Know What You Want

She’s nine years old and already boy-crazy, staring after the director’s son as he walks out the door.

“Girl,” I say, shaking my head, “you concern me.”

Her head whips around, blonde hair slapping into her face as she plants her hands on her hips and says, “Girl, you  concern me. You’ve never even had a boyfriend!”

Touche, my young friend. Touche.

Because there’s really no way for me to come back from that, is there? No way to explain to anyone—let alone a nine-year-old—that I chose this. The singleness thing. How I wear the “never been dated” label like a crown. Tall and proud. No regrets.

It’s a fact that knocks the socks off of every nine-year-old girl I meet. (Sometimes I think that alone would make it all worthwhile, but I’ve got an ornery streak like that.)

I’m not ashamed of my relationship status; I just find it hard to explain at times. Because most people don’t think that being twenty-two years single is a thing to be proud of. In fact, I’d venture to say that most people, like a certain nine-year-old I know, would say that this actually concerns them to some extent.

Well, I’m sorry that you’re concerned, but I’m happy as I am, thank you very much. So, how have I managed all these years? I’m so glad you asked.

In my book, I talk a little about how I quickly decided that I didn’t want to spend my teen years in the business of broken hearts. I didn’t want to make the mistake of getting completely lost in a guy like some of my friends had done. But I’m realizing more and more every day that what ultimately kept me single was not what I didn’t  want, but what I did  want.

If you truly want to be happy and single, you’ve got to know what you want. (And what you want has got to be more than a husband and children and a cute little house with a white picket fence, if you know what I mean.)

This may sound ridiculous, but the real reason I avoided the dating world in high school is because I knew I was bound for the mission’s field. I wanted that little office nestled in the mountains of Virginia where people came together to further the Gospel throughout the world, and I knew that office was a long way from Ohio. And I knew my heart was never very good at holding things lightly. And I knew if I got too attached, I’d never pack up and go.

So I made a choice. And I kept making choices that led me to this place here and now. Because when it comes time to choose between a calling and a possibility, I’ll take the calling every time.

Because I know what I want. I know where God is leading me. And I know how easy it is to forget all that when my heart starts skipping three steps ahead.

I still believe there is someone out there who will come along and fulfill my dreams of marriage and family and cute little houses void of white picket fences because who needs a fence when the world is your playground. I still believe he will come and fit into all the other dreams like that piece of the jigsaw puzzle that finally makes sense because I’ve turned it the right way.

But I’ve never believed that God would give me two dreams only to make me choose one over the other. And while I believe in sacrifice, I’ve never believed in surrendering vital pieces of who I am in order to become a vital piece of someone else.

Because I choose to believe that there will one day be a relationship that I don’t have to force. And I know, I know, yes, I know that the only way I can be happy right now is by knowing that this is the path God has paved for me. This is the life I was made for living. And I find great comfort in the fact that I don’t have to chase down my Prince Charming; I just have to discern what God wants for my life right now and trust Him to take care of the rest.

Dating Isn’t the Issue; Waiting Is.

I knew when I wrote Beyond Waiting that it was going to brand me. Still I can’t help but sigh when I get certain feedback from people who hear I’ve written a book.

First, there are the people who get it all wrong and congratulate me on my commitment to celibacy. (Um, no.)

Then there are the people who think I should check out this story about some girls who are “living out my message,” and the next thing I know, I’m looking at the pictures of this t-shirt boasting the hashtag: #IWillWait. (If you know anything about Beyond Waiting,  you should understand why that slogan is a problem. Hello, we’re beyond waiting here.)

Then there are the people who tell me I should connect with so-and-so because we have “the same heartbeat.”

And that’s about the time I just want to shout, “You have no idea what my heartbeat is!”

Because most people don’t assume I had no desire to write Beyond Waiting.  Most people don’t understand that I never wanted to brand myself as the singleness guru.

So let’s get something straight, please, so I don’t have to smile and nod through all the singleness talks that everyone assumes I’m oh so interested in.

I don’t agree with all the relationship-rambling, purity-pushing, singleness storytellers out there. I didn’t write Beyond Waiting  because I wanted to join the bandwagon; I wrote it because I thought a vital piece of the story wasn’t being told. It felt to me like so many people were getting caught up in the so-called “rules” of dating that they were overlooking the problem altogether.

Dating isn’t the issue; waiting is.

The problem is that we’ve got our girls so wrapped up in the “Your Prince Will Come” mentality that they can’t see that there is more to life than happily ever after. The problem is that we’ve become so wrapped up in daydreams that we’ve forgotten to live the adventure that is waiting for us here and now—Prince Charming-less.

I don’t consider myself an expert on relationships. In fact, if you’re looking for someone who can speak from personal experience, I’m the last person you want to consult on that subject. That’s why I didn’t write Beyond Waiting  from the perspective that focuses on the someday guy.

Beyond Waiting  isn’t about relationships at all. It’s about you. And living your life now. And not waiting for someone to “complete you.”

And yeah, I’ve got opinions about dating and relationships, but they’re not the ones you’ll hear at those Christian conferences that talk about how true love waits. Mostly because they’re my own. Because I don’t believe there’s a formula to relationships so I’m not going to be the one to say you’re doing it wrong.

It’s not my job to convict you. It’s not my job to believe I know better than you.

But it is my job to encourage you to live each and every moment of your life. Because that’s how I would want you to encourage me.

Life is short. Each moment is a gift. The seconds are ticking away…
And no matter what our relationship status is, we’ve got to embrace them.

Something About Dating…

So, I wrote my third guest post for Devotional Diva. One thing I really love about guest posting for Renee is that it is always challenging. I’ve had to step outside the box and/or delve into some issues that I don’t spend much time talking about. First she had me write about becoming approachable… which I’m not—I’m totally not. Then she had me addressing some issues with my skinny little body… which I tend not to talk about because most people don’t understand that “skinny” isn’t a good thing. Today, I’m talking about dating… which is laughable.

But, you see, someone asked me how I felt about not being allowed to date until I was sixteen and, for the first time in my life, I actually thought about it. And the answer I came up with was really quite beautiful. It made me want to hug my dad (and I probably would have if he weren’t 450 miles away).

So here’s my thoughts about dads being involved in their daughter’s dating life: Get all up in the middle of it, please. Even if she tells you she doesn’t want you there. Because she’s lying. And here’s why I believe that.

No, I Don’t Have a Boyfriend (But Thanks for Asking).

I was working with elementary aged kids last week when one of the kids made a reference to my boyfriend and I had to inform her that I don’t have one. This happens to me a lot, actually—kids assuming that I have a boyfriend and then appearing shocked when I tell them, “Sorry, this guy you’re referring to doesn’t exist.”

“Yeah, but you’ve had one before,” one girl said. (Another line I hear quite often.)

“Actually, I haven’t.”

The girl’s jaw dropped. “So, you’re telling me you’ve never had a boyfriend in like, your whole life?”

That pretty much summed it up, so I shrugged and told her, “Yeah.”

She studied my face as she let this sink in. Finally she told me, very matter of factly, “You need to wear make-up.” As if that would solve all my life problems…


I wondered if I should tell this girl that my problem was not getting a boyfriend; it was wanting a boyfriend. I thought about letting her know that if I hadn’t been in this whole “five years and forever” deal with God, I probably would have gone on my first date a couple years ago. And maybe I was just being defensive because my face was being criticized, but what I wanted to tell this girl was that if I had been a typical teenager, I would have spent my high school years bouncing in and out of romantic relationships. But the thing is…

I never wanted to be typical; I wanted to be exceptional. Like my favorite Disney heroine, I wanted adventure in the great, wide somewhere. I wanted it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand…

I am not opposed to dating, nor am I obsessed with it. I’m resting quite comfortably somewhere in the middle, trusting that the God who set the universe in motion can also handle the details of my life.

I chose singleness. It’s not some horrible fate I was forced into. It’s not some prison I’m desperate to escape.

I gave God five years. Willingly. No one told me I had to. Sure, someone who gave God five years (and survived) recommended it, but I walked in her footsteps because I wanted to, not because I felt that I had to. I followed her example because I saw the value of letting God shape and mold my heart during that season.

Just because I can date doesn’t mean I should date. Yes, my five years are over. I’m now free to date whomever I please, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out with the first guy who asks me (unless, of course, he’s the kind of guy I can envision spending the rest of my life alongside, in which case I really have no reason to turn him down).

I’m not trying to be difficult. Honestly. In fact, I want to apologize to the amazing guys who have asked me out… and the amazing guys who have known better than to ask me out. It’s not you; it’s me. And I truly am sorry if my unusual approach to relationships has made things complicated for you. But, you see…

I’m not playing games with anyone’s heart—including my own. And while my lack of make-up may throw some people off, this is the real reason I’ve been single all my life.

But try telling that to a ten-year-old.

It’s Really Okay to be Single

One of my coworkers recently told me about seeing the new X-men movie. “So, uh, what movies have you seen lately?” he asked upon finishing his summary of the movie.

I shrugged. “I haven’t seen anything since Tangled came out.”

“So, no dates then?”

I love how subtle my coworkers are/aren’t about digging into my personal life.

Apparently most people find it shocking to find that a young woman actually enjoys being single. I especially love the slack-jawed stare from middle schoolers (who seem to think that twenty is ridiculously old). “You’ve never had a boyfriend?”

“Nope. Never.”

“You’re weird.” (Usually it’s only the boys who say that. The girls tend to be a little more subtle, though in the end, it’s the same message.)

Okay, I’m not weird (am I?), I’m just stubborn to a fault. Personally, I blame the genetics. When my dad was in high school, he was the self-declared king of the He-man Woman Haters Club. Though that was a joke (I think), he honestly did believe that God had called him to remain single… Then he met my mom. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I have a one-up on my dad. I have every intention of getting married someday. I just don’t feel like that day has to be in the very near future (although time seems to pass quickly these days). I don’t understand what the rush is. I don’t understand why people are all too eager to “help” set me up.

Though my coworkers don’t seem too convinced, I’m honestly not looking. I don’t feel like it’s my job to search for Prince Charming (and it’s most assuredly not their job either). God has called me to live the journey and embrace the moments. I can’t do that when I’m constantly on the lookout for “the one”.

So, no, I’ve never had a boyfriend. And, no, I’m not ashamed of that fact. Although you might think it sounds totally cliché, I’m perfectly happy with having Jesus be the only man in my life right now. Contrary to popular belief, it’s really okay to be single.

Casually Breaking Your Heart

Casual dating. I think that’s the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever heard. How can something as serious as a romantic relationship ever be considered “casual?” And yet I hear the phrase tossed around all the time. “Well, yeah we’re dating, but it’s pretty casual. I dunno. We’ll see what happens.” Or, “Yeah, I don’t really like him, but he asked me out so, here we are.”

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is just a “Hollywood culture” mentality, either. It has infiltrated our churches. When I confided in a Christian friend that a guy friend of mine was trying to get me to go out with him, this is the opinion she shared with me: “Well, he sounds like a pretty sweet guy, and you seem to get along well with him. I don’t see any harm in two friends casually hanging out and maybe grabbing a cup of coffee.” Really? Well, then I think I’ll just wear a flashing, neon sign that reads: “Hey, I like you back, so keep pursuing me!” That might be a little more subtle.

For me to have gone on a “casual” date with this guy would have been wrong because he would have read much more into the situation than just “grabbing a cup of coffee” with a friend. The truth is, although I could have easily gone out with this guy and remained completely unaffected, I’m pretty certain that the mixed signals I would be sending him could be hazardous to his heart. What would my actions be insinuating to him about our relationship? Saying that you are “casually dating” someone is like saying you’re “just friends.” But friends don’t ask friends out unless they are hoping to be more than friends. Are you getting the picture? There is no such thing as casual dating because “casual” only exists on one side of the relationship.

When my friend’s girlfriend broke up with him, she confessed that she hadn’t known if she really liked him or not, so she figured dating him was the only way to find out. Then she got upset with him when he accused her of playing with his heart.

Personally, I think he had a right to be upset. You know, when a guy asks you out, it is okay to tell him, “I’ll think about it,” or better yet, “I’ll pray about it.” (After all, it’s always a good idea to invite God into the scenario right up front.) I can’t help but wonder how much heartache my friend could have been spared had this girl taken a moment to pray about their relationship and seek God’s will instead of just saying “yes” when he asked her out.

But oftentimes, we don’t pray about it. We simply do what our feelings are leading us to do and “follow our hearts.” Now, that’s probably some of the worst advice you ever received from Disney. Did you know that the Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked? Let’s face it, ladies – we’re selfish, and our hearts are only catering to our own needs.

So, as a girl who’s a friend of many a guy, I’m begging you, please be careful with the hearts of the men around you. Relationships are not a game. And there is nothing “casual” about breaking a man’s heart. Next time a guy asks you out, take a moment to pray and truly seek God’s will in the situation. If you’re not interested in pursuing the possibility of a permanent relationship with this man, say no. I’m sure the guy will agree with me when I say that temporarily hurting his feelings up front is preferable to crushing his heart a couple months down the road.

Courting, Dating, or Single?

I’ve avoided reading the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye for years now. I finally broke down and picked it up, thinking I would suffer through it “for research purposes.” Why the negative attitude? I had previously been misinformed by several people who read it that the book was about courting.

Ugh. Courting is a serious turn-off word for me. I think I dislike courting for the same reason many people dislike Christianity. “Well, Christians say they are one thing, and then they turn around and live just like the rest of the world.” The few people who have described courting to me talked like dating was a huge sin, but when they actually told me what courting was, it sounded a whole lot like dating to me. When I pointed that out, I received responses like, “But with courting, you don’t go to any compromising places together,” or “No, because when you court someone, you are actually planning on marrying them.” Okay then, so you just explained to me the difference between dating and stupid dating. It’s the same thing. The only difference is the name you call it. At least, that’s how I see it. But if you have a better definition that can clear things up for me, please let me know, and I will gladly stand corrected.

I haven’t completely finished the book yet, but after reading eleven chapters and not finding anything but a brief reference to the dreaded “C” word, I think it’s safe to assume that the book is not about courting. And according to author Joshua Harris, it’s not even about dating; it’s about living a pure and purposeful singleness. Even if it’s just for a season.

Ironically, the book I’ve been avoiding for most of my teen years is the same book I’ve been searching for most of my teen years. It was like a breath of fresh air to read the writings of someone who actually feels the same way I do about relationships. It was refreshing to realize that the thoughts that caused me to write a book and start this blog are spinning in the hearts of others like me. So now that I’ve discovered that the book already exists, why am I still writing? Well, I guess it’s because there’s still so much to be learned about passionately pursuing God with your singleness. So I’ll keep embracing the moment, living the journey, and sharing my experiences along the way. Who knows? Perhaps my own dance with singleness will encourage you as much as Joshua Harris has encouraged me.