Lamentation 1:9 “She defiled herself with immorality and gave no thought to her future. Now she lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out. “Lord, see my misery,” she cries. “The enemy has triumphed.”
1 Peter 4:3-11 “You have had enough in the past of evil things that godless people enjoy- their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness, and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So, they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead- so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in Spirit. The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important for all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”
I realize this is a rather lengthy intro, but if you have read any of my earlier posts you already know your girl can get a tad long winded. I won’t pretend this post will be any different. In fact, this one might be longer than most. There is a lot of information that I need to share with you. And if you are a guy…. this might not be the post you want to read. Just saying. If you don’t have a relationship with God, you might not want to read this post either. Consider yourself warned on both counts. I might make some people mad. I am good with that. At the very least, this post might make you uncomfortable and I am good with that too. One of the most annoying things about my life is looking back and thinking, “I wish somebody would have told me.” Or “If I’d have known what that meant, I might have done things differently.” This sounds like I have a lot of regrets, but I don’t. Everything I went through was necessary to give me an understanding, because as most of you know if you aren’t educated and have experience on a certain topic, your opinion, your facts, your findings don’t mean a thing. (Do you take financial advice from a person who is broke? Parenting advice from a person with no children? Yeah, me neither.) So, understand while you read that I am sharing my story and the things I went through in order to help people who feel stuck in the same ways that I did. My anointing came from my brokenness.
I want to go back to the man who had loved me and become addicted to who I was. I won’t divulge more details about him because this is not his story, but mine. I don’t know what he was looking for that he found in me, but what I realized after he was gone is that he had awakened something in me that I didn’t know existed. After I got myself up off my couch, stopped drinking, and started trying to put my life back together, I realized something. The love I felt from him, real or not, was enough to make me change my mind about what I was willing to settle for. I recognized that there were things in that man that the other two relationships didn’t have. I also came to appreciate the things about him that I wanted a man to have that I hadn’t bothered to look for in men before him, and why finding those character traits in him were so important to me. I hadn’t known I wanted them. How could I expect a future man to know what I wanted when I didn’t even know, and I was with me all the time?
I started to really dissect what kinds of things I wanted in a husband, assuming I could want one again. I also assumed that I was very ready to find MY relationship. I had had enough of men who just wanted to talk to me because I was pretty or because I was good with kids or because I was smart or whatever the attribute they saw in me that they wanted. Here’s why. What about the days that I felt like I was ugly, or too skinny, or I didn’t understand something? What about the days when I just wasn’t able to be enough? What about the days when he wasn’t enough to appreciate all that I was when I wasn’t acting like I was those things? What did my relationship look and feel like then? I stopped looking at what the positive things in a relationship can look like…and started looking at how I wanted to be taken care of when I wasn’t at my best. What God showed me blew me away. What he showed me was that I was wanting something that I wasn’t even doing for myself. It wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility to take care of my feelings. It was mine. I didn’t know where to find the answers that I was looking for on how to be in a loving, invested relationship no matter what self- help books I read. Then I realized the one book that had all that information for both of us wasn’t written by the latest guru. It was written by God.
I mentioned before that the Bible is called the Living Word because God uses his Spirit to speak directly to us about our unique, individual circumstances. One of the things that was different about the man I had been able to feel love from was that he had a relationship with God. He prayed and asked for guidance. He said he didn’t know the answers, but that was the best he had to come up with on how to find them. He knew when he was doing something his God didn’t approve of. He was trying to be a good man before me. Not to impress me or to get me to date him, but because he knew that he needed to in order to better himself. I wasn’t doing that. Not that I wasn’t “a good person”, but I wasn’t working on getting better like he was.
Somewhere in this time frame I came upon the word “intentional”. It came up several times and I started to see the connection that God was giving me. I had to be intentional about knowing what I wanted to have as a person and what I was going to put up with for myself. Too many times I had not liked over half of a man’s qualities and yet decided to give him a chance anyway. Why on earth would I do that? Because, like most women, I was scared that not being in a relationship meant that I was lesser somehow. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t know how to do everything myself and more importantly, I didn’t want to. But God asked me an odd question. He asked, “In your relationships that you’ve had, haven’t you felt like you were doing everything alone anyway? Why is it so necessary for you to have a physical relationship with someone who makes you feel alone even though you technically are not?” Um…well that’s a good question. I had no answer. So, when I heard of intentional dating, I got interested in what that would look like. I made a commitment to only “date” God for the next twelve months. God promised to take the place of any relationship I might have, to help me heal, to show me better and more fulfilling ways to love him and look for him in the people that I might consider dating in the future. I started to make a list of what I thought that would look like.
What I found at first made me a little sad. I’m going to tell you about a few encounters with men that I had over the course of a month and you’ll understand what I mean when I say I became a little sad. First of all, back when I had started dating my kid’s dad one of the questions I was asked by “church people” was whether or not he was a Christian. I asked him and he said yes. I asked him what it meant to be a Christian and he said that he believed that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. Okay, great. I could mark that off my checklist. Unfortunately, what I didn’t comprehend at the time is that being “saved” was way more than just believing that some guy a billion years ago hung on a cross so I could go to heaven when I’m dead. Lots of people can believe that and lots of people do believe that. But really if you are saved what does that mean? It means having a relationship with God because there is no choice not to anymore. That is the “fine print” of salvation. We are now, as believers, saved people, Christians, whatever the word is that you use, are REQUIRED to develop a relationship with the One who gave us our salvation. I didn’t know that and so that answer was just fine to me. Just a check mark I could use to justify marrying this person who was not what I wanted and would never be what I needed him to be. If you don’t think this is important and you say, “Oh, he doesn’t need to read the Bible and have a relationship with God…he’s a good man.” Let me ask you this…what happens when he doesn’t know how to be a good man in whatever situation you are in? Where does he get his advice from? His friends who are 35 or 45 and still live at home with their parents because they are the equivalent of old, broke teenagers? His parents? The people that let him act like a child and throw a fit every time life doesn’t go his way? The ex-girlfriends he still talks to because he has no idea how to respect you as a person and leaves that door open to go talk to her about “relationship stuff” that she has no business knowing? Or would you rather him go talk to a source that can give him advice on what is best for BOTH of you? I don’t know about you, but I pick the last one. If he has to get all his information from his mama about how to deal with stuff when she still pays half his bills or cleans up his messes, what hope does he have of helping you with anything you might be struggling with? You might find one, but I don’t like those odds at all. I’m not much of a gambler…so unless you can guarantee me that that is what I am going to get I’ll pass, thank you very much.
I updated my list. He had to be a good man (no hitting, cheating, disrespect, and I can’t handle a Momma’s boy) and he had to have a relationship with God. These next two encounters didn’t make me sad, they made me laugh. Now, I am kind of a brat and I laugh at things I shouldn’t. (Remember the giggle at a funeral statement from before? Insert that here.) So, I would only answer guys that didn’t bring up sex within our first few conversations and didn’t have pictures of half naked women plastered all over their Facebook or Insta or Twitter. I’m not interested in guys who think that that is all women are for. I am more than that. I didn’t spend my whole life working on a brain that would be unappreciated in my relationship. I’m not saying I’m right all the time, or I know everything, but I am not a dumb woman. I am not uneducated, and I will not be made fun of for what I don’t know. So, if a guy made it past that and he could articulate well, then, I would ask about his relationship with God. Several times I got this answer, “I don’t read the Bible.” I’d ask why and these are the two most common answers I got. 1) “I’m not much of a reader.” Really? I just sent you an 8-part text 13 times in the space of an hour and not once did you tell me you didn’t like to read. So, try again. 2) “I don’t read the Bible because a man wrote it.” How philosophical of you. They sound like they’ve really thought this out because yes, men did write it. But those men were doing what God told them to do and again the Bible is the Living Word. Of course, the words in it are from a long time ago…but when people have relationship with God then the Spirit speaks to them and gives understanding to what we need to know.
I decided that a man that didn’t read the Bible was not for me. I can’t handle guys who say, “I’m not much of a reader.” That’s fine and I respect that. However, where do they learn from? If you can’t read the Bible and the Spirit can’t speak to you, then how do I know wherever you are getting your information from is going to take care of me when I need that from you? At some point in a relationship we need our person to take care of us. Women need their man to be able to comfort and protect her when she’s struggling. We need our men to lead when we don’t know which way to go. (Side note: I’m very wary of men who tell me “I’m looking for a ride or die chic. I want someone who is by my side no matter what.” Okay great, me too, but why on earth would I sign up to be a ride or die chic for a man who has no idea where the hell he’s going? More often than not, we find out too late that that man is headed for that exact destination and he wants his woman to go with him. I’m good on that thank you very much. That’s like telling me that on our next date you are going to take me to an all you can buffet and then driving me to the dump. “Well, I said it’s all you can eat!” Are you kidding me right now? It might be all you can eat but why would I want to eat that? It’s THE DUMP.)
So, I updated my list again. He had to be a good man, he had to have a relationship with God, AND he had to read/listen to the Bible (I’m not even accepting “I’m not much of a reader” as an excuse anymore because there are twelve thousand apps that read the Bible TO you and they even have apps that read it in different voices and with background music. Not an excuse anymore.) So then I got a call one day from a guy that didn’t ask me out right away but said that he had been reading my story and wanted to share with me what God told him when he read it. I was not expecting what he told me next. He proceeds to inform me that God had told him that I was going to be his wife, but we needed to discuss my tattoo removal because the Bible says that we were to have no markings of any kind. (Uh…how bout big fat no.) He also tells me that his favorite part of the Bible is Ephesians 5. He might as well have just blown a foghorn in my ear that screamed “HANG UP!!!” He proceeded to tell me that he was looking for an Ephesians 5:22 wife. “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Absolutely not, big guy. I don’t know what God he pray to or what Bible he read but I said to him, “I love Ephesians, especially the armor part of Ephesians 6:10-17. But what I think is even more important than an Ephesians 5:22 wife is a 1Peter 3:7 husband. (“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”) I am not looking for a man to use the Bible as a way to “control” me and make me do what he says. If we butt heads about something and both of us have a good reason from God to think the way we do or handle a situation a certain way, THEN God says that wives are to submit to their husbands. You can’t use a Bible verse to tell me that I have to take orders from you…that’s not what that means. Nowhere, in the Bible does it say that I am supposed to be a doormat or a slave to my husband and have no thoughts or dreams or opinions of my own. I am supposed to help him become everything he is supposed to be, and he is to lead me in that way. We are to be submissive TO EACH OTHER.
I don’t think I am the only woman who has ever experienced such ludicrous statements from a man all under the pretense of getting a relationship they want out of the deal. But, Ladies, if we are EVER going to start getting the relationships, we want in life we have to start out knowing WHAT we want and WHAT KIND of man we want them with. We need to do some work in order to understand that we have something to offer and it is not to be a man’s replacement mother, his concubine, or anything other than wife material. I realize that most of us weren’t taught any of this stuff. I wasn’t. But God used the Bible to show it to me and he used other people that I respect to show it to me.
I watched a series of Youtube sermons by Pastor Michael Todd called Relationship Goals and a talk that Pastor Roberts did called “Five Keys to Identifying Your Soulmate” along with reading my Bible, talking to my Pastor Doctor, and practicing my boundaries. I read “Where’s My Boaz?” by Stephan Labossiere. I read books on boundaries. Boundaries in dating and Boundaries in Marriage. (I HIGHLY recommend all of these if you are a woman who is struggling with dating the same man in every relationship you have.) I put in months of writing about what I was good at in a relationship and what I needed to work on. I wrote and prayed about what I wanted in my relationship. I stopped saying what I want “in A relationship” and started talking about what I want “in MY relationship”. The very coolest thing about this process is that I have started to enjoy being single. Does that mean I don’t get impatient sometimes? Of course not. I’m still a woman…most of us were born being impatient.
The difference is that now because I have an INTENTIONAL relationship with God and know what I want in my relationship, I no longer have to settle for anything less. I don’t view my time in this season of being single as “waiting around on the man God has picked out for me to get here” because I am busy doing what I know God wants me to do. I have a purpose with, or without, that man. God has called me to work with lost kids. He has called me to work in the education system and he has called me to have an ever-growing relationship with Him. I have enough to do without worrying about when Mr. Chosen For Me will get here. My hope in not settling is that in this time that he is single, or whatever season he is in, that he is doing just as much work on himself as I am doing on myself in order to make myself into the best that God has asked me to be. Not just so I can be a good wife, but so that I can be a blessing to all of the people that God puts in my life. Not only that but I want God to be happy with the woman that I am. He loves me. I am not perfect, but I am real and I am progressing. I know that I am a lot to take. I know that I have a lot of attitude. I know that God made me this way for a reason, and I know that when he decides it is time for me to be in MY relationship, I will be. And that is enough.
There are times when I am lonely and all I have to do is go to God and say, “Father, I’m tired of being by myself all the time.” This might sound nuts and if you would have told me two years ago that I would be sitting here happy in my single state to just be able to do the work that God gives me, in my career, in my home, within myself and with my kids, I’d have looked at you the exact same way you are staring at these words right now. I would have said, “This girl has lost her mind.” I assure you; I know how crazy this sounds. But, let me leave you with this. Noah spent most of his life building an ark. He wasn’t a carpenter and he lived in a land that had never not once seen rain. People thought he was bonkers. But it started raining and when all those people started to realize that his ark was the only hope they had of escaping drowning, he didn’t look so bonkers anymore. If you are sick of meaningless relationships that don’t give you what you want, maybe that is God’s way of telling you to “date” him for a while. Maybe he wants to show you what you COULD have if you would just give him a chance to heal some things in you, show you your purpose, and allow him to make you happy so you could have YOUR relationship. If you like dead end, drama causing, soul sucking bottomless pits of despair type relationships, then please do none of what I did. I’ve noticed that my friendships, my family relationships, and my relationship with myself have all improved just from taking a step back from the distraction of dating. Am I great at it? Nope. Do I forget sometimes that I am not dating? Yeah. But, guess what? God never asked us to be perfect. He just asked us to trust that he is.
I can’t tell you what to do. And you shouldn’t listen to me just because you like my blog or because I am funny or whatever makes people read this story of my life. Pray about it. Read your own Bible. If your Bible doesn’t make sense to you, get one that does. If you can’t afford it, message me and I will find you one. If you don’t have a pastor you can trust, look for a different one. I’ll give you the address to my church where my Pastor Doctor is. If you don’t know how to pray, just say that out loud. God loves you WHERE YOU ARE, not where I am in my story. But it’s going to take a little work from you to get started. All of the things we believe that the world tells us, I think this one thing God tells us, we should be able to believe for ourselves. There is better out there. If I die single and miserable, I promise you can have the first floor at my funeral to tell everyone what a crazy woman I was. But if you aren’t 100% sure that I don’t have a clue what I am talking about, then I encourage you to pray and ask your God for his direction in your life. He may not direct you to what he has given me, but I can guarantee you that he will lead you to whatever he says is the best thing for you. Last, but most important, if you didn’t pay attention to my warning at the beginning of this post (congratulations, you are a rule breaker just like me and those are my FAVORITE kinds of people) and you don’t have a relationship with God but you found something in my words that made you think you might want that, shoot me a message. I can’t give you salvation, but I know where you can find THE WAY to get it.