It’s been a while and what can I say? This year has been one of extreme growth in many ways. I last posted around February sometime and things have been crazy since then. I have no excuse for not posting in so long, but I’m back with a renewed faith.
It’s not that my faith dwindled at all over the past several months, but rather that my faith has been strengthened. When we go through trying times there are really only two outcomes for those of us who believe in the healing power of a true relationship with God: our faith increases and is strengthened OR our faith is tested and we allow the enemy to turn us away from His promises.
Over the past few months God has not only strengthened my faith and dependence on Him, but He’s shown me so many new things about myself that I don’t usually care to think about or ponder on a frequent basis. God taught me about loss, when I lost my beloved dog who was 14 years old and very much like a child to me. He taught me that it’s ok to try to love like that again when a few months later I adopted my new fur baby. He taught me about friendship when a friend, who lost her mother, needed support. He taught me about leadership when my single’s group co-leader got engaged and passed the torch on to me. He taught me about self advocacy and the importance of self care through some deep depressive episodes. I’ve grown in so many ways so far this year, but one of the biggest areas of growth has been in the area of dating.
I ventured out into the dating world for the first time in my adult life (other than maybe 2 dates I’ve had in my whole life). While it didn’t work out into anything more than a friendship, God showed me that it is possible for me to take some of the bricks down from the wall that I had unintentionally (and unknowingly) been putting up when it comes to dating. It’s not that I was totally blocked off from the idea of dating, but more that I was scared to change my status quo. I realized how happy I was in my life with just God, my dogs, and me. I didn’t feel that I NEEDED anything more than that and I was content. As I started going out on dates with someone, I began to question what I had known and thought about my contentment.
To be blunt, it was scary. I already have an anxiety disorder, so I just attributed everything I was feeling about dating to my lack of experience and the natural anxiety that I’ve always felt. I worked with my counselor to determine what was “normal” anxiety and what was pathological anxiety in order to sort out my feelings. Through that time I continued to pray for God’s guidance and wisdom. I wanted so badly to hear God speak to me through my anxiety and tell me how to proceed. God was also speaking in the other person’s life and working on things in him as well. I eventually came to realize that what I had been thinking was anxiety was actually more along the lines of me thinking of this person as “just a friend” and trying to make myself like him as something more. He was really a great person and I thought “he’s a great guy and I SHOULD like him romantically, so it must be my anxiety keeping me from being sure.” The truth is, once I actually took the time to seek out wise counsel and listen to what God was speaking into my heart, I realized that what I was thinking was not true.
I also had the thought that this would be my only chance to actually have a romantic relationship and I was afraid that it would go away, even though it turned out not to be exactly what I had wanted. As painful as it is to feel that way, I, again, turned to God and He spoke into my heart that even if it was my only chance, God was really all that I needed in order to be happy and fulfilled. He reinforced to me the true contentment that I experienced prior to dating and I began to feel happy about returning to my life of God, my dogs, and me. Just to be clear, I have many more fulfilling things in my life including wonderfully supportive friends, loving family, and a great church community, but when I boiled it down, God was back at the top of the list of things that made me happy.
So through the short dating experience that I had this year, God taught me that it’s ok to open up and be somewhat vulnerable. In order to keep our relationship with Him strong, we have to show the ultimate in vulnerability and humble ourselves outstretched on the ground. We have to allow God to lovingly pick us up from our low place on the floor, dust us off, and breathe His love into us once again because without God, we can’t ever feel real contentment or true happiness.
Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:12-13 “ I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.”
When we have a true relationship with God, we can be happy and know what true love feels like even when we have nothing. So when I’m surrounded by so many wonderful blessings (my amazing friends and family, my great dogs, a roof over my head, food in my belly, and everything I really NEED) how could I ever be disappointed and feel unloved simply because one dating experience didn’t work out? My Father made the ultimate sacrifice through Jesus to be with me forever! No, my friends, with God anything is possible. He has the power to lift us up and tear our walls down and I look forward to exploring the endless possibilities He has for me in my life and I hope and pray that you will, too!