When I was a little girl I used to ask my dad, “Daddy, when will I be allowed to date?” His response was: “When you turn 31”. It was always said with a smirk on his face, but behind that smile I saw concern and wisdom. I know he realized that I wasn’t going to be his little girl forever, but he knew that if I waited until I was truly ready (which, shocker, wasn’t at 15) I wouldn’t regret it.
Because I was young and naive and wasn’t impressed with much of my dad’s advice, I started dating around the age of 15 years old. Needless to say I made some stupid mistakes, but I don’t regret a single one of them. I would not be the same person that I am today if I didn’t experience them all.
But that still doesn’t mean I wished I had understood the importance of what my dad was saying before I had started dating – it would have saved me from tremendous heartache and the loneliness of learning those precious lessons on my own.
Why Dating is Not for Me Right Now
I am 21 years of age. I am in college. I have dated before. But today, I’m decided for myself that I am still not ready to date.
You’re probably reading this and simultaneously questioning my sanity like … You’re 21 years old and you’re STILL not ready to date?
The reality of the situation is this:
I. Am. Not. Ready.
I haven’t always felt this way. As a matter of fact, I (unwisely) dated quite a few people in high school and had a “fling” or two during my past couple years at college. But, looking back on the previous relationships I’ve had, I realize that I was no where close to the person I wanted to be.
Even though I am striving to embody Christ’s perfection daily, I know that faultlessness will not occur in me until the day that Christ literally welcomes me into his home and his arms (and what a great day that will be). But, there are still a few things that I need to become/do/accept before I even think about dating again.
What I’m Doing in the Meantime
I said this in one of my very first stories, but I’ll say it again at the risk of sounding like a broken record. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to have someone special. Some people call it their ‘person’, others call it their ‘spirit animal’. I have just wanted someone to care for me, challenge me, understand me, and grow with me.
It actually started at a purity conference my mom made me go to in the 6th grade.
I was given my very first journal and asked to write down the qualities I wished for in my future husband. I’ll confess that most of those qualities were absolute rubbish; I had listed characteristics based solely on physical appearance with the exceptional ‘funny’ or ‘smart’. Reasonably, that list (now in my bible) has become very meaningful to me over the years as I have grown as a woman and, more important, as a follower of Christ. Over time the list has dwindled* to a few paramount attributes that I believe a God-fearing and God-pursing man should possess – a “silhouette”, if you will.
*I think you guys should know that over the years I’ve thankfully grown enough to strike out ‘blonde’, ‘eight-pack’, and ‘blue eyes’ from my original 6th grade ideal silhouette (though I will always keep ‘over 6 foot’ on account of my own selfish inclinations).
But, I had never created a list for myself. How could I hold someone else to such lofty standards when I was holding myself to absolutely zero? How is that fair to someone who I might wish to share my heart and life with?
I was expecting everything, without being willing to put in the work beforehand; I thought my transformation would be by cause of marriage, not a necessary precedent for it.
Phillip Holmes in “Single You Will Be the Married You“, in my opinion, puts it best:
Joining a gym won’t instantly transform your physique. Starting a blog won’t immediately make you a good writer. Purchasing a piano won’t make you a musician. The same principle is true for marriage. Getting married will not make you a good spouse or a better person.
Thusly, I set out on a quest.
What are some Christ-like qualities that I think I should have before dating? What are the qualities I’m looking for in myself, not just another person?
I’ve jotted down a few:
- Truly trusting in Jesus’s plans – I am confident in the power of Christ’s hands on my life (Proverbs 31:25).
- Following through with commitments – Because of this, I am trustworthy (11).
- Being disciplined and hard-working – I can work with what I’m given in most situations because of thought, diligence and prayer (13-16, 27).
- Being kind – I am caring of others, and because of this I will be caring of my family (20,28).
- Fearing the Lord (30)
But, because I haven’t reached the full potential of these attributes (and more) yet, I know that dating is something I need to forgo so I may fully focus on burgeoning my faith alongside Christ.
So, presently my Bible not only includes the attributes I’m waiting for in a man, but also the attributes I’m striving for myself. Both the man that I’m describing in the back of my Bible and the intended relationship between man and woman God created deserve at least that.
In whatever plans God has for me, I pray that just as I have resolved not to settle for my life-long partner, I will constantly be convicted by perseverance and the Spirit to not make someone else settle for me.
**Just like many other Christians, marriage is extremely important to me as a part of God’s plan and I believe it shouldn’t be taken lightly, but I don’t want to put such an emphasis on it as to make anyone think that it’s anything beyond the life we have now.
John Piper in “For Single Men and Women (and the Rest of Us)” puts the permanence of marriage into a great perspective:
…in the resurrection, marriage as we know it will not exist. This has profound significance for singleness in this life. It means that if two wives will not be one too many, then no wives will not be one too few. If love in the age to come is transposed into a key above and beyond the melody of marriage in this life, then singleness here will prove to be no disadvantage in eternity.