Dating. Oh dating. Dating after a divorce. Am I the only one who shutters when saying that?
Now I will not even pretend for a minute that I am any type of expert when it comes to dating.
I have been divorced for almost a year and a half and I have gone on like 5 dates total.
And all but one didn't go past the initial first date experience.
I often feel like a nerdy school girl trying to figure out this dating thing..... except I have two toddlers, a full time job, a home to maintain, stretch marks, and about 3 seconds of spare time.
It. Is. Rough.
Not only are we processing feelings, managing past hurts/rejections/lies, but we have these little lives to consider.
I have some basic guidelines I am trying to hold while I walk through this new territory of dating as a single Christian mom.
So... here are my FIVE takeaways from dating.
1.) Its okay to wait.
Wait? what?? I thought we were talking about DATING... not waiting! And we are! But its okay to not rush. Its okay to listen to the Holy Spirit and respond when He says to wait a little longer. I know that there are counselors, forums, websites, DivorceCare, and many others that will tell you WHEN you should start to date after a divorce. I have seen that the general rule is a year after the divorce is final. BUT what if you were never married? What happens when the divorce process lasts 3 years but you were separated that whole time? What if your divorce process was super quick (like in my case)? So. Many. Questions.
But I would say.... ask the Lord. And ask yourself tough questions.
Are you healed? Are you looking for someone to take care of you? Are you seeking dating to feel validated? Take a good honest look at your heart..... and even if your time frame is up and you still aren't sure.... then WAIT.
God can work amazing things during the wait.
Also... sometimes we can feel the peace to date and then the Lord will call us back.
I did not wait.... 5 months after my divorce was final I went on a date with a potential guy. We dated for about 2 months and then he ended things. Looking back (hindsight is always 20/20, right?) there was still so many things I needed to learn. So many things I needed to be free from.
Listen to your heart, listen to Godly council, and don't be afraid to take some time for you and rest in the wait.
2.) Fiercely protect your kids.
My boys are my world. Sometimes they can drive me crazy (which is what happens with a 4 year old and an almost 3 year old) but I love them.
So... I have made a decision to fiercely protect them while I am venturing out in the dating world. My boys are young enough to not really realize what is going on... but I still don't talk to a guy on the phone in their presence. I don't introduce men to my boys... and I wont until there is REAL commitment. I don't want my children to get attached to a man if he is not going to be here for the long haul. My heart will be able to recover but I don't want my boys to experience any more heart break or even heart confusion. I make it a priority. It takes more effort but those precious ones are worth it.
3.) Cling to Purity.
Ladies, this is huge! And so hard to do. The world tells us that it is old fashioned, not important, out dated, unrealistic, and judgmental.
I say no! It is Holy.
'How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.' - Psalm 119:9
Just because we have done it before (even if it was last week) does not mean we cannot stop and start again fresh and new.
Sex complicates things so so much. It creates false attachment. It confuses our feelings. And the Lord desires for us to remain pure.
Is it easy? Well... not always. Is it worth it? I believe so!
Find friends to be accountable to. Let them into your world and be open to answering tough questions.
For me, I want my marriage to be blessed. I want trust in it. I want to practice self control so that I can trust myself and my future husband that much more because we waited.
Make boundaries early... because if you wait until the heat of the moment.... well... its a little late.
Discuss it early on in dating. Do not be ashamed to say "I am waiting until my wedding day."
4.) You can meet an amazing Christian man and it could still not work out.
This is a great takeaway and one that was said by a sweet mom in a fb group I am in. But how true is this? I have "dated" two incredible Christian men... and guess what? It didn't work out! They were not the guys for me. Are they still awesome? Yes. Are they still great Christians? Absolutely. But neither quite felt right for one of us. One guy I dated (remember when I dated a little bit too early?) was sweet and loves the Lord. He is a great father and leader. BUT..... he looked at me more as a friend. And we are still friends, now! The other guy I dated was so on fire for God. He had passion and zeal. He was thoughtful and sweet. I did like him....but for whatever reason it just didn't feel like it fit. I felt a "no" in my heart and I had to be obedient. There were no huge red flags. One I was caught by surprise and I was sad. Just because he is a great Christian doesn't mean it is going to work out. And that is okay. Don't we want God's best for us?
5.) It is possible to be content in the Lord and still have a desire to remarry.
I struggled with this for a loooooonnnngggggg time. I am not going to lie. I was being told by SO many that I needed to be content in the Lord and that is it. That when I stopped desiring to be married... that is when God will bring someone. I was getting so discouraged that I was still desiring to be a wife again and to have more children. But somewhere in my wait (see how good the wait can be?) God reminded me that He placed that desire in my heart and He wants to give me them as I take delight in Him. (Psalm 37:4)
Now I LOVE my life. I love my house, my children, my independence, my job (well sometimes haha), and that He is pursuing me. But I still have that underlying feeling of wanting to be a Godly wife to a Godly husband.
Now, if I never get married again... my life will still be great! I will still do amazing things for God. I will still raise great boys! My hope is in the Lord NOT in getting married.
I have just learned that there is this sweet balance with being content that this is my life now and having hope for something else. My marital status does not define me.
I will choose to give up what I think I want in exchange for what God has for me.
Because it could be bigger and better and sweeter then what I have ever imagined.
enjoy the process. Dating is not a pass or fail situation (fail if it doesn't work out, pass if it does). Its all about learning and growing. Learning about more and more of what we want and don't want. Growing into the woman God has made us. I want to be a Godly wife... that means I need to LEARN what it means to be a Godly wife. I need to be a GODLY WOMAN first! Learn. Grow. Pray. Hope.