Tag Archives: risk

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!

Advertisements

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.

Dating In Community: What Does It Actually Look Like?

20 May

We’re all in this together…except when it comes to my dating relationship. What?! Why would I isolate myself from those who know me best?

The term “dating in community” has come up a lot lately both in my circle of friends, with my roommate, and as I’m reading more from dating experts.

What does it actually mean?

It sounds like a nice enough concept but sometimes it’s harder than it looks. True confession: I’ve made my home on Boy Island more than once and it’s only after I emerged during the breakup phase of the relationship that I realized that I wasn’t actually letting my friends and family into my relationship. Otherwise, had I let them in, they would have seen red flags months before and noticed how much I was changing and not being me in those relationships, and alerted me to that fact. Would it have made a difference? Maybe yes, maybe no, but it would have likely saved me time being in relationships that were not right for me.

As I watch my friends date and I go out on dates, I notice that there’s this tendency to close off from other people. At the beginning, this is normal. You’re getting to know someone, you’re in the “fun” phase of the relationship, and all you really want to do is spend time with the new person in your life. That’s fine. But after the newness starts to fade, some people (myself included) often make the mistake of staying in their little twosome bubble and not allowing friends and loved ones to be a part of the relationship. Please don’t mistake this: I’m not advocating that dating in community means that we need to tell everyone in our community our deepest darkest secrets or spend no time with our significant others without a third party present. What I’m noticing is this trend to separate off into couplehood quickly without completely understanding the ramifications of that decision. And there are ramifications.

From what I’ve noticed, when a couple becomes exclusively “a couple”, some tend to drift quickly toward co-dependency and then suddenly doing things alone seems impossible. Also, the stable networks of friends and family go by the wayside and often feel neglected and ditched when it doesn’t have to be this way.  If the couple would think about hanging out in group settings once in awhile, finding some close co-ed couples to hang out with (maybe even married people who they trust), getting to know each other’s friend networks…this might actually be healthy. Then dating in community would be possible and breakups might not be so completely devastating. (They are bad enough because of the fact when breakups happen, it’s like losing a best friend. But when you wake up and realize you’ve lost all of your friends, that makes the transition from couplehood to singlehood again even more precarious.)

The pattern I notice (and I’ve been this girl) is that once a girl and guy break up, a girl suddenly realizes she needs her friends but because she’s been MIA for many months at a time, her friends feel resentful that they now have to be there for her when she hasn’t reciprocated the friendship due to her relationship with her former boyfriend. Her friends, being rockstars, often begrudgingly help her through her breakup and then she sees how neglected they’ve been. Then she goes off and does it again. It’s a pattern. We all do it, to some degree because it’s natural to shift priorities, have less time, etc when you start dating. But noticing the pattern and committing to date in community could be a healthier way to date in the long run.

Dating in community to me means not becoming one of those people that gets so sucked into their one relationship that they neglect everything else. Work, friendships, family obligations, self-care time, spiritual time, schooling, and other things that fill your schedule shouldn’t just completely fall by the wayside as soon as someone starts to capture your attention. It’s a delicate balance. It’s definitely not easy.

I have several ideas of how to date in community. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m also a student in this respect, wanting to learn how to do it well.  But what I’m going to do in my next relationship is  to be open about it with various people and let them into the process through prayer, time spent with me and my significant other, conversations, and by asking for accountability in this area.

Sometimes love means having the ability to say to your friends, “I want you to help me date well because I lose myself in relationships. I need your eyes, ears, and knowledge of who I am as I do this.”

What will this look like? 

-Have my friends and family get to know the guy before I’m too serious and get to see us in the context of our relationship. Ask questions. Am I still me? How am I doing on my boundaries I set for my time apart from the new guy? How do I behave when I’m around him? How does he behave? Does he treat me well? So many times my parents have told me after the fact that they didn’t like the way I was treated by many of the guys I’ve brought home to meet them. And they were right. But I wasn’t at a place where I wanted to hear them because I liked my little spot on Boy Island and I didn’t really want to leave. That’s why when dating in community it’s essential that you…

Listen to the answers! If there are red flags, what am I going to do about those? If I’m staying in the relationship because I’m too afraid of the pain of a break up, I need to admit this to my friends and hopefully they will help me make the decision to end things irregardless.

Talk to married people, not just single people. They will help me know if this guy is a keeper and knowing marriage, they will be able to see things that my single friends might miss. Love my single friends. They know me so well. But getting a broader perspective is key.

Not succumb to pressure by others to make a quick decision but have fun dating and getting to know someone. It’s not helpful when people start throwing out the “M” word wayyyy too early. Not helpful at all. You can tell your community to “SHHHH!” if they are doing this to you. I’ve had to say that before to others.

-To Facebook or Not To Facebook? Funnily enough, part of dating in community has now become all about social networking. Do we share this info about our new dating relationship with our social networks and how? When? Trying to make a good decision about “going public” is huge in the context of dating in community. Thinking about and discussing this topic is important. I will blog more about this another time.

There’s a lot of other ways to “Date in Community.” Have you done it? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? I’d love to hear so that we can start idea sharing and help each other grow.

The Hike Where I Almost Died, The Risk That Hurt, Singleness, and Other Mini-Thoughts

29 Dec

Mini-thoughts On My Year – #1

At the end of the year, I often reflect on where I’ve been, hoping to find some commonalities, a story, maybe the imprint of God on my life. This year was no different. An unexpected year, to be sure. A difficult year? Yes, in many ways. But did I grow more? Did I stretch more? Yes. Yes I did. Did I impact lives like I’d hoped to? I’d like to think I did even if it wasn’t in the ways I’d originally thought. Did I love until it hurt? Yes. I can say that for sure I did. Did I come out unscathed? No. I have bruises and scrapes. My heart hurts sometimes from loving this much. Was it awkward? Yes. It is always awkward to love people. When it’s really love, I’ve noticed that it becomes a sacrificial act. And it’s intentional. I had to decide to love even when I didn’t want to. I had to step out. Do things that hurt. Forgive. Grieve. Laugh again. Risk again. Know when I couldn’t participate. Know when I had to push myself forward to take part. I had to trust. I had to examine. I had to let go. I had to spend some time in counseling. I surrounded myself with great people. I realized I have a long way to go. Still do.

Mini- thoughts On Singleness- #2

Note: The following is not a boo-hoo fest on being single. Just a few thoughts I’m processing.

The hardest part about risking and having it not work out is that you sometimes lose a friend in the process. That’s what I’ve noticed about dating. It’s a lot of fun to date and get to know someone else. I highly recommend it and think that it’s necessary and essential if you ever really want to be known. But if you do it right, you’ve gained a real friend when getting to know someone and saying goodbye to that person, no matter how long you’ve been seeing them, is painful.

This is especially the case around the holidays, as I’ve discovered this year. When you see couples and families and get Christmas cards with pictures all over them (which I happen to love, by the way 🙂 ) and you somehow hear every version of “Blue Christmas” ever recorded (the one from Glee is my fave this year!), or when you are just having a sad moment when you remember what it was like to not be alone, it does make it a little difficult for us recently single people.

BEGIN PSA- So this New Year’s Eve or even this next year, if you have someone to kiss or you have kids and a family, remember those of us who don’t and give us a hug. Invite us to hang out with you. I realized the other night when I was hanging out with one of my favorite families and my 5 year old friend was bejeweling my fingers and toes after painting them with hot pink Hello Kitty nail polish, that hanging out with families is so healing for me.  I’m reminded there’s more to the holidays than my blues. I’m thankful for how I’ve seen my married friends and their kids grow.  Hug us. Give us a call. Invite us into your lives. We won’t be sorry and neither will you.  END PSA.  

Mini-thought That Turned Into A Story #3

If I could encapsulate this year in an analogy, I would say it was like this hike that I took in the latter part of this year in Malibu.

The whole point of the hike wasn’t to get to the waterfall at the end, although that was a big part of it. I didn’t know where I was going. At first, it was just a street with a group of majestic mansions on it. It was a beautiful walk but did not resemble a hike quite yet. Little did I know what was coming. After the street, I trekked down through the grass, on a dirt path, through the woods. I got to this point where I literally had to crawl up a steep part of a jagged path. Then after I made it through that, I scaled a couple of boulders and pulled myself up. Finally came the rope. In order to climb up the side of this steep cliff, I had to use a rope and lean back while pulling myself up the side of a mountain. I was parallel with the ground. That took trust. Part of me didn’t want to continue.

After venturing past that and a lot of people, I made it to the waterfall. It was beautiful and tall. Unexpected.

Along the side of the waterfall was this branch that jutted out. Next to that was a slim that one could use, if they were crazy enough, to climb up, shimmying their way across a slippery, thin ledge up into the waterfall. It took a lot of faith, a few swear words, a whole lot of trust, and a few people to help me, but I wanted to climb up into that waterfall and make it back in one piece.

The water was cold even though it was an 80 degree day. It was pelting on my head and I was shaking, getting all of my clothes drenched as I muddied my arms and hands, clawing my way up through moss and slippery rocks until I stood erect in my triumphant arrival .

When I could finally stand and enjoy it, I realized something. I had to figure out how to get back down. I had made it up so part of me knew I could make it. But sooner or later, I would have to start down the waterfall the same way I’d come up. I was surprised when I was able to climb down. It took more effort than climbing up. A stranger literally had to prop me up. I took steps and then backtracked, not trusting where I was stepping. I almost cried. Part of me wanted to jump off although I surely would hurt myself in the fall. In the end, I made it  down to safe ground and I was proud. Proud that I had risked at all. Exhilarated that I could do something like that and not die.

Ever since that moment, I’ve wondered what else I could do. How else can I let myself be surprised? How else can I trust? How can I go through 2012 with more moments of triumph?

Risking in community

Mini-thought on Risk #4

Going back to my year, I’m surprised. Surprised that loss after risk didn’t do serious damage to me or to my friends. Yes it hurts. So much. But not as much as it would hurt if I hadn’t realized what I do now. I know more of what I want after I risked and it didn’t turn out. I am healed more from a past that sometimes feels like a bag full of rocks that I don’t want to carry anymore. As much as it has hurt and still sometimes hurts, the risk was worth it.

Tootsie Pops, Waiting, The Real Story of the Cement Truck, and A Return from Tanzania

17 Dec

I don’t do New Years resolutions. For recovering perfectionists like myself, resolutions turn into “should haves” and “should haves” turn to guilt which soon becomes regret. So I don’t do that. Instead, every year, for the past three years, I’ve picked a word that will define that new year for me. Just one word. This year’s is JOY. And if you’re a regular reader, you know what I’ve learned about joy over the past 12 months.

However, instead of pondering about it too much, my word for 2012 came early.

The Roddys before the retreat

It was November. The culmination of a lot of things for me. I go on an annual young adult retreat every year at this time. I have a birthday, usually an occasion in and of itself. Thanksgiving happens. And this year two great friends, Liz and Shannon Roddy, came back after being gone for a year and a half in Tanzania, Africa serving at Wild Hope International. Oh how I had waited for them. In the midst of life I would often say aloud and yet rhetorically, “Liz and Shannon should be here, don’t you think?” At first it was a sad addition to whatever memorable moment my friends and I were having at the time. Then it became a joke to those who know me well. Before I could even say it, my roommate would see the sad look on my face as my forehead wrinkled, my head turned down, and my eyes filled slightly with tears and she would ask, “What, I’m not good enough? Just kidding. I know. Liz and Shannon should be here.”

But they weren’t. For a year and a half (despite the fact that they were doing amazingly awesome things and growing a ton), they missed birthdays, Christmases, milestones.  My breakup, my roommate’s new promotion to pastoral staff, that time I took a missions trip to the Czech republic, births of babies, deaths of people within our church, small moments, big moments. There’s only so much you can relay over Skype. They missed a lot. And I missed them. Waiting, waiting for their arrival back into my life.

When I saw their faces for the first time, I remembered what it was like to have complete  joy return. I hugged them and jumped up and down, probably waking up all of my sleeping neighbors as we lugged their bags into my apartment. Finally. They. Were. Here. And they were in the same room as me, breathing the same air, cracking jokes and able to engage with us without the screen freezing or the power going out. We laughed. We realized how much we had changed. And how much we were still the same.

I found in the time that they were visiting us that I wanted everything to go faster. Maybe it was a hold over from the year and a half of waiting. I wanted to catch them up on everything, hear their stories, and live the life that had been missed by all of us for the past 18 months.

This urgency culminated on our way to the young adult retreat. I was so used to waiting that I didn’t want to wait anymore. I wanted us to BE there. So when our car got stuck behind a cement truck going 20 MPH on a mountain road, I got irate.

The rest of the car thought I was crazy with impatience. I kept yelling at the truck to move over.  He wouldn’t move. Every turn was torture. Every place he could pull over, he refused. Finally, what seemed like hours later, the truck slowly found its way to the shoulder. (My roommate swears it was only 30 seconds that we were stuck behind the truck). After my irrational behavior, everyone else in the car was convinced I needed to settle down. But I didn’t.

I kept being impatient.

And suddenly like that, the Roddys were gone again. The card games, the night at the Lawry’s Steak House with Liz, the pool sharking she and I had done at the retreat, the spiritual conversations. It all went by in a flash.

We're such pool sharks! We were on a roll!

Even in this season of advent. I’m ready for New Year’s. I want to skip through Christmas because I don’t feel like it’s Christmas. I want to get to the good part of the story, the chocolate dipped cone at the bottom of the ice cream drumstick, the Tootsie Roll in the center of the Tootsie Pop.

It’s in the quiet moments I realize that I need to wait. For what, I don’t know. Maybe a whisper. Maybe an answer? Maybe just silence. Yet there is something pushing me forward. I don’t know what it is. I don’t want to miss this chance to wait, though. I know in my heart the greatest gift the world has ever seen is coming soon. And in my impatience, I may miss Him. And that would be a great tragedy.

As I was contemplating waiting this past week, I heard this in a poem by Issac Wimberly in spoken word form that makes me want to be a better wait-er.

This groaning was growing, generation after generationKnowing He was holy, no matter what the situationBut they longed for HimThey yearned for HimThey waited for Him on the edge of their seatOn the edge of where excitement and containment meetThey waitedLike a child watches out the window for their father to return from work—they waitedLike a groom stares at the double doors at the back of the church—they waited

And in their waiting, they had hope

Hope that was fully pledged to a God they had not seen

To a God who had promised a King

A King who would reign over the enemy

Over Satan’s tyranny

They waited

Wow. People waited YEARS for Jesus. 400 years. And I get all upset about a cement truck and a year and a half without my friends. Despite all my wanting the best for people, I can still get upset about still being single while others are getting engagement rings and sonograms. Perspective shift, much after hearing this poem/spoken word? Yeah. Definitely. I can wait. And in the moments I can’t, I will learn. I will hope that despite the fact that things don’t work out exactly the way I planned that there still is a plan. And in that hope I can believe that the lyrics to the song I heard recently by Jesus Culture are true. “I have a plan for you/ It’s gonna be wild/It’s gonna be great/It’s gonna be full of Me.”

So because of this, this next year will be the year that I will learn to wait. Patience: my word for 2012.

I Say Goodbye And You Say Hello – Dating, Letting Go, And The Messyness In Between

28 Nov

I sat there on that beach all alone, no one watching except for God.  I cried out and let myself breathe for the first time in weeks. Tears came streaming out of my eyes, my nose was running everywhere. I knew that it was finally time to let go. It had almost been a year. I’d held on too long. I’d told everyone I knew about cutting soul ties and how essential it was to the grieving process and yet here I was, still holding on to a ghost of a relationship. A “what could have been.” A “why didn’t it work?” A “but if only I didn’t do this.” And the more realistic thoughts followed: “Well we did fight a lot” and “I did spend a lot of time trying really hard to make it work.” Reality set in. It didn’t work. It hadn’t worked. He didn’t come back no matter how hard I prayed and maybe deep down I knew he wasn’t supposed to. And so, here I was, by myself on this beach a year later. I was okay. I really was okay. I’d made it through the worst thanks to God and the support of my family and friends. I’d grieved. I’d had a lot of conversations with people who loved me well through my sadness. I’d taken leaps forward and steps back. I’d survived awkward encounters and messy interactions. Our mutual community had loved us well as individuals despite it all. I’d respected him. I’d loved him from a distance. I’d acted out of what I knew to be true, not just my feelings about the situation and it served me well. And now I needed to say goodbye for once and for all.

I didn’t want to let go of my ghost, but it had become a safety net. Less scary than facing the unknown or letting some stranger I didn’t know into my heart just to wonder if it would happen all over again. 

Sometimes dating makes you feel like this. Everyone else has it all figured out and is enjoying themselves while you're standing in the shadows.


But here’s the thing about dating and I say this a lot. It’s risky. RISKY. Sometimes you just don’t know. You’re not sure if it’s going to end. You’re not sure even as it’s beginning. Somehow, some way, it just starts happening. It’s like a roller coaster. You don’t know where you’re at or where he or she is at. Some moments you’re floating on air and the next you feel like you’re going to throw up.

When you get to that point to where it’s time to have a conversation about your feelings, you’re afraid you could ruin everything. But that’s where the trust comes in. That’s when it’s time to realize that this “relationship” or whatever it is isn’t totally up to you. Yes, you can do your part and be open. You can be vulnerable and flirty and fun. You can give it a chance. You can enjoy the ride. But at some point, just as in the grieving process when I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed help, I realized that too about dating.

Dating is a risk because there are no guarantees.

We like to create our little safe havens complete with security blankets and we hold on to the illusion that we are in control of our dating lives. We think that if someone says the right thing or does something in the exact way that we hope that somehow that will make the stars align and everything will work out just the way we want it to.  The reality is, we are in control of our own feelings and actions but that still may not equal a relationship working out the way we’d hoped. We can do everything “right” and it still may not work. All the good physical boundaries in the world can’t solve a relationship problem when the relationship just isn’t working.

So what then? My answer? Simply this: Let go. What? LET GO. It’s not up to us. It’s up to the loving and all-powerful, all-knowing God who created us and knows our stories better than we know ourselves. He can soothe our anxieties. He will calm our fears. When we don’t know what to do, we can look to God and he will help us remember to breathe again.

Dating can also feel like a balancing act. Kind of like this.

(Now a side note. I don’t want to come off sounding like a bitter woman who looks at dating as if we’re walking on mouse traps about to get set off if we take one wrong step. That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying it’s going to take courage to put yourself out there. It’s going to take you trusting God in the tricky spots when you don’t feel like it. It’s going to take getting out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to realize that without the risk, you’ll be sitting home for a lot more Saturday nights wondering why you’re alone. I’m not saying that we’re all in charge of our own dating destinies, but in a way, I suppose I am. Are you putting yourself out there with people you don’t know? What about with people you do know who you may not have considered before now? Have you just written everyone off and become bitter? Nothing makes me more sad in the context of dating in community when someone has just given up and resigned that no one will ask them out or that no one will say yes and they just stop trying. That’s sad. What if you start to see yourself differently than that? What would that look like? Sidenote over)

So there I was. On the beach. Crying my eyes out. Knowing I had to let go but not really knowing how. And that’s when I started to write a letter to the guy I had dated. Well, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t just to him. It was to all the guys I dated who I’d never taken the time or who I had been to scared to let go of. Now I’d written the anger letter (never sent it). I wrote the sad letter (didn’t send that either). It was time for the goodbye letter that I’d written ten times without finishing. The one that I was afraid to think about because I knew it would mean that I would have to say goodbye for once and for all. But I knew I was ready. I wrote my letter. I cried a lot during it. I prayed, too. I asked God to take away the soul tie and break it. That didn’t mean that I would forget. I asked for forgiveness in the letter. I also forgave him for the ways in which he’d hurt me. Then I pictured myself reading him the letter. I addressed him. I talked to him during the reading of the letter. I cried. I told him why I had to let go and I told him how unbelievably sad I was that it hadn’t worked out between us. I even said something my very profound friend had mentioned to me when I was cleaning my room out to repaint it. I said, “I need to create space in my heart for something good to come into my life. I have to let you go to create that space.” It was the scariest thing I had done on the entire journey. Creating space for something good to come along. Trusting that there would be something else. Something better. I was trusting that God had something better for me than a life spent wandering in the desert for any longer.

Taken just days before a relationship I was in ended in 2005. Oh how glad I am now! And yet this picture, despite the meaning it used to have to me, actually reminds me of how God delivered me from that situation into others. Now I know He will do it again! He never lets go...

So here I am. Trusting again. That God is good. That he has something better for my future. Knowing that dating is risky, I still embark upon the journey. Because those sweet moments when you connect with someone through a look or have a new and unexpected adventure or learn to let someone into your heart again are worth it. Dating is worth it. It might be risky but it’s awfully fun and who knows who you’ll meet along the way? 🙂

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!

%d bloggers like this: