Before I write anything on this topic, I must offer a disclaimer: I am only human. My views are not universally constant, and to be totally honest, I am still figuring this relationship thing out. I just have a few ideas, small and big, that might be workable for others, so I want to present them. Feel free to hear me out, but if you think you have it all together, go ahead and move along. If you’d like.
Well, here is something I haven’t done before; a self-help series! I want to offer you, as the blogger, some tips that might help in the topic of dating and singleness. These, as previously stated, are not umbrella concepts. They are just concepts I’ve mulled over in my own relationship, and hopefully they, in some way, might have some sort of application to your life, single or not! I have ten tips, and I will present each of them over the next few weeks, hopefully ending on December 31st, so you can start a new year with your significant other, trying some new things.
Today, I will present my introduction, and my first tip!
Introduction: Dating is a weird aspect of human life. We dance around people of the opposite sex, hoping to impress them with some odd cocktail of pheremones, eventually to commit only to them, get married, and procreate. Why in the world do we do this? It makes no sense at all sometimes, until we go back to the beginning of time, and look at the world’s first couple. In the Bible, Adam was the first man, and he was alone – one man to name every animal on Earth. That job seems massive, right? God decided that no animal would do any good for Adam as a partner, so he created Eve (from one of Adam’s ribs – SCIENCE!), and Adam finally had a partner suitable for living with. God said that this partnering of Adam and Eve was good, so all was well with the world upon this pairing. I think if you were to look at the triune Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and the very first relationship on Earth, you would probably begin to see that it was okay to be in community with others, whether in a romantic sense or otherwise. I think God desires for us to have companionship. It doesn’t have to be romantic, but I think we need to establish that perpetual isolation is not the best option. We must pursue interpersonal relationships with other people, and I think personally that the way we think and feel will improve because of more interaction. In this series I will probably focus on the romantic side of a relationship, but hopefully, you will find that some aspects I’ll discuss will transfer over into the world of friendship as well! All relationships are important, whether good bad or otherwise, and hopefully these conversations will help us understand that a little better. I want to discuss some misconceptions about relationships over the next few days, and hopefully provide insight that might bring you all some peace, new understanding, or reaffirmation of an idea that you already had! Are you ready, because I’m not! This will be fun.
1. IT IS OKAY TO BE SINGLE. Really. I promise.
This post goes out to all of the friends and strangers that – like me, have felt struggles to feel right in their singleness. For the longest time, I couldn’t deal with being single. All of my friends were pairing off, and it seemed like I would move to a place of “Old Maidhood,” in which I would just be a crazy old single friend that no one wanted to be around anymore. I felt lost, and I felt lonely. It felt like, without a girlfriend, I wouldn’t be able to make it. I moved from affection to affection, seeking some sort of satisfaction, but never experiencing any. It was really hard to look at my friends who were in relationships, and honestly, I just felt like sitting alone was the only thing I could do in peace anymore (totally counter-intuitive. If you feel lonely, don’t go be alone. That does no good. Just for what it’s worth), so I would try to do that. What I didn’t realize at that time was that it is okay, sometimes advantageous, to be single. (Let me throw in another disclaimer: I am no longer single. I’ve been in a committed relationship for over 3 years, and I couldn’t be happier! I just know that this relationship only started after I came to understand the benefits of singleness, so I feel as if I must bring forward the idea that it is indeed okay to not have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Just for what it’s worth.) Being single has several benefits, but for time’s sake, I will choose three:
1. Singleness can, on occasion, be beneficial for ministry efforts.
This is very much a contextual idea, but if you think about it, Jesus and Paul were both single. I think Paul especially was confident in his singleness, as it allowed him issue-free travelling, with no responsibility to provide for a family while on mission. This fit his ministry well, as he traveled all over the known world, sharing the Gospel with anyone who offered an ear. It is reasonable to think that this kind of travel and punishment (several jail trips, numerous other persecutions), would have been very exhaustive/damaging to a family, so it was better that he was single.
It is not always better to be single while doing ministry, as there are benefits to doing mission work alone, or in partnership (Going to save that idea for another post). As I mentioned earlier, I think singleness fits in many ministerial contexts, if you feel called to a ministry that requires singleness for effectiveness, I would encourage you to pursue that lifestyle. It may lead to a freedom and effectiveness in ministry that you might never have imagined.
2. Sometimes it is okay to spend time just getting to know yourself.
Let’s be honest – do you really feel like you know yourself? Do you? When you are in a relationship, your significant other will learn things about you – small things, sometimes things you didn’t even know – that may spark some very interesting conversations/arguments, and if you don’t know things in your life that are stumbling blocks or quirks that would cause relational problems, then you should probably take some time by yourself to learn about those things. No human on this Earth is perfect, so we all could probably use a time of reflection to figure out things that we don’t like that might be in our control. Our significant other should love us for our imperfections as much as our good qualities, but we can’t expect them to be perfect either. Our responsibility is to become the best us that we can be, in order for our relationship with our future significant other to be even more special, and even more successful.
3. Dating for the sake of dating is not the best method for success.
Dating is fun. I get it. Seriously though, don’t date unless you have prayed about it and prepped for it. Dating is a prep for a life together, so if you date and break up many times, then I would venture to say that you would struggle eventually with a lifetime commitment like marriage. Playing games with a person’s heart is unfair to that person’s future spouse. You can only imagine what that young person is going to go through after you break up, so it would almost be better if you never dated in the first place. I am not saying that not dating is the best option, but I am saying that you need to be very careful with the heart that you do decide to pursue. If a person is willing to put their feelings in your hands, then it is your responsibility to hold tight to them, and respect them, whether or not they end up in your possession or not. If you are not ready to handle a commitment like that, then you must make sure that your priorities are in the right place. Singleness is not a bad thing in this context. Until you are ready, wait. Pray. Think. Let the Lord work in your singleness, and pursue Him in all other aspects of your life as well. When you do that, you will find that He will bless and honor your relationships in a new and vibrant way.
Singleness is just fine. Isolation and loneliness are not. Seek out community with other people, and let the Lord work in your relationships, and if all goes according to His plan (it will), then you will experience exactly what He wants for you, which is best. Sit tight, and hold onto Him. That’s all that matters. All of this relationship stuff will happen on His timing. I hope you all will learn to become the best you, and things will improve in all aspects of life! I hope this blog held at least a little insight. If not, tell me now, and I’ll discontinue the series. If it did hold some worthwhile ideas, let me know, and I’ll keep it going! Thanks for reading this far, and I wish you the best as you look through some of the muddled thoughts that I like to present on a page. God bless!
Tomorrow’s post: Five Ideas for Application in Relationships.
See you then!