This past Sunday, Pastor Chris talked about the dangerous aspects of relationships and how we can establish guardrails in that area of our lives. For some people, he said, the guardrail that’s needed most is to step outside of relationships for an entire year. “You need to really wrestle with whether or not you need to reset the whole thing, and allow God to redefine this for you,” he said. “And trust Him that he loves you enough to do it in a way that’s best for you.” This is the story of someone who did just that, trusting God to redefine her view of relationships.
When my last relationship ended, I was left with a pile of regrets and insecurities. In the past, I’ve let these emotions overwhelm me, but this time, in the middle of the hurt, confusion and frustration, I was determined to not repeat the same pattern. This time, I decided to cling to God like never before. And after prayer and fasting, it was clear to me that God wanted me to take a break from dating… for a year.
Romantic relationships have always followed the same pattern for me. I’m interested in a guy, and within a few days, he knows the most intimate details of my life. When we start dating, I forget about friends, family and even myself, as I focus on him. I daydream about marriage and start planning the details of the big day in my head. I have a way of convincing even my most skeptical best friends that this time, I’ve found “the one.” And when that relationship ended, the next time I was able to talk them into it again, and then again.
The fear of being alone, coupled with flashbacks of my parents’ failed marriage, haunted me. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know that God was hurting as I spent countless nights sobbing in my college dorm because of a failed relationship with a guy who I thought loved me. Every time it happened I lost another part of me.
By the summer after my freshman year, I felt like I had lost all of me. I was completely emotionless, and my body was tired. It was tired of not being respected and tired of carrying life and then death. I stopped eating and spent too much time sleeping.
The only thing that was able to bring me back to life was Jesus.
With Jesus, my identity isn’t found in a man full of empty promises or an “I love you.” My identity is found in Christ, the only One capable of providing perfect and unselfish love.
Five years ago, I made a vow that I was going to remain celibate until marriage. Having pre-marital sex had just left me with scars. Even that decision wasn’t enough to kill the idol that relationships had become in my life, though, and so a year of not dating began.
Trusting God with my romantic relationships has been the most difficult decision I have made, but it has been the decision that has given me the most peace and fulfillment.
During this year of no dating I have learned that for far too long in my life, I have ignored that God made me for much more than being someone’s girlfriend. I spend more time in His Word now and because of that, the doors that need to be opened or closed are much clearer. It’s an ongoing process that I have had to get used to.
What does a dating fast look like? For me it looks like not meeting with guys one-on-one, not talking to guys on the phone after 10 p.m. and making sure I’m surrounded by friends if I’m at an event with a guy I know I like. I have slipped up a few times, but my community at Hoboken Grace always reminds me of why I started this journey.
Sometimes during this year, I’ve asked God to reward me with husband material right after the fast ends. His response is to stop expecting what’s not certain and take in my life day by day, working for Him and not man.
I can honestly say that I am now content with whatever plan God has for me in the future, and I want to take advantage of every day without regrets. Right now, I have family members who don’t know God’s love, and I can’t waste time not praying. I have a strong desire to help poor communities of color succeed, and I have God-given talents that can’t be wasted. I have a mission to fulfill, and I have no need to worry.
If I do get married and have a family in the future, I can say I have learned through this fast to rely on God through every upcoming obstacle. And if it doesn’t happen, I now know He’s all I need anyway.