My heart was broken. I had finally found a great guy that I really liked who loved Jesus, but we ended up going our separate ways because we weren’t on the same page in life.
It seemed like this had been happening so frequently; I like a guy, he likes me, but things never got much farther than that. I started questioning if I was good enough to date guys. I thought that I had to act a certain way to be liked by guys. I overthought way too much and every waking moment I was wondering: “Is this the place where I will meet my future husband?”
I started to get mad at God. Why in the world was I 20 and still single? I didn’t understand! It seemed like everyone my age was getting engaged or married and I was the single girl in the back of the room.
So, God intervened. All while this had been happening, I was reading a book by Andy Stanley called The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating. I happened to finish the last chapter of the book on a cloudy October day when I had some time to kill before meeting a professor. The challenge of this last chapter was to take a year off of dating. No dates, no romantic feelings, no nothing. And as I read the last words of the chapter, I knew on the second page of that chapter that I needed to take the plunge and give one year of my life to not date anyone and focus on the Lord. So I did.
Here is what I learned by taking a year off of dating:
1. I am enough.
Jesus really taught me this in the last year. I’m still learning this. I am a daughter of the king. I am royalty. And I am SO loved by the creator of the universe. Sometimes I get chills thinking about it. I discovered my worth not in a guy, not in clothing or appearance, but in the Lord. This feeling of knowing that I belong on this earth for a purpose and believing this is one of the strongest and most powerful things I could ever trust.
2. My past doesn’t define me.
My past is kind of messy. My parents are divorced, I am super guarded, and I haven’t made the best decisions in my past relationships. For a long time during this hiatus from dating, I struggled with the thought that my past would be something that my future boyfriend or spouse would cringe at when I had to tell them. But then I was reminded that my past does not make me who I am now. The things that I have done, I cannot change. I cannot make anything better. But what I can do is change my future. I can learn from my mistakes and not make them again.
3. I discovered the unique ways that God made me.
For this past year, I have been able to focus on myself. One thing that I really took away from this year is learning about all of the spiritual gifts and parts of my personality that make me true to myself. I am tenderhearted, I love to serve, and I’m extroverted and love to meet new people. I love new places and am always up for a challenge. I talk too much and too loud and get off topic. I have the memory of a fish and have the spiritual gift of leadership and mercy. This was probably one of the most valuable lessons that I have learned about myself through this year, because I get to carry all of these things that I have learned into a future relationship, understanding how I am made and what I excel in, and ultimately why God made me this way. I have never been more thankful for personality and spiritual gift tests in my life!
4. I worked on being the someone that someone is looking for.
Andy Stanley had a great point when he said that I am “the someone someone is looking for." For a while, I didn’t understand. But then it clicked. I am someone’s wife. I am someone’s future girlfriend. And if I am preoccupied with other guys who are not worth my time or with things that do not glorify Jesus, will I be attracting the right guys anyways? This year was a year for me to work on myself. I worked on myself. I became healthier mentally and emotionally. I talked to a counselor. I went through a lot of family issues and leaned on the Lord in those moments more than I ever could to a boy. I learned how to continuously hunger for the word and seek out Jesus in my day-to-day life.
5. I served and worked in ministry like I never had before.
This past year, I got so involved in ministry I’m pretty sure I was too involved. I flew to Texas to be a camp counselor for half of the summer. I stayed up for a whole night and hung out with high schoolers. I started co-leading a high school group at my church. I served in the Nursery. I served my sorority sisters in a way that I never had before. And I did this because my motives were never to let certain guys see me serve, hoping that they would like me for my awesome selflessness. I served because I wanted to and because I could feel the Lord pushing me to get more involved with ministry. And now, I can’t imagine my life without the different ministries I have been in this past year. I am so thankful that I really got to serve whole-heartedly in ministry. Now, I can’t imagine my life or my future without being involved in ministry.