Hi lovelies! Today I come to you with a RAINBOW of fun on the topic of dating. I am starting a multiple part series that I have wanted to address for some time. The struggles with DATING…. specifically, dating in big cities like NY + LA. Those of you who live in a big city, probably just said a huge AMEN out loud to your screen, because, well, there are just SO many of us frustrated by how dating has been for us in these large cities. I am not saying these dating phenomenons do not happen in other places, but I have noticed a trend that when I go home to Dallas 90% of my friends are happily married or in serious relationships. Conversely, here in Los Angeles, about 10% of my friends are married… + the same goes for my community in NYC. The pattern.does.not.lie. This percentage is not going up + NEWSFLASH, none of us are getting any younger…..
DATING: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
Over the past year + a half, I have gone on a healthy number of dates, attempted online dating + even had a boyfriend for 4 months [believe it or not, we are great friends now, praise Jesus!]. Through all of these experiences I have naturally had my heart broken, but instead of dwelling on the momentary hurt, I have realized that through the heartbreak, I have been able to truly learn, reflect, + grow in the process. To master something we truly have to go out there + try it. So guess what, if we don’t actually TRY to date, we will never actually GROW in knowing HOW TO DATE. That brings me to this blog post. If it wasn’t for those experiences over the last year + a half I would not be where I am today: a self motivated #girlboss with a love for JESUS that grows more + more deeply each + every day along with + a deeper understanding of myself, what I want + need in a relationship, + how to best be a partner to someone else.
So here I am, living in a big city full of vast amounts of gorgeous people in their 20’s + 30s who are ambitious, ever so talented, + for the most part, very capable of love. So what’s wrong? Why are people not getting married? Why are there a plethora of beautifully talented, + lovable people who are single until their late 30’s?
Today I want to address one of the 3 main answers I have received for why there is a lack of dating in our culture.
Reason # 1: “I’m just not dating right now.”
The classic reply, yet also the most perplexing to me. I have heard so many men + women who state very clearly that, “Dating would distract me from my goals + dreams.” [cringing already..] Now hear me when I say that I understand being focused on career, + I also understand wanting to focus on ourselves. However, saying that we will not allow ourselves to date is in essence putting God in our own tiny little box. We are fencing God into our plans + our own agenda by saying that we are [for ourselves] not going to date. Do we realize that these are our plans, not His? The reality is, we do not know God’s plans for our lives. In fact us NOT knowing is the BEAUTY of following the Lord. We can surrender our planning + our worries because our Heavenly Father has pre-orchestrated every little detail….PHEWIE that is so freeing + beautiful!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..” Colossians 1:10-11
So why then do people force themselves into a one track mind of not dating? More often than not, the answer is because they find themselves too busy figuring out their goals + dreams + what the heck they are doing with their lives. The issue with that is…. do we really + truly think God wants us to wait until we reach all of our specific goals + dreams prior to dating? Will we ever, truly reach our ultimate career goals, or will we constantly be striving for more [as we tend to do in this consumeristic culture]? Do we really need to be in the perfect financial position prior to committing to date? Do we need to have everything already figured out in our personal lives before joining on mission with someone else? The answer to all of those questions is, not really.
Culture these days, especially in larger cities, has pushed us to think that career is the most important achievement in life. We must work ourselves to a crisp in NYC with long hours + exhausting networking activities, or slave our lives away working multiple jobs trying to make it in the various arts industries in Los Angeles. Culture tells us to focus all of our energy on getting ahead. Before we know it we are spending 8 or more hours a day working a job only to find out we barely have any social life + are physically burnt out from exhaustion. Phew. I have been there, done that… for far too many years + let me tell you, focusing on only my career has not only left me exhausted, but also so empty hearted.
Now I must also admit that this is not just all me talking here! I have of course learned from personal experience, but prior to talking to you loves, I have consulted various wise mentors, peers, + of course the greatest book of all, the Bible. To that I must ask you all, where in the Bible does it say that our goal should be to focus solely on career or self improvement? When God refers to works in the bible, he is often referring to works for the good of the Kingdom. When we attempt to find our significance in work itself, we are left with some degree of satisfaction, but overall un-fullfillment. Solomon talks about this in Ecclesiastes 2:
“Then I considered all that my hands had done + the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
We may think we are being selfless by not wanting to get into a relationship because our careers are all consuming, and we may think we are sacrificing our own happiness for the sake of saving someone from hurt. But I hate to break it to you, that is ultimately putting our own goals above Gods. It is selfishness masked as selflessness.
So the bottom line is, when we put all of our eggs into the basket of career, the only thing hatching will be momentary fulfillment, but otherwise empty shells. I don’t know about you, but I want the shells I nurture + grow to be shells full of life! What can we do about this? We can stop being so one track minded. We can stop limiting God into our own plans just because we don’t think we can handle more than one thing at one time.
Reality check: God CAN and WILL work through multiple things SIMULTANEOUSLY…. because He is, well, GOD. He is the creator of the Universe, + the ultimate orchestrator of our lives.
My amazing mentor gave me a great example of God moving through multiple large areas of life when she came to Los Angeles to start a church community. While starting a church community there were many battles she found herself facing. She had to shift gears in her life to make space for the many hurdles that came with starting this new community. Simultaneously, her marriage also was in a vulnerable space + needed quite a bit of attention. Working on a marriage + starting a church are two huge feats to conquer. If she had only focused not the Church plant, her marriage would have deeply suffered. If she had only focused on fixing her marriage, the church plant may have never blossomed + flourished the way it was meant to.
Instead of focusing on just one or the other, she asked the Lord to move through both areas of her life simultaneously. She asked for space to make time for dates with her husband, while also carving out time for the church plant. This is so key. Through the challenge of starting that church plant + focusing on strengthening her marriage, her + her husband grew even closer to one another + closer to the Lord in the process. Their marriage powered forward because they were asking for God to be in every part of healing the broken areas. They made it a priority to find time for one another in their crazy busy days of church planting. Ultimately, they achieved even more because God willed for it to be + they trust + obeyed while pressing forth with both goals at hand.
Do not get so set on your own agenda that you miss out on God’s potential agenda that is so much greater. His agenda should be our agenda.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I know without a shadow of a doubt we all have an underlying desire to be loved + be in relationship [ultimately for marriage]. We all so desire + crave love…. pretty much more than our careers [or at least we should]. But instead, we put the majority of our effort into building our careers, versus building our relationships. What is so funny is that, relationships take so much effort! By the end of Genesis 3 we see so clearly through the example of Adam + Eve that relationships are.not.easy. We disobey. We make mistakes. We desperately need help. [SOS!] Indeed, relationships require a lot of time + a lot effort… the Bible tells us so!
So why are we nearing our 30’s or mid 30’s + still leaving relationships as the lowest priority on our totem pole? If one of our ultimate desires is to be in relationship + eventually get married, + if indeed relationships require a lot of time + effort, why do we not spend any time prioritizing dating whatsoever? No wonder we get to our mid 30’s + realize we are suddenly so lonely….we never prioritized putting an effort into the one thing we desired most!
My point of this is, “I am just not dating right now”, is ultimately a reason I have grown to really question. God is bigger than the
fence we are putting around our lives. He wants to burst out of our fences + show us a whole new pasture that is fun + exciting + far more broad than we could ever imagine. Just maybe this pasture has an amazing career… + maybe it ALSO has our prince/princess waiting to be rescued at the same time. God can + will work through multiple things…..so let Him.
More for next time, love you all.
Photos by Kat Hennessey