Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:)
I’m sitting here in my backyard, under our big cottonwood trees, giddy with excitement about writing this blog because I’ve wanted to for so long!
As I mentioned in my last blog, life has looked a lot different lately. I’m now in a healthy relationship and the lessons I’ve learned the last few months have been so different than the ones I would usually write about. I am so excited to share some of them with you today.
But before I dive in, I want to preface an attitude of humility. I am certainly no expert in this field of dating. It’s still new for me!
The title of this blog is “3 Lessons God is Teaching Me About Dating,” not “3 Lessons God Already Taught Me About Dating.” I’m still learning, I’m still in the thick of it, and I still make a lot of mistakes. A lot of these lessons I still need to work on!
So read these with a grain of salt, understanding God chooses to speak through limited perspectives anyway. If you’re single right now, I hope this is encouragement for you to practice good habits while you have the time to do so! And if you are dating, maybe these will be helpful to your own relationship.
So anyway, let’s jump in! Here are 3 lessons God’s been teaching me about dating:
1. Often your person just needs you to listen to their problems, not fix them.
One day, Nathan got off a rough shift of work and felt pretty discouraged by it. He told me about the stressful parts of his day and everything that happened. And honestly, being the (sometimes overly) empathetic person I am, I felt pretty discouraged for him.
I wanted to fix all his problems because I hated seeing him go through anything hard. So I started doing what I do best: firehose him with encouragement 😂
I probably said something along the lines of, “It’s going to be okay! It’s going to get better. God is writing a beautiful story for your life and he isn’t finished with it yet. This might be discouraging now but joy comes with the morning! God will have victory over this. He loves you and he’s taking care of you so well.” etc. etc. etc.
But after blasting him with encouragement, I realized all those kind words didn’t fix his situation. As much as I wanted to put a bandaid on everything, I couldn’t fix the problem by writing him his own personal blog.
So I took a step back. I thought about what I would want if I was struggling. And I asked, “would you like me to fix this problem, or would you like me to just listen?”
He responded with something like this: “Honestly just talking about it helps a lot.”
I’m learning listening should often be our first response. It’s hard because I hate to see Nathan stressed about anything. I want to fix everything because I care about him. But when I take a step back, it’s obvious I can’t fix anything even if I tried.
I’ve been going through Proverbs lately, and this one struck me: “To answer before listening, that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). It reminded me of James 1:19 ~ “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
So I’m working on listening better and listening first these days. I have to ask God for help every day. But after I listen first, I notice God often gives me the words to say, and they are often far fewer than I originally planned.
Listening first is a surrender of your ideas to God and a surrender of your time to the other person. It’s a lesson in humility, and it challenges my trust. But when I take a step back, I’m reminded: God will take care of Nathan better than I ever could.
2. A healthy relationship has a foundation of hope, not fear.
In my past relationships, I was always terrified of the worst case scenario.
“What if we break up? What if I have to explain to everyone why it didn’t work out? What if I’m embarrassed or heartbroken or hurt?” These were the thoughts in my head constantly.
I felt so afraid of possibly breaking up, that when these fears became reality it devastated me. And those fears ultimately put a lot of pressure on the relationship while it was happening because (in my mind) the stakes were so high.
Now, I’m not afraid of that anymore. I got to live almost 2 years single, and I learned life can be beautiful and amazing with just me and God. I don’t need a boy in my life to feel fulfilled. And that attitude carried over into my relationship.
Of course I treasure Nathan and I don’t want our relationship to ever end, but if God’s plan is that our relationship doesn’t work out, I trust God knows what he’s doing. I’m not afraid of breaking up anymore. Because God’s taken care of me before ~ he will take care of me again.
So instead of being afraid of breaking up, I’m hopeful and excited for my future with Nathan. That’s our foundation: not fear for the worst, but hope for the best.
And let me tell you guys, it is so refreshing to have hope rule in our relationship instead of fear.
Before now, I would hesitate to share about my boyfriend on this blog because I would think this: “What if we break up? What if I look like a fool and I have to explain to all my readers why it didn’t work out?”
And now this is what I think: “I trust God. If the worst case scenario happens, I know he is still good and he will still take care of me. I will not be afraid to share the lessons he’s teaching me about dating now because I’m afraid of failure or people’s perceptions of me. I’m excited for my future with Nathan, not anxious or afraid!”
Of course sometimes I still get in my head and let insecurities slip in during my moments of weakness. But when I run to God, when I rest in his arms, when I trust him with my relationship, when I surrender to his plan ~ the fear for tomorrow is replaced by the hope for the future. And that’s how it should be!
3. First dates don’t need to be interrogations.
On alllll my first dates before Nathan, I asked some pretty intense questions right up front. I dove in way too deep, asking far too serious questions.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but later I understood: the reason I did this was due to a lack of trust.
I was scared of getting hurt again, so I tried to weed out the bad guys as fast as I could by asking the tough questions. Ultimately, I didn’t trust God to take care of me, so I tried to control my dating life by ensuring I found someone who checked off all my boxes right away.
But before my first date with Nathan, God said, “Trust me. You don’t need to know everything about him up front. Trust that I will take care of you.”
So I held back a little bit. It was hard. After our first date, I still didn’t know everything important about him. But for the first time, I felt a peace wash over me. Not knowing everything about Nathan forced me to trust God, and in that position there was peace.
Now, I’m not saying you should lower your standards. As I grew to know Nathan better, I learned slowly that he did reach the requirements I felt God wanted me to keep. But that happened slowly, and it took a lot of patience and trust in God.
Keep those high standards. Don’t settle. But ask yourself: do you trust God to provide someone in your life who reaches those standards? Or are you trying to find that person yourself?
(Side note: by standards I mean godly ones, not “he has to be 6 feet tall.”)
And that trust that God will provide through your relationship? It doesn’t end after your first date. I don’t think it ever ends. So I’m still learning:) But we have an amazing God who gives so much grace, and he walks through it with us. He is so worthy of our trust.
God Gives Grace
Ultimately, God gives us so much grace. I have so much to learn about dating, being a strong woman of God, and loving Nathan well. I make a lot of mistakes. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, and I’m humbled every day as our relationship grows.
But God gives grace. He walks through life with us, and actually empathizes with our weaknesses. He understands our temptations and shortcomings.
So whether you’re single, dating, or married, rest in the grace God gives you. Confess the things you need to work on, ask God for help, pick yourself up, and try again.
If you’re looking for more life wisdom, I’d highly suggest reading a couple proverbs every morning. Doing that has helped me start the day with focus and a pursuit of righteousness, which has been so good!
Hope you have the best Sunday 🥰 Jesus loves you more than any person ever could!