I want to start off by saying that this post has been a difficult one for me to write. Not because I am reluctant to share my experience, but because I’m still on the journey to discover exactly what it means. I’ve been mulling it over for days and have come back to it several times because I’m unsure exactly what I want to say. I’m not sure how to explain my situation and I’m not sure what God has planned for this post, but the compulsion from the Holy Spirit keeps leading back to write something. I apologize in advance if it’s a bit haphazard, but this is a real moment that I wanted to share in the hope that someone can find use in my struggle.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that being single in our modern, busy, and increasingly secular world is difficult for Christians who are looking to date. While I’ve mentioned before that I wouldn’t recommend online dating, I have tried it on and off over the years. I recently (in a stupid and impulsive, midnight move) decided to sign up for an online dating site. While I instantly regretted it, I decided to finish out the 3 month subscription (since I’d already paid for it and can’t get my money back). I was talking to a friend recently, who had also recently signed up for online dating, and we were discussing how it’s generally underwhelming and only serves to highlight the reasons why we’re glad to be single.
I have been frustrated with the rejection from guys I like and have things in common with, you know, guys who seem like they might be a good match. I’ve been creeped out by the guys who are way older or way younger than me sending me weird messages (if you are old enough to be one of my parents, I just can’t handle that). Then there’s the guy (whom I’d NEVER been in contact with before) who sent me the first message one night of “you up? I’m in your city. Yes… that really happened. To make matters worse, the guy claimed to be a Christian on his profile! Then there are the guys who seem nice, but we don’t have much in common or they just aren’t my “type” for lack of a better descriptor.
It’s rare that I ever get past a few back and forth text messages with the few guys that I do match with, so when a guy that I found attractive and had things in common with sent me a message, I was super surprised and excited! He sent a respectful and actually very sweet message (not too forward- but not too complacent) and I responded. I looked at his profile and he ticked so many of the boxes of what I am looking for. Almost all of the boxes, except for one. He is not a Christian.
His profile stated “spiritual, but not religious,” but I thought I would give him a chance to explain exactly what that meant. I’ve known several Christians who believe in Jesus and His sacrifice, but have become somewhat jaded by mainstream religion, so I figured I’d see if that was the case. His answer was not exactly what I was hoping to hear. Needless to say, while he said he believed in God, he did not believe that you needed to follow Jesus to get to heaven.
I was deeply disappointed (there really isn’t even a word for how disappointed I felt) because I’d come so close to the possibility of liking someone who actually liked me back!! I was frustrated to be so close, and so very far, yet again in my life. I know deep down the importance in finding someone who is equally yoked, so the disappointment stung my heart and over a few days started to morph into anger and resentment.
I was angry at myself for talking to him in the first place, angry at society for the stereotypes that plague Christianity and turn people away from Jesus, angry with men for making up only 45% of the Christian population and 57% percent of the “not religious” population in the United States (check out this Pew Research Table), and angry with God for putting the restriction of being equally yoked on me for any future potential relationships. This anger caused me to question some of my own beliefs and I could feel the influence of the enemy using that to make me question God’s promises. Like Eve in the garden, the enemy made me question “is that really what God says?”
I called out to God and let Him know that I was struggling. I’ve cried myself to sleep several nights the past few weeks hoping God would comfort me with His presence. My mind dove deep into the recesses to explore why this was having such a huge impact on me in a way it hadn’t before. Trust me when I say that I’ve cried myself to sleep on numerous occasions from the despair of singleness, but this felt different. Why was this causing me so much pain, when I was actually following what God tells me to do?
The reason, I’ve discovered so far, is two fold. One, this is the first time in my life that I’ve truly liked a guy who liked me back. While I’ve gone on dates in the past, I was never really sure how I felt about the guy so the dates were more to find out if I even really liked him in a romantic sense. And two, the more important reason, is that this has been such a struggle because following God shouldn’t be easy and this has been a true, deep test of my faith.
God calls us to do many things. Be kind to others, tithe, honor our parents, follow Jesus. Some things are relatively straightforward and relatively easy to do, others are not. Choosing to follow Jesus was an easy decision… actually following Him is hard!
I’ve always been a rule follower. I’ve never been a rebel. I’m your traditional “good girl.” I don’t take risks without evaluating every possible outcome and I don’t tend to question authority. When I was a teenager, I was harder on myself in regard to behavior and grades than my parents could ever be. I never partied, didn’t drink alcohol before my 21st birthday, and the only reason I got my navel pierced when I was 23 was because my mom didn’t think I would (not that she didn’t want me to do it, but she didn’t think I’d go through with it). So I didn’t have a typical rebellious phase like most teenagers who explore things like dating while they are young. While I’m grateful to have been protected from the hurt often associated with these juvenile experiences, I’m finding that my current situation is pushing me to feel more resentful about needing to follow the rules in adulthood. I can feel the influences of the enemy telling me “you’ve followed the rules your whole life and where has it gotten you?”
Most of my friends who went through their rebellious phases in college or high school are now happily married. I didn’t make out with random strangers at drunken parties in college. I’ve never engaged in any casual (or committed for that matter) sexual relationships because “good girls” wait for marriage. I am active in my church and try to follow the rules outlined in the bible. I am by no means perfect and am well aware that I continue to sin every day, which is why I am so grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for everything that I’ve done or will do. But I have always done what I was supposed to do in order to be the “good girl,” and have remained the definition of single.
The difficulty, I’m finding, is coming in the waiting and the comparisons I draw between my situation and those of others. I’ve waited my whole life for an opportunity like this to arise, while others only had to wait until 2nd period English class in high school. The opportunity has finally come where a guy that I like actually likes me back. My whole life, I’ve been let down in this area. My whole life, I’ve done what I was supposed to do because “good girls” get rewarded. And now that I finally have it within my grasp, I have to walk away from it because of the rule set forth in the bible that we are to be equally yoked with our spouse.
2 Corinthians 6:14 states “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
While I’m well aware that dating will not automatically lead to marriage, it seems risky to open up your heart to someone without a potential future. If he were to find Jesus in the process that would be GREAT and AMAZING. However, it’s naive to continue talking to him and expecting that to happen. While I have no doubt that God can change the heart of even the most adamant unbeliever, it would be silly to invest my time, energy, and put my heart on the line to the very likely outcome of heartbreak in the end.
I’ve sought council with my support group of believers and have come to the conclusion that the only thing to do is to walk away from this opportunity. He offered to continue communicating and be friends since we both agreed that we wouldn’t be an equal match in the area of faith. I was actually excited about the idea of having a male friend, but after talking with some friends, I’ve decided that I need to guard my heart from the potential risk of falling further for someone that I know God would not want me to be with and walking away seems to be the only viable option at this point.
While I’m choosing to walk away from the potential for a relationship, I also have another choice to make. Will I allow this experience to draw me closer to God or further from Him? Will I allow my heart to harbor resentment for His many rules and guidance or will I choose to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding as Proverbs 3:5 calls me to do? While I can’t deny the frustration and anger that I feel about this situation, I will continue to talk with God about it and I know that He can handle my petty tantrum, because, well, He’s God. But you see, that’s the only way to continue forward. I have to put my trust in what God commands and where He leads because without Him I’m just a lost sheep who will end up devoured by the influences of the world.
So what’s left? Now I get to gather the shattered pieces of hope that held me over for the past 2 weeks and channel them into something for God. I’m not sure what that will be, but I know that God has good things in store. This is a true test of my faith and I’m determined to succeed.