how did I end up blogging on dating?

This is long---be warned. But it's not just me rambling. I have a point to make. It's nothing that I originally intended for this blog. In some ways, it's also about a lot of transition that's happened in my life and areas that God is changing up in me, so I guess it fits a little bit.
Part of me wonders if I am going to regret posting this, but I'm running off a lot of engery right now, so I'm not worried about it. Honestly is healthy.
It's also a little funny that I'm writing about something so serious when I'm feeling so sillarizzles. No, I will not apologize for using that word. Or for using so (so) many parenthesis in this posting. Or for my prolific fragments. Get used to it.

As is customary on birthdays when we're apart (this being the first), my family called and sang me happy birthday. We talked about my funtivities (hooray for job hunting and laundry) and made some small chitchat.

          "By the way, we got World Magazine today. I think you should read their cover story."
          "Really? What's it about?"
          "It's on dating.  I think it'll discourage you."
          "Oh. Thanks, Mom."

What does that mean? She also recently told me she thought that I was probably a little high maintenance in relationships, so I didn't really know what to expect.
But being the good daughter that I am, I looked the article up, and it is actually a good, thought provoking read. I've been chewing on it over the last few days to give my input back to my mother.  I've noticed a few people mention it since then, though. It was even addressed by Grace Bible's blog (it's good stuff).

The basic idea behind the article is that Christian dating literature and culture is leading to men who are afraid to initiate because of the overwhelming pressures to have a perfect courtship with their future spouse. The men feel pressured to pick the person with the highest probability of marriage, and the ladies feel like the men are never going to make a move.

At first when I was reading the article, I got a little defensive.  The argument seemed pretty slanted against "my style" of dating.  I mean, I've never read I Kissed Dating Goodbye or Passion and Purity or anything, but I fit into the catagory Olasky mentioned of people who color within the lines that Harris set up.  Strangely though, I identified most strongly with the men in the article. (That's strange because I'm not a man, for those of you webcreepers who don't know me. Don't worry, I don't judge. Unless you stalk me, we're cool.)

I mean, my first "real" date was literally a few days before I graduated college (although I came home and thought, If that's what a date is, then I've been on TONS of them! ... I've had some unclear friendships, but more on that later).  When Olasky reported that today's Christian men are slow to act on interest in certain ladies because they're not sure that they're "The One," something struck a chord for me.

I have been there and done that.

When different wonderful, godly men have asked to pursue me, I have said no. A lot. Or it seems like a lot. (You have to remember that this is coming from the woman who almost made it through college without going on a legitimate date, so who knows?)  Anyway, there have been a whole host of reasons why I have said no---
          "I like being single." (No, really. And I'm obsessed with nuns. Meant to be?)
          "I think we're just better friends."
          "I'm up to my ears in life and have no time."
          "I have a thing for your roommate---did I say that out loud?" (Oh, you read my blog? This is awkward... )

But even with guys that I seriously care about and who make me do double back handsprings inside, I said no for the very reasons that Olasky lists in her article about why Christian men are waiting 5.7 years of knowing a woman and her whole extended family before asking her on a date.  It's pretty generic stuff---fear of divorce, fear of rejection, not knowing if their lives are headed in the same direction, lots of pressure to marry, etc.

Best as I can figure it out, when I'm thinking about these things, my brain is trying to make sense of the following confusing formula:
[(the sum of all the issues that might come up in premarital counseling + the pressure of not knowing if the DTR will end in a conversation on how much TV time we're going to allow our children) / (number of people who will inevitably ask if I'll have a ring by spring)] ^ (does this mean that I'll have to be a soccer mom who extreme coupons?!?!)
If you were following along, about now, your little calculator screen should read

I kid. Obviously.

In all seriousness, though, I have felt a lot of pressure to only date the person who I am going to marry (which is ridiculous because I'm not God so how can I know that?) and to not ruin friendships if marriage isn't the end result. Part of the reason it's also so difficult is because I usually know these guys well and have good relationships with them already.  And when I look down the road, my thought is, "Maybe I should just save us both the trouble and heartache. That's loving to them. It won't hurt as much now as it will later. And we can stay friends." (The whole "staying friends" thing usually doesn't work out, fyi.) Or I knew a guy who felt strongly that God did not want him to date certain girls, so He was waiting for an equally divine impulse to begin pursuing a girl. I think I've been there.

It all makes sense, when you look at your tidy pros and cons lists and charts (is that just me?), but all the logic and overspiritualizing is just a cover up for trepidation and anxiety.

If I (and all the Christian men in America, apparently) live in wait-mode indefinitely, we're not necessarily living according to the Spirit, especially if we're in neutral because of fear.  As a wise woman once told me, "scared" is not a fruit of the Spirit.

Obviously, I think that what we desire is to completely submit every area of our lives to Christ's leading and walk in wisdom, but we need to be careful that we're not driving ourselves to a bondage of fear and control.

We are afraid to step outside of God's will.  While it is a noble and righteous cause to seek it, we must also rest in the assurance that we will not escape it.  I am a fool if I think that my life's shape is determined by anything but Jesus. Whether I want to admit it or not, I often think that if I can control so many variables, I can assure myself of a significant ministry in the future.  How prideful is that?  When it comes down to it, a lot of my reasons for not dating someone are simply attempts to minimize my own self sacrifice in my future marriage.

If the Lord has not directly impressed "no" upon your hearts and dating this person does not violate God's law (i.e. they're someone else's spouse... awkward), and wise counsel founded on Scripture does not object---you are at LIBERTY.  You can do what you want and don't have to beat it to death. 1 Corinthians 7 doesn't need to make you pull your hair out! If you are seeking God's heart and listening to His Spirit, you're not going to miss Him speaking to you. If He doesn't want you dating that person, He will let you know. It just may not be before the first date.

Here is the wonderful truth that the Lord has promised:

  • He has given His Spirit to guide and teach us---John16:12-15 & 1 John 2:27
  • He knows us intimately and already knows all the days of our lives (including the wedding date, people)---Psalm 139
  • He is good to those that wait on Him---Lamentations 3:25
  • His plan is for our good and for His glory
  • He is our Father. He gives us good things, including His Spirit!--- Luke 11:10-13
  • He is the one in control. Not you. And definitely not me.---pick a passage ... seriously

Here's my overarching point ("finally!" you say)--- Neutrality because of fear and uncertainty is not a Spirit-led decision.  When we let go of our need for control and perfection (no matter how holy it seems), we can be confident that we fall into the arms of a loving Father who's got our backs. And it may hurt sometimes, but He works all things together for those who love Him. We can trust Him.

Before anyone freaks on on me and either takes this and starts dating the next person they see or gets on to order me a copy of Christian Courtship for Dummies to show me how it's done (I checked, it doesn't exist), here's a clarification:

I am not saying that Christian men and women should casually date just anyone and count on God to clean up the mess. I have seen too many wonderful people of God date other people who played "church" but showed more interest in the pleasures of the world than in the joy of seeking the Lord. And as the rule, not the exception, they suffered because of it.

Who I am actually talking to/about are people who long for their lives to please the Lord in every way but find themselves with godly options that they are too afraid to venture because of a need for perfection.  I can tell you now (in all my 20+ years of wisdom---you're impressed, right?---and piggybacking off older, wiser people-in-the-faith's advice) that you will not find a sinless mate. And you probably won't find one that is more perfect than you in every area of life or that fits your silly list of things you "need."

I'm not telling anyone to settle.

I'm telling you that the pressure for perfection is off---be free.

My trip to a nunnery in Houston is still on though.


On My Mental Playlist: One of These Things is Not Like The Other... from Sesame Street, I think.
On My Mind: The washing your hair with conditioner idea was a bad one. Oops.
Also, Fair Warning: I'm feeling pretty saucy today. Beware. This is usually the mood I'm in when I start thinking of some great pranks. I don't have anything yet, but I usually prefer spontaneity anyway

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