Scripture to reflect upon: Jude 20
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit (emphasis added).
What gives me the authority to talk to you about dating?
Six years ago I felt so broken and so alone that I was convinced I’d never know love. Today, I am married to one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met and we have an incredibly bright two-year old son. But it took me thirty-eight years, three horrific marriages, and over one hundred broken relationships to find him. Through all the heartache, pain and suffering I endured, I never thought I, of all people, would know this kind of love and happiness. And I am confident that if it can happen for me, it can happen for you, too; and hopefully you won’t have to go through the hell I went through to get there! That is my ultimate goal for you, my single, hopeful friend!
The problem I faced from the age of twelve (yes, that’s when I started dating, believe it or not!) to thirty-seven was plain and simply…me! I was my biggest problem. I was my biggest obstacle that I needed to overcome. For too many years it was so easy to just keep blaming the world, blaming men, and blaming society, when in fact there wasn’t anyone truly to blame other than myself.
I spent the majority of my life calling guys: jerks, scum, dirt bags, idiots, and various other vicious names. I think I learned this early on from my mother. If she wasn’t saying it (and she was), she was projecting it all over the place. Men sucked. They never stayed. They always left. They always cheated. They always lied. They always…
My father left us when I was five. He left my mother for a woman he had already started another family with several years prior to the time of his leaving. My mother often left me home alone at nights as a young girl so she could go out and meet men. It wasn’t too long before she met my first step-father, and it wasn’t much longer after they got married when he began to beat her, and then eventually molested me when I was eleven. Regardless of it all, there were glimmers of hope that they would divorce, but then she would just end up getting back together with him, and the abuse cycle carried on for several more years. As a young girl, I just didn’t understand why she would put up with that, and it angered me to no end.
See, now right here we can stop this story and have a nice little pity party for me. It was my daddy who left me, and my mommy who taught me how to be abused. Sure. We could do that, because to some extent it’s partly true, but eventually…there is no one else but you who can be responsible for you and the choices you make. When you look in the mirror who looks back at you? Who makes the choices you make? Who decides who comes and goes in your life? Who is in control of you?
The horror stories of my dating, relationships, and married life are too many to mention here today, but let’s just recap my mother’s life and you’ve got it all figured out.
I didn’t see myself as worthy of love. I could tell you that I quite honestly believed no one loved me at all my entire life. That may not be true, but it’s not a lie to tell you that’s exactly how I felt for thirty-seven years.
I got saved a few months before I turned thirty. One of the reasons I gave my life to Christ was the mere idea of being loved by someone, even if it meant someone I couldn’t see or touch. Just the idea of being loved…that was enough for me. I wanted to know that, and God was faithful in making me feel a love I’d never known before. But eventually here on earth, we want to know physical love. So I returned to my old relationship patterns: looking for exactly the wrong kind of guys who would prove to me that they were all jerks, scum, etc. I was still saved, and I was still living for God, but even the Christian guys I was picking were no better than the “worldly” men I had dated before getting saved.
The truth was: Jesus loved me, but I didn’t. I didn't know how, or where to even begin.
If you’re like me, you’re a tough woman. (Unless, of course, you’re a man. Don’t worry, there’s something for you, too!) You are strong, independent, and you don’t put up with anything from anyone…unless it’s a guy you’re crazy about, that is. Unless, unless, unless. See, we have all these rules about our life: who comes, who goes, who says what, and what we will deal with and what we won’t...unless it’s a guy. And most people are amazed to learn about the type of men you date and how they mistreat you. They can't imagine such an amazing woman of your caliber ending up with such a loser like so-and-so. And sometimes, neither can you!
And men, you may be one of those “good guys” who keeps getting burned because the women you fall for are the ones who always end up with that loser so-and-so. They date you in the in-between, end up dumping you to go back to Loserville, and you’re wondering why they would ever choose someone like that over someone like you. Well, read on and be enlightened.
For the longest time I couldn’t tell you what the problem was. I just knew that I was basically dating the same guy over and over and over and over again. They never got better, they only got worse! So when 99 out of 100 men are like that, it’s all too easy to blame all men. But that’s 99 out of 100 men YOU choose to be with. And sure, we’ll quietly admit that we may be difficult to live with, but that’s not even scratching the surface. We don’t want to scratch too hard or too long, otherwise the scab comes off and we begin to bleed, and no one likes a bleeder.
I wonder how many women consider the relationship patterns in their life and begin to do some self-evaluation, and come up with the solution that maybe they’re the problem. (Big gasps!!) But a lot of women don’t want to do this. You don’t want to go there. That’s claiming that maybe something’s wrong with you, and you don’t want to believe that. Who does? I didn’t. I wanted to believe it was them—that was easy, although painful, but not nearly as painful as admitting I may be the problem. I just saw myself as this wonderful, fun, loving woman who just always happened to stumble upon rotten eggs. Why was I being so mistreated? Why did men always leave me? Why did they always cheat on me? Why did they always lie to me? Hmmm… All men must be bad, I remember hearing that somewhere early on in life. In fact, I recall a lot of people telling me that, and showing me that, too.
It’s something I believed from day one, and every time I heard it or said it to someone or even to myself, I was making it true for my life. By believing all men were bad, those were the kind of men I attracted. I may as well have had a big neon sign over my head blinking: “ABUSE ME! MISTREAT ME! I KNOW YOU’LL DO IT ANYWAY. I DON’T TRUST THE
LOT OF YOU! SO HAVE AT IT!!” And if that visual is amusing to you, it’s not so far off. We may not have the blinking sign over our head, but we surely carry that idea with us everywhere we go and it hovers over us. That “idea” presents itself to the exact guy you can’t stand to be with, but somehow find yourself in a relationship with over and over again.
The good guys? Well, they don’t exist, so you won’t even see one if he knocks your big blinking sign down with a baseball bat, crashing it to the ground. You’ll pretend he’s not real, because in your mind, he’s not. You bought the lie and wear it very well. So you casually pick up the pieces of your shattered sign, glue it back together and hang it back over your head: Come and get me!
But there’s another side to all of this, and it goes along with the scripture I posted. How do you see yourself? How do you treat yourself? Are you always saying, “I always meet jerks,” or “I must not be good enough for good guys”? Oh, but you have that rough and tough exterior when a guy mistreats you, “I’m too good for this crap!” Don’t you? But somewhere deep down inside, in the core of who you are, you don’t fully believe that because you end up putting up with that crap anyway, again and again. “I’m leaving him for good this time!” Yeah, sure you are.
If you are subconsciously sabotaging the men of the world, what do you think you are doing to yourself? What are the lies you are telling yourself? What are the lies that the world is spewing that you don’t believe on the surface, but carry inside of you? You’re not thin enough to be loved. You’re not tall enough to be attractive. You’re not smart enough (or dumb enough) to find that kind of guy. You’re not. You’re not. You’re not. Or, you’re too fat. You’re too old. You’re too this, or too that. What’s your story?
Build yourself up…but don’t stop there. Have faith and pray. Start believing that you are worthy of love and good things. Pray to God and ask Him to show you your worth. Have faith in the goodness of people, even if you don't see it all the time.
ACTION PLAN: The world will treat you the way you treat yourself. So this week, take a good look at how the world treats you. That will give you an indication of how you may be treating yourself. Be kind to yourself. Speak good things into your life, even if you don’t believe it at first. Stop buying into the lie that all men (or women) are only one way, and instead start believing that there are good people in the world, but you just have to see them first and recognize their worth, too.
GO FURTHER: Stop looking for the time being. Give yourself some time to start focusing on you and recognizing your relationship patterns. Journal about the kind of people you’ve been in the habit of dating. How did they treat you? Were they usually the same kind of person? What’s the recurring story in all of your relationships? If you were to look past the exterior of who you are (the façade), how would you describe yourself (be completely honest and don’t try to say/write things you think you should!)? What is loveable about you? What are your good qualities? What are your bad qualities, and how can you change them? Does your relationship with God play a role in your decisions about relationships? Do you ask God for His guidance? Do you know your worth to God? How do you think God feels about you; how do you think He would describe you? Remember…He loves you unconditionally. If you didn’t know that, then have an honest talk with Jesus. Ask Him to show you His unending, unfailing love to you. If you journaled these things, physically present it to God and ask Him to help you with those things. Invite Jesus into your life and let the healing begin.
Until next week…remember, I love you. Jesus loves you. You are worthy of love!