Monday, April 21, 2008

Singleness, Part IV (Lessons I Have Learned)

Through both dating and being alone I have learned a lot of lessons... Funny how many of them I have learned while being in China too...

Don't date/allow your children to date too early... While I know I completely went against my father's wishes and did this anyways, it was kind of crazy. At a very young age, I was willing to give my heart away. I did not know enough about relationships, the world around me, and most importantly myself. While it was nice being the girl that got to bring the college guy around, there was a gap in lifestyles that I did not understand.
Premarital sex is a temptation... if you don't think so then you are lying to yourself.
Don't settle... if the guy(girl) does a lot that gets under your skin, break it off early. Don't bother waiting to see if he (she) will change. You will end up calling them "Mouth Vomit" later... save yourself the reference.
Don't be something you are not... eventually it will all come out in the end. If you don't like roller coasters then just say so. It is worth it to stand up for things. (If not, you might end up puking on his sister!)
Learn to respect your date for who they are... It is easy to get so excited about the fact that you are getting to go out, that you end up focusing the whole evening around you. If you really listen to them then you both will end up having a lot more fun. Don't go through the checklist of things you like and dislike while on a date. Save it for another time, another place. Normally, it took courage on both of your parts to even go out so don't ruin it in the first 5 minutes.
Find a person of the opposite sex with to share with... (Did Beth really just say that?!?! Debbie Mankin would fall over dead!) Sometimes doing this is a little dangerous because when sharing so much with person of opposite sex, you are sharing a lot about things others don't know. If you feel like you are beginning to have feelings then stop. However, I cannot tell you how much I have benefited from discussing being single, dating, etc. with my teammate Brad. It has given me a lot of insight to myself and to how a guy feels about things. (Note: we might be in a unique situation because so much of our lives are each other's too... I have the right to take this back in the future...)
Have a group of same-sex help hold you accountable and pray for you... I have my "Strong Girls" that I know pray for me daily. This group of girls is very diverse... one married, one engaged, one in a foreign country and single, and two others that are single... talk about coming from all walks of life. The advice I get from these Godly women... Wow... Just so blessed. I am also thankful for my teammate Amy who puts up with all my silly emotions regarding singleness and just life in general. She has been here physically with a shoulder to cry for those times when I got a break-up box in the mail, an unwanted email from a past boyfriend, or finding out that an old boyfriend is marrying one of your dearest friends. (I am telling you I do have a little experience with dating and being single! ;) )
Learn to be thoughtful... Whether it is thinking for others' hearts and helping to keep them pure or by learning to open up and share your life, thoughtfulness is important. There is not a day that goes by that I don't pray for my future spouse. (Shoot, I have been writing him letters since 5th grade... the husband box...) While singleness is a state of great emotions, you must remember that you are not in that state alone. Your friends are. Your date is. While I am not a huge fan of Joshua Harris, I liked the introduction of his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He gives the idea that someone on their wedding day while saying their vows, gets a little spooked because while saying vows, past dates keeping walking up. The idea that we give our hearts away to others before our spouse. I do think of this picture a lot. It helps keep me on track because Lord knows, how special I want my wedding day to be for my husband.
Don't become a basher of the opposite sex... I felt like the book Rethinking Singleness did a lot of that. While the role of men might have changed, men to struggle in many of the same ways we do as women. It is unfair to say that men just are boys with toys. I believe that there are a lot of men out there who struggle more with making decisions more than in the past, but I think that in some ways this will help them to be stronger leaders/men when they do make decisions. We should be encouraging them instead of blaming. I am a fan of the books Captivating and Wild At Heart.
It's okay not to be happy... I agree with Debbie Mankin when she said that you do not have to be happy with being single, nor do you need to keep up with excuses of why you are okay with being single. I would even go so far as to say, that you don't have to be content. However, I think that you should learn to be hopeful. Put your trust in God. Much easier said than done. However, when you put that trust there, when you hand it over, you might be surprised to see how much happier your life is period.

I could go on and on using stories about myself and things I have learned, but these are some of the big ones. I think overall, in any state you are in life, the main goal is seek God first. The other stuff will come together for you. God is the only one who can see the big picture, so don't get so frustrated by looking at the the corner of a masterpiece. The unveiling is going to be beautiful.

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