Ticket to the Gun Show

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What is the strangest place you have ever gone on a date?  Mine was going on a second date to a gun range.

I met him off of Christian Mingle.  He was just a few years older than me, handsome, and a graduate of Michigan Law.  Our few email exchanges had shown him to be smart and funny.  My hopes as I went into the first date were high.

We met at a local restaurant/bar – I frankly don’t remember if he picked it or I picked it.  It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad.  I found him sitting at a high top table.  Okay, maybe not as handsome as in his profile picture, but still cute.

And then he started talking…and talking…and talking.  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  Some of what I learned was good.  I learned about his job, his childhood vacations, everything up to his favorite color.  He was Orthodox Greek and very traditional, which wasn’t my faith, but at least he was a Christian!

Then he told me about the guns. Let me just say that I don’t like handguns.  They were designed with one purpose – killing humans – and I don’t like them.  And he apparently loved them.  Said that he always carried at least two on him and made sure he had one in every room.  Horrified, I tried to imagine living like that – what if we had kids?

After we left the restaurant, he asked me if I wanted a second date.  I weighed the pros and cons.  Christian, Michigan Law, smart, professional, handsome…this kind of guy doesn’t just fall from trees.  But could I handle the guns?

So I did what I knew I needed to do to see if I could really fit into his world.  I took a risk.  “I will go on a second date…if we go to the gun range.”  I didn’t want to, I had never been to one, had no desire to go, but I thought, why not?  It was an adventure.

His response: “Will you marry me now?”

We went to the gun range and while nothing terrible happened, the short story is that the guy didn’t get a third date.  Maybe it wasn’t going to work right from the beginning.  But I took a chance, stepped out of my comfort zone, and gave it a shot (literally).  I am proud of myself for doing it.

In dating, I have tried out new restaurants, gone to sporting events and festivals, and attended museum exhibitions.  If someone had a passion or interest, I wanted to see it.  The person might only have lasted for a date or two.  But these experiences made me a better person with a richer history and more memories because of it.

June Challenge: Try New Things!

Pat Hike

Over Memorial Weekend, my husband and I did something we had never done before: we went camping in a tent (the above action shot is to prove I am not making this up).  We went with a group of friends (my former church small group) and for the most part, it was fun.  Sitting around a campfire, roasting smores, fellowshipping – most of it was all that camping should be.  But the actual tent part?  It was muddy, there were bugs, and neither of us got much sleep.

Trying new things this month means not just doing something you haven’t done before, but stepping outside of your comfort zone.  By its very nature, it’s going to be uncomfortable at times – sometimes literally!  I mean, I am STILL scratching at bug bites that I can’t scratch in polite company!

But when you open yourself to new experiences, you will discover new things about yourself, others, and the world that you just never would have had the opportunity to see before!

As I mentioned yesterday, my new favorite obsession is the show First Dates.  For all of those people, going on a nationally televised show to be set up on a blind date was a HUGE risk.  I don’t think I would have done it!  Think of the potential risks – that the date would be awful, that they would be embarrassed, and that the whole thing would be watched and judged by millions across America!

But for some of them, that first date turned into a second date, and then a third.  Is it the most likely way to meet your soulmate?  Perhaps not.  But they put themselves out there, took a chance, and for those people, they met someone.  Even some of the ones for who it didn’t work out still talked about the value that they saw in doing it.

For myself, starting online dating was a big new thing that I tried.  Granted, I knew it could work because my roommate had met her boyfriend (now husband) the year before.  It was uncomfortable – you have to make a profile and talk about yourself, answer cheezy questions, and face the reality that real people would be scanning through your profile and making a judgment.  But I took the risk.  It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually, I met my husband.

I am not saying that you have to start online dating this month!  But so often we are caught in our own little ruts, never branching outside, never meeting anyone new.  How are you going to meet anyone that way?  And what’s more, what kind of interest do you hold as a person if you are never doing anything new?

As this month’s challenge verses will show, God expects us to do new things.  So use this month’s encouragement to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!

Your Worth is Not in Dating

online dating

A few years ago, having a very demanding job that required me to live where I worked (with one day off per week), I didn’t have many opportunities to expand my social circles. I was also feeling more pulled to live the vocation of marriage. So, I foraged into online dating. This allowed me to meet many more men and to see who was out there. I gained friends along the way, and even a boyfriend that I dated for a year. In my time of dating online, I learned many lessons on the journey, including about my own worth and where it originated.

Dating, online or not, can bring questions of your worth. Why are no guys showing interest? Why is this guy who seems like a perfect match viewing my profile but not reaching out? Or, why do only guys who don’t share my values seem to show interest? Why did that guy treat me so low?

If you keep logging in and not finding any messages, maybe you feel unworthy of love. Maybe the only messages you’re receiving are from weird guys, or men who don’t share your values. (It happens, even on Christian dating sites.) Or when the great guy you’ve been messaging and sharing a great conversation with suddenly disappears, you may wonder if something is wrong with you. What about when the guy you’ve been conversing with seems like a different person when you meet face to face, and even discloses a big piece of information that should have been disclosed right away? (Yes, that happened.)  So many situations arise in our dating lives that can make us feel unworthy.

Living a life of prolonged singleness, it’s easy to question your worth. The attitudes of the world about singleness make it even easier to question, especially when people constantly question why you are single. That question can linger and make you wonder, is something wrong with me? Your terrible dating experiences, online or face to face, can also trick you into believing this lie. It’s easy to forget that your worth isn’t determined by the number of messages or views you’re getting.

Worth isn’t even determined by how a man treats your heart—worth is not a product of how others view or treat you. In fact, your worth isn’t determined by men at all! If you’re at a point where you’re feeling low due to a dating drought or terrible dating experiences, maybe it’s time to take a step back from dating while you search for where your real worth can be found. Where is this worth found, you ask? Worth is found in your identity as a child of the Heavenly Father, who created you, delights in you, and even rejoices over you! Meditate on that beautiful truth. “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”-Zephaniah 3:17

 Sister, no matter your terrible dating experiences (or lack of dating experiences thereof), there is nothing wrong with you. You are not lacking in worth. Remember Who gave His life for you. He offers you a perfect love every day, no matter if nobody is romantically interested or if you are happily married. Your past, present, and even what you see of your future prospects doesn’t change anything about your worth in His eyes. Finding His love doesn’t require purchasing a subscription or making an on-point profile. Your Heavenly Father, the God of the universe, created you, and delights in you! What greater worth is there than that?

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 27 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a case manager for refugee mothers. My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

Rejecting I Kissed Dating Goodbye

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I don’t know where I’ve been but apparently Joshua Harris has been openly discussing that, shocker, he might not have been completely right in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  Check out this article on Slate.

Like many evangelical Christians, I read and loved this book.  My girlfriends and I loved the concept of “courting” rather than dating (sounds so much more romantic, doesn’t it??).  We longed for a guy who had not dated every girl on the block but who had reserved his heart completely for us, just as we were reserving our hearts for him.

Only guess what – life doesn’t really work like that.  Maybe back in the day it worked when options were limited and everyone just paired up with people in their village to be married by their late teens.  These days, though, people have a lot more expectations for marriage and they want to marry someone who’s not just convenient but who’s actually right with mutual interests, shared values, common goals, a strong work ethic, etc.  And my opinion is that you only get to know some of those things by dating them!

And of course, it assumes you will just run into the person you are meant to be with.  As you know from my story, this would not have happened for me.  After college, the number of people who asked me out after meeting me in the regular world could be counted on two hands.  None of them were right.  If I hadn’t actively pursued online dating, I would still be single now!

As you can probably guess from reading any of my posts, I’m much more of a fan of Henry Cloud’s How To Get a Date Worth Keeping, which instead prescribes going on many dates and getting to know as many people as possible.  It may not be as romantic as Joshua Harris’ book, but it is far more realistic.

But that’s just my opinion!  How about you?  Any of you have a different take on the book?

Meet the Patels (spoiler alert)

meet the patels

If you can’t tell by now, I love movies, books, online media, etc, about relationships and dating.  I watched this sort-of documentary with my future mother-in-law. The main idea of the film is that the guy breaks up with his girlfriend, Audrey, because she’s not Indian and decides to embark on an adventure to let his parents do an arranged marriage.  From this proceeds many dates via the modern version of Indian arranged marriages, Patel’s own attempt at online dating, and even an Indian speed-dating convention.

The movie, despite feeling a bit fabricated at times, raised a couple key points about dating that need to be shared:

  1. There is no one right way to find your spouse.

How many of us would be truly willing to try an arranged marriage?  I can’t think of one friend who would.  We cannot fathom the idea of making such an important decision on such limited knowledge. And yet Patel’s parents did, and his relatives did, and they were happy marriages.

Despite the fact that online dating has been around for over a decade at this point, many people still do not want to give it a try, finding it almost as foreign as arranged marriages.  Trust me, I understand.  I hesitated to do it, wondering somewhat petulantly why I could not meet my husband a “normal” way.  But that wasn’t how it was to happen – Pat and I never would have crossed paths, and certainly not in a social occasion that would have allowed us to get to know one another.

2. We don’t always know what we are looking for

Watching Patel go through all of his dates, it amazed me that he would meet beautiful girl after beautiful girl, but none of them were right.  Well, the problem is that he thought that what he wanted was an Indian girl, someone who shared his culture.  But what turned out in reality was that what he wanted was his ex, Audrey, a white girl who would disappoint his parents.

So often we have an image in our heads of what the “perfect” husband or wife will be or look like or act like.  We go after that image, without even stopping to question whether it’s what we really want, or if we’re basing our decision on our true priorities.

3. Rejection doesn’t mean that the problem is you.

I will continue to beat this drum because it’s so true, and yet we women often are hyper self-critical and assume that we are the problem.  I had sympathy not for Patel, but for all those girls that he dated, when really his heart wasn’t into it!

To me, this just underscored what I already learned from online dating – when it doesn’t work out, when you don’t get that phone call after the first date, when the person doesn’t respond to your text, the problem is almost always them and not you.  You don’t know that other person’s heart, so don’t jump to the conclusion that you are the problem.

4. Even when we get what we think we want, it may not be.

So here’s the spoiler – at the end of the movie, Patel finally tells his parents that he’s actually in love with Audrey and the end of the movie shows them making food together, looking for all intents and purposes like they were going to get married.  But guess what?  That wasn’t the real ending!  I finished the movie and immediately googled to get more information about Patel and Audrey…only to find that he had actually married someone else.

Only God knows how our story will be written.  So be willing to try new ways to find Mr. or Mrs. Right and hold your search with open hands.

 

Modern Ruth: Jennifer

Calvin & Jennifer Engagement Finals-12 (1)

Meet Calvin and Jennifer!  I am very happy to say that Jennifer is our very first online contributor, generously sharing her story to encourage other single women!!  She is also a fellow online dater and you can check out her blog at beautyisaproject.com.  I love her story and I know you will too – check it out!

I had been on eHarmony off and on for about 2 years. But I started approaching the site and dating in general differently after reading, “How To Get A Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating In Six Months Or Your Money Back” by Henry Cloud. I started reading the book in April 2014 and met my fiancé, Calvin, online in June 2014. So I guess I won’t be getting a refund 🙂 We had a long distance relationship for the entirety of our dating season. I resided in Maryland while Calvin lived in Arizona. Every few months, we’d take turns visiting each other. In between visits, we talked, prayed and laughed together during hours (I mean, seeing the starry night bleed into a golden sunrise hours) long phone/video conversations. We also sent each other surprise packages and cards to ease the discomfort of our distance. Last May, Calvin decided to send me the biggest surprise package: himself. He flew clandestinely to Maryland and was standing at my door, bouquet of flowers in hand, when I arrived home from work. I was absolutely stunned to see him. And when he got down on his knee to propose a few minutes later, my shock escalated to pure joy. Joy will join with happiness and smiles when we marry in June.

Age at Marriage

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What was your biggest struggle as a single person, and what helped you overcome it?

I struggled a lot with comparison. In my twenties, a dating and marriage crescendo began in my group of friends. And I remained the perpetually single one. That made me wonder, examine, and measure myself constantly. Trusting in God definitely changed that. I realized that if I’m living and seeking His will for my life, then I am not defective. Rather, His story and timing for me will be different.

What were the top five qualities that you were looking for in a husband? Now that you are married, do you still think that those are the most important qualities to find in a mate?

The top 5 qualities I desired in a husband were a strong relationship with God, a kind heart, an easygoing personality, confidence, and humor. I think the last four can be exchanged for other equally important qualities like adoration for vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles or knowledge of every line to the movie, “Coming To America” :-). But a constant relationship with Jesus is immovable as the essential.

How did you know he was the right man to marry?

I was very used to my dances with romance fizzling out quickly. But in the infant stages of my relationship with Calvin, I began to see that this wasn’t going to be a fizzle. While seeking God about our relationship, He gave me peace. And the more time Calvin and I spent together, I saw more of his heart, his faith, his honesty and his sincerity.

Looking back, what did God develop in you during your time of singleness that has blessed you in marriage?

I’m not sure what experiences I had while single will benefit me during marriage. But one I hope will benefit is the ability to discern perspectives. Everyone sees a situation, a person, or a story differently. That doesn’t make them wrong or myself right.

What advice would you give to ladies who are single later in life?

My advice for singles later in life can be boiled down to these three points: -Thoroughly enjoy this season of life. -Your story is written with God’s plan for you in mind. -Continue to trust God, His heart, and His timing.

Holding Onto Hope

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Hope is the thing with feathers-

That perches in the soul-

And sings the tune without words-

And never stops-at all-

 

Emily Dickinson

A relationship ends.  The one that you thought was going to last.

A person doesn’t respond to your contact.  They seemed like a perfect match.

The call that you wait for after a great first date…never comes.

In dating, one of the hardest things to hold onto is hope.  I remember starting my venture in online dating, getting access to hundreds of profiles of available men, and thinking that my time of singleness was over.  I just had to click the right profile, send a witty message, and abracadabra, a single woman would be converted into a bride right before your very eyes, ladies and gentlemen!

Of course, it didn’t happen like that.  I dated one person after another, and it became harder each time to muster up the appropriate enthusiasm.  I looked around me and saw other women getting engaged, getting married, and having babies.  It seemed unfair.  Worse, it seemed that God had forgotten me.  Either that, or He simply didn’t care.

These are of course the Enemy’s lies.  He wants us to be discouraged and to give up hope.  He wants us to settle for someone who is less than God’s best for us.  He wants us to feel distanced from God.

But praise God, we have Scripture to help teach us the truths to sustain our hope: God sees you. God loves you. God wants to give you good things.

1. God sees you. What’s more, He sees every part of us, even what might seem small or insignificant.  He created our inmost being and knit us together in the womb (Psalm 139). He has numbered even the hairs on our head (Luke 12). If he sees us to this level, then He also sees our hearts and our desires.  He knows your silent suffering, the shame, and the envy.  He hears your prayers.

2. God loves you. Our God is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 86). .He guided the Israelites out of Egypt and provided for them, even when their hearts continually strayed.  He responded to their prayers through centuries of war and exile. He sent even His son to die for us.  If God loves His people this much, is a husband really the thing that He will withhold?

3. God wants to give you good things. If He sees you and He loves you, then the only question is will He provide for you?  That answer is YES!  In Luke 11, Jesus teaches, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Our God is a good father who knows how to give good gifts!

Dating is difficult.  But hopefully we too can say, as Dickinson did, that Hope never stops.  At all.

For my readers, how do you hold onto hope?