To those who are lonely this Valentine’s Day

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I spent the morning scrolling through Facebook and Instagram looking at all the Vday posts. Such a diverse group of dynamic posts. The mushy, lovey dovey posts, proudly showing off their love- at least the love they wish to present to the world. Then there’s the stream of sarcastic and comical jokes that always make me laugh. Lastly, there are the posts that are full of so much sadness, they call Valentine’s Day the worst day and vow to stay off social media today in order to avoid getting depressed. This is just a small sampling of the lives lived every day.

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays- not a one day of the year to shower those with love, but rather an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of love that already exists in relationships. It was hard for me to not get mad or almost judge those who were putting down my favorite holiday. Until I realized I used to be them- I just expressed my frustrations and disappointments differently.

I was fixated on having the perfect Valentine’s Day every year. This was my goal whether I was single or dating. This led to a wide variety of Valentine Day experiences.

One year I made the perfect Valentine’s Day candy poem card. I spent so much time on it, I just knew the guy I was dating would love it. I remember mentioning the card to him later and he had already eaten all the candy and threw the card away. Okay. Maybe just not that sentimental… or maybe he just wasn’t my person. Our relationship was the definition of the right things with the wrong person.

One year I went on a first date for Valentine’s Day. With someone I had zero compatibility with. But I didn’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day. So instead I was stuck for hours with someone I had no interest in. But hey, at least I wasn’t alone… insert eye roll emoji here.

The year finally came where I thought I had the perfect date. Potentially someone I would marry. The perfect dinner reservations. Posts and pics to make my friends envious. What everyone else didn’t know was that I had to beg him to take a picture of me in my new dress. And the only way he agreed was if I promised not to post the picture because he didn’t think the dress was modest enough. That we almost missed our reservations because we had to stop at one of his favorite stores first so he could buy himself some stuff. I was controlled the entire relationship and almost lost my own identity.

It’s easy to feel like loneliness and singleness are the worst things in the world. But I’ve learned they aren’t. What’s worse is when we pretend. When we stay in relationships never meant for us. When we compromise our peace in order to check off a box. There were several years I had a valentine, but I was still left unhappy. Empty. Lonely. The pictures with a hundred likes weren’t worth it. Pretend validation, pretend worth, pretend everything. It just wasn’t worth it.

I wasn’t craving a valentine; I wasn’t even craving not being alone. I was craving love and every situation just left me wanting more.

Now, I just want real love, not the pretend stuff I settled with for so long.

I finally realized I was doing all the love experiences with all the wrong people. And that’s why I was left so empty, so sad, and so disappointed. So much love to give… and it was all delivered to the wrong guys. So instead of continuously throwing around my attempts to give love to those who were never meant to receive it, I now wait. I wait in hope and anticipation. That the love I’ve given wasn’t in vain. That it’s showed me what’s not for me, so I’ll be better equipped to recognize what is. It’s taught me wait for the one that can reciprocate with the same love I hope to give. And that it’s in this waiting that I feel more content than I ever did with the realities I experienced of fake fronts, shallow relationships, dull dates, and experiences that always left me wanting more- something deeper- real peace-  true love.

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5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a relationship

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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.

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

What taking a year off dating taught me

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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.

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No Guys in 2018: Sixth month update

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First off- how the heck have I made it this long?! I was a serial dater. Not a serial committer, just a serial dater. Jumping from one guy to the next. Giving guys the benefit of the doubt with no real commitment. Actually, if I’m honest, emotional commitment without the relationship label. But is that really even better?

If I could use one word to sum up how I’m currently feeling, it would be seasons. I think this word gets tossed around a lot without fully appreciating what it means. It’s like we are always hoping for the next season to come without fully embracing the season we are in.

I want to date.
I want to get a job.
I want to go off to college.
I want to be married.
I want to have a different job.
I want to have a kid.
I want to have more kids.
I want the kids to leave.
I want to have grandkids.
I want to retire.

Never fully satisfied and constantly searching for more. Aside from a few relationships, I’ve been single my whole life. But I think this is the first time I’ve been able to fully enjoy the season of singleness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my single years in the past. But I fear I wasn’t experiencing the freedom I thought I had at the time. A relationship wasn’t consuming my life but guys still were. I have never, in all my years, fully realized how much of my time and emotional energy had been spent on guys. Guys feeding my ego, guys as potentials, going on dates just for the fun of it (which I’ve come to believe isn’t a real thing).

But this year feels so much freer. Like really free. What other word can I use to describe it? A control freak who has given up control. A planner open to new possibilities. A deeper trust allowing me to live my best life right now. And most importantly, a life so crazy and full of impossible moments, that only God can get the credit.

I’m surprised by how much I’ve done so far this year. But most importantly, I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown. It’s been a time for me to reset. To really prioritize and be intentional with my time. To push my limits. To say yes to scary moments. To figure out what I want most and what I don’t. To hear God, free of distractions. Knowing that whatever God has planned for me is far better than whatever I could ever hope or imagine. I know because it’s already happening.

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Why I am now 32, single, and still a virgin

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My 32nd birthday was this past week. And I realized I have so much to be grateful for. While I spent it sick in bed, in a weird way it made me appreciate my health and all the times I take for granted being well and feeling great.

So according to my childhood self, does my life look the way I thought it would at 32? Not.at.all. Society almost dictates when we should be in a relationship, a marriage. Maybe it’s because of our childbearing years. But I’m not married. And I don’t have kids. But these years have been some of the best years of my life, each year better than the last.

My family. Friends. My education. Career. Politics. Blogging and ministry. And most importantly, my relationship with God. Could I have achieved all that I have with a guy and/or kids in the picture? Maybe. But there is something to be said for what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 (MSG):

To be married… to be single…

Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others… And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life… The really important thing is obeying God’s call, following his commands.

 All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible. I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.

 So let me tell you why I am single. It’s not because I hate men. It’s not because I’m too picky. It’s not because I never want to get married. It’s because I value marriage and I know exactly what I’m looking for. I’m not willing to settle. I’d rather be single, pursuing the dreams God has placed in my heart rather than in a relationship that pulls me away.

At the end of the day, I’ve come to the point where I really don’t care anymore. I’ve spent so much time wondering where, when, or how I’ll meet the right guy because that’s what girls my age do. Sure, I’ve done other things with my time but this has always been in the back of my mind. How much do I need to invest in finding my future spouse? What is my role? But I’m tired. I’m just tired. I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to miss the gift of singleness because I’m so focused on the gift of marriage. I want to spend time on my blog, with my family, growing, learning, and giving back. There’s just something so selfish about feeling like I need to find a guy “because I’m not getting any younger.” But honestly, whether I’m single the rest of my life or I end up getting married, I will only be happy if I’m living my life for God. And fortunately for me, I can do that right here, right now, forever.

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photo credit: Bronte Lockwood via photopin (license)

Concern versus control- 25 ways to tell the difference

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I’m finally able to finish and wrap up my posts centered on abuse. For some reason I couldn’t finish but now I can. This one is hard to learn and navigate because I’m so independent. How do you know if someone is genuinely concerned for you or is just trying to control you?

Getting out of an abusive relationship can be difficult and dangerous. You sure you didn’t do something to make him mad? He looks so sad. Forgive and forget. When you love someone- you stay with them through the bad stuff and you know why they do what they do (their childhood, etc.) so you excuse their behavior. We forget it’s possible to forgive and still leave. We forget it’s possible to still love and say no more. You don’t allow yourself to keep being abused.

A simple internet search shows us signs of abuse. Does your boyfriend act in ways that scare you, does he act jealous or possessive, does he try to control you or need to know where you are at all times, does he check your email, phone messages, or texts? Does he tell you what to wear or make you change your clothes? Does he call you or text you excessively or insist that you answer his calls within a specific frame of time? Does he shove, hit, or kick you? Does he blame you for the hurtful things he says or does?

Concern for your well-being is good; control is not. Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell the difference because the difference may be in motives and not necessarily actions. Here’s 25 ways to try and help you navigate:

Concern wants to make your life better; control wants you to make their life better

Concern encourages your own identity; control gradually steals your identity

Concern wants you to pursue your dreams; control finds reasons for you to pursue theirs

Concern helps you to seek God for answers; control tells you they already have the answers

Concern wants you to be happy; control wants you to be only happy with them

Concern convicts; control condemns

Concern is protective; control is suspicious

Concern feels pain when he’s hurt you; control feels empowered

Concern feels bad for mistakes made; control tells you we all make mistakes

Concern guides you; control guilts you

Concern helps to bring out the real you; control suppresses the real you

Concern cares about your convictions; control cares only about theirs

Concern is open and direct; control is secretive and vague

Concern talks rationally; control talks in extremes

Concern protects; control threatens

Concern accepts responsibility for their actions; control excuses their behavior and twists it back to put the blame on you

Concern is humble and looks for ways to improve; control highlights their strengths

Concern cares about your desires and needs; control has to have their way

Concern makes you feel safe; control makes you look for ways out

Concern makes you feel free; control makes you feel in bondage

Concern brings clarity; control brings confusion

Concern leaves you with peace; control leaves you in denial

Concern is always honest; control lies if it’s in his best interest

Concern respects your boundaries; control looks for ways to invade them

Concern loves you, control wants you

Because some of these do have to do with motives and not actions, one of the best things on your side is time. Does he do what is right to avoid negative consequences, to maintain his image, or for admiration or is he motivated by Christ’s love? Don’t refuse to look at all angles of a person or take the time to observe their behavior objectively because you are afraid to face the truth. It’s easy to watch their behavior when everything is going great but what happens when you disagree? What are they like under pressure? If there is something they are hiding, there is something they haven’t dealt with yet. And if they haven’t had time to heal, they will attempt to go through the healing process at your expense. A person needs to be complete in Christ or they will end up abusing you in an attempt to find wholeness.

Honestly, at the end of the day, concern doesn’t even look like control. Not when you take the time to step back and look at it objectively, putting your emotions to the side. Concern will feel like love. A love that puts you before themselves. And control will not. So if you’re already questioning, you already know.

– the virgin heartbreaker

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February Fakes: Why I’d date an atheist over a “Christian” pt. 2 Tom

 

February Fakes

You were the first guy I met I thought was too good for me. I didn’t know you’d end up being the worst guy I ever dated. We had met through mutual friends and it was fun flirting with you. I wasn’t attracted to you but I had just gotten out of a bad situation with a good-looking jerk and I told myself looks didn’t matter. When I saw how high your morals and values seemed to be, I told myself that was all I really wanted. Besides, I thought attraction could come with time. It didn’t. I wish that was the worst of it.

I remember when you called me up asking to do something together that weekend. I said yes and it would be our first time to hang out alone. I don’t like the word “date” but I guess that’s what this was. Why can’t there be a word for when you hangout with someone with no expectation? Because apparently there was expectation. You started calling me your girlfriend after our first date!!! This should have been a red flag but I chalked it up to lack of experience on your part. I always thought there was an element of sweetness in innocence, but yours was an innocence built on what you felt entitled to one day. Do you know those people that do so much good and then when people start to praise them for it they try to act like it wasn’t a big deal while eating it all up? Yea, that was Tom.

Things were okay at first. It was nice to have someone I felt I could trust, someone I believed to have a relationship with God. It wasn’t until we started to spend more time together and more time discussing the Bible that things got weird. I started putting pieces together and I was in so deep that I started to question whether or not my beliefs were right. It pains me to write that. You had studied the Bible more than I had so I was extremely confused. It wasn’t until later I realized you may have known the Bible better than me but you certainly didn’t know God more than I did.

For the most part, we agreed on scripture but certain things had me questioning other things. All of your family, all of your friends belonged to the same type of church. When I stated I went to a Baptist church, I got looks as if I was the devil. I was willing to look past that- after all you knew my beliefs from the beginning. And we did differ a little on certain scriptures. To me they weren’t major things even though they still bothered me. You agreed they weren’t major things, as well. You said we would work through them and that brought a sense of comfort to me at the time. I felt you valued my beliefs and loved me nonetheless; we would work through them- together. However, I didn’t know when you said we could work through our differences that meant I would have to change my beliefs to fit yours. That realization made for a rather rude awakening and a very painful day.

I didn’t realize how upset I was over this whole relationship until I started talking to my close friends and family about it- asking them if I was doing anything wrong. That’s how deep I had gotten. All of your friends and family tried to tell me how great you are. So part of me wanted to believe it. However, I had never felt so belittled, so less of a human than when I was with you. Of course there were good times. You did so many good things, it was hard for me to come to terms with the fact you weren’t a good person. Good works don’t make good people. Motives, love, the heart- that’s what matters.

I started to realize everything was calculated. Once I started opening my eyes, I started to see things more clearly. You would sacrifice, but you didn’t love. The scripture from Hosea became more real at this point- “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” -Hosea 6:6 When trying to work through this with you, I felt like I was talking to a stonewall. I couldn’t do this anymore. Everything I thought we had was built on hollow ground. I always feel there is hope for an atheist- maybe one day they will experience God’s love. But there is no hope with you. For you claim to have had that experience already while living a life that is devoid of any ounce of His love.

–> Part One & Intro <–

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