5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a relationship

man-in-gray-coat-carrying-woman-wearing-pink-coat-in-beach-698885

I have a hard time committing, I’ll admit it. But part of the reason is it’s hard for me to commit to someone if I don’t see a potential future with them. The break-up process is a painful one no matter how it happens, so if there are ways to avoid that, you better believe I’m all about it! In an effort to minimize heartbreak and stay focused on what matters most, there are five questions you should ask yourself before committing.

  1. Would I want my kids to be like them? This question allows you look beyond the outer layers of attraction and excitement and really see a person’s character. Are they kind? Loving? Giving? Value humility and purity? Do they show respect and honor? Or are they rebellious? Rude? Selfish? Or easily angered? It is so easy to be blinded and want to nurture infatuation feelings, but the truth is, the person you marry will have a significant amount of influence over your kids- and you! You want to trust that they will be a good role model and train up your children in the right direction.
  2. Would I want to be with them if we couldn’t have kids? This is a hard question to ask but a much needed one. As I started to get older, I started to question whether or not I should attempt to compromise on my standards for the sake of not letting my best child-bearing years pass me by. And then I realized how horrible this thought process is. And I also realized how many people I know who did get married because they wanted kids so badly and are now divorced. While kids are a blessing, having kids with the wrong spouse can be detrimental. Furthermore, there is no guarantee on even getting pregnant so it is vitally important to be with someone you would want by your side to help you through that process should it happen. The person you commit to should be a commitment for life, someone you want with you through all the good and bad.
  3. Am I growing closer to God or further away? There are people that will come into our lives that you will help and mentor, others that are acquaintances, and others that’ll challenge you to be the best version of yourself. The person you commit to should fall into the third category. This is why it is imperative for believers to be equally yoked with other believers, those who will help them with the temptations in this world. You want someone who will pray with you, call you out, and support you. If the person you are with is pushing you in a direction of compromising your faith, morals, and/or values, it is not a good sign.
  4. Do I feel more myself around them? This is oftentimes why people say the best relationships start out as friendships. You want to be able to be your true, authentic self without fear of rejection or judgement. Some people have a way of calming our insecurities, while others heighten them. If your relationship with someone starts out with a date, do your best to alleviate the pressure of a looming relationship no matter how old you are for the sake of building a stronger foundation should things progress. A relationship built on attempts to impress will not be able to withstand the challenges of everyday life. Furthermore, when you are with the right person, the pressure to perform should diminish as their passions and words ignite your passions and words, resulting in a fire lit deep within your soul. This is not something you can force, and no checklist can accomplish this.
  5. Do they love Jesus more than me? This is crucial. So many people seek someone who will love them most, not realizing the need for loving Jesus most in order to adequately love you. A love for Jesus will naturally result in love for you because it will become part of who they are. Jesus is love so a love for others is a natural result. When someone seeks to love outside of these parameters, love then hinges on who you are, your actions, and their feelings toward you, thus resulting in an unspoken pressure to perform. This environment is the breeding ground for insecurity, with no true stability. Someone who is able to love, honor, and respect God will be able to love you the only way you truly desire to be loved.

signature

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

No Guys in 2018 Turned into No Guys in 2019

blonde-hair-blur-daylight-environment-214574

And honestly, I’m not even mad about it. Taking a year off of dating in 2018 was one of the best decisions I made, and I don’t think I realized how much it changed me until I went through this year… alone.

I think after 2018 was over, I thought God was going to miraculously dump my guy in my lap. Like “Hey Sarah, great job- you are now worthy of the husband I have for you.” Haha silly me. I think I’m still learning the appropriate and delicate balance of setting expectations too high and clinging onto hope. I know God is a Big God, but I also know sometimes He shows up in different ways than my brain can imagine, than my heart is expecting. And I’ve learned that it is those moments that some of His best gifts are revealed.

January actually started off hopeful as I began talking with an attractive Christian. I was excited for our first date… our first date that never happened. He was what Matt Chandler would probably refer to as a “good Christian boy,” not a great godly man. And I’ve had my fair share of guys that attach themselves to the Christian label with no true intentions of following Christ. My hope of meeting a guy at the beginning of the year quickly vanished. My single life had become much more appealing to me, now that the quest for the husband-to-be had not taken up so much head space. I was focused more on my calling and the purposes God had for me. It wouldn’t be until August when I would have my first official date in almost two years. And what would start out as a heart full of hope, would quickly end in disappoint yet again.

Paul knew everything to say to allow himself to enter my heart. He said and did everything I wanted to hear. He started to lead me to believe he was the male version of myself. After our first date, we had set up another and then he wanted to see me even sooner. He pursued. He was intentional. He was everything I thought I wanted… until he wasn’t. The problem was while he said and did everything perfectly, it was never really who he was. He came on strong and fast until I let my guard down and as soon as I did, he vanished. He left. It was as if I was just someone to conquer. He withdrew and when I questioned him about it, he just said he thought he moved too fast and wanted to take it slow because he was scared. I made the mistake of believing him and held on. Little did I know at the time his words were code for I’m just not that into you. The “I still want to go on dates and get to know you but just not like the world dates” equated to never hearing from him again. I think what hurt the most was feeling betrayed and lied to. As if I wasn’t worthy of the truth. I trusted him. I had believed him. It just made the whole process more painful as I tried to make sense of everything- and worse, attempted to justify his actions. It was one of those “I’m going to gaslight you and then call you crazy” scenarios. I had been down this road before. I knew better. I was mostly mad at myself at this point.

I began to question how something that I thought felt so right in my spirit was so wrong. Can I not trust myself? But I think God has taught me that it’s okay if I can’t trust myself because I can trust Him. And maybe that’s where He wants us; maybe that is what I was supposed to learn. I had thought as long as I had the Holy Spirit in me, I could almost know all. But maybe that removes the intimacy in a close, much needed, dependent relationship with God. Because at the end of the day, God protected me- just like He always has. He protected me from something that wasn’t for me. And while I’m mad at myself for not knowing, I take comfort in having a loving Father that’ll step in even though it is painful in order to protect me from further, worse pain. As painful as that was, it’s so much better than being partnered with someone who is less than God’s best for me. There is beauty in the grace, beauty in the growth.

I left our weird non-relationship of marriage and future talk with all the hope I once had completely crushed. It was as if I went from validating my hope to no hope at all overnight. In that moment, I quickly wanted to recoil and build my walls right back up again. This is why I hate dating. But I haven’t. I’m just more careful with who I let it. Ironically, while this situation should have left me hopeless, it left me more hopeful. Sometimes God removes people from our lives that He knows we wouldn’t remove on our own. How comforting. I know the one God has for me would never hurt me that way and whoever I end up with doesn’t deserve to reap the consequences of lies and behavior sown by guys prior. I’m sometimes amazed at how quickly I am to trust again- some may call it naive, but I think there’s an innocence and purity in starting fresh. Surprisingly, Paul was a faith bump for me. A way for God to say, to show me, Paul maybe wasn’t everything he said he was but there are others who still believe in the same values I do. While Paul turned out to be nothing like me, there are others who are. And though I may have had my heart broken a few times, I’ve learned a broken heart still has a whole lot more love to give than a cold one.

I don’t only date virgins

couple

I never realized how many people would assume I only date virgins. I think when I say I’m looking for someone like myself it could be easy to make that assumption. Except when I say I’m looking for someone like me, I’m referring to my heart- I’m not really concerned with someone’s present outward acts or their past behavior. Because I know their past may not be who they are today. And I also know certain outward acts come from a place of varying motives. So while I desire someone that is chasing after God whole-heartedly and currently obeying His commands out of a heart of humbleness, I understand that some people may carry forward labels from their past that aren’t as easy to remove as the sin that once weighed them down.

I think one of the most beautiful things to hear is someone’s testimony- of how God has worked in their life. We’ve all been dealt different hands- some people making the most of bad situations, others making the worst of good circumstances. But when you really spend time with someone, you start to discover their heart. Their motives. How they think. What truly matters to them. How they view the world. And most importantly, how they view God.

And I’ve realized the most important thing I’m looking for in a guy is someone who is completely sold out for Jesus. This is where I would feel most free, most alive, most myself…

Has God freed them from their bondage? Is there a light in their eyes, a fire in their soul? Are they a new creation? Because I understand the power of what happens when Jesus wipes the slate clean. I know what it means to be born again. And I know a person who has been completely set free would be nothing but an asset to the desires I hold deep in my heart.

In a heartbeat, I would date someone with a bit of a past, who has realized the depth of his sin, has truly repented, and is fully pursuing God out of a humble heart of love now. This type of guy is much more attractive to me than the one who grew up in the church, became part of the church culture, checks the boxes of “dos” avoids the boxes of “don’ts” and struggles with the internal wrestlings of knowing about God but never really experiencing God. Doing what he knows he should do without the heart motivated by love, but rather duty, selfishness, acceptance, or fear.

Some of the worst guys I’ve dated have been virgins.

Virginity is not synonymous with purity.

He was still a virgin, but talked about sex a lot in a derogatory manner.
He was still a virgin, but thought porn was fine.
He was still a virgin, but thought he could push the limits as long as no one knew.
He was still a virgin, but only because he feared the disobedient consequences.
He was still a virgin, but only so he could check that box.
He was still a virgin, but somehow thought that made him entitled.

The acts seemingly pure, but the heart as dirty as can be. You see, the issue is, a lot of the virgin guys I’ve known were somehow missing the mark. While I am looking for someone who is saving themselves now for marriage, I understand not all of those people will necessarily be virgins depending on their testimonies. And I’ve come to realize that while loving God will move someone to save sex for marriage, you can’t assume that someone’s virginity is motivated by a love for Christ.

When we read the stories throughout the Bible, we see how God views people. We see His heart. We see how God transforms people and uses them. Calling out those who follow the law devoid of any real love, esteeming those with a broken and humble heart- pursuing God, not just His laws. And that’s how I approach dating. Virginity may be an outward sign of physical purity but I’m more concerned with the purity of his heart. And I think God is too.

signature

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

 

When you find what matters most, you realize none of the other stuff ever really mattered

mankissingforehead

Love is a funny thing. It’s so simple, yet so complicated in today’s world. We interchange the word love for other words such as lust, infatuation, like, and obsession. Everyone attempting to love based on what they’ve been given, with half the time people never experiencing the true love of Christ. It’s no wonder we are so messed up, so broken. But when we strip down the layers, love is such a pure and beautiful thing. It allows us to feel joy in pain, freedom while committed, and peace in the midst of hurt.

I’ve had my fair share of checklists throughout my dating life. Some silly things I was willing to compromise on- it’s okay if he doesn’t have blue eyes too, alright? Other things held a little more weight like attraction, similar interests, passion, and preferably someone a little crazy and outgoing like myself;) However, what remained at the top of my list was an unadulterated passion for Jesus. Someone who was in love with Him the way I was so I could share my most intimate thoughts and purest desires and he would understand. A kindred spirit.

My dating life was a revolving door of random guys who met part of my so-called checklist:

Super good-looking and says he is a Christian.
Passionate about politics and goes to church.
Life of the party and is willing to wait until marriage for sex.
Super smart and reads his Bible.

Never really finding my top priority, only variations of it. Lots of cool “Christian” boys, not a lot of real godly men. Under the justification of nobody being perfect, I was left wondering where to compromise. But as I’ve gotten older, there is one thing I’ve learned:

Compromise on everything but my top priority.

Because when you find what matters most, you realize none of the other stuff ever really mattered. You realize the vulnerability and security that follows finding someone whose heart is exactly where your heart is- in Jesus’ hands. These are the ties that bind- these are the ties that last. And there is no explaining it because it supersedes any type of emotional attachment this world creates.

It fills your spirit.
It allows you to feel safe.
It lights up your soul.
You grow more into who you already are.
More into the person you desire to be.

Wait for this.

Because I’ve realized perfect on paper doesn’t even really exist- jobs change, looks fade, families break, and life happens. Nothing is consistent except who people are deep to their core. It doesn’t matter what their family is like. It doesn’t matter their job or how much money they make. It doesn’t matter where they live or what their schedule is like. It doesn’t even matter what their interests are. I had my checklist, but why? There are too many things to keep up with and I certainly can’t account for everything- nor do I want to. That’s not my burden and God didn’t create us to carry that weight. I think sometimes in the process of focusing on our checklists, we may miss out on the only thing that matters.

We are so quick to identify and label people based on what they do, rather than who they are. The soul isn’t just part of what I’m looking for- it is everything I’m looking for. When you find what matters most, that’s a love worth pursuing. A love worth risking for. Because Christ’s love is life giving and when that’s expressed by someone, it trumps all else. You realize it’s their soul that impacts everything you thought you ever wanted. How they will react if they lose their job, what they’ll do if you end up on life support, and how they’ll handle everything life will throw at you over the course of this lifetime.

So throw out that checklist and feed your soul. Only then will you be able to recognize when you’ve finally found what has mattered most all along.

signature

Leave after the first lie

clouds-dawn-fashion-171053

I guess I didn’t really think it was a lie the first time. He ended up telling me later so maybe that doesn’t count as a lie? Do the times after that not count as a lie either? When maybe I was just confused? Or it was just a little lie? What about when he thought he was just protecting me? It was in my best interest not to know? And what about when he didn’t think it was that big of a deal? Convinced me it was justifiable?

I’ll never know how many times Nick lied to me. Looking back as I read through my journals, I actually did know he lied to me in the beginning. Before I was too emotionally attached. And I did break up with him. Only to allow him to convince me to give him another shot. And if I was going to allow him to come back into my heart, I couldn’t allow myself to call it a lie anymore. I was too smart for that. So down the path ‘of believing what I wanted to believe as opposed to believing the truth’ I went.

It was a dumb lie. But he quietly planted the doubt that maybe he was telling the truth, even though it was a lie. The lies became easier, more blatant as time went on.
It was never about the lie itself; it was the way he’d twist the truth, while never taking responsibility for what he truly said.

His perceptions became my reality.

We were still dating. A guy I had met a week earlier had sent me congratulatory flowers; he knew about Nick. I actually assumed they were from Nick at first. But I quickly found out they weren’t. After telling Nick it wasn’t that big of a deal, Nick told me he messaged the guy that sent them. I was upset and felt extremely disrespected. Nick then told me he actually didn’t send the message but that he wanted to.

I’m convinced now he wanted to test my reaction. Looking back, my emotions were something to toy with; my feelings never really mattered.

While on the phone discussing how he had just lied, I can still recall him saying, “oops, I accidentally sent the message just now.”
He then followed it up by begging for my forgiveness and saying that he didn’t actually mean to send the message.
He did.
It was a whirlwind of emotions for a very short amount of time.

I should have left then.

Following this encounter, he started to become extremely possessive. I remember being out celebrating a big night that he unfortunately couldn’t attend. He was blowing up my phone. I thought it was an emergency; he was telling me he needed to talk to me ASAP. It was sooo important.
I left my party.
He wanted to ask me to be his girlfriend officially.
I was dumbfounded but said yes so I could quickly return to my party.

I should have left then.

As he began to meet my friends and family, the truth became blurry. His occupation, his education, his family- subtle changes each time the stories were told. I justified this by maybe not hearing his exact words each time. My memory isn’t the best. I began questioning myself. Doubting myself. Maybe I was the one confused. Regardless, it wasn’t worth bringing it up.

I should have left then.

I booked us massages. Even though I prefer a female masseuse, they only had males left so I booked us with two males. When we checked in, a female called me back. My massage ended up being with a female. I was talking about this with Nick after we left. I asked him if he said anything to the employees there and he said no. I went on about how cool it was and how God must have worked it out. He agreed. After still feeling like it didn’t make sense and 30 minutes of conversation, I finally pulled the truth out of him.
He did call and leave a message.
He didn’t tell me because he thought I’d be mad.
And he justified it because he didn’t technically “talk” to anyone.

I should have left then.

All little lies that tell one story. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe the lies. We don’t want to be wrong with our choice in a relationship partner… again.
We want to believe a lie isn’t a lie even when we know it is.
We want to believe a lie is justifiable even though we know it’s not.
So we stay.
We stay until we can’t take it anymore.
We stay until it becomes too much.
We stay until we begin to lose ourselves.

And sometimes, we just simply stay. Amidst the lies, we’ve somehow convinced ourselves this is the best we’ll ever have. It’s all we deserve. That we won’t find anything better- which may be the worse lie of them all.

Leave before it gets to this point.
Leave before you start believing the lies aren’t lies anymore.
Leave after the first lie.

signature

 

What taking a year off dating taught me

peace pic

I never realized the impact the ‘No Guys in 2018’ commitment I made would have on my life. There is something liberating about going against the grain. While most single females in their early thirties are focusing on the fact that their biological clocks are ticking, it’s not exactly the norm to quietly exit the dating scene. But I did. And I can say quite confidently, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

It forced me to spend time on what I really wanted. What’s really important to me as an individual, by myself. Instead of going out with multiple guys in case he was “the one,” the commitment gave me the confidence to say no to the guys I already wanted to say no to. Guys I would have been afraid to say no to in the past. I wish I could say it was courage, but I’m not sure I can call it that when I was somewhat hiding behind a wall of “I’m taking a year off of dating” rather than simply saying “I’m not interested at this time.” It’s as if we feel we owe people an explanation of why we aren’t interested. But do we? Can’t we just say we aren’t interested without opening up insecurities and self-doubt? I wish we could. But I think we feel guilty for saying no. We don’t want the other person to feel less than so we attempt to justify. Instead of realizing someone may simply not be the one person we are supposed to marry, we equate it to something being wrong with us- not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough. So we either make excuses for rejecting them or we go out with them “just in case.” The latter is how I spent my 20’s. Trusting that God would do his part. But adamant that I had to do my part.

If I were to remain single, at least I could say I tried.

For the longest time I tried to fix my behavior. Questioning something must be wrong with me if I’m not married yet while so many of my friends were celebrating anniversaries. I didn’t see singleness as a punishment, but more so a training ground to prepare me for who I was to be with. And it frustrated me thinking I was still perhaps not good enough or that I was simply too picky. It had to be one or the other.

But I think it had more to do with me, independent of any relationship. My identity. Ensuring my identity was in Christ alone, separate from an identity tied to a relationship, especially when two are supposed to become one. I have always longed for completeness that was independent from anything in this world. To be not only content, but joyful regardless of my circumstances, whatever season of life I was in. Complete in Christ. But how can that occur fully if so much of my energy centered on inviting another in in an attempt to feel whole? To say that I have achieved the next milestone? That I’m not behind and my timeline aligns with societal norms?

It took me a few months after the year was over to realize and understand just how much I had changed. How much I had grown. I’ve always had high standards when it came to relationships. Convictions that led most of my decisions. Relationships surfacing if marriage seemed like a possibility. Dating was the necessary means to that end- the end being marriage. So while my standards were high for relationships, my standards for dating were significantly less. Dating “just in case” is what I focused on while in my 20’s. My time, energy, conversations, thoughts revolved around my dating life. Dating occurring with not only guys I was simply attracted to, but guys I wasn’t attracted to “just in case” they had good hearts. This resulted in dating numerous guys and few actual relationships. On the surface this sounds normal. Expected. But I was dating potential. Not dating intentionally, decisively, or wisely.

I was living in the hopes of what if rather than in the reality of what is.

I’ve come to realize what making the most of your single life really means when not lived out intentionally. When lived with no concern for the future, and perhaps, most importantly, with no concern for others. We call these years the sowing of wild oats. Living without real responsibility yet. Shying away from commitments. A revolving door of who can feed my ego the most next. But what has really taught us?

We become dependent. We believe any man is better than no man. We can say we disagree with that statement but our actions often show otherwise. Compromising. Justifying. Believing any man is actually better than no man to pacify the fear of being alone. 
This behavior causing us to settle when we decide we are ready to actually settle down now. Oh, the irony. I’ve learned that how you spend your single years, has a direct impact on how much you are willing to settle.

The level of desire determines how far you are willing to compromise.

If you plan your life, career, education, community involvement around a potential family, discontentment will fester until you satisfy what you’ve laid the foundation for. If you live based on what you’ve been given and pursue dreams outside of a potential family, it’s easier to stay true to standards you’ve set for yourself. It’s as if some of us feel we can’t truly start our lives until our spouse enters the picture. And as a result, we miss out on some of the best years of our life.

As my time was spent more on knowing myself, more on knowing God, God Himself began to fill that void in a way I hadn’t known before. God has always been in my heart since I was little and first got saved but I wouldn’t say He completely filled it. I think when He does our desires go from “God and…” to simply “God.” I think it is then when we reach a deeper level of intimacy. Marriage and family so easily viewed as our purpose rather than as a complement to it. Those desires so strong, you know God wouldn’t deprive you. But over time, feeding those desires until they become an idol rather than giving them back to God and allowing Him to fulfill the true desires of our heart once we surrender.

To those married, embrace the beauty in two becoming one as you both fulfill your God-given purpose here on earth. For those still single, wait until you meet someone who will complement your God-given purpose. Be equally yoked. Keep your high standards and know what you want. If you lower your standards, compromise on what you want, you will no longer be single but you won’t have peace either. You’ll live in inner turmoil, conflicted over what to do, what to say, and how to live the rest of your life. Wait until you love your single life. It is then when you will marry out of love rather than desperation.

signature

Why I’ve never been a fan of “The Five Love Languages”

love-pexels

I’ve sat on the post for years now. Trying to figure out what it is exactly I don’t like about this book, what bothered me so much about the concept behind this idea. And if I could sum up my thoughts into one sentence it would be this:

I think it’s a cheat book that doesn’t actually allow you to experience the full intimacy of real love.

Now that’s a pretty bold statement for a book with the tagline “The secret to love that lasts.” I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. I wanted to like the book, especially as a relationship blogger, especially as a Christian. I kept reading and reading and couldn’t help but feel something was missing, something was just off.

You can’t work your way to love. Actions are the result of love, not the other way around. Sure, you can choose to do nice things for someone but we can’t assume the root is always love.

Actions are a choice. Love is not.

As I read the book, I started to notice a common theme of doing all things mentioned with whoever I was dating at the time. I was excited to. I looked for opportunities to do each one.

Words of affirmation.
Gifts.
Physical touch.
Quality time.
Acts of service.

I did these because I love. I watch and observe. I notice little things. And I started to pick up on what he liked best. I think that’s what made it more special, honestly. Not that he had to tell me but that I cared to notice. You see, love and hurry don’t mix. Yet, this is what we’ve become accustomed to knowing, to doing.

When the Bible speaks of love, patient is the first attribute mentioned.

However, we live in a world of hurry. Efficiency. How can we get there quicker, faster, sooner.

We hurry with God.
We hurry with our spouse.
We hurry in our relationships.

The result is lost intimacy and counterfeit love.

I don’t want a cheat book. I want to figure it out on my own. I want to figure you out on my own. Isn’t that part of the fun?! I want someone to intentionally get to know me because they love me and want to know everything about me.

Not she told me she likes gifts so I will give her gifts. Or I will make time for him because that’s his love language. It’s not the gifts we are after, the time, the acts, the touch, the words… No, it’s the heart. A heart that’s full of love. That manifests itself through these common avenues. We chase these areas because they give us some glimmer of hope, perhaps a spark of love that satisfies us for a moment. But true love, real love is so much more, something so much deeper.

When real love hits, it’s not as complicated as we make it out to be. We won’t be chasing bandaid approaches that have a way of masking what is otherwise a loveless relationship, hanging by a thread. No, when you find love from the Creator of love, you won’t be able to help but love. Something changes. Your default changes. And all these tools and assessments will simply fall short when compared it.

signature