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Dating is a Struggle

Dating is a struggle. I know I'm not alone in that struggle, either. For many Christian singles, dating is just plain difficult--especially post-divorce. Dating in my teens and 20's was much more simple. We were young, wild and reckless. We didn't have mortgages and 401k's. There weren't the constraints of kids and carting them to and from practices, rehearsals, recitals and games. Nowadays, if he has kids too, that means trying to mesh both sets of kids' schedules. It means weaving 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends with 2nd and 4th weekend visitation schedules. It's just a logistical nightmare.

Logistics isn't the only thing that makes dating at this stage in life difficult. It's finding a person with whom we are compatible. Someone who enjoys the same things we do; someone whom we like being around, and someone who is emotionally healthy. We have all experienced hurt and rejection, and we are all on a different path to healing and forgiveness for those past pains. I've met many people who are perfectly happy wallowing in their own misery and have no intention of getting out. I had one man tell me that he could "never forgive his ex-wife" for what she had done, and another who said he could never forgive himself for what he had done. Some people are so bitter, angry and unwilling to forgive that it keeps them from fulfilling their God-given purpose. For others, a lack of identity could be keeping them single--or at least keeping them from finding a lasting, loving relationship. For others, it's just about waiting for God's timing.

I know I have forgiven the people in my past for what they have done, and I know I'm not bitter or angry. I have also forgiven myself for my part in the demise of my marriage and other failed relationships. God actually spoke to me recently about complete forgiveness, and I wrote about it. My struggles also have nothing to do with my identity. I know who I am in Christ. As I deny myself and take up my cross daily, I am growing ever closer to God in an intimate relationship with Him. I'm not saying I am perfect, and I'm definitely not saying that I don't have more work to do on myself. I know that there are still a lot of things in my life left to be culled out, and there are parts of me that God still needs to hone.

With that being said, as I’ve been dating the last few years after my divorce, I've found it difficult to define what I actually want. I bounce between wanting to get married this summer to never wanting to get married again and everything in between. My ex-husband tore down my identity through emotional and verbal abuse, and I thought at many points in my marriage I was going crazy. I was so broken when we separated that the only place I had to turn was up. God has done a miraculous work in me, and the evidence of His hand on my life the past five years is clear. I most definitely am a new creation in Christ.

But do I truly want to be re-married? A part of me emphatically says, "Yes!" I want my children to see a Godly example of who a man should be, as well as what a Godly marriage should be. I want my "person." I want a shoulder to cry on, and I want to be able to be that for him, as well. I want someone to love and respect. I want to grow a deep, ever-lasting love that is only possible through a Christ-centered marriage. On the other hand, a part of me wants to focus on my kids. I'm so busy right now, I can't imagine adding a boyfriend or husband to my list of responsibilities. And I don't want to share my house with anyone--especially the bathroom. I don't want to move; I don't want to share. I enjoy being by myself without having to answer to anyone. And I really like the fact that we can eat cereal for dinner whenever I want to.

This dichotomy, however, hasn't kept me from dating or meeting people. Over the past few years, God has put some amazing Christian men in my life to show me what a real man is supposed to be. Each man I’ve dated has had a couple of the qualities I eventually want in a husband. God has used each of these men to teach me something about men, about life and about myself. Steve was the smartest, funniest man I have ever met. He taught me how emotionally healthy adults are supposed to interact with one another. Ryan had the most gentle spirit, and was the most kind man I have ever met. He taught me that a man could be gentle as a lamb, yet strong as a lion at the same time. Fred had a relationship with the Lord unlike any man I have ever met. He knew the Lord's voice, and could impart to me the Lord's wisdom in the most loving way. Robert was secure yet vulnerable at the same time. He showed me his heart, and he saw me for who God created me to be. He spoke life into me when I needed it the most.

The last guy I was talking to showed me that I deeply desire a Godly marriage. Going in to dating him, I was really questioning whether or not I even wanted to date anyone at all--much less get married any time in the near future. I just wasn't sure if I was up for the emotional investment it would take to create a relationship. I stepped into it with low expectations, but still hoping for the best. While we liked each other a lot, neither of us were truly invested in what we were doing, and it showed me what I truly desire. I really do want a man who is 100% all about me and is willing to put his heart on the line for me, or as the kids would say, that he's willing to risk it for the biscuit.

The bottom line is you can’t discount dating or the struggles of dating. You have to look at every person you meet as a learning experience. Each one of the aforementioned men showed me something I desire--humor and intelligence, someone who is strong, yet gentle, someone who is secure, yet willing to be vulnerable. Someone who will not just show me his heart, but give it to me. Someone who can see me, know me and speak life into me. Every one of my dating "struggles," I choose to see as learning and growing opportunities. Because every "no" takes me one step closer to the "yes."

*names have been changed to protect the innocent. lol


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