Ladies, we need to have a serious conversation, so I am inviting us to gather for a virtual night of fellowship if you will. Tonight, we circle around a fire – warm and together. This isn’t the fire where we fret over our unruly hair on our way over and then show up singing “Kumbaya” with smiles plastered on our faces.
This is a place where we can wipe off the mascara and the facades. Put on something comfy, and put down your iPhone – for these are the beautifully raw moments between our Instagram documentations. These are the moments life and bonding happen.
We unmask. We laugh. We come together. We strengthen.
What if I told you that our conversation today will change the way we do dating? I’m not talking about an infomercial – some cleaning product that will change your life and get you a dream man. I’m inviting you to completely throw away an old perspective and adopt a new one. Don’t worry, we’re not kissing dating goodbye or asking you to not look at a boy until you’re fifty.
Let’s start with this scenario: When he decides he’s interested for another five minutes and comes back, it’s not the neglect and broken promises you’re going to remember. No, instead you remember the sweet words in between. They made you feel so special. You felt a sense of honor because this guy who is hard to tie down is noticing you, YOU!
Here’s the thing: the problem isn’t all on the guys. No matter how rude and crude they are sometimes. It takes two to mess up a relationship. What I am NOT saying is that the way he is behaving is your fault or that there is something wrong with who you are. What I am saying is that if we find ourselves attracted, over and over again, to someone who isn’t honoring, respecting, and striving to mirror Jesus, it points to something broken in us.
Tonight, let’s take a good look at what is going on in us. Let’s “remove the plank out of our eyes” rather than pointing to the “specks in their eyes” (paraphrase Matthew 7: 1-5). Let’s ask ourselves and each other the hard questions. Yes, there may be tears, but as Pope John Paul II says, “Tears flow silently through the soul and cleanse the heart.”
Who is the man of your dreams? Is he chasing after Jesus, helping old ladies across the street, holding puppies but also tough and rugged? Maybe you’re looking for the “spark”? That “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of stuff”? (That’s from It Takes Two. Am I dating myself?)
Now here’s the real question: What do we say that we want, and what do we actually gravitate toward? There’s a real iceberg to chew on.
If you think I’m preaching from a pulpit here, sister, you and I could go toe-to-toe with my track record. I was that one in the small group with my girlfriends agreeing that I would want to marry the Jesus-loving, tough but gentle, velvet and steel, respectful man. What I was actually going for was the guy who wanted me to spend the night or the mysterious high school sweetheart who would show back up periodically throughout the years. I was a junkie for the thrill or the “butterflies in my stomach.”
For me, love was the passionate, impulsive, kissing in the rain from the songs and movies kind of love. But love doesn’t look like what reality television tells us (even the Bachelor!). I was never attracted to the nice, steadfast gentlemen, and I didn’t know why. Then, a wise, older woman said very plainly to me, “Sara, your dating habit reminds me of that Proverb that says ‘A dog returns to its own vomit.'” Vomit! When you put it that way, it sure makes your thrilling romance with that hesitant hunk-a-hunk less appealing, doesn’t it?
As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. –Proverbs 26:11
What we’re touching on here is what I like to call a “familiar spirit.” Perhaps we are attracted to our skewed versions of love based on what we have known or experienced. Maybe there is that guy from your past that you can’t seem to move on from. It could be from a physical bond. Paul emphasizes the way people bond deeply with sexual acts in 1 Corinthians 6:16: “Or do you not know that he who is joined [to a harlot] is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.'” Maybe you subscribe to the “kiss a few frogs” theory. Or it could be someone whom you formed a bond with on an emotional level. Maybe you have trust or self-worth insecurities from a bad relationship with your father, and those manifest themselves in your relationships.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. –Proverbs 4:23 (check out this lesson one young woman learned on guarding her heart based on a Taylor Swift song!)
It could be issues that started when you were a little girl. Maybe you grew used to being neglected and therefore, find yourself attracted to people who neglect you. That is the guy who is “hard to get.” Maybe you learned that a man should be aggressive or passive – the list could go on. Wherever it is, what we are attracted to points to what is in our hearts.
Generally, a healthy heart is attracted to a healthy relationship; a broken heart is attracted to a dysfunctional one.
For the record, the dysfunctional relationship ones rarely get better without serious help. If he is rejecting you, pressuring you, making you feel worthless, etc, that will carry into your marriage.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. –Psalm 139:23-24
If you haven’t yet, check out our devotional study on the Proverbs 7 woman which delves into common things young women do to attract attention, find worth, and how that can often attract the wrong kind of guy.
Ladies, let’s search our hearts in prayer together:
Is there anything in my heart that is causing me to be attracted to a love other than the kind You designed so perfectly? We invite you, Lord, to bring us into wholeness, which was Your original plan. We pray that You would show us who we need to forgive, old thought patterns rooted in lies, and strongholds You want to cleanse from our hearts. Transform us by renewing our minds. Amen.
Whom do you need to forgive? Did Jesus show you any lie you may believe about love or yourself? Are there any attachments you need to let go of? Dear sister, I want to walk through this with you as people did with me. (Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
// image by Elijah Hail