I came across this amazing blog https://www.waitinginheels.com while researching on counterfeit men (story for another day, lol) and as I was reading, it got me reflecting on my dating experience and the lessons I have picked along the way. I wish I could say I had more positive experiences to learn from but truth be told, these are more of the mistakes I made, negative experiences I had which ultimately have moulded me into who I am. Perhaps if someone had shared their experiences with me back then, I would have chosen different paths but then again I doubt I would have emerged as beautifully broken as I am now and I wouldn’t have scars to tell a tale of a loving Heavenly Father who redeems, restores and makes all things beautiful at His own time.
So here we go, to my dear younger me…
- Looks (alone) don’t matter
I remember my first crush was dark& lovely, with long black hair, gorgeously big brown eyes and boy did he steal my heart. I was totally amused by how everyone thought he was cute and that he had chosen me over all the other girls in the class. Well at least I thought he had, turned out he had chosen three or four of us. Oh yea, and he once took two of us on a double date with his best friend without our knowledge of the conniving game he was playing. Yes, I was young and naïve. Gratefully the truth came out a few months after he broke up with me via text, claiming he didn’t want to hurt me because he was seeing other girls. Turned out I was number 6 on the list, probably because I believed (then) I would wait till marriage. It broke my heart for a few months and after lots of ice cream and girl talk therapy I picked up myself.
Now you’d think I had learned my lesson, right? But nope, still went ahead and dated a couple of guys purely based on their tall dark well-built abs and ended up compromising my standards and terribly breaking my heart.
Lesson learnt: Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Looks alone don’t matter. Men can look like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. I have learnt to always ask God to reveal to me the heart of any man who approaches me because only He can guide me on what only He can see.
- Date with a purpose
For a very long time, up until I gave my life to Christ, I only dated for fun, to pass time, kill the boredom and loneliness, fight the cold and enjoy dates & treats. I casually swayed in and out of relationships and wish I could say that all I got were a few scraps and grazes but that would be a lie. I ended up with a broken heart, broken esteem and messed up self-image.
Lesson learnt: Proverbs 4:23. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Treat what is valuable as valuable. Your heart is not a plate of pie that you easily give out to whoever wants a piece. Date when you are ready, when you are an asset, when you can add value to your partner and can walk together on a mission that brings glory to God.
- Sex is a blind fold
I have friends who confess that they know the man they are dating is wrong for them but the sex is so good they don’t have the strength to leave. And I know exactly what they mean because once upon a time, that was me. Sex blinds you completely, you don’t see their flaws, the red flags, the guilt traps, the damage the toxic relationship is causing. All you thrive in is the intensity of the couple of minutes’ pleasure which leaves you high, dry and in need of that constant ecstasy so you go back for more and more…it becomes a chain of addictions.
Lesson learnt: 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies
I should honor God with my body and I should value myself as the temple of the most High, a precious priceless possession worth the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. And by offering my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, that is the true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
There is nothing wrong with sex, it is a beautiful gift from God. Matter of fact, it is a very powerful tool that is best used within a controlled vessel called marriage. If you let lose volumes of water, it floods and wreaks havoc. If the same volume is contained in a dam, it produces electricity enough to power a whole city. The power lies within the limits.
- There is no rush
I don’t know why I felt the need of having a boyfriend when I was in my teens. Let’s blame it on the peer pressure, lol. But there was this burning urge/fear that I was missing out on dating so I said yes to the cute guy to ensure I had letters to show my girlfriends at tea breaks. Then after high school when all my friends had already shared their first kiss, I felt left out so once again I made sure I had something to share.
I don’t know why back then I couldn’t come up with something smart to share, other than kisses from boys, I don’t know, maybe like ten books you should read before you are twenty or ten lucrative careers to look out for.
Lesson learnt: Ecclesiastes 3;1-11 There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Don’t be deceived that there is ticking clock somewhere counting the seconds. It’s all in your mind. Be confident in following God’s time plan for your life.
- Don’t compromise, know your worth and build your foundation
If you don’t know what you stand for then you fall for anything. If you get in a relationship without your values then you naturally adapt to the person you are with, good or bad. This is perhaps the most fundamental lesson I gracefully learnt. I can count the number of relationships I got into just to please the person I was with. And because I didn’t have set standards, I allowed the other person to set the boundaries and dictate the road we travelled. Well, that was the grand entry of heartbreak and damages. By the time I got out of that relationship, I didn’t know who I was anymore and instead of taking time to figure out my mess, I plunged deep into another series of flings. It was like I felt I needed to hit rock bottom to be jerked back to reality. And yep, it wasn’t a beautiful sight.
But thank God for His mercies and loving kindness. The God who provides for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour. (Isaiah 61:3)
Lesson Learnt: Find your identity and let that become your defining compass. God is your creator and only He knows why He created you the way you are. He placed in each one of us a deep hollow that only He can fill up in an intimate relationship with us. It’s only wise to go back to Him for the revelation of your identity. So many times we try filling that void with people, pleasures, riches and wealth but it is all vanity.
- Thrive in singleness
Once I gave my life to Christ I thought to myself, ‘well, we are done now. I mean, am here, I know myself, where is the man you promised? I viewed God as the giver of good gifts and was completely blinded to the fact that I already had the best gift He could give me; the gift of life and life in abundance, the gift of an eternity with Him. All I wanted was the blessings and not the one who bestowed the blessings. I didn’t think I had to wait, to grow in my walk of faith, to discover who I was, to open up and heal from all the wounds and baggage I had from my past. I thought I had an automatic pass to a dream man.
Truth be told if that man had come immediately, I would have been distracted from walking with God, I would hurt a good man because I myself was hurting from my past, I would idolize the man because he would take all the glory of the restoration process from God.
Lesson learnt; my singleness is not just a waiting season, it’s a growing season and a learning season. It’s a season of growing my intimacy with Christ, learning from the Master and replicating His life to others here on earth. It’s a season of discovering my purpose and the mission God predestined for me, discovering my gifts and talents that I can use in His field to draw others to God. It’s season of embracing who I am in Christ and letting that truth radiate to the world like the light that I am.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
In retrospect, I am not my mistakes but I am better, wiser, stronger because of those mistakes. And messes in the hands of a Master are always turned into a beautiful masterpiece, as He promised in His word; Ecclesiastes 3:11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.
If you could write a letter to your younger self, what dating lessons would you share? How have the choices you’ve made helped or distracted you from your relationship with Christ?