlfriend-for however long God sees fit. And since God’s word tells me that “every good and perfect gift comes from our Father above”(James 1:17)- I know that my response to this needs to be praise and worship! God is the giver of this good gift-and it causes me to gush over, not my boyfriend but, the Good Giver.

But I can’t write this without also saying that all of this is not always easy. It doesn’t come NATURALLY. Numbers 1,2, and 3 go against my human nature in so many ways! There are days I’m frustrated, and days I struggle to remember that God’s will is best. There are days I want to concentrate only on my happiness-and not his happiness and certainly not either of our holinesses. There are moments I don’t want to be serious about purity and moments I complain to God about gifts I think I deserve that I don’t have instead of thanking Him for the ones I do have. That’s why being in prayer and in the Word is so important. I can’t date well on my own! I need to be dependent on God!

So although it’s not always easy-dating is a blessing. Whether we’re together for 6 more months, or 60 more years-it doesn’t matter. God knows best and He is trustworthy! Our Father will lead in His perfect way in His perfect timing. Man, being a Christian is the best! We know that ALL things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28). So we depend on God and date in peace, joy, and confidence-knowing that everything is (and will be) exactly as it should be! 

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What I Learned from Dating Around…for the Perfect Church

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I moved back in April, and thusly was on a quest to find the “right church for me”. With a history of solid churches in my background and a Bachelors in Bible, I was ready to joyfully overanalyze every church I visited until finding the one that fit me! 🙂

I researched churches online and asked locals about their church of choice. I knew that I needed to be full of both discernment and grace. I needed to make sure I could submit theologically to their leadership, and that I could be discipled and have the opportunity to disciple through the church–but I can’t be TOO picky. I know that I’d never find a perfect church, and if I did-i shouldn’t join it, because I’d ruin it!

And so I began church dating.

At least that’s what it felt like.

“Oh Betty, you would LOVE _______. He is just AMAZING! His family is the best, and he is super musical-just like you! You guys could do it together”

“Betty-you should totally meet up with _______! He has such a great heart; you would be really good for him. ”

Etc. etc. 😉

So I would visit a church (the first date), and often walk away with a heavy heart. I was confused, because the churches were GREAT-I just “wasn’t feeling it”. Why didn’t I want to go on a second date? Was it because he talked about himself the whole time? Or  because he didn’t tip the waitress? Or because I feel like, though he’s a godly guy, he is clearly still stuck in the 90’s, and brother has no sense of humor? Are these okay reasons not to go back? I hated not being plugged in to a local body of believers, and I know many of them would have been good choices to “date”-I just had no peace.

There was one church I visited, Keystone, that was nearly perfect at first. I loved their gospel centeredness. I appreciated their worship service and their song choices really stirred my affections for Christ. They had a great heart for missions and for youth and for prayer. It seemed like a second date was definitely a possibility! But then I became really discouraged about the sermon (we simply weren’t in Scripture as much as I think we should be), and so after the last song, I hightailed it outta there fast and decided that was a big NO for me thanks.

I continued searching for a church.

However, I couldn’t get Keystone out of my head.

Two weeks ago I was at a picnic in the park that Keystone hosted. I watched their church serve their community. They went above and beyond to bless and interact with people, and I got to know some families from the church.

And there I realized, I’ve been church hopping/hunting/dating ALL wrong.

The problem with my thinking was that I went to churches seeking to “experience” the church, and not seeking to be PART of the church. I didn’t view the church as the body of believers I would be shaped by, I viewed the church by the sermon’s depth or the musicians focus or the bulletin’s contents (though all important things). I went home that night and spent hours on their website again-listening to more sermons and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me of pride, and encourage me deeply with what I was hearing.

Once I visited Keystone again with a heart desiring to be part of the body-my experience changed completely. I didn’t just come and go without striving to be involved. I came a little early, met people, stayed a little late and connected again. I was so blessed by the people I spoke to. I realized that this Bride of Christ is where I want to go to grow in my love for the Lord and partner in the spread of the Gospel.

So, if you ever find yourself church hopping/hunting/dating- just remember to clothe yourself in prayer, and don’t just go expecting to be impressed. Go with a heart that wants to learn, worship, and serve alongside of this community and seek to discover if this is where God will make that happen!

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Also, because I love laughing:

A Single Believer’s Guide to Attending Weddings

I love weddings.

The beauty.

The joy.

The tears.

The message.

The speeches.

The creativity

The eating.

The dancing.

 

But for some of us who are not on the precipice of marital bliss, weddings can be…well…painful.

 

For the single mom who regrets her wedding day.

For the guy whose girl just left him.

For the girl who guys never fall for.

For the recently widowed.

For the girl who “wasn’t enough” to marry.

For the guy who was too late in asking her.

 

What do these people do as wedding invite after invite flood their mailbox? How do they prepare themselves for walking into yet another celebration feeling alone? How do they look forward to:

 

Sitting alone at the ceremony

Sitting out during the “couple dances”.

Sitting with all couples or families.

Or perhaps worst-sitting at the “single” table?

If you are a believer, I have 3 encouraging verses to share with you to help you honor God and enjoy the weddings you attend. These have wonderfully changed how I attend weddings and I can honestly say they are a JOY. Though during the wedding/reception the sting of singleness may still arise, its pain doesn’t linger, and I am truly able to rejoice in the day! I hope these help you to attend weddings with gospel rooted happiness, clarity of mind, and focus on others!

  • Pray for selflessness
    1. Romans 12: 15 says to “Rejoice with those who rejoice”. So, as you are tempted to think about your loneliness, your heartache, your etc. etc. etc., remind yourself that this. Is. Not. About. You! Yes, it may hurt, but take your eyes off your own pain and pray for eyes to see and rejoice in the excitement and joy of others. Pray for the ability to put your mourning on a shelf, and for the night, focus solely on praising the Lord for how he provided for this couple. How he blessed this couple. How he led this couple. Because it’s okay that he chose not to do that to you. His timing and his way is perfect, and he is to be praised in the land of plenty, and the land of drought.
  • Look for others to bless
    1. God is a God of comfort, and he desires and commands us to comfort other (2 Corinthians 1). Chances are that in this situation (as well as most situations) if you are slightly uncomfortable, there are others there feeling that exact same way as well. Try and find a person who looks like they need love, and make it your job to encourage them and help them have a joyful experience! By taking your eyes off yourself, and onto someone else in need-both you AND the other person will be blessed.
  • Let their love point you to a bigger Love
    1. In my opinion, the MOST IMPORTANT point to focus on during weddings is this one. Ephesians 5:25-33 talks all about how a husband and a wife are simply a PICTURE of Christ and the church. So during the wedding think deeply on what their love tells you about God’s love for his people. Think about your “conversion moment” when you hear about when the couple first fell in love. Think about your “salvation prayer” or when you dedicated your life to Christ as they exchange their vows. As you drive to the reception, reflect on the journey of life God has given you. When you reach the reception, know that when you arrive in Glory, there will be a celebration for the Groom and his Bride that will go above and beyond anything this life has to offer. And as you feast, and dance, and laugh, know that love IS worth celebrating and in Christ you have the most glorious, perfect love ever offered.

So before you apply your waterproof mascara or put that church’s address in your GPS, pray. Pray for someone to bless. Pray for a heart of gratitude and joy. Pray for eyes to see the parallels between husband and wife with Christ and the Church. Pray that your affections for God are strengthened and increased. Pray that you can impact others at the wedding with the love of Christ. And know that when you pray, the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind (Phil. 4:7)-and I guarantee your wedding experience will be better because of it! 🙂

Also, quick shout out to the 2015 weddings I went to that were FULL of worship and joy: Amber & Christopher Gomes, Amy & Blair Fisher- I love the four of you DEEPLY and am SO thankful for your love, example, and friendships! ❤

P.S. Below are some of my favorite quotes about marriage! Enjoy!

"Marriage is two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love & consolation, a haven in a heartless world." Tim Keller:

"The love language of all marriages is self-denial." (Burk Parsons):

John Piper on marriage:

John Piper, Momentary Marriage:

I have this marriage, so blessed.:

Marriage:

Marriage:

And this one..hee hee hee…

When I Doubt His Love

When I doubt his love

When my Love seems far away

When his gentle touch I cannot feel

When my heart, alone it longs

For me his voice to hear

 

I look through our old photographs

Through fondly journaled memories

I meet with friends who love him too

And my heart is warmed

by the fire of our recollections.

 

In those pages, pictures, stories

I remember with a smile

And a sigh of relief

The days I knew He loved me so

Proofs of delight listed miles upon miles

Upon miles upon miles.

 

He has not changed.

 

We are one.

Have I forgotten?

He is closer than my own soul.

Question his love, commitment, intentions?

A more foolish doubt, I’ll never know.

 

What a sweet gift

This love that answers my fears with more Love.

A protective father’s love.

That answers my doubts with more Love.

A faithful king’s love.

That answers my pains with more Love.

A powerful Lord’s love.

 

He steadfastly pursues my affection

He never left my side.

He’s not done a single thing to earn this mistrust

Yet he patiently resides

in my insecure heart.

While I question and miss his presence,

A presence that is more real than my own.

In my once wicked-now perfected- heart that he chooses to call his little home.

 

Give Fasting a Try

It feels like I almost always have plans to meet with someone during mealtimes. I often get together with students over my lunch hour at work, and many evenings my dinners are scheduled to be with my roommates or other close friends. For that reason, I got very excited the other day when I looked at my calendar and saw NO breakfast, lunch, or dinner plans. My giddy response was, “I can fast today!!!”

That might sound strange to many of you reading. Why get so excited about the idea of skipping meals for the day?

Good question! It’s because there is something beautifully spiritually nourishing about biblical fasting that always leaves me feeling closer to my Father. Because using that time to plead and pray to my good God, instead of eating reminds me of my priorities and changes something within me.

Fasting serves as a reminder that I need God’s wisdom and guidance in my life even MORE than I need food.

It reminds me that just as food nourishes my hungry body, so does God’s Word fulfill, nourish, and sustains my hungry soul.

It is a reminder that my body responds to lack of food with a sluggish tiredness, and distracted mind—and so my hungry spirit is distracted and wearied without the nourishment of the Word of God.

It reminds me that without prayer and reading of the Word—I do not function as well as I should. His Word gives me energy to serve, and keeps me more cautious of the many insignificant distractions of this world.

When my stomach growls and I choose to ignore it, I am prompted to think of all the times my spirit growls with hunger pains, and I choose to ignore it.

When I think of taking my first bite of food after the fast, and imagine the foolishness of just chewing it up and spitting it out, I think of the importance of meditating on the word of God, digesting it, and letting it change me—instead of quickly skimming the pages and spitting out its truths.

Fast prayerfully-the point it to commune with God, not just skip meals!

Fast joyfully-this isn’t a punishment or drudgery, but a delightful means of grace!

Fast introspectively- think about what God is doing in your life-seek him fervently!

Last time I fasted, it was just through breakfast and lunch-and it was such a blessing. It doesn’t need to be long or regimented. But I do encourage you to abstain from a few meals, and with all your heart, pursue Christ and pray—you won’t regret it!

For a thorough biblical evaluation of fasting, check out Donald Whitney’s chapter on fasting in his wonderfully helpful book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.