I’m a Christian Serial Dater (Apparently)

As we’ve discussed, I’ve decided to try dating by joining an online dating site.  And I’m learning a TON. About life and boys and even myself. Go figure.

But one issue that’s come up is the little phrase “serial dater”. I have been super clear with the men that I’m communicating with that I am not “that kind of girl”. (I’m not sure what kind of girl I thought that was, but I was certain I was not it.)

Until I looked up the definition of serial dating:

One who engages in the process of systematically dating an obscene amount people in a short span of time. -UrbanDictionary.com

I gasped. That was me!!!

Okay, not an OBSCENE amount of people, but (at the time of this writing), five first dates in three weeks is obscene if you look at the number of first dates I’ve had in my life (five pre-marriage TOTAL).

But I’ve come to realize something. I realized that this is how I am going to handle this whole dating-total-strangers thing (and it’s not for everyone).

You see, with Mr. Good Man, we emailed and IM’d and called and FaceTime’d and texted for five months before we met. In other words, I totally loved the guy before our first date. Umm, yeah. That’s probably not duplicatable. Or necessarily recommended.

So, in an effort to protect my heart and the hearts of every man I communicate with, I’ve developed a bit of a system. (That I have dating system should shock no one.)

Pre-Step one: my profile has a statement that makes it uber clear that Jesus is my highest priority and that he will be my future husband’s highest priority. If I could have it flashing in neon, I would. This doesn’t keep all the creepers away, but I’m hoping it separates a bit of the wheat from the chaff.

Step one: they must initiate contact with me. I may be a quote-unquote serial dater, but I’m an old-fashioned serial dater.

Step two: if all they do is send a wink or smile or like a picture or favorite me or what-have-you, I do not respond.  They must write me something. And it HAS to be kind and respectful. Bonus if it’s funny.

Step three: we email a bit.  If my phone number is asked for or a date is requested in the first day or two, I say simply, ‘not yet’.  How they respond is key because my desire for slowness and to have my wishes understood and heeded is paramount.

Step four: I ask two important questions. One, what are your thoughts on this whole online dating thing/communicating with more than one person at a time? And two, what does Jesus mean to you?

Step five: I assess their responses, and I write them back with how I’d answer those two questions.

(My responses, in case you’re curious:

My thoughts on the online dating thing, just for full disclosure. I had one boyfriend before my husband, then dated my husband for four years, and was married for just under nineteen years. I have been divorced for two years and I have just in the past few months considered dating. I have been on just a few first dates in the past two months, and none before that for 23 years. I’m a dating novice.

One thing I learned through my very difficult marriage is not to settle. And though I have no intention of being what I hear people call a “serial dater” and I wouldn’t be a game-player even if I knew how to be, I am currently communicating a little bit with a few men at the same time right now and may even go out with a few around the same time as well, as I guess I figured that’s what this is all about.

But I wouldn’t drag something out if I didn’t feel chemistry, I wouldn’t seriously date more than one man at a time, and I will always be honest with each man where things are.

My take on who Jesus is…  I accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was fifteen and I am trying to live a life that brings me closer to him. He is my closest friend, he is who I call to for help and guidance, he is who I want to become more like. I spend time with him every morning through prayer and journaling and reading Scripture. I attend church weekly. When I write and speak, I try to point the women I’m talking with to Jesus.  And the highest priority for my choice of a future husband will be that he knows and loves Jesus and has a growing relationship with him.)

Step six: if we’re both okay with how the other responded to those couple things, I’ll typically ask if they still want my phone number, and then we move to texting and a call or two.

Step seven: if all of this is going well, I’ll ask them if they still want to meet me, and then we’ll set a date.

(You’d think this would take FOREVER. It doesn’t.  This takes about five days to two weeks, depending on how often the man is able to communicate.  And this may seem really quick to some of you – the opposite of slowness, which I get. But why drag things out at the beginning? I now realize I can tell pretty quickly if there will be a connection with someone, and if there isn’t, let’s both move on. So the beginning is somewhat quick in the first-impressions stage; but then we’d move slowly beyond this point.)

Step eight: we meet.  This is fun and a little bit scary but not as scary as I thought it would be.  And I’m even a shy introvert whose idea of a good time is watching Alias on Netflix while sipping tea.  (Party animal that I am.)

*Actual date tips:
Choose someplace public.
Choose someplace in between.
Do not get picked up by THIS STRANGER; drive there yourself.
Tell someone the following details ahead of time: who you’re meeting (name and phone number), where you’re meeting, when you’re meeting, and plan to contact this person when you’re safely home.
Bonus tip: A good male friend of mine said that upon first sight, you really should immediately think “oh wow”, not “oh boy”, (which I’ll touch on below).

Step nine: This is now the day-after the first date. I spend time being contemplative and prayerful because I take this search of mine super seriously.  And I’ve come up with a philosophy with the help of two male friends who gave me some advice after one of the first dates left me a bit confused. I had shared that though my date was a very kind and good man, I wasn’t attracted to him and didn’t feel any chemistry, so I was wondering whether to go on a second date for open-mindedness’ sake (even saying, “So, even though I don’t want to see him again, should I just push through and see him again?” Yeah, I know. I’m a nut.)

Their responses:

“No attraction.” Really? Whether or not you have set the bar too high, I question the emotional wisdom of seeking to spend time with someone to whom you are not attracted. You would then have to “work” on learning how to be attracted to someone you are not attracted to. As for the bar being set too high…as a Christ follower, you do just that. Set the bar as high as the cross. As a woman who has suffered much, do not settle. Be humble in your endeavors to seek love, but do not settle if your “eyes,” heart and mind are not one. –male counselor

If you truly knew your worth as a woman, you wouldn’t go on a second date with a man you weren’t excited about in all ways. –guy friend

So basically, I’m allowed to decide what I’m looking for in a man, what’s important to me (after godly, of course). Which means, if I want ______________ and _______________ and _______________, I can look for those things.

Marriage is a big deal. My first marriage was hard and broke me. I would rather be alone than in something boring or not right or lonely or painful or simply parallel.  I won’t get married again for just eh.

So, as long as I’m prayerful and willing to possibly be on my own longer (or forever) if I don’t find those things, it’s my choice and my life.

In other words, if you’re walking closely with Christ, you can trust your judgment. You are your very own expert, according to my awesome pastor. And Scripture says that we’ve been given a sound mind and that we have the mind of Christ.

Step ten: If I want to see the man again, and he asks me out again, I will go out again.  But if I don’t want to see the man again, I will let him know by the end of the day after our first date. Hearts will be hurt through this process, I’m sure, but I promised myself I will not drag something out or lead someone on.

So, I don’t think I’m a serial dater; I’m just doing this the best I know how, having never done anything like this at all before in my life. And you’ve got to know that every step of the way, I am praying for clarity and discernment. I do not take this lightly.  And if you’re out there too, it might be helpful to come up with a few standards of your own to help you navigate this craziness.  Because trust me, it’s crazy.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  -Matthew 6:33-

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Shattering the Stereotype of the Abusive Marriage

She’s the one who says things like, “He didn’t mean to do it,” and “he promises it’ll never happen again”. She doesn’t speak up. She has no opinions of her own. She cowers. She covers up. She enables. She makes excuses. She’s disheveled and looks tired all the time.

The husband is brooding, a known-bully. He is controlling. He is regularly getting into conflicts with others. He’s a drunk, perhaps. He loses his temper in public. You fear for the woman married to this man.

You can picture this scene, right? It’s something straight out of a Lifetime TV movie. Except for the fact that this is not at all how this typically plays out in the average Christian abusive marriage.

The couple tends to be just your average couple. They attend church. They both serve, sometimes even in leadership. The husband is charming and well-liked.

In my case, I served a lot.  I was a control freak (even once called a Pharisee for how much I stuck to the rules in my church staff position) who was opinionated and often found myself in many conflict resolution meetings. My take on this, looking back, is that I was presumed to be a bitch and if there were problems, they were all because of me.

But let’s hear from some other women in abusive marriages about why you may have no idea that the couple sitting next to you in church might very well be in marital distress.

My family and a couple of insightful friends had seen my decline and knew something was up, but didn’t necessarily know what. But we were pastor-and-wife at the church, and that was a very easy banner to hide under.”

“I went into overdrive in ministry, outreach, homeschooling, leading worship, etc. Overcompensating, I guess.”

“I kept it to myself hoping it would change or hide it in shame for what others would think of us.”

“I was previously a worship leader, involved in Women’s Ministries, all while raising our kids. We still appear to be a model family. If they only knew…”

“Actually, it was a friend, who was in divinity school at the time, who told ME I was being emotionally abused. It took a couple more years before I could see it for myself.”

I moderate two private groups on Facebook for Christian women in either difficult marriages or going through difficult divorces. We are up to almost nine hundred women in two years of word-of-mouth “promotion”. I have read the stories of these women and listened in on their past situations and current dilemmas and I can tell you that these women are not the woman I describe in the first paragraph above. And their husbands (or ex-husbands) are not the men I describe in the second paragraph. They do not fit the stereotypical mold of victim/abuser.

These women are women who love God. These are women who meant what they said when they took their vows. These are women who desperately want – or wanted – to keep their marriages together. These are women who are raising their children and serving in their churches and praying for their husbands and trying to heal their marriages. They are in counseling. They are reading books. They are going to recovery groups. They are working on themselves. Yes, they lose their temper from time to time. Yes, they have even lost hope from time to time. But they are doing their best. And they just might be sitting next to you, totally dying inside.  Abuse doesn’t always look the way you think it does.(Here, we talk about what you can do to help.)

 

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here  for more information.

Is Divorce an Unforgivable Sin?

When I first announced my separation, I lost several speaking engagements.  On the one hand, I understood where the people were coming from, being a former women’s ministry director, but I have to admit, I felt such shame in those moments.

I think one of my blog readers who commented last week hit the nail on the head: “I had one person go as far as to tell me that {God} doesn’t forgive {divorce}.” I think there are people who believe that divorce is the unforgivable sin. Or, at the very least, that talking about it is the same as condoning it, and no one wants to be caught condoning it.

But, as I’ve talked about here before, divorce is never black and white, even when it appears to be. I do not believe every divorce is a sin, though I do believe some is. See, even I – a divorcee – can’t see my way through all the grey.

Some things are cut and dry totally not sin. If I brought cookies to a friend because I care about her, completely not a sin. And some things are cut and dry totally a sin. If I had an affair with a married man, totally always sin (for both of us).

But divorce, grey grey grey. If my husband cheated on me and were unrepentant, I believe I could get a divorce and not be in sin. If my husband repeatedly abused me and were unrepentant, I believe I could get a divorce and not be in sin (sadly, many, many people disagree with this point). But if my husband just drove me crazy or I weren’t in love with him anymore or I found someone else who gave me butterflies, I believe that if I got a divorce, I’d be sinning.

HOWEVER, with that said, regardless of the circumstances regarding your divorce, I do not believe you will be forever frozen in some sin state. And this is where I believe so many of us divorced people feel stuck and feel shame. We feel labeled by others who disapprove of us and we feel the weight of our own guilt barreling down on ourselves.

But let me be clear: there is only one “unforgivable sin” mentioned in the Bible and it is not divorce. If you are divorced, you are not forever bound to your sin, regardless of how you got there; if you are repentant and have sought God’s forgiveness, you are forgiven and cleansed and free.

How dare any of us act as if God can’t forgive a divorced person. Seriously. Who deemed you the person to look at the cross and then look back again at our lives and shake your head with disapproval and judgment? Last I checked, church-going people, there is only one God, and you are not him.

My blog commenter continued: “After much Scripture searching and prayer {on my part}, she said it {to me} again. I finally had to speak up! ‘Do you mean that God can forgive a murderer but not me because I have been divorced? Do you mean that God can forgive thieves but not me? Do you mean that he can even forgive you for passing judgment on me and condemning me to hell, but he can’t forgive me? Do you mean that his word that says ‘there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus’ is wrong?’’ Yes, I believe marriage is meant to last a lifetime but, I believe God still loves me.”

Read those words again: “Do you mean that his word that says ‘there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus’ is wrong?” Whew. I’m probably preaching to the choir here because I doubt too many judgers read my blog; but if you have ever said anything like what this woman endured, or what I have endured, or what many of the divorced women I hear from endured, please consider asking her for an apology. And if you’ve even thought it, please think – for just a few moments – not just about your mound of sin, but about your mountain of judgments. You’re living in a scary place in your faith because if you believe divorce can’t be forgiven, then you must not believe your sin can be either. And who wants to live their life that way? It is the judger that I feel the most sorry for.

As my sweet girlfriend said to me in a text, “You have nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing!” Sweet divorced ones, start today to lay down your guilt and shame. If you’ve been on the receiving end of harsh words, know they are not from Jesus. Know that the person who spoke them was wrong. And instead soak up God’s grace and mercy. He loves you. He does not condemn you. You are free.

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Online Dating Tips

Last week I talked about how I was on an online dating site for eight days but that I took my profile down after an unfortunate incident so that I could “reassess”.  Well, I figured, it might be helpful to actually do some reassessing and think through what I learned, even in that short period, before I try it again.  And as it turns out, I actually learned quite a lot.

I learned that:

-I am discerning and it’s okay to delete someone based off my own criteria and not feel badly about it. (Some are deleting me too, I’m sure.)
-I can pretty much tell in one meeting if there’s chemistry. (Not fully sure what to do with that information, but good to know that I can tell.)
-I am capable of ending things graciously.
-I can be spontaneous. (Who knew??)
-it’s okay to have fun.
-I am brave.
-at 43+, I was completely myself on both first dates. No game-playing (wouldn’t know how) and not putting on a charade to seem better than I was. I was just me.
-I need the man to be communicative about what he feels about me. (Okay, that’s probably not a new learning, but still…)
-I can insist on slowness and I can reinforce that it’s a priority to me.
-I’m a little bit naïve (and that’s okay).
-I am capable of not giving away the emotional farm within a week. This is progress, people.
-it’s important for me to be honest with the men that I’m communicating with more than one at a time, and to find out how they feel about it, giving them an out early on.
-it’s a good idea to tell someone where I’m going and when and with whom for my safety.
-I need to be more ready for anything to happen and not be so thrown/stunned if someone isn’t kind to me or things go south.
-there are some good men out there.
-despite my pleas to Jesus to the contrary, I have a feeling this won’t be wrapped up quickly…I will need to be patient and take a longer view and will, more than likely, have to “go through” a lot of guys (sounds horrible, but you hopefully know what I mean).
-though I’ve alluded to it being difficult to reenter the dating world in your 40s (and it is), one huge advantage is that I actually know myself and what I’m looking for now  and I actually have the tools to wisely chose my life partner.
-you can punch in all the parameters you want regarding distance and age and faith and such and you’re still going to get a not-yet-fully-divorced 71-year-old atheistic Floridian “winking” at you. Hypothetically. I can’t even…

Some huge lessons learned in eight days, people.  Huge.

Now here’s what some of you shared with me last week from your online dating experiences:

Guard your heart. (Yes.)

Guard your wallet (lots of scammers). (Good one.)

Don’t believe everything you read or what you’re told – be discerning. (Sad, but true.)

Just because it’s a “Christian” dating site doesn’t mean everyone believes what you believe. (Yep.)

It’s fun but it can be emotionally draining. (It’s practically like having a part-time job if you’re not careful!)

Some people do online dating thinking that they don’t have to do their homework and get to know these men.  Be your own detective. (Use Google, get a background check, etc.)

I am trying to look at online dating as practice for me in setting boundaries and educating the other person about me, something that is new to me.  (Love.)

Be aware that most, I do repeat most, of the people you will meet are not keepers. (Aww…)

It’s best to meet early on and shatter any illusions that may be developing, before your heart gets hurt. (Agree times ten.)

Great tips, ladies!  Let me pray for us…

Jesus, for those of us out in the dating world, longing for a good man to call our husband, please give us quicker discernment, an open mind, thicker skin, steadier emotions, and lots and lots of heart protection. And help us not make relational choices based out of fear, insecurity, low self-esteem, woundedness, loneliness or old stories. Bring us the men you want for us when we are ready, and in the meantime, draw us closer to you, making us more whole and into the people you want us to be. Amen.

And remember, sweet ones: we are already fully loved.  (I know, I know…Jesus isn’t our boyfriend, but still.  Don’t settle.  Keep that bar high.)

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Your Canvas is Calling

I spent the weekend being a part of our three church services, a gift in and of itself of being welcomed into the tribe, of being told that I had something to share of value to the rest, of being pulled in. I was humbled, honored, blown away, excited, happy.

We’ve been talking about bringing our God-given creativity out of hiding and letting God use the whole of our lives to bring light and hope to our individual worlds, and this weekend we were exploring the interplay between creativity and pain. Two of my favorite subjects, seriously. I’m kinda weird that way. I love talking about writing. I love talking about the hard things in life. And I love talking about God taking something hard and turning it into something beautiful.

We’ve been reminded – or maybe learning for the first time – that we each have a canvas. That we are each artists. That we are each image-bearers of a Creator God and that we don’t need to be quote-unquote artists in the way we might typically think of them – dancers, songwriters, painters – to be considered creative. That our entire lives are our canvases. I love this.

And I love the idea that our most beautiful creations can come at the intersection of our pain and our willingness to let God transform it.

I’ve long been buoyed up by the verse that says we have a God who comforts us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. –II Corinthians 1:3-4-

What a promise. Even if the verse stopped with the hope that God comforts us in all our troubles, we’d be set and we’d have reason to be deeply grateful. Because life is so hard and we all have pain and we all need, from time to time, the comfort of God.

But it doesn’t stop there. The verse goes on to say that he provides us with this comfort so that we can comfort others.

So that.

God does what he does so that we can do what we can do. Something only we can do.

So if you’re looking at your life and thinking you’ve got nothing to offer, I will beg to differ with you every single time. I would ask you about one of the deep pains in your life. And I would not judge if this pain happened to you or came at your own hand. And I would point out to you that whatever that pain is – divorce or a hard marriage or an abortion from a long time ago or an eating disorder or a prodigal child or a battle with depression or whatever – whatever it is, is your so that. Whatever you have received the comfort of God to get you through (and can I point out that just that you’re breathing still, he has gotten you through?), whatever he has gotten you through is your canvas. It’s your so that. It’s your thing that only you can do. You have received a comfort through your pain that you can turn around and offer to someone else in a way that only you can do.

Your canvas is calling. It’s waiting. No one else can or will fill it up with your ashes-to-beauty story. Pain can be the end of your story. But that would be sad, and a waste, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let it win out.  What in the world are you waiting for?

 

 

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here  for more information.

Helping Hurting Women by Bringing Them Hope…Together

Sweet friends,

Since 2001, I have been writing and speaking and it has been one of the biggest sources of joy in my life.  Each time I write, I feel a thrill. And each time I speak, I thank God that he lets me use my pain and life experience to encourage women in their walks with him.  The life I lead is truly a gift and I am one really grateful girl on a constant basis.Untitled

However, I am finding myself at an interesting place. Up to this point, writing and speaking have been more of a hobby/ministry than a self-sustaining career, and that needs to change. I either need to lay all of this down, all that I love, and get what our culture would consider a quote-unquote real job; or I need to take some steps toward becoming a self-sustained writer and speaker.

I have been working with a leadership coach and am in the process of setting forth some goals to pursue my dream, which is to help as many women as I can through my writing and speaking, while being able to take care of myself and my children financially.  I have decided to pursue this until I sense God leading otherwise.

I’ve spent five years blogging, becoming more consistent in the past year, posting original content three times a week. I hear great feedback from readers in the comments section, on Facebook and over email, and I am so grateful that what I write seems to not only resonate with so many women but also – it’s hard for me to even believe – helps them as well.  Helps them in their hard, hard marriages; helps them as they separate and divorce; helps them come back to life a little bit as they heal; and even helps church leaders to hopefully shift their thinking regarding domestic abuse.  I am continually so humbled and honored, seriously.

However, a majority of what I do under my mission of reaching out to hurting women – leading small groups in my home, meeting one-on-one, going to divorce court for support, speaking at domestic violence conferences, and writing online and for my blog – yield no monetary results.  I’ve been fine with that for a very long time because I always felt I was helping someone; but the bottomline is that ministry costs money, my time is valuable, and I am a single mom who  needs to support herself and her children.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I am asking for your help.

One of the ways I am moving forward is by joining Patreon, a website that connects artists with their patrons/supporters.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I am asking you to simply consider supporting me through Patreon.  For those who do support me, there will be incentives of things like bonus content that only you’d get to see, sneak peeks of upcoming projects, and the occasional private webcast or Google chat.

I realize this is a shift in thinking for many of you…it was for me as well.  But just like everyone else, I need to earn a living for my work.  We pay for the books and magazines we read, we pay for someone to paint our nails and make us a latte, we pay for most things.

This is a no-pressure request. I will continue to keep writing for my blog as I have been.  Please keep reading and sharing it.  But I simply ask that you pray about whether you would consider supporting me in this, and if you decide to, go here.

Thank you, sweet ones.

Elisabeth elisabeth@elisabethklein.com


Why women have chosen to support me through Patreon:

Your writing opens my eyes to the pain I’m in, so healing can begin. Carry on!  -Angelina

Your ministry, the honest way you tackle the reality of a failed Christian marriage, has been a breath of fresh air to this woman. God led me to you, and the honest sharing of your pain, along with your love and devotion to Jesus as a healing balm are the reasons I decided to start supporting you. You have bravely taken on a difficult ministry. It’s an honor to be involved with you.  -Pat

Finding your ministry was 17 years’ worth of prayers. In His own timing, as always, He led me to you. I’m very proud to be able to support you. -Kelly

The reason why I chose to support you is because this group has been a life raft for me. -Julie

Basically—-women need this ministry. I’m not sure what God has in mind but this is a very unique service he’s assigned you to. I’m praying God opens doors for you to reach more and more women. -Angie

I believe in the ministry God has given you, and supporting that belief monetarily is the right thing to do. I plan to give more as soon as I am able. -Krikit

You have helped me survive the past five months’ through your book, Unraveling, your blog and the Facebook page. I really don’t know how I could have done it without you. –Ellen

Your work is a beautiful collision of fully seeing my pain and yet always and only gently pointing me straight back to Jesus as the ultimate Healer of my brokenness.  -Julie

I share your blogs all the time because I want other women in similar situations to know there is help and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know I have said it before but you are my mentor and my hero and I feel I owe so much to you! -Jerilyn

I Signed Up for Online Dating

So it’s been a little while since I proclaimed all in one post that I had fallen in love and that it was over. But one of the huge life lessons I took away from that sweet time is that I do indeed crave partnership, despite what I had previously convinced myself: that I’d be just fine on my own the rest of my life.  And so I told one of my best friends shortly after it ended that I was giving myself four weeks to grieve and overanalyze and then I’d sign up for a stupid dating site.

(And I must credit said good man because without him and his building me up for those five months, I’m not sure I would’ve had the courage to pull the trigger. So thank you, my friend.)

So, yes, I signed up for online dating.  (And no, this is not what I wrote on my profile, but I totally wanted to.)  And let me say that joining a dating site in your forties is like proclaiming to the universe that you indeed want to re-enter high school and all its awkwardness and self-consciousness and angst.  Good times.

I’ll start by saying why I decided to do the whole online dating thing, despite how I feel about it. Let me think through how many local, single, godly men I know.  Give me a minute.  Oh yeah, one. And I gave birth to him sixteen years ago. So there’s that.

My best friends are girls.

My guy friends are married.

I work at my kitchen counter. And not a lot of cute, Jesus-loving, 40-something men hang out in my kitchen. (Though I’m hoping that changes soon! Bada-bum.)

I speak to women.

I write for women. On a  hot pink blog.

I go to a great church but there seems to be mostly couples and the single women outnumber the single men by like a zillion to one. (Hey men, head to The Orchard! You can thank me later.)

I don’t go to bars. As in, I’ve never been to a bar. I know. I’m like ten.

I walk my dog in my neighborhood. Filled with families. (Though I do get the occasional catcall from teenage boys as they drive by, to which I usually graciously yell back, “OLD ENOUGH TO BE YOUR MOTHER!” Super classy, I know.)

And I go to the grocery store. And I’m not about to walk up to a man in the produce section and ask him his sign or how to tell if an avocado is ripe or whatever you people do these days.

And that’s about it. Seriously.

So yeah. I figured unless God brings the next man to me the way he brought the last one (and I’m not revealing how he did that), if I want to meet someone, it’s pretty much online dating or seemingly nothing.

So I signed up. And I pretty quickly started getting messages. I swear I had to practically breathe into a paper bag the whole time.  Some messages, oh my lands, I’m just so naïve.  Just outright, first message, not even asking my name or anything, but jumping right to “dinner and drinks?” Umm, no. Especially if you’re nine years younger than my Dad. (No offense, Daddy, but c’mon.)

Or the “smiles”.  What a stupid, inane concept. Listen, buddy, if all you can muster up is hitting the button that sends me a “smile” and you can’t even be bothered to replace the ridiculous canned message with your own words, I delete you. Woo me, people. Two clicks does not a wooing make.

But then a few came in that looked…interesting. (In a good way.)  So I started an Excel spreadsheet called, concisely, “MEN”.  Yes, I made a spreadsheet.  Have you just met me? Of course I made a men spreadsheet.  I was up to eight guys at one point, and I didn’t want them all confused in my head. And then once I realized I would be communicating with more than one at a time (which had never crossed my mind for some reason), I started pulling all our email communications into separate Word documents so I could really remember who was who. It was like the freaking Bachelorette.

And then a turn came, and I realized I was really kind of interested in just two.  Hmm.

So one evening, I did this: (I know…I look ridiculous.)

photo (6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Crazy, I know.)  And we had a good time and he was a kind man and he brought me flowers from his garden and I got to ride on a motorcycle on a beautiful summer night. But…however…when I got home, instead of hoping I’d heard from him, I was hoping I’d heard from the other one.

So, I pretty much knew in one date that I didn’t think he was the one for me.  But I wanted to keep an open mind, because, I don’t know, I guess I figured that’s what you do, so I agreed to a second date with motorcycle man.

So the other one and I talked on the phone the next day, and it was crazy easy. An hour flew by.  And we decided to meet the next night.  And it was super connecty, filled with promise.

Ahh, but then. Well, life is funny sometimes.  We spoke the day after our date and it was going great until he asked me what I was doing the next night and I replied that I had set up my already-agreed-upon-before-meeting-this-man-second-date-with-the-motorcyle-man. That apparently did not sit well. And some unkind words were said to me sort of out of jealousy or something.  Wait, what?? We’ve known each other for, like, five minutes. And we’re on a dating site…I thought this is what you’re supposed to do. 

And though he sent me several apology texts, which I appreciated, and though my counselor told me I live a lifestyle of grace dispensing (perhaps implied: occasionally to my relational peril), and I, of course, forgave him…umm, well, that kinda freaked me out.  So I promptly pulled my profile down and now I’m taking a man-break.  After only eight days. Gotta protect this heart, girls.  I’m not saying I’m out of the game permanently, just benching myself for a little while so I can reassess.

So my lessons learned and my advice to each of you out there in the dating sector: boys can be kinda funny sometimes and life is odd and it can be a little bit weird out there. I’m kidding…I learned more than that…and I’ll tackle that next Wednesday. But in the meantime, be careful, sweet ones.

So, tell me, if you’ve tried online dating, what are one or two of your best tips?

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Walk All Over Me

Question: “What’s the difference between forgiveness and being a doormat?”

For starters, forgiveness is something God calls us to, and being a doormat is not. I believe the Bible is clear that love is to be wise, which includes knowing when we’re being taken advantage of and setting boundaries from it happening if we can help it.

Let’s take an example of someone who comes home late from work every day, sometimes apologizing, sometimes acting as if he hasn’t done it, but when he comes home late, he is upset if dinner isn’t hot and waiting for him and that the kids are all crying (because they’re cranky and hungry).

Every time he does this, you must forgive him in your heart for being late and for getting upset with you.

However, you do not need to apologize to him for his dinner not being warm enough or for the crying children, because those are not things you caused (in fact, he has caused those things).

So, here’s what I would do.

I would tell him that because you have children, it is important to them that they be on a schedule and that they have dinner by six every evening.  You should also tell him that it is very important to you that you sit together and have dinner as a family and that you hope he will be home in time to join you.

Then, on nights when he comes home by 6, sit together and try to enjoy that meal together as best as you can, and even – non-condescendingly – thank him for coming home on time.  Reinforce the good behavior.

But on nights when he is not home by 6, you sit down with your children and have dinner.  Also try to enjoy each other’s company, husband- and father-less, as best as you can.  When he comes in, let him know that a plate of food is in the frig for him to warm up and – non-guilt-inducing-ly – that you missed his company.

Hopefully, he will handle this well and not say anything hurtful.  If he does, though, if he yells at you for not waiting for him, calmly remind him of what you had said you were going to do about dinnertime, and if he begins yelling, let him know that you don’t deserve to be yelled at and that you’ve said all you need to say, and walk out of the room.

Remember, forgiveness is for our benefit and something we are to choose to do to be obedient to God.  But being a doormat is a choice we bring on ourselves, a cycle that we can stop, and something that God doesn’t want for you.

 

 

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.

There’s Authentic, and Then There’s Me

Someone recently told me that I maybe share too much on my blog.

Ya think?

I totally know that I do.

But here’s the thing.  I’ve heard that maybe a half dozen times in the past four or so years.  And I have two thoughts.

First, if they (or you for that matter) knew what I didn’t share, you’d realize that I’m in actuality holding back. It may not seem like I am, but I totes am. Trust me. I could totally name names and give more detail and be super mean.  But I don’t and I won’t and that’s not my style.

But secondly, and this is more important, in thinking back on the people who have read my blog and then said this to me – that I perhaps share too much – not one of those people are my audience.  Yes, they are my audience in that they kindly take the time to read what I write, but what I mean is that I hear way more from other people who tell me you get it and it’s like you know my life and you’re telling my story and thank you for being God’s voice to me when I was desperate.

And those people who write me those things – they are the ones in the thick of it…they are the ones who need to hear from me that I’ve been there and I remember and I understand and they’re not alone…they are the ones actually in difficult marriages, actually walking through divorces, actually raising their kids alone, actually healing from abuse, actually in pain.  Not one of the people who have suggested that I share too much are one of those women.

And that’s who I’m writing for.

If you read my blog just for the heck of it, thank you.  But I’m not writing for you.  I’m writing for the hurting ones.  And I’m going to keep writing the way I write because that’s what they need, that’s what connects us, that’s what hopefully brings them encouragement and support and hope and healing.

Listen, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.  But, as I’m learning, I don’t need to be.

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click herefor more information.

 

Sex & the Single Christian Girl

140314-145737Oh for the love. I have put this off for a very long time and actually told myself I would never, ever write on this topic for one reason: I have two teenagers who would be mortified.  But they don’t read my blog and even if they do, I’m not about to say anything that would scar them for life. Fingers crossed.

I’ve been asked about this and I know enough divorced Christian women at this point that the topic comes up, frequently.  And, I mean, come on, I’m writing a blog that focuses quite a bit on being divorced; not bringing it up was my elephant in the room.

So, what do we do about sex?

Tons of books have been written about this and I’m not about to cover the entire topic but I will tell you simply where I land.

I have not had sex in a long time.  Like, awhile before my marriage officially ended.  And I think it’s safe to say that I’m not going to have sex for another long time.

I will not have sex until I’m remarried.  Which means, that if I don’t remarry, I will never again have sex.

And here’s why:

For Jesus’ sake, I will not be having sex before I get married again, even though Jesus isn’t my boyfriend.  Because I believe the Bible is clear about this.  (And not because God is mean, but because he loves us and wants what’s best for us.)

For my kids’ sake, because they are watching me live my life and they are watching the choices I make.  I can’t say one thing to them and then go and do another.

For my future husband’s sake (if there is one), because I want to honor him.

For my sake, because I believe that sex intertwines two people together in really intimate ways and if you then go on and don’t get married, the pain that would come with giving your heart away like that would be just too much for me to bear.  Plus, I want to start off my next potential marriage as healthily as I can, because I’ve got baggage from here to Mississippi and that would just add one huge load to it.

Is it hard to go without?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, in that I miss it; and yet, it’s not like a hundred guys have asked me out in the past year and I’ve had to bat them away and fight temptation back every day. I’ve had how many dates? Give me a sec…trying to count them all.  Oh yeah, umm, three first dates. In twenty-three years.  It’s sort of easy to not have sex when you’re not going on any second dates, let’s be honest.

Okay, so that’s about as deep as I’m willing to go on this topic.  I’m sure a ton of people won’t agree with me, and I don’t really care; this is just the stand I’m taking, the line I’m drawing, and I feel comfortable with it and I plan to stick to it.  Because my faith, my children, my future, and my emotional well-being mean too much to me not to.

Pardon me while I go throw up now.

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.