Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week 10: Man's Rejection is God's Protection

Scripture to reflect upon: Hebrews 13:5
Be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When I first got saved back in 1998, my heart still carried a deep desire to be married. Dating in the Christian world can be just as frustrating and confusing as dating in the world, I soon discovered. I found myself longing for one guy after the other. Those needs, those desires, those patterns never changed within me.

I found myself in a dating nightmare all over again, only this time with men of God, which made matters seem so much worse. I brought this up to the woman who led me to Christ, and she had this saying that I still use to this day for a variety of issues:

“Man’s rejection is God’s protection.”

Because God’s Word promises He will never leave or forsake you, you can be confident that every time He closes a door in your relationships that He has your best interest at heart. When you can focus on this small concept and really let it sink into your spirit, your dating frustrations will soon come to an end. You can be rest assured that if the person you were dating seemed so perfect for you yet it ended, God has something better in mind for you.

Being content with what you have is a critical key in allowing God to move in your life. I didn’t grasp that right off the bat. I grappled with this idea for years, which is why I ended back out in the world thinking I knew better than God. I couldn’t be content, so I ventured out on my own. I ended up in worse relationships I had ever been in prior to that. I ended up marrying a crack addict/alcoholic/thief/adulterer/abuser. Because I could not be content with where God had me at the moment, I took matters into my own hands and made it 99 times worse!

I talk about surrender a lot when it comes to dating, and that includes surrendering to being content with what you have right now. Look around you: it’s not all that bad. Your hope lies in one simple truth: God hasn’t gone anywhere. He knows your heart’s desire and is eager to make your dreams come true. But why would He give you something amazing if you can’t even be happy right where you are?

ACTION PLAN: Start a daily gratitude journal dedicated to God. Name the journal, “Thank You, God!” Try to fill one page each day. You have so much to be thankful for even if you don’t realize it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself for what you don’t have, and start being grateful for what you do have.

GO FURTHER: Surrender it all to God. One thing I did to allow God complete control of my love life was to surrender myself to the idea that if God wanted me to be single for the rest of my life that I would be okay with that. I knew I couldn’t be trusted in making wise decisions when it came to men, so I said, “God, you know better than I do. I only want what You want for my life.” Once I felt utterly content being single, and living solely for God’s will in my life, it was only a few short months later when I met Jared.

FACT: Man’s rejection is God’s protection.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Post

I am at a weekend retreat on becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman. So there will be no post today. If you are so inclined, feel free to read Proverbs 31, both for men and women, and try to determine what that means, or could mean for your future relationships.

Monday, October 17, 2011

5 Ways to Impress Her without Breaking the Bank

They say talk is cheap, but what about dating? In this day and age it can cost $30 just to pick up your date. Whatever you do, resist the urge to tell her to meet you at the corner bus stop. There are easier ways to impress that new twinkle in your eye without breaking the bank.
  1. Think Outside of the Restaurant: Dinner is always a nice date, but it can be expensive even if you’re considering the new options of “$20 for 2, including an appetizer.” Sorry, pal, that will make you appear cheap. Instead, why not impress her with a homemade picnic. Pack some simple foods like pasta salad, Italian bread and some fancy cheese, along with a $5 bottle of wine (she’ll never know if you remember to take that red price tag off!).
  2. Freebies: Museums and art galleries are a fun way to get to know the tastes of your future love interest, but they can be incredibly costly. Search for deals online, or go their websites for “free days.” Some galleries and museums are actually free. They may not be enormous and fancy, but they are still…free!
  3. Judge the Book by the Cover: Take that sweetie to a local book store and play this simple game: Tell her to go pick out her three favorite books, and you do the same. Hurry up, though, because you are going to buy her a nice chocolately dessert at the café. (Women can’t resist chocolate, even on dates!) When she meets you back at the café with her books, ask her questions about why she enjoyed them so much. You’ve just shown two things: 1. you care about what she cares about; 2. you can listen. Those two things will take you far.
  4. Show the Know: Listen up! No, really…listen up. Pay close attention to what she’s saying: what her likes and dislikes are before your first date. Try to base your date around her interests, even if they’re not interesting to you. You may learn a thing or two, and that’s highly impressive!
  5. Don’t Be Cheap: Whatever you do, don’t show her that you’re cheap. You may be trying to cut corners, but please, Man, don’t ask her to chip in for the date! Instead, be a class act and pay for everything. Yes, I mean everything. If she offers, refuse! You might as well get used to it, because if you’re looking for a long-term relationship she will find unique ways to get what she wants.

Nothing will ever really be cheap, but you can always impress for less just by being a stand-up guy. These five tips are great suggestions on cutting corners in today’s economy, but the reality is women want a good guy who pays attention, is romantic, and cares. Anything after that is like chocolate icing on a chocolate cake (you’re the chocolate cake, by the way).

All rights reserved. Tristine Fleming

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Week 9: So Much Better

Scripture to practice: Romans 12:3
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought...”

I liked this verse so much, that I used it yesterday for Relationship Revival, but today, for my savvy singles, I’m going to approach this in a different light. (If you want to see how I used it yesterday, feel free to check out that blog. You’ll gain some valuable insight about the need to always be right and how it can negatively affect your relationships.)

For you, my friend, let’s just consider this idea that you are so much better “than that.” Let me first start out by bringing to light that there are reasons to think that way, specifically when it concerns to a few specific issues:
  • If someone is trying to force you into sexual relations, either verbally or physically
  • If someone is verbally or physically abusing you
  • If the person you are dating attacks your faith or your commitment to “save yourself”
  • If they are merely playing you and dating a dozen other people
  • If they are not serious about being serious

So those are things that I would most definitely agree with you on, if you said—and you should—I’m so much better than that!

But there are times we tend to think way too highly of ourselves, so much so that we say, “I’m better than that,” when it comes to someone who doesn't live up to your standards. When you consider yourself to be “above” others, that is when the problem will lurk about and destroy any real chances of happiness. I’ve said it before a million times: sometimes you are your own worse enemy. And when you put yourself on a pedestal, and demand all your requirements to be met, you will be single for quite some time.

When I first met Jared, he didn’t meet a lot of my internalized requirements I didn’t even realize I had. He didn’t like football, he was into opera and theatre, he was a liberal, he was a Mormon, and he was eleven years younger than I was. He was also a bit “odd,” as my friends put it. He was awkward and gawky…a bit geeky, even. I typically went for the guys who were incredibly confident, carried themselves with pride, and were more of the manly-man type who would never consider washing a dish, more or less change a poopy diaper.

I wasn’t sure if Jared was my “type.” I thought myself to be above all those things. I saw myself on a different—higher—level than him, and because of that, I had a hard time believing anything would really come out of it.

Imagine if I had acted on that attitude. I wouldn’t know that there could be a love like this, and I surely wouldn’t have my amazing son. Imagine how much I would have missed out if I declined his offer of a date and instead just misjudged him! My life wouldn’t be any different than it was ten years ago, and I wouldn’t be here writing this blog today in hopes of providing you valuable tidbits on how to overcome yourself!

Love of a good woman change Jared. That lanky boy turned into a confident man. Those so-called “unmanly” traits turned out to be the biggest blessings of my life! He cooks, he does laundry, he cleans, he’s incredibly involved in raising our son, and he’s an amazing man of God. I thought myself better than him, but in reality, he was better than me. But now we balance each other out. We stand on equal solid ground.

ACTION PLAN: Most people will not meet all the subconscious requirements you have made, but if you don’t find out what qualities they do have, you could be missing out on a lifetime of love. You are better than being mistreated, but you are not better than most other people despite what you think. The second portion of that scripture says, “But rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

GO FURTHER: I suggest you take the second part of this scripture to heart and apply it to your everyday life. When you stop acting like you are better than everyone else, you never know who will suddenly feel confident enough to finally approach you. Jared was intimidated by me because of that very fact. He didn’t actually ask me out. He had been telling people how he felt about me and one day when a group of us were all together, they asked me out for him. Someone, right now—someone wonderful—may be anxiously wishing he were good enough in your eyes to ask you out.

FACT: Imagine how many missed opportunities have already gone by because you may have seen yourself so much better than one of those gawky, geeky guys or girls who are really princes or princesses in disguise.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week 8: No Jesus, No Love

Scripture to reflect upon: Psalm 55:22
Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—He’ll carry your load, He’ll help you out.

Being single isn’t easy. You can experience amazing joy at the prospect of a hopeful relationship, only to be snared by the piercing pain that it wasn’t meant to be.

I know. I’ve been there. The countless relationships I had to “endure” led me here today. I say “endure” because I went through a lot of terrible, abusive relationships. I can’t tell you how many nights I laid awake crying, either because I ached to be loved, or because I ached over the love I thought I had.

I walked for many years amongst the dead. I lived nearly my whole adult life as a zombie, dragging from one dead-end relationship to another. With each new zombiefied relationship I entered, I carried extra resentments, boatfuls of bitterness and a truckload of anger. How could any relationship survive with that? It couldn’t.

I also carried a ton of guilt and shame, and with that, I made the horrific choices of one stinky guy after another. I was punishing myself.

A lot of people who suffer from Dating Whiplash end up thinking that God is somehow punishing them for something they’ve done wrong—and they know exactly what it is they’ve done wrong to deserve this treatment. God isn’t the culprit. You are. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: you are your own worst enemy; you are your biggest obstacle to overcome. That new person you’re dating…well, they shouldn’t have to “endure” you either.

Dating has its ups and downs—mostly downs. You get your hopes up and then you’re shot down in flames. You think about a hundred different times, “I think this is The One,” only to find out it was The Hundredth One this month you thought that about.

This doesn’t have to be so complicated, but for some reason you’re not listening. You come to this site week after week hoping for some insight, but you don’t like what you hear. You’re not going to stop sleeping around, or giving yourself away, or try to be a person of noble character. You’re just sitting back waiting for the world to twirl around you and change for you. Have you applied one thing I wrote in seven weeks? Have you done the homework? Have you talked to God? Have you surrendered it all to Him?

If you say yes, but nothing’s working…you’re lying. Oh, don’t get mad at me. I’m just speaking the truth you don’t want to hear. You KNOW how I know, because I’ve said it a thousand times: I’ve been there. See where you’re sitting right now. I was sitting there, too.

Scroll down. Look around my blogs. Notice something? I’m married to an amazing guy. I have a beautiful son. I have an incredible, blessed life. I have these things because everything I’ve told you….I did! God did!! We did together.

ACTION PLAN: Pile your troubles on God—He wants them! He will take care of them. Carry them for you. Have a heart-to-heart with God and try being real now. Put aside your “religious” ideas of how to approach God, and lay it on the line! Commit yourself to Jesus and watch your life transform. All the stuff you’ve been trying to do yourself can’t be done by yourself. If you want to save yourself for the right person, if you want to release your past sins/life, if you want to live a better life or be a better person—a person of noble and virtuous character, if you want to know true love…cry out to Jesus and ask Him to save you. God is not a bumper sticker slogan. He’s the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. One day, bowing down to Him will not be an option. Why not just do it now and be free for the rest of your days? It requires nothing on your part except asking for redemption, salvation, and the love Jesus DIED to give you!

GO FURTHER: Stop blaming the past, other people, or God. If you’re coming here week after week, discouraged to find out that you need Jesus in order to find real happiness and true love that will last a lifetime, don’t blame me that you won’t do it and therefore nothing’s working. Bits and pieces won’t work. You either want to find your true love, or you want to find the next best thing. True love means Jesus, and surrendering it all to Him, allowing Him to work through you, heal you, and complete you, preparing you for the person He has lined up for you. The next best thing will land you right where you are again: hopeless and aching.

Jesus doesn’t make life perfect, but He will deliver you from addictions, sin and past heartaches. Life won’t be a bed of roses, but it’s better than the alternative. The pain will become easier to deal with, and the losses you experience in the dating realm will somehow make much more sense when you grasp that God has bigger and better things lined up for you, and He’s using every single dating disaster to prepare you for the Real One. If THAT doesn’t give you hope, nothing will!

FACT: No Jesus=No Love. Know Jesus=Know Love.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 7: Hard to Find

Scripture to reflect upon for Singles Saturday: Proverbs 31:10-11 (The Message)
“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it”

Before I dig into this, I want to first ask a series of questions to the women, and then the men. I think you’ll find your own answers a bit interesting, and possibly even shocking.

§  Are you a good woman? What makes you think so?
§  Are you a woman who can be fully trusted? Why?
§  What kind of men have you been dating? How do they treat you? How long does the relationship usually last? How did you meet them?
§  How quickly do you have sex with someone? First date? Second? Third? Or do you abstain?
§  Do you spend time with God, and are you confident in your relationship with Him? (Keeping in mind that merely believing isn’t spending time with God.)
§  Are you saved? Meaning, have you given your life over to Christ?
§  Have you ever told secrets about others? Do you gossip?
§  When in a relationship, do you tell your friends everything that goes on, including your sex life?
§  Do you keep a clean house? Do you cook?
§  If you got married, what would be your main focus? Your husband/family? Your career? Your friends? Your parents? Your pets? Your “things”?
§  Why do you want to get married?
§  What are you looking for in a man? Someone attractive? Someone intelligent? Someone wealthy? Someone who’s sexy or extremely attractive?
§  Would you consider marrying a man who sleeps around a lot?
§  Would you consider marrying a man who cheated on his previous girlfriends?
§  Would you consider marrying a man who left his wife for you?
§  When you go out to the bars—if you go out to the bars—what do you wear? How do you present yourself to men? Are you wholesome and simple? Or are you overdone and letting it all hang out?

Now let me ask you again, after you’ve answered these questions: Are you a good woman worth far more than diamonds?

§  Are you a good man? If so, what makes you think that?
§  Can you be trusted by a woman? Meaning, will you lie to her, cheat on her, or string her along until you can figure things out?
§  Do you keep a clean house? Do you cook?
§  Do you feel a man should provide for his wife and family, or do you believe she should contribute to the household finances?
§  Do you let women pay for dates, or do you pay for everything?
§  What are you looking for in a woman? Do you want someone who sleeps around a lot, and has had many previous relationships before you? Or do you want someone who has been holding out for the right person?
§  Do you believe in the saying, “Why buy the horse when the cow is free?” And do you believe in “taking a test ride” before sealing the deal?
§  Do you want a woman you can be confident in and trust?
§  Do you desire a woman who seeks God first, knowing it makes her a stronger, better woman? Or do you want a woman who will put you first above and before anything else?
§  Who, or what, will be your first priority if and when you get married? Your friends? Your family? Your sports? Being able to still go out and party once a week? Your wife/family?
§  How would you plan on supporting a family? Do you even want a family, or do you only want a wife?
§  What is your idea of a wife? Does she take care of you, or do you take care of her? Will she do all the cooking and cleaning and taking care of all the children’s demands?
§  Can you be trusted to be faithful and loyal to one woman, and one woman only?

Again, I ask you: are you a good man?

So my last few questions are for both men and women: What makes a good woman? If she is so hard to find, why is that if so many women believe they are “good”? Do women believe they are good based on what the world claims is a good woman; or are women basing their goodness on biblical and Godly principles?

Men, did it surprise you to learn that you wanted a good woman who hasn’t been with many men before you? Did it surprise you that you want a good woman that you can take care of and rely on?

Ladies, most men are looking for a good woman worth far more than diamonds. They want a woman they can trust fully, with no regrets whatsoever! If you are currently giving yourself away, time and time again with the same end results, something’s not working!

Men may briefly want the woman who wears a low-cut blouse and knows what she’s doing in bed. But ultimately, a relationship based on those things won’t amount to a hill of beans. You will continually find yourself getting dumped, or doing the dumping.

Listen, the idea of what a woman is supposed to be like, and this notion that men like that kind of woman, is incredibly off! A good guy wants a good woman! They want a woman who collaborates in their beliefs. They want to know that if you are in a relationship with them, that you are committed to them and anything and everything else, besides God, is secondary. That means you won’t have arguments over work schedules, and careers, and who will take care of the kids. It means you’re committed to a family, not “having it all.”

Women, you need to stop believing the lie that having it all is really “having it all.” Quite frankly, having it all means giving up a lot! And I mean…a LOT! Just look around. Look at today’s youth. We are suffering an epidemic of obese children. We are seeing more and more kids beat, rape and murder others without any remorse. We are witnessing kids who don’t have a clue about Jesus or God, and it shows! Kids are becoming angrier and angrier at earlier ages, because they are being neglected by moms (and dads) who are trying to have it all, while having nothing at all.

Before you keep moving about as if none of this matters, you should truly consider what you want and how that’s going to work. Meaning, figure out if you are a good woman worth far more than diamonds…they are hard to come by. Are YOU hard to come by? Or are you just another woman who blends in the crowd? Beautiful, wonderful woman…you need to stand out ABOVE the crowd. What would make YOU different from other women?

And men, you need to figure out if you’re willing to settle for something less than diamonds, or if you are willing to wait for that gem to show up at the right time, knowing full well what it means to be a husband. If you don’t…I suggest you figure that out, because the world has got that all wrong, too!

ACTION PLAN: Change your course…NOW! Be a woman of virtue, ethics and morals! It’s not outdated; it’s not an ancient idea. I am one, and I’m still living. In fact, my husband waited for a woman like me to come along. Yes, I had a past—a crazy, wild, promiscuous past—but I changed my course, and so can you. Your past doesn’t need to define you anymore. You can make a conscious effort right now to be a “good woman” that any man would fight to have! Because, my dear friend, they are incredibly hard to find. (Next week we’re going to literally make an Action Plan to implement into your dating life that you will need to lay out on all of your first dates!)

Men, it’s time you refocused your attention for a good woman. Stop looking for “tail,” and start looking for “traits.” You, too, have to change the course you’re on. You need to be a man who has morals and ethics, and be a man who longs to be a good husband and provider to his wife and family. You may find a woman here and there, but what does it matter if she’s not committed to being committed?

GO FURTHER: I challenge you this week, both men and women, to read Proverbs 31:10-31. Women: make a list of ways you can be more like the Proverbs 31 Woman. Then write a list of ways you feel you can’t be like her. Explain why, and ask yourself if it’s pride that stands in your way, not an inability. Is it because you don’t want to be like that, or you think you can’t, or you think it’s stupid? Do you think it’s achievable?

Men: Make a list of all the things that you like about the Proverbs 31 woman. Pay special attention to the husband’s role. What does he do? How does he act? What is he like? Can you be that kind of husband?

FACT: A good woman is hard to find. If you’re easy to find, something’s not right.