The dating game is one that I honestly never expected to play. My view (some 15-20 years ago) was that I would experience a sort of “Disney fairytale” smothered from a spray can of Jesus, which is my own very definition of what “Christian courtship” looks like. That was the message when I was growing in my faith, and that was the message I surely believed.
I remember somewhere around my 20th year, chatting with my sisters in our dorm room, as we talked about courtship versus dating. It was a topic that was so important in Christian church at the time, and maybe is still so important? I’m not so sure, because these days I am not as immersed in “Christian culture”. I’d rather keep my ear to the streets, becoming informed about real world affairs that actually matter, such as Black men being slaughtered relentlessly by the hands of our government, than arguing over whether a Democratic president is the Anti-Christ, and a Republican president is our new Savior . But anyways, I digress…
So, we had that conversation, and I vividly remember proclaiming that I could never date, because I was too emotional, and would surely become attached to anyone I dated (but didn’t marry), leading to more unnecessary heartbreak. And while my logic was spot on (Yes I’m super sensitive and have two books on heartbreak to prove it) well, you know that term “never say never?…
In my early 30s, a sudden shift happened in the dry season that had lasted over 10 years of my nonexistent dating life. My heart cried out to God and He heard me. I asked God to move and He did. The floodgates opened, and y’all, it was literally raining men . This new experience of hearing God say “yes” (with boundaries) is so opposite of hearing Him say “no” for so long, that the sudden onslaught of attention and interest, still has not been the easiest to navigate. In fact, I’ve had plenty of pitfalls, tear-stained nights, and burdensome conversations. That being said, I also have had SO. MUCH. FUN
I recognize that I am in a season of fun. As the young kids would say, my life is “lit” . I’ve been flowing in this season of fun for at least a decade now, but in recent years, a plethora of dating partners finagled their way into the picture. Back in the day, I thought there was a formula to love. Said formula consisted of “waiting on God”, while staying busy with purpose, healing and growth, and sometimes chillin’ until He sent that special someone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that is some people’s story. But what I have learned, is that waiting can look different than we ever expected it to. And really, so can life! But not any different than what God expected, of course.
God knows each of us and He knows what it will take for each of us to get to the finish line of faith. Whether it’s dating, or marriage, children, or family, He has created each of our lives to direct us on the path of life that ultimately ends with us sprawled unabashedly at His magnificent feet. Still, being the staunch (recovering) perfectionist that I am, I would not have expected the messiness of the experience. Thankfully, I am (still) learning that God is in the mess. He is in the failures, and the heartaches. He is in the weaknesses, as well as the strengths. He is in it all.
(Below is from my most recent date)…
I love that the Father has shown up for me in this non-traditional way. I love that He loves to “kick it”. I love that He loves to have fun, and though what each person considers to be fun varies, He ministers it in the way that is specific to each one’s identity. Some of my romantic partners have lasted longer than others. Some were just for one night only, while others, made it almost to a whole year. Regardless of the length of time, they were all purposeful and they each met a need during a time when I needed them most.
I am maturing through the experience of dating, and, through life in general. I am learning that the Father can be very unorthodox. He is counter-cultural, and that includes countering what we esteem to be “church culture”.
God is much grander than rules and regulations, and I don’t believe that a Creator of any kind could ever be limited to a cookie cutter societal formula made by man.
I know that some may buck at this teaching of dating and that is perfectly fine. I can only share what God has done for me. How He as met me with comfort and hope. How He has sent me men who have respected me, treated me like royalty, and affirmed my eternal identity. I cannot say what He will do for you. But what I can say, is that whatever He chooses to do, He will do it well. And it will be done for your good and for His glory.
So, what would I tell 20-year-old Nicole about dating now that I have a little bit more experience under my belt? I would tell her that God is love, and He loves to give us the desires of our hearts. Even when we make a mess of things.
Especially when we make a mess.