Eight months ago I got to marry the most amazing man I’ve ever met . . .

Isn’t he cute?(Actually, if I’m honest, what I really want to say is, “isn’t he hot?” but this is a Christian site so I’m not sure I’m supposed to say that — then again, I’m the one writing, so I’m going with hot.) If I’m going to comment on how good-looking he is, I should also probably tell you he’s an amazingly kind, hard-working, funny, smart, passionate, loyal, God-loving man with a servant’s heart, and I’m so very blessed that he’s in my life.The fact that we are together at all seems surreal because I had never before had a “long-term” relationship.

Before I became a Christian in 2008, I dated quite a bit. The choices I made were usually awful. I wasn’t sure who I was, much less who I wanted to date. I just knew I wanted to love and be loved. Why should that be so hard? Oh, but it is . . .

I could write a book on horrible dating experiences alone:

*The guy who told me (shortly after we ordered) that the meal was expensive, so he was expecting sex after dinner.

*The guy who broke up with me after a month via email because I was “too fat.”

*The guy who broke up with me because he didn’t like that I was losing weight. (um, is that a thing? apparently so!)

*The guy I met online from the Twin Cities who turned out to be married with children (I found out after the fourth date)

I could go on and on, but you get the picture, and I get very embarrassed when I look back and realize how little I was willing to settle for when it came to love. I look back and now see my lack of long-term relationships as God protecting me from myself and my own bad choices. Luckily, I’d get a month or two into a relationship and it would either blow up (see examples above) or I’d wake up to the fact that my relationship was hugely disappointing and I’d end it. I used to think I was heartbroken after those breakups, but really I was just SO disappointed.

When I accepted Christ in 2008, I was coming off of a streak of VERY bad dating choices. I was dating the men who would date me. I mean, really, that was about as high as I raised the bar. Everywhere else in life I had high standards, but when it came to men, I was a mess. In fact, it was a bad dating choice that led me to hit the rock bottom I needed to accept Christ! So, when I finally did accept him, I decided to take a LONG break from dating to work on the most important relationship in my life: my relationship with God. I had a really unhealthy relationship history and I had to be honest with myself; I couldn’t trust myself to make good relationship decisions. Taking dating off the table altogether was an ironic freedom, although I was so lonely I often cried myself to sleep. But God was so faithful during that time. In addition to earnestly seeking God and building my relationship with him, I began to pray a few very important prayers during that time:

I prayed first and foremost for God to take the desire to be married away from me because it was so painful to want something so badly and not know if it would ever happen for me. I prayed that if he didn’t have it for me that he would have mercy and remove that deep desire. God didn’t remove it; in fact, as I grew healthier in mind, body, and spirit in my relationship with God, the desire grew even stronger

I prayed for God to get me ready for the future.“God, heal me so that I can be whole and ready to meet my husband when the time is right. Please make me the woman my ‘Mr. Right’ would want to be with.* Please help me deal with my baggage and issues so that I’m ready when I meet him. But most of all, God, let me be grounded soundly in you so that when I do date again, I can be strong enough in you to make good decisions.” I also reclaimed my virginity during this prayer time and committed to not having sex until marriage

I prayed for my future husband. I prayed that God would get him ready for me – to prepare his heart, mind, body and spirit. I prayed that God would bless him wherever he was at that moment and would bring him joy, peace, and a deep love of the Lord. I prayed when I did date again that I would be discerning and would seek a man who would be equally yoked with me.

God transformed me during this break from dating, inside and out. He worked on my heart and cleaned out so much of the junk hiding in the dark corners of my mind and spirit. He made it clear who I am and who I am becoming – and I was able to pursue a full life outside of a love relationship. He redeemed my self-esteem and I grew very strong in my confidence because of the Lord’s love for me. I realized I was the daughter of the King and I should make choices like his daughter. For me, the transformation would not have been possible without taking a complete break from dating.

Are you pursuing something in your life above and before God? Would you benefit from taking a break from that pursuit in order to pursue a relationship with God?

*If you’d like more information on revamping your dating life, I highly recommend this sermon series by Andy Stanley! http://northpoint.org/messages/the-new-rules-for-love-sex-and-dating