Through the romance, excitement, awkwardness, and confusion of dating, these two prayers help me keep my eyes fixed on God.
I jumped back into the online dating scene recently in an effort to find a 30-something-year-old man who loves Jesus and hopefully lives nearby (is that really too much to ask for?).
I have such mixed emotions about this whole dating thing. On the one hand, it’s fun and exciting and twitterpating. On the other hand, it’s just plain awkward.
Oh, do I have some hilariously uncomfortable dating stories! Like when my 50-some-odd neighbor asked me out on a date right after he told me he keeps a hammer on his motorcycle to hit cars that drive too close (what the heck?!). Or that time it was so hot as I walked around a park on a first date in 104-degree Tucson summer heat that my tongue literally stuck to the roof of my mouth as we talked (can you feel the love tonight?).
Now that I’m trying the online route, I get messages like this:
I would say about 90% of the time, it’s a pretty easy and straightforward “yes” or “no” for me after a quick glance over their profile. But that doesn’t make the process any easier. Some guys seem like a perfect match, but they never show mutual interest or they do for a while, then they stop responding (that happened last week with a really really ridiculously good-looking man – bummer).
Some guys seem great in some ways and not so great in others. It’s this constant balance of not expecting perfection, but also not wavering on those things that are most important to me (purposefully and passionately loving Jesus…that whole “spiritual, but not religious” thing – what does that even mean?).
Every time a new guy with potential comes into the picture, my hopes start to rise a little bit. Could this be the one?
It’s an emotional rollercoaster that makes me feel a little bit like a boy-crazy teenager again.
Sometimes, I wish God would just show me His will in big flashing lights. Something abundantly clear and impossible to miss like, “I have a good one for you, but not yet – keep waiting for a few more months!” Or “Pay special attention to this one.” Or “Go to this particular church activity – there are single guys your age there!” Or maybe just a giant arrow point to “The One” (if that’s even a thing…I’m not sure that’s the way it works).But God doesn’t always yell out answers in our lives.
Often, it comes in the form of soft whispers, requiring us to stop, focus our attention on Him, and listen for His voice.
Dating is More Than Romance
When I was younger (heck, probably even just a few years ago), I let my heart take the lead in all guy-related decisions. I was the girl who drew hearts all over the boy band posters on her walls and dreamed of becoming an actress just so I could kiss those gorgeous male leads (hellooo, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck!).
My greatest desire was to be pursued with all kinds of fairy tale romance. So much so that when I was interested in a guy I actually knew, if I didn’t think I was exactly what they were looking for, I tried to change and become that for them. I learned to play video games to impress one and threw myself into the world of classical music for another. *danger, Will Robinson!* Somehow, I didn’t know that I was allowed to have my own interests and I didn’t have to share every single one of theirs.
I am happy to report that is no longer the case. I will always be changing and growing, but the core pieces of myself are pretty set in stone at this point, so if a guy doesn’t think that will work for him, then it is what it is and that’s okay.
If a guy doesn’t want to date me, I no longer take it as a hit to my self-worth, but a blessing. I do think the heart is incredibly important in dating decisions, but not the most important.
Part of surrendering my entire life to Him involves lifting up my dating life to Him, too.
To make sure God is the center of all of those decisions, there are two prayers I send up on a daily basis.
“God, Here is the Pen – You Are the Only One I Want to Write My Love Story”
Nicholas Sparks is a fantastic romance writer. The Notebook was one of my favorite movies for a long time because it was so incredibly sweet and, boy, do I want a man that will patiently re-tell me our love story over and over again when I can’t remember it myself.
Of course, I still desire romance! But I have learned that there is so much more to it than candlelit dinners and vases of roses (or, in my case, pink Gerbera daisies). There is a depth to relationships that only comes when you can connect on a deeper level, when it’s more than just your heart falling in love, but also your soul.
“I have found him who my soul loves.” – Song of Solomon 3:4
I have to actually write this prayer down, sometimes twice a day, because it is so tempting for me to keep swiping that pen back from His hands and trying to direct the path how I best see fit. But God, did you see him? But God, we seem so compatible!
It’s an intentional act of surrender, letting go of something I desperately want to be able to control and releasing it into His loving and capable hands.
It’s a step of faith.
“Either Fling the Door Wide Open or Shut It Quickly & Firmly”
A couple years ago, I dated a few different men (not at the same time!). I had the mentality that I needed to at least give men a chance or I would never know. I had hesitations from the very beginning and they were the same hesitations that eventually led me to end the relationships. Over the course of that year, I broke a few hearts…and I hate that I hurt those men.
Now, every time a guy comes into the picture, this is my prayer. I don’t take guarding hearts lightly, whether it’s my heart or theirs. I listen to those hesitations now from the very beginning. Even if I’m lonely. Even if I think maybe that one thing wouldn’t be that big of a deal later on. I listen and I obey which is really difficult some days!
I pray this over every message that I send and every message that I receive. When really really ridiculously good-looking guy stopped responding to my messages, my first reaction was disappointment.
My next response was praise. Whether I liked it or not, that was an answer to my prayer. There is a reason he didn’t respond and I have to believe that as Christians, God is speaking to both of our hearts.
Praying this is a step of trust, believing that He knows what’s best and He is working for my good, even if I don’t understand it.
I encourage you to pray these things into your dating life, too. Write them on note cards, add them to your prayer journal, and keep them as a constant encouragement to listen for God’s voice. Dating is hard, so ask Him for help! He is always faithful to answer (even if it doesn’t come in the form of a flashing arrow).