Monday, December 28, 2015

Dating with a Purpose

Do you have an ultimate end goal for “why” you are dating? Are you just dating because you don’t want to be single? Are you dating because everyone else around you has someone? Are you really dating with a purpose?

I haven’t blogged since Mark’s birthday, and hadn’t plan on writing an entry until I was having a self-bible study on “not being misled and be mindful of who leads you”. I was in the Book of James 1:16, and also back and forth from my book Good or God. God led me to the self-bible study of being mindful of who leads you for a reason. In James 1:16-17 it states, “So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father…This scripture dwelled on me for about 30 minutes before I decided to get out my laptop and write about WHY God led me to this specific scripture at this specific hour, at this specific time…

It’s the Holiday season. This is the time of year where we will see all the lovey dovey couples, engagements, weddings, babies, “relationship goals”, all types of LOVE. Right? Yes. You also see a lot of singles getting depressed around this time of year because every time they log into their social media accounts, this is all they see. But what if I told you that being a single Christian in today’s world continues to be increasingly difficult. We often want this "perfect" Man/Woman of God who can lead us the way that we “think” we should be led.  But do we ultimately know how we should be “properly” led according to God’s will for our lives? Or are we going by what we see posted on Google or Let’s take a minute and think about that…

Just recently, Mark and I faced an unexpected attack on our relationship. We did not see it coming, I know I didn’t! We thought we were doing so well, ready for the next level, but God had other plans for us. He had a small detour that He needed us to take before we proceeded forward. God can use anything and anyone around you to remind you that He is with you; I knew that but did I really believe it? It doesn’t matter how many pre-engagement classes we’ve taken, how much training we’ve received; when God sees that you are losing focus on His calling for your life, He will step in and stop everything that you’re doing so that you can re-focus on Him; and that’s exactly what He did to us. Careers were going well, Mark was selling out workshops, my business was booming BUT when was our last bible study together? When was the last time we were in our Word individually? We got so caught up with the success that God brought us; in the process of this great success, we forgot the ultimate purpose; to always keep him 1st. How can we lead each other if we become too busy for God? Just like, how can today’s single Christians express that they are enjoying their season of singleness because God hasn’t sent them the right man/woman? 

It hurts my heart every time I hear one of my single friends say, “I’m enjoying being single right now because God hasn't sent the right man for me. The bible said that, “Death and life are in the power of our tongues, and that whatever we speak shall be.” However, if we’re not careful, those words can be decrypted to mean, “I’m enjoying my life of selfishness.” Part of the reason many people are choosing a life of singleness is because some singles ministries make being single look so much fun and exciting. Commitment and intentionality are inadvertently being discouraged by increased opportunities to go on group dates and see members of the opposite sex without pursuit. 

Another reason I think people are choosing a life of singleness is because of the difficulty, confusion and frustration that comes along with dating. I will not lie and say that relationships are 100% perfect, and if someone EVER tells you that their relationship is; please go get your Holy oil and lay hands on them. I can’t speak for anyone else’s relationship, only ours. Relationships and dating are hard work ONLY if you choose to make it hard. Once you find out who you truly are as a person, and allow Christ to come in and clean you up; you’re going to be just fine. If you enter into a new relationship with baggage from your past, not knowing WHO you are, withholding secrets and issues from your life without expressing them to your partner; you will most definitely run into problems. As many times as I speak about my personal life of being a former sex addict, I had to allow God to fully heal me; renew my mind, body and spirit, in order to have a successful courtship. And it’s not easy-at all, but we know our ultimate end goal is MARRIAGE, and we are dating, learning and helping each other every single day with that end goal in mind.

I realize that a lot of the challenges that we all face today as singles, center around the confusion of intentionality. The standards of our culture leave us believing it is okay to date with selfish intent—to date without purpose, with no plan, without deliberate acknowledgement and respect for the other person’s feelings, heart and emotions. God had to mold me from being independent, selfish at times to being more understanding and respectful of Mark’s feelings and emotions if I wanted this relationship to properly be one of God. Mark will happily tell you that it’s hard putting up with an Aries with a Type-A personality on top of having a choleric temperament, (The choleric temperament is traditionally associated with fire. People with this temperament tend to be egocentric and extroverted. They may be excitable, impulsive, and restless, with reserves of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill that in others. They tend to be task-oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually "do it now." They can be ambitious, strong-willed and like to be in charge. They can show leadership, are good at planning, and are often practical and solution-oriented. They appreciate receiving respect and esteem for their work). But it’s also a perfect balance. When I need help calming my tongue and anger, Mark’s Phlegmatic temperament balances well with mine. (The phlegmatic temperament is traditionally associated with water. People with this temperament may be inward and private, thoughtful, reasonable, calm, patient, caring, and tolerant. They tend to have a rich inner life, seek a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, and be content with themselves. They tend to be steadfast, consistent in their habits, and thus steady and faithful friends). Anyone who knows us personally, know that these two temperament traits describe us to a T and it’s so important to know that about each other for your future purpose together.

If you’ve been in the Christian dating scene for a while, then you’ve probably heard the acronym DTR, also known as “define the relationship.” Sometimes we hear this in a good way or a negative way. Normally when I hear, “So define our relationship, what exactly are we?” usually results in some type of confusion. I wholeheartedly believe this term would have never been coined if singles were intentionally communicating their feelings from the jump. We wouldn’t need to define what we are if we were dating with purpose, dating with marriage in mind as the end goal. If marriage isn’t the end goal for you, then you shouldn’t be dating. When dating with a purpose, be intentional by making an effort to leave NO room for confusion. Guys, if you want to take a girl on a date, use language that make your intentions clear. Referring to your time together as an “outing,” “meet-up,” or “get together” doesn’t communicate to the girl her time is valuable to you. Be clear and profess that you are interested in taking her on a date. I think that’s why so many couples today still participate in “date nights” to keep their relationship fun and exciting. Being intentional means being clear in your delivery. As women, we don’t want to hear, “Hey what would you like for dinner tonight?” Instead, how about, “Hey, don’t make any plans Saturday night at 7:30 pm, I made us reservations, and I will be outside waiting for you at 7:00 pm sharp”. This communicates that their presence is important to you, and you want them there and shows a lot of effort and thought into the date.

As Christians, the way we date should look different than the rest of the world. We shouldn’t be dating with selfish intent, just to have something to do on a Friday night. We shouldn’t be dating because we are feeling lonely and desiring connection with someone. No! We should be dating because we are taking the necessary steps toward one day of being married. You have to treat that person differently than others.  1 Timothy 5:1-2 encourages us to “exhort older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with all purity.” We are to treat members of the opposite sex as brothers and sisters in Christ. Once given the opportunity to observe their actions and determine if they could be a suitable mate, our actions toward that one person should be different than our actions to other members of the opposite sex. By treating that person differently, you are letting them know they are special to you. That you value them uniquely and desire to make that known.

I want you to know, that for all my single friends out there, singleness is a wonderful gift we have all been blessed with. It allows us the opportunity to pour into the lives of others. Gives us more time to serve in the community and allows us the time to focus on becoming more like Christ. Until you are married, you are single. I am single, Mark is single. We are still dating/courting each other until we are married. During this time, it shouldn’t be a time that breeds confusion and frustration. My prayer to all of us is that, as singles, we should utilize this season of singleness to leave others better than the situation in which we found them, pour into their lives and keep in mind our ultimate purpose during the dating season. God bless you!