Okay, so I really tried to put off talking about singleness for a while. This is in part because if you look at the "tags" for our blog, you’ll see SINGLENESS in gigantic letters because I talk about it approximately 10x more than either of us talk about anything else. That’s kind of embarrassing… and I wish it wasn’t constantly on my mind. But, the reality is that it is.
So, the other day, W signed me up for eHarmony. For any of you who are curious, registering a profile on eHarmony is a serious process that typically takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours. W did it ALL… because that’s how much she loves me. Or, that’s how much she wants to live vicariously through my dating life, as now she’s just boring and married. (haha love you!) Anyway, I didn’t really ask her to do it and I didn’t get around to doing it myself because I just wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. But, she did it anyway and after clicking on my profile and perusing my "matches" I found myself phenomenally overwhelmed. It was really strange, actually. I had this almost visceral response where I literally felt I just couldn’t take it. It was just… too much.
Why was it too much? Why was I so freaked out by it? I shocked myself with the response I had to it. So, I’ve been thinking about it, and I decided that I’ve grown to believe (what I hope is) a gigantic lie. It is this:
God doesn’t want to give me a nice, wonderful man… and He will not be pleased if I ever find one.
Hmmmmmmmmmm. That’s a big one. It’s lead me to believe that although wanting a husband is within His will, dating or doing anything about it is contrary. While there are some people that I believe are truly called to singleness for life (Jesus, Paul, the Pope(s), Mother Theresa, Shane Claiborne are all great examples) I really don’t think I’m one of them. So why do I believe that God will be upset at me for dating? Why do I feel like His only role in my dating life is one of antagonism? Does anyone else feel this way?
Thought #1 – Experience is Nature's Teacher
Part of the reason I think this way is because of my past. Although God has given me a handful of "love interests" over the past couple of years… we all know that they’ve been less than stellar, on the whole. Moreover, the longer I’ve been on the dating scene, the worse the men seem to be getting! My relationships have seriously steadily declined in duration from about a year and a half (at 19 years old) to just a couple of weeks or months now (at 25). What the heck!? Some would argue that "it’s better to have loved and lost"… but really this situation just has me increasingly discouraged. I think it’s better to have loved and lost maybe one or two great loves… loving (or liking) and losing upwards of 10+… now that’s just getting absurd. How am I supposed to believe that God wants someone good for me (and will give it to me) when experience has proven very much otherwise… over and over and over?
Thought #2 - Distraction is of the Enemy
It's a widely-accepted Christian idea that distraction is one of the primary tools that Satan uses to tempt and take down Christians. We talk in our churches all the time about avoiding distractions. Ambition distracts us... greed distracts us... pride... laziness... the list goes on. The primary argument against many of these sins is that they are inherently bad because they distract us from our ultimate purpose of serving God. Idolatry is such a grievous sin because it distracts us from appropriately worshiping God. Take even lying... the issue is not simply that it hurts others (although it does); the issue is that living the lies and keeping track of the lies is a major distraction. Any time we are consumed with anything other than God... we call it sin. But here's the problem... is there any greater distraction than love? I really don't think so. Grief is a distraction... but isn't grief really just a symptom of love? Jealousy, certainly.
So, I find myself starting to get distracted by someone... and it feels like I'm doing something wrong. Like I should be "setting my mind on things above" (Colossians 3:2) and using all of that mental space for something better. You know? But, at the end of the day, I don't think it's possible to love and be undistracted. I don't think there's a feasible way to be captivated by someone and not find it distracting from everything else. Yet, it still feels like there is sin in doing so.
Thought #3 - "Use this Season"
My final thought here is that I really think this false belief is wrapped up in the rhetoric that the church uses to talk about dating. Although well-intentioned, all of this talk of "using your singless for its purpose" and "God will give you a relationship when it's His time" also subtly communicates something else:
You're supposed to accomplish something right now and God is going to withold your spouse until you do it.
That's dangerous thinking. This kind of thinking turns God into someone that I like to believe He isn't. But that's totally what the church says... and it's one thing if it could be something tangible like "Hey, learn to speak Portugese because you don't know it yet, but your husband is Brazilian!" It's quite another, though, when the message seems to be "Hey, you better fix this about your [insert deeply personal issue here about body, emotions, past, etc] or else you'll never be marry-able and God knows that." Granted, no mainstream church is really saying that... but that's really what it feels like from time to time.
So, all of these things put together have caused a great bit of confusion in my mind, and, I believe in the minds of many other single, Christian men and women that I encounter. Moreover, there are a host of other false dating beliefs out there and this is only one of them. Eek. Maybe I should do a series of these? Lord knows I've encountered enough of them across the handful of men that I've dated!
In any case, I definitely think this is something that needs more prayer time in my life... Perhaps God truly is giving me a red light (and for good reason?) or perhaps this false belief is nothing more than a stumbling block created by the brokenness of the world. Whatever it is, I need to figure it out! I need to believe that God will be just as happy about me finding my future spouse as I will. I mean, He will be... right?