I don't know when it was decided that we should fear caring for others, but there seems to be this pervasive attitude today where we shouldn't care about anything at all--that we should all act so nonchalant about everything.
This attitude stinks, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm as guilty of it as the next person, but not any more. I think something happened when I turned 40. "It's no big deal" became "I LOVE THAT! LET'S LOVE THE THING."
Except in relationships. It may leave me open to a bunch of psychoanalysis, but I know I'm not alone here. I can profess my love for Jesus, Star Wars, the Chicago Bears, multitudes of books, my dogs, my cats, and even my family ad nauseam. I can drive everyone crazy sometimes with my love of those things.
So why is it so hard to open my heart to men I'm interested in? Why do we have to play this game of seeming calm and cool and aloof? It drives me crazy. Love can hurt. For sure I'm not alone in my fear of getting hurt, right? When we first meet another person, it's difficult, because we just don't know where we stand with them. And too often we're told how to play the game rather than how to be vulnerable. There are more books written on how to get the guy, how to play the dating game, and how to manipulate people than on how to just open our hearts and be vulnerable.
And I insist it all stems from the fear that the other person just doesn't care as much as we do.
But so what?
The thing is, I don't ever regret when I've made myself vulnerable. I fear it like no one's business, but even if I get hurt, eventually I get over it and learn from it. As someone who keeps a small group of close friends and is ridiculously introverted, letting someone in is an accomplishment alone.
In talking with my friends who are in healthy, committed relationships, many of them started with one person being far more sure about wanting the other person. The other was hesitant and needed time to figure things out. However, if the one person never made themselves vulnerable and open to heartbreak, the relationship never would've happened. How sad would that have been?
This isn't to say we shouldn't be discerning. We absolutely should. We shouldn't allow ourselves to be abused or seriously harmed because we struggle with vulnerability. We still need to be careful about who we open ourselves up to, but maybe we can focus more on being open and vulnerable than playing a game. Maybe we need to be honest with people that we like them, be truthful about what we want. We can'f force someone to love us, but we can show them love.
And the thing is, we never know what will come out of our honesty. Maybe we get the love of our lives. Awesome! Yay for us!! But maybe we also get our hearts broken. Sad, but we can pick ourselves up knowing we gave it our best and move on (of course with tears in between. Endings are sad sometimes) to someone who will love us the way we should be loved.
I challenge us all to be more vulnerable with our hearts. God is and has been the most vulnerable with His--after all, He sacrificed His only son on a cross for our sins. If I walk the walk and strive to be more like Him, then maybe I can open my heart just a little more. Maybe I can show my friends and family more affection. Maybe I can extend a helping hand to someone in need. Maybe I can be nicer to the slower drivers when I'm on my way to work (I'm trying God...really!!).
Most of all, though, maybe I can make myself a little more open in my dating life to being honest and heartfelt rather than holding my feelings back. Maybe I should say when I really like someone before it's too late. And maybe I should open myself up more to God's messages on my heart about the men I date. It's a lot of maybes, true, because it's all on a learning curve. We can all try a little more each day.
But let's all commit to letting go a little of this fear of rejection. It's just holding us back from what God wants from us. We can be stronger, because we have Him. He is our rock. He is our salvation. He is who we know we can rely on when we're in tears. He loves us unconditionally, so the lack of love from someone not open to loving us may sting, but we can immerse ourselves in His love.
I am the first to admit that I have a serious issue with patience. I either have too little or too much, and it is rare that I choose the right amount of patience for the situations I find myself in. I know I'm not alone in this situation, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.
After a certain age there is this incredible pressure to be romantically attached. It's almost like we're meant to feel "less than" because we aren't married or in some sort of long-term, committed relationship. We're the third wheel, the fifth wheel, the person who has to ride alone at Disneyland. Sometimes we're left out of plans, because it's a "couple thing." We sit through sermon after sermon about marriage and family life. We're told, "You don't get it," because we're not attached.
Those things start to play on us, and so we begin to think we're too picky (we're told that over and over, after all). We start thinking we should just settle for that guy who is kind of okay. We allow men to take us for granted. We listen to words instead of paying attention to their actions. We find ourselves giving so much patience to those that don't deserve it.
And then, after so many times of being burned, we finally give up. We lose that patience. We stop giving the good guys a chance, because we no longer trust them. Everything they do is viewed under a lens of suspicion, and eventually we walk away.
So what's the fine line here? The fine line is God's voice. It's the Holy Spirit. It's trusting the gut God gave us and learning to lose our patience for the pressure to be attached and grow some patience for allowing God to bring the right person into our lives.
I wish I could say that I've mastered patience. I've found myself failing more times that I can count, but I insist I'm going to keep trying to get it right. One day I'm going to give the right man the patience he deserves, and I'm going to stop giving the men that God hasn't chosen for me chance after chance to keep breaking my heart.
Every day I get better, and I trust God more. Join me on this journey to learn patience. Let's spend this week in prayer for discerning patience. Ask God to tell us when it's time to get out of a situation, to cut ties and give no more chances. Ask Him to let the constant digs about being single run off of your back. Ask Him to help us let go of all the bitterness and hurt so that we open our hearts and give patience to the right partners.
I posted this graphic to IG yesterday (@christiansingleladies), because I loved the statement. God takes us on some incredible adventures--sometimes rather unwillingly. We get so caught up in where we want to be that we forget to look at the journey itself. We live in an instant society now. Think about it...
There is nothing we can't find, obtain, or access in seconds, and it's creating a problem with Patience and Appreciation. Not all things come easy or instantly. I think about this a lot, because I struggle with both in my ever-so-long season of singleness. I watched most of my friends and family find their partners and get married long ago. I see my single friends in relationships, and here I am still chronically single. No boyfriend, no husband. And I'm in my 40s. Patience and Appreciation sometimes have to fight for a place in my heart.
God has whispered "Patience" in my ear more times than I can count, and I've fought him over and over. Sometimes I sound like the spoiled children in Willy Wonka, where I whine, "I want it NOW!" It's shameful for me to admit, but I"m far from perfect, as God knows. However, when my head clears and my heart gets over its petulant fit, I remember that all things come in God's timing.
First, I know that if I was supposed to be single forever, God would not have laid a desire to be matched on my heart. So I find hope that God will eventually bring me my partner. Second, I do think He is taking me on a journey to end up where I need to be so that I can appreciate this season of singleness and my eventual partner in a way that honors God.
When I see the place I am right now through His lens, I know that I have come so far in my life. I don't know if I would appreciate my partner in the same way if God had just plopped him in my lap years ago. Would I have been a bad wife or girlfriend? I don't know. I do know that I may not have done all the things I've experienced over the years had I been in a relationship. I look back on my journey, and I'm not sure I would have changed it, which makes me sad that I haven't always appreciated it.
So take a moment today to pray about the journey God has you on right now. Instead of focusing on the lack of dating relationship or marriage in your life, maybe focus on where God has you right now. Take time to build your relationship with God and see where He wants to take you. Pray about the journey, not the destination. It's amazing how God can use the adventure to bring Patience and Appreciation back into our hearts.
Once upon a time I was a naive young woman who thought I'd find my Prince Charming right after college and I'd go on to balance a career and children. Well, now I'm 46 (yeah, I admitted my age), not married, supporting an older parent, have zero desire to have babies, and going from failed relationship to failed relationship. Sounds pretty miserable, right?
The thing is, I can't say it's fully miserable, because it's not. I'm not depressed. I get sad sometimes, I'm not going to lie. However, I'm not going to say that I'm always depressed about it. Sometimes I love the freedom in my life to not have to justify my actions or explain my behavior to a partner. Sometimes I like my alone time and my ability to make my choices without having to consult with anyone.
God has me where I am for a reason. Maybe being able to put together something that inspires the modern single woman is that reason. Maybe I'm like Gloria Steinem (okay, I'm not. She's wayyyy out of my league, but bear with me), where I won't find the love of my life until I'm 50. I don't have the answer. I do know there is a desire for me to meet that life partner. God hasn't erased it from my heart.
So what do we do? Do we sit at home and wait? No way! Let's get out an enjoy life as a single person, because when that partner comes along, then we can enjoy life as a couple. God has plans for us whether we're single or not. Let's focus on the plans He has for us now.
Me? I'm going to church, joining small groups, eating out, happy hour-ing with friends. I do paint and sip classes, snuggle with my dog, watch chick-flick movies, read fun romance novels, cheer for my Bears, yell at CNN and more. Do I keep myself busy to distract from being single? No. I keep myself busy to enjoy the life God gave me.
Tell me, what are the things you love to do as a smart, vibrant single Christian woman?
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