Tag Archives: christian dating

It’s Not About The Pants!

25 Oct

I got the opportunity to guest blog for “A Beautiful Mess” awhile back. Many of you read it, but I thought I would post a link here in case you missed it! Thanks for reading!

Read it HERE!

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New Beginnings…

14 Jun

Change can be good. Especially when it’s done with friends at your side!

It’s June.  Almost the summer solstice that I am about to mark yet again. I’m in a different space this year than last.  Rather than heartbroken, I’m giddy. Rather than stuck, I’m exploring.  Rather than holding tightly, I’m along for the ride. There have been so many changes over the past 10 weeks that I don’t completely know how to process them.

New JobPrayers answered. I’m on the brink of something really great here at my new job. Here I get to interact with a whole new set of people. I’m working for four men instead of two women, and that dynamic is definitely interesting. Rather than talking breast pumps and pregnancy, I schedule lunches and people in suits who want to meet with my 4 bosses. I dream in Outlook calendars rather than T-ball games. I work in one of the most well-known cities in the world versus a tucked away town outside of LA that doesn’t want to be discovered.  I drive through Koreatown, downtown, and midtown to get here. It takes awhile and I’m trying to get used to the drive.

But in the midst of this change is a promise. That I could be about to be a part of something bigger. Something forming in me since I was 15 years old and first started to date. That maybe all of these relationships that I’ve had, all of the gamut of emotions – the turmoil, the hope, the loss, the fear, the anger, the sadness, the deep love I’ve longed for, the letting go, the breaking off, the taking a breath, the serial monogamy, the years on my own when I really started to grow into who God has made me to be…maybe all of that will come to a much bigger purpose than I ever imagined. After all, I work at a company that is all about dating.  We’ll see. Like I said, along for the ride…

 

New Move– Not me, my parents. It’s sad to see your family leave. A year and a half ago, all three of them were here. We had automatic plans on Sunday holidays. At Christmas. Birthdays. While my parents aren’t going far and they’ve done this before, I can’t seem to help but think this is a sad end to a California dream. They are excited to move to AZ, but at the same time, I’m wrestling again with what “home” means to me.  More movement. More shifts. When I got so good at sitting still and listening, people around me, even my own body is being forced to move. To grow. To change and shift. It feels uncertain and yet I am reminded to trust, once again.

 

Taking pictures when you don’t have a photographer

New Possibilities – I’d be remiss to not say something in this about the change I’ve experienced in the last 10 weeks due to a special someone. J How do I even explain what it means to suddenly have someone in your life who wants to know you and grow with you in what you’re going through? In the midst of all of this craziness and change, I met a guy that I am quite excited about. Not because he’s the same, but because he’s different. From me, from the others I’ve dated in the past, and from some of the preconceived expectations that I’ve had for the next guy I would date.  He’s solid, he has a great character, he loves Jesus. He’s a Sunday school teacher and a welder.  He’s introverted, I’m not.  He’s funny, but gentle.  He gets me even when I have trouble getting myself.

 

It’s early, I know. I’m doing my best to take my own advice and date in community, take risks when I’m fearful , go slow and trust God with it all. After all, the timing in this seems too strange to be me trying to force a relationship.  I met him in April during my 3 day church-wide fast. I had just led a chapter in life group about trusting God.  And here’s the crazy thing: I met him on Christian Mingle, the dating site where I also now work!  I didn’t know I would meet him. I didn’t know I would get this job. I am just along for the ride and all of these new beginnings!  Thanks, God, for hearing my prayers during the fast. Things haven’t been the same since in so many ways and I’m thankful.

How Jury Duty Landed Me What Could Possibly Be My Dream Job Or Joy In The Midst Of Trial By Jury

4 May

I’ve often said that God has a funny sense of humor, especially when it comes to the events that play out in my life. For months I’ve gotten very close to some promising job opportunities, almost every time to have the door shut in my face. I’ve been on a quest to try to discover what it is that I’m supposed to do with my talents, gifts, and passions. Meanwhile, I’ve plugged away at work, trying the best that I can with the knowledge that I’m underemployed and could do so much more. So instead, I poured myself into my second job and out into volunteer activities – life group leading, counseling friends on relationships, and, sometimes reluctantly letting God test me in the areas of patience, joy, and trust. Throughout this time, I’ve been through some very hard seasons of growth. I’ve learned to let go of relationships that I had to realize weren’t working the way I’d hoped. I’ve had the rug ripped out from underneath me just when things were starting to get good. I’ve learned what sacrificial love looks like in my life (re-read blogs if you don’t believe me). I’ve learned how to date in Christian community, take risks, love when it hurts, and want the best for the people I’ve dated. And I’ve tried to be a voice in my community when it comes to loving people well, to date, and to breakup well (if it comes to that). It’s been quite a journey and I’m so thankful for those of you who have been on it with me.

But, despite all of these facts, I NEVER in a million years thought when I walked down to Courtroom O to report for jury duty on a civil trial that I would also be walking into my next job. How could I know that less than a month later I would say yes to working for a company that specializes in online dating and wants to specifically grow one of their websites aimed at Christians? Who could have guessed?! But God knew.

I met my Jury Duty Friend (who shall remain nameless for the time being because I haven’t asked her permission to be a part of my blog) the first day. Funnily enough, we got on the topic of online dating. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I had decided to join one of her parent company’s websites merely weeks before for trial (mostly because I realized I hadn’t been following my own advice that I’ve written about being actively available and taking the risk). We talked about that and joked that my one month membership was almost up. I joked about giving her my resume because she said she might know of a position opening up at her company… Little did I know that this conversation would bring me to accepting a job that not only will allow me to have a free membership to her website but will give me crazy opportunity to be influential in the realm of Christian dating and offers me so much beyond all that I would even dream for a job in terms of benefits, time off, perks, and bonus structures.

Now let’s get this straight. I’ve been vacuuming up pee water (the worst aspect of my current job). Now I will be assisting top executives and hopefully have a chance to write some of the ideas I’ve shared here to the Christian subculture at large. Who could have guessed? I’ll tell you who. God.

He knows me so intimately. What I need. What I want. Where I find my joy. Where I don’t. I’m not saying this job is going to be the end all be all, but when your book about sacrificial love and community has been on the back burner, when your blogging about the same topic has slowed, it’s nice to have the mission reinforced by getting a job where you will be paid to think about these things and to interact with people on the forefront of these issues. It’s nice to be reaffirmed. There’s so much more to say about this journey I’ve been on. I’ve been trying to discern where God wants me, agonizing over whether I should take another competing job using other passions of mine, and then watching the deal for this job just keep getting sweeter and sweeter. To have a great company want you is a glorious thing. When not vacuuming pee water, I’ve loved my time at my current job. In some moments, I’ve felt trapped in a web of my own making.

So here I go. On to hopefully give my ideas, share my wisdom, and love a whole new group of people. Who could have planned that? A God who knows me, loves me, hears me when I call, and makes the path of life known to me. I am so thankful. Here’s to new journeys, new growth, and to jury duty, a seemingly boring universally known-to-be horrible situation which most people complain about openly even though it is our civic duty and really, privilege , which I actually loved, and which completely changed my life. 🙂

True Confessions of an Online Dater

22 Mar

Online dating is like this.

My parents met at a mixer. It was in the middle of an apartment complex in 1974. Apparently there was dancing and drinks and my mom went up to my dad and said something like, “Aren’t you dancing tonight?” to which my dad replied, “I haven’t found anyone to dance with.’ Despite a few bumps in the road, they were married 9 months later on a farm (the same farm where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married) at a potluck where my dad wore a T-shirt. I’m pretty sure because they weren’t rich, it was a nice but really low key event, like most events in my family have been celebrated ever since.

Seems like a pretty cut and dry story. I’ve started to wonder why it’s not that easy in Los Angeles to meet people.

I suppose I have pretty high standards these days. I tell my friends that I could probably easily go to a bar and find some random guy to hook up with if that was my style and not against my entire belief system. But that’s different than finding a relationship that will last. A person you want to do life with through the good and the bad. Someone who shares the same faith and dedication to God. Someone who I can respect. Someone who treats me well and thinks I’m the bees knees.

Someone who hasn’t been in jail.

But considering how difficult it’s become to meet new people in this city, I’m sort of starting to half-wonder if arranged marriage is really the worst idea in the world. (I tell my married friends to set me up, and I hope they will!) But meanwhile, I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

Confession: In the past few years on and off, I entered into the world of online dating. There are good and bad things about this realm.

The bad things first: Forrest Gump’s mom was right: you never know what you’re going to get.

I’ve been on dates with everyone from pastors to former prisoners (I found out on the date after emailing and talking on the phone with this guy for two weeks). I’ve had amazing email conversations followed by dates that were less than stellar. I’ve done long distance only to find out that he didn’t want to move after all. I’ve gotten invested too quickly and been saddened when it didn’t work out. I went out with one guy only to have him not talk to me the entire lunch. I’ve met some duds. It’s been quite a journey. Hard at times. It’s important to be safe and tell people where you’re going. And several times I swore I would never go back to this world.

But then something happens and I remember the good:

I’ve also met some amazing guys who have taught me a lot about myself and encouraged me in my faith. I’ve learned to risk. I know how to have fun with strangers now! Not a lot surprises me (especially after the prison confession). Yet, I have hope for online dating. Why?

Because one of my good friends who was incredible met an equally incredible man through online dating and now they have twins and a baby on the way. I’ve seen success stories! I know that in a city like Los Angeles when I get stuck in the “Pasadena bubble” as I like to call it, there are a whole bunch of good, kind, amazing men wanting to date. And it only takes one. So the odds are in my favor!

You never know where you'll find love...

Part of this is an encouragement to all of my friends who are either online or who want to be. It’s tough but it can be great. It’s risky but it can be fun! I’ve been to the beach, miniature golfing, to some restaurants I would have never gone to, to the Gamble House, to movies I ended up loving, to “Wicked”, I went to Disneyland with a guy I met online, and I’ve met men that I’m not sorry to have met. I’ve made connections, found guys who were serious about their faith and living it out, and had some deep conversations. Online dating, while not the most ideal/easy way to meet someone, can actually give us a lot of perspective, wisdom, and hope. And best of all, new experiences and great/hilarious stories for parties if things don’t work out. 🙂

Caveat: Online dating is kind of like a part time job. If you’re not dedicated to checking your profile and replying and emailing people, it’s sort of a waste of money and time. If you’re too picky, you’ll never find out what you do and don’t like. If you judge too quickly or aren’t able to discern what you want, it can be a problem.

I still go to mixers/parties in hopes that maybe I’ll meet the guy that I have enough guts to ask why he’s not dancing tonight. But in order to be actively available, sometimes I have to put aside my hopes to meet the man of my dreams at church (although I’m still hoping for that) and log in to my online dating profile and remember, this isn’t my parents’ story. And putting myself out there while risky might just help me find an amazing guy to share life with. And isn’t that worthwhile? My friend with the twins and the Iron Man husband  she met online would say “YES!”

 

How Do I Stop Being Awkward Around The Person I Used To Date Or Around The Person They Are Dating Now Part 2

14 Mar

A sign saying "awkward"

Awkward has become a word that people like to throw around. “That’s awkward” is used for all kinds of situations ranging from a wardrobe malfunction to something blurted out at the wrong time. But I can say this from experience. Very few things are more awkward than having to stay in community with someone you’ve dated and then watching them date again.

As I mentioned in Part One, I’ve had this experience several times and it’s never been pleasant. But I’m at the point where I have to accept it for what it is and trust that it’s not always going to feel like this.

There will be a point when most of the awkwardness passes. 

A friend of mine has literally watched her first love date and get married while she remained single after they’ve broken up. I’ve seen her go through the grief and then actually welcome her ex-boyfriend’s fiance into our community through a difficult but loving conversation. It was insanely hard but that one conversation has shaped her character in so many ways and changed the advice she gives about this topic. My friend had to pray a lot before this conversation. And when she felt the nudge to go and talk to the fiance, she didn’t ignore it. She could have. But she chose to step into the awkwardness.


So that’s what I do. I step into my awkwardness every week at church. It’s just a given. The guy I dated has a new girlfriend. Do I run away? Sometimes, I have, honestly, when I’m having a less than stellar moment. It’s just been too much and I get all Prodigal Son’s brother and start asking the “Why not me? I’ve done everything right” questions. As a result, I’ve avoided parties that they were going to likely be at. And then I stopped doing that because especially in the case where it’s my good friends hosting the party, I don’t want to miss it! I’m a social person. What if I meet someone new at one of these parties? It’s not my job to own the awkwardness and slink away from it. It’s my job to acknowledge it and step into it.

My friend, Merlin, does the best "awkward" face of anyone I know!

Stepping into the awkwardness means a lot of things which I’ve narrowed down to three for the time being.

  1. Giving yourself a pep talk before you might encounter the awkward situation.  For me this has to involve prayer. Even if it’s a quick one just saying that I need strength and courage, I pray. I’ve found peace in these prayers and probably grown more in my faith when I choose to go into situations with people I’ve dated that many would think I was crazy for walking into.

The pep talk can also be done in a mirror, in the front seat of your car, with a friend, and as a reminder that the relationship wasn’t right. My ex dating again doesn’t say anything about my value. And then I tell myself the truth about who I am according to God, not according to the automatic negative thoughts that are swirling in my head at that moment. Without badmouthing the guy I’ve dated and the girl he’s dating now, I’m able to walk into the situation more confident than I might have been. When I forget to do this, all bets are off and I’m a victim of my own awkwardness with sputtered words, strange looks, and hurt feelings.

2. Grace for yourself. This is important! Sometimes you’ve just had a bad week and the last thing you want to do is see the person you’ve dated again just when you’re wound is starting to heal. Then you happen to see them and something inside of you is triggered and you forget why you broke up in the first place. Or you have a case of “sideways glancing” and you start to do a little romantic revisionist history and suddenly your relationship seems amazing to you again. This is when it’s time for a reality check. As one of my favorite books says, “It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.” Some days it will be easier to deal with his/her new relationship than others. Have grace for yourself but don’t lash out in anger or revenge in the process.

(Mostly tips for girls in this section) If you find yourself doing that, go hang out with a friend in the church bathroom for a few minutes. Or write down your issues in a journal. Or do some yoga or high impact aerobics.

Take a breather.

One time months after my breakup was long over, something was triggered. At church a song was played that just wrecked me. I was a crying mess. I had to run outside to just let it out, which I did. Luckily a friend followed me and just stayed with me there. This is permissible. When the guy I dated started to date someone else, I made sure to surround myself with good people who can give me a reality check and the love that I need to co-exist in community with him on a weekly basis.

3. Grace for him and her. 

This one is difficult. It’s hard when the person you’ve dated is now on cloud 9 and you’re trying to figure out how to love, honor, and respect them from a distance while being single and wondering why you’re not dating, too. In my worst moments, I cry about it. In my best, I smile at him and especially her when she passes. Once I introduced myself because we have many of the same friends. Another time  I was friends with a girl a guy I dated  decided to date and so we figured out a way to walk out how the whole thing was supposed to work.

Suppose I’m not friends with the new girl, why would I not be friendly to a woman who I consider my sister in Christ? Aren’t we supposed to all love each other? Despite the fact that our culture says that the woman who dates “our man” is a backstabbing-choose-a-degrading-term-for-a-woman,

Jesus says something different.

He says love those who persecute you, he tells us that we should lay down our lives for our friends. He never says that following Him would be easy. Laying down our lives means sacrificial love and in my context, that means being happy that the guy I dated who I once loved and who I let love me is happy. It’s wanting the best for him and his new girlfriend. I’m not saying this is easy but when is love ever easy?


I’m not saying that I’m ever going to be best friends with the guy I dated or his new girlfriend. That’s unlikely but future interaction considering our overlapping friend groups is inevitable.  Had we the opportunity, it would be nice for us to all acknowledge one another sometime. It would be nice to exchange a few words to know that we’re all still members of the same church. That we all want the best for each other. And for me and him, acknowledgment that I’m not just some face in the crowd. But that we spent time together learning and growing and discovering what it meant to love both within the context of our relationship and beyond it.

Final thoughts: I don’t think that love ends when a relationship ends. Rather it’s the opposite. I’ve found that when a relationship ends, that’s when the test begins.

Will I love this person well even though we’re not together? Will I treat them with dignity and respect? Will I refrain from talking trash about them to my friends? Will I decide to not welcome and actually discourage comments from my friends about her?

Because the reality is, those comments could be said about me or any of my friends. And we’re not backstabbing. We’re just girls who want the chance to date in our community, just like the girl that the guy I used to date is currently dating. We want the opportunity to see if one of the guys in our church could be a good match with us.

By giving him and her grace, I’m giving the entire community permission to date and breakup without judgement. I’m allowing for love to reign over my fears that I’m going to be single forever. I’m allowing for God to intervene in the hard places. I’m choosing, once again, to trust.  And that’s not only good for me, but for all of us involved in this crazy, messy, amazing thing we call community.

Dating in Community Is Risky Part 3 of 3

31 May

WHY RISKY?: So why is dating in community risky? Because people can get hurt and often do. Initial friendships can turn romantic and then either lead to a great relationship or sometimes to awkwardness. Two friends who have known one another in a friend context for years can decide to date and then it doesn’t work out. But here’s the deal: Dating in general is risky. It just is. But name one thing worthwhile that does not have some sort of risk associated with it?

One of the reasons it’s risky to date within a community is because it requires a level of self-control and maturity along with it. What do I mean? Well, when one dates in community, one needs a little bit of discernment to know when to share and when to hold back with other members of the community.  People talk. But just because people talk does not mean we should not take the risk and try dating one another to see if there is a good fit. It just means that we need to know when to share with others in our community and when to keep our mouths shut while we figure it out.

I mentioned before that I believe involving community while you date is very important.  I am fortunate enough to have pastors, friends, married people, counselors, and others within my community and beyond helping guide me through dating, breaking up, and all of the other parts of the process. I trust them to help me when I need it. I also have to trust God. That part should come first.

BRIEFLY ON GOSSIP: To have self-control in dating within community means that I am careful with my words. I think before I speak and ask myself if what I’m saying is honoring the person I’ve dated or wanted to date.  I discern who to talk to about my feelings.  I don’t tell everyone everything I’m feeling although I used to do that and I ended up learning that it is not always appropriate.  Now I choose my few “safe people” who I can share with who won’t judge me but who will correct me if I’m off course. They love me that much.

Since I’m a strong verbal processor, it’s easy for me to just go off and talk about my feelings for hours even if they involve another person or people. I have to be careful to not let my words taint what other people think. It’s very tricky. That’s just gossiping and I want to avoid that. I wouldn’t want anyone gossiping about me or saying things to damage my reputation. Nor would I want to cause harm to someone else through my words or actions.  So I need to be extra careful in this area because I’m easily tempted to think I’m just helping someone understand the scope of everything I’m feeling when really I’m just gossiping and trying to get people to “be on my side.”

BRIEFLY ON BOUNDARIES: I won’t get too far into the topic of boundaries and the self-control needed to keep them in the context of this blog entry. I do hope to cover it at some time in the future, though. Dating in community is messy when boundaries aren’t kept.  That’s when soul ties are formed, which can be damaging and unhealthy. (more about soul ties later). Breaking soul ties is one of the hardest things to do. It’s painful.

If people learned how to date in a healthier manner in community, being honest, clear, and decisive about physical, spiritual, and emotional boundaries, oh how different the world of dating would look in our communities and churches! 

So much more to say on why dating in community is risky, but still so worth while! I know many couples (some of whose weddings I’ve been to or am going to) who figured this all out. They dated in community successfully! They took a risk, dated (sometimes comically and frustratingly), and are now taking an even bigger and worthwhile risk in marriage. This gives me hope. It can be done. Despite all of the risks, some people just go for it. I hope to have an in person panel with some of these couples to ask them how it worked for them, to hear their stories, and to encourage single people within my own community to keep hoping and to risk dating someone they may have never considered who might have been right in front of them all along!

Dating In Community Is Risky Part 2

30 May

Okay so in my last blog, I kept you hanging. So why do I think it’s best for people to date within their own community? Why do I want to date in mine?  I’ll start with two reasons with separate parts, otherwise I might have to make a Part 3 for this blog!

Fear is not a good enough reason to not date in community. In 1 Peter 5:7 it says  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” As a Christian, I want to trust God with all of my cares. That includes my dating life. Yes, it’s scary to try again and date in community. It might end. I might have to watch someone I once loved date someone else. Possibly even one of my friends because my friends are awesome and why wouldn’t he want to date them? (again, another blog) I’m afraid that I will be left alone and maybe someone will blacklist me because I already dated once. I’m afraid to start from scratch and have to get to know someone all over again after investing so much time and energy on something that didn’t work out.  Are these real fears? They feel real. The reality is, it comes down to trust. I have to trust that I am enough. That God loves me so much that he will be with me through it all. And he has been. When fear gets in my way, I am reminded to go back to the places where he has been there for me before and remember how I trusted and through that I can choose to trust again.  I’m a woman and I process the world through my feelings. But, I followed my feelings all of the time, I would have ended up in several terrible marriages. I would have left my community 7 months ago.  I would have run and hid. I would have been afraid to grieve and still been paralyzed by it. Instead, I chose to stay. I chose to endure. To be fair, there are plenty of times I come home for a serious cry after having to live this out. But I still think that right now it is what I’m being invited to. A higher level of maturity. A deep trust.

Meeting someone in my community is not the only option, but it’s the best option. When there are potentially amazing  people right in front of you, why would you need to look somewhere else? Where else am I going to meet someone who holds true to the same core values that I do?

A bar? Nope. I’ve been to plenty of bars. I’ve met guys in bars before.  I’m not saying that it’s impossible to meet a solid,  Christ-following, mission-minded man in a bar, but it’s the exception, not the rule.  Just like missionary dating. (Been there, done that, wouldn’t recommend it). Rather than spend my time  and money out at a bar on a long shot, wouldn’t it be better for me to invest in the guys who are more similarly aligned with  me which will yield a higher possibility of a successful relationship in the long run?

What about online? Okay, tons of my friends have met and married the man or woman of their dreams online. It happens. It works for many. I’m not ruling this out by any means, but it definitely complicates things when you meet someone online who doesn’t live nearby or attend your church.  Suddenly you’re living for Skype dates and weekend meet ups. Or if the person does live nearby and it does work out, one of you will have to make the hard decision to leave your community and join another.  This is not the worst thing in the world. But wouldn’t it be easier and better (assuming there are people in your community to date) to date in a way where people know both of you and can speak into your relationship? Relationships become insuluar quickly and easily enough without having to introduce more factors that may make it easier for a couple to withdraw further from community.  When two people from two different communities date, it makes it harder for any one community to help keep them accountable. The couple then must make it an even bigger priority to hang out with people in community who can help them determine if their relationship is healthy or not. I’m a big believer, now more than ever before, of dating within the context of community. If we date without having people check in on us, ask us questions, or help us through tough spots, we can easily become myopic, seeing only what we want to see and we will, in effect, potentially waste a lot of time trying to figure out a relationship that should have probably ended much earlier had we allowed others to see it for what it really was. NOTE: There is this phenomenon happening where people who are online dating and who are involved within the same community get matched.  To me, this is indicative of a bigger problem. Why can’t these two people  who get matched up online date each other in real life? Why pay all of this money to find out you’d be a good match when you can just take the risk, ask someone out (or say yes to the person who asks you out), and find out on your own without dropping $50 a month? Seems ridiculous, no?

Set-ups?  I’m ALL for set-ups. I personally think it’s a married person’s business and responsibilty to advocate for marriage and to help set up their unmarried friends. I have a single friend who literally told her married friends that she would pay  them $1000 if they introduced her to her husband.  There is something to be said for married people who have been through it and who know you really well and who want the best for you setting you up with someone who they think is a good match.  Of course, you need to trust the people who set you up and if they are too invested, it can be messy. I have another friend  whose parents try to constantly set her up with every single guy they come across.  That doesn’t work because she sees through their motivations and just gets annoyed at the set-ups. Ideally, I think people should set you up with people you may not know very well who are in your community.  This extra push can help put some relationships that would never otherwise  start due to unrealistic expectations, fear of dating in the same community, and fear of rejection on the right track from early on.

More to come… in Part 3.

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