Where There’s Smoke…

Thank God for the smoke.

When I look back on my dating life there was a lot of smoke I ignored. I might as well have been fanning the flames. Even when things caught on fire, I still looked the other way.

Oftentimes red flags come early. Flags don’t have to be serious things. Red flags are any reasonable thing that you know won’t work for you.

While at a singles event a few months ago, we were asked to tell someone our non-negotiables. I heard everything from liars to cheaters to kids. Yes kids. That was mine…

Now there are others but that was the first thing that came to mind. You have to decide what your non-negotiables are and stop negotiating.

As we get older it becomes easier to relax our expectations just to be with someone. But what if relaxing your expectations puts you in bad company or situations you can’t reverse…

A wise woman once said “take your time, do it right.” I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about choosing. You’ve waited this long (I think I’m ministering to myself) and now you have the opportunity to make a good choice. Don’t throw it all away.

Pay attention to the flags. It’ll save you lots of time and heartache.

Happy Waiting!

Why I Took a 6 Month Break From Dating

While dating someone last year I fasted and prayed about the relationship that was developing. In many ways he seemed like the perfect guy but I didn’t feel peace in my spirit about it even though I really wanted to.

So I fasted.

One day while on my way into church, during the fast, I said to myself, ” I don’t know how to date.” I’ve never been the kind of girl who dates multiple guys. One guy at a time is more than enough for me. I’d much rather be with one guy and in a relationship. Dating sucks.

While in the bathroom at church I heard a woman crying. I asked if I could give her a hug and we talked a bit. She told me about her husband and how he had passed away years ago. She also told me about someone she had started dating recently and that she realized she didn’t know how to date. She literally said, “I don’t know how to date”.

I was shocked.

That was the SAME thing I said to myself as I walked into church. While sharing that I thought something similar walking into church she said “God told me to buy these books, I think I’m supposed to give one to you.”

The following Sunday, we met at church and she gave me the book. As I sat in church waiting for the service to start I began reading. Three to four pages in it said to commit to a six month break from dating to focus on myself and my relationship with God.

I wanted to throw the book out of the window. What?! 6 months?! Why? How Jesus? Again – I had taken a 3 month break the year before. The book also had different activities at the end of each chapter.

While I was reluctant at first, I did it. I took a 6 month break and here’s what I learned.

1. Make Room

I’m really good at staying busy. I was an opportunity addict. Something would come across my email and I’d apply even if I knew I was already overwhelmed. I was filling the time just in case there was nothing in the future to fill the time. So my yes’ started to become nos and I stared reclaiming my time. There really wasn’t room for anything else. I had to purposefully and intentionally make room.

2. Get Your House in Order

I bought my house and with the hustle and bustle of life, along with a new job, grad school and other opportunities I was so exhausted I couldn’t even hang a picture on the wall. Getting my actual house in order was something I had to do. I also committed to joining and joined a new church. I had been attending for a little over a year and it was time. On the last day of the dating break, I received the right hand of fellowship at a new church. I had reached a level of spiritual maturity that required a different kind of preaching, worship, and praise.

3. Self-Care

Once I finished my degree, I began intentionally engaging in self-care. I began working out more often, getting back to my healthy eating routine and spent more time doing the things I loved with the people I loved. I became more intentional about personal boundaries at work and removed myself from troublesome situations. Above all else, I’ve been praying more and praising more and more frequently. Joy doesn’t seem so out of reach anymore.

4. I Stopped Caring So Much

A good friend of mine use to say “If everyone cared as much as you do…the world would be a better place.” Truth is I can be a bit of a perfectionist. Deep down I believed if I was perfect nothing would go wrong but I have 1,000,000 examples of how untrue that is! I learned it’s ok to be imperfect and that life will still go on.

5. I Learned How to Have (More) Fun

Okay so I had some fun over the last few years but I didn’t allow too much fun. Why? Because I had to write a paper, read an article, write a lesson plan, post to blackboard… now, weekends aren’t catch up sessions with books and papers, it’s fun! I didn’t know how much I missed it.

6. I Realized What Was Important

Family and friends are important. Spending time doing the things I love with the people I love is important. Jobs come and go, yesterday is not like today but each day is a gift and should be treated as such. Yesterday I walked into a classroom to talk to a teacher and she said “what’s going on with you? You look so happy!.” I was and nothing in particular had happened to spark that. I had just reached a point of contentment with myself and the things around me.

Ultimately I think this journey was about becoming what I wanted to attract and intentionally investing in me. There’s no use looking for something or someone who is the complete opposite of who you are. If I’m honest, I spent a lot of time looking for the qualities I lacked in the guys I dated. That was wrong. I had to learn, know, and be true to myself and become the woman God wanted me to be. Now, not all of this happened in 6 months, it’s definitely a process but I’m farther along than I’ve ever been.

Through this process God wanted to restore me, to teach me a few lessons, and to return me better than ever! Now, I’m not perfect (no where near it) but one thing is for sure, I’m better now than I’ve ever been. I’m expecting God’s greatness real soon. But in the meantime…

Happy Waiting!

A Double Portion

Not long ago, I went to a soup kitchen to volunteer. I volunteered with this organization a few times in the past and was eager to spend more time volunteering in 2018.

The last few times I volunteered, we served food during three shifts and it was critically important to ensure each guest received the same portion.

During the first two shifts the portions were the same for everyone. However, once it was time for the last shift, we were told to give our guests double of everything.

I’ll admit, although we were told to do this I didn’t think there would be enough food to go around. I was also concerned that the other group would find out double portions were given out when they only received one serving of each food.

But, the chef knew exactly what she had stored up, and she knew we wouldn’t run out. We had more than enough.

So we gave out double portions.

Imagine waking up hungry and finding out you’re last in line.  As your stomach growls, you have to wait and watch as busses full of people go before you.

Now, you don’t know how much others are getting, all you know is that they’re getting something you’re not.

That’s kinda how it is to wait. You have a desire for something (or someone) in your heart. Yet, day after day, year after year you watch as others go before you. Now, you may not know the ends and outs of what they got but the fact is, they got something.

Well…I am here to tell you God has a double portion stored up for you! That’s not to say those who went before you didn’t get enough or received less. They may have received exactly what they needed. Sometimes getting what you need is a double portion.

So, don’t lose heart. It may seem like you’re waiting a long time – trust me I know the feeling. But rest easy knowing that God hasn’t forgotten about you and that just like our guests on that day, He may be making you wait because He set aside a double portion just for you!

Happy Waiting!

What Waiting Has Taught Me

Waiting has taught me to look deeper and be more critical about my choices while dating. In years past, my attraction to men was mostly physical. Now that I’ve spent more time thinking about what I want long term, I’m taking my time and really getting to know the person I’m dating. 

Not long ago, I did an exercise with a counselor. I wrote down the names of guys I had dated/been in a relationship with and wrote down what I liked about them and what attracted me to them. What I didn’t spend enough time on were the things I didn’t like. 

So, this weekend I’m going to write 3 names, what attracted me to them, what I liked and disliked and see if I can find any patterns. Then, I’ll take this knowledge along with what I’ve learned about myself  – including what I’ve done to attract these kinds of men – and decide what I need to do to attract a different kind of man. 

Will you do this exercise with me? It shouldn’t take long. The first time I did it, it was helpful. Now that I’ve had a longer stretch of dating the same person it will be interesting to see how (and if) my dating pattern has changed. 

Feel free to share what you learned! I’m hoping to break some chains and do a new thing in my dating life. I hope you are too.

Happy Waiting!

A Time and a Season

Last week I bought 2 mangos. I LOVE mangos and I planned on eating them, at different times, for dessert. I guess fruit isn’t what most people would deem a dessert but it is for me.

I felt the first mango and I thought it was ripe enough to eat. Well…after cutting it and attempting to peel back the skin, it wasn’t. I was super disappointed but had 1 more mango left.

So a couple of days later, I felt up the second mango and attempted to eat it. It was so hard y’all. I couldn’t believe I had done the same thing TWICE! And wasted two perfectly good mangos smh!

Later on that week, I bought another mango. I took my time selecting it and made sure it was close to being ready to eat. I even waited another day or two. Then, when I was ready to eat it, I checked it again and decided to give it another day.

Finally, it was ready to eat and it was DELICIOUS! I am SO glad I waited.

I know me. Sometimes I rush to get to the end. I want that mango, that job, that boo and I’ll try to make a determination before it’s time. Do you do this as well? Or are you waiting patiently for the right time and the right season?

I believe God takes us through waiting periods. He has to work somethings out in us. While it is annoying to have to wait and watch and wait, sometimes it’s just not the right time.

I threw away two perfectly good mangos because I didn’t want to wait. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it and ended up having to start all over.

I could have had 3 mangos by now smh.

So I implore you to wait. Wait for the right time, wait for the right season, wait until you have all of the facts or as many as you can get. Wait until you’re sure. Don’t rush it but also don’t move too slow. If you rush it, it may not be ready, you may not have all of the facts and you may have to throw it away. If you wait too long the opportunity might pass you by.

We’re in the middle of wedding season and I know the tendency for some is to push something further than it needs to go to get to the desired end. Don’t be that girl or guy. Wait. Take your time and make the very best decision.

There is a time and a season for EVERYTHING. Wait for your time and your season.

Happy Waiting!

Still

Life has been pretty hectic lately. I recently started a new job, grad classes began, and the adjustment…has been an adjustment.

In an effort to maximize my time, I decided to begin working out again after work. I’m really good at piling it on. I could be extremely busy but because I’m passionate about something, I’ll add it on anyway instead of just saying no. I wouldn’t even think it through because for some reason I felt the need to make a quick decision rather than weighing the cost.

So one night, when I came home from a marathon of work and working out, I found a creature waiting for me on my front door. It was a praying mantis.

I screamed a little, and then I felt like 1,000 bugs were crawling all over my body. I know this is dramatic but that’s how I felt. I even added it to my story on IG and sent a picture to a friend.  A message I received on IG seemed prophetic. It seems the praying mantis is a symbol of meditation, patience, and stillness. As I did a little online digging over the next week or so and paid attention to what God had been urging me to do, I realized that this thing that showed up on my door didn’t seem to be there without reason. I believe it was God telling me to slow down, be still, and think things through. Not to make any decisions in haste but to stay the course until I’m sure.

About a month ago I began listening to an audiobook by Brené Brown. The title of the book is The Power of Vulnerability. It is a MUST read/listen. In chapter 44 she says “would you rather be certain and miserable or uncertain and wholehearted?”

I don’t know about you but I’ve rushed MANY decisions just try to get to the end. I am famous for saying “so what do you want to do?” hoping to get to an end. What God is teaching me, and what he may be teaching you, is to wait and to really take your time.

If you’ve ever been heartbroken, it can be difficult to let things play out but if there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that sometimes God sends you the desires of your heart in a package you didn’t expect. To recognize it as being from God, you may have to wait. I almost ruined a great opportunity because I couldn’t see past my fears and wait it out.

So, don’t be like old me – quick to make a decision and miserable, ending something without thinking it through, withdrawing completely because withdrawing appears to be easier than dealing. Be like new me – let things play out and be true to yourself so when it’s time to make a decision, you’ll make the right one.

Happy Waiting!

 

If I Knew Better

Fall 2016, I watched a few Andy Stanley sermons that were streaming on Netflix. In one of the sermons he said, although you may know better, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do better. You have to make an effort to change your ways.

When you’re waiting, you have to be intentional about setting boundaries. This can be uncomfortable if you haven’t set these kinds of boundaries before. When you set boundaries while you wait, you choose you and If you haven’t been choosing you, it will be difficult to begin to. 

Choosing you means not letting things go too far or not having someone over too late. It means waiting awhile. It means delayed gratification.

It means changing your mindset.

What does intimacy look like while you’re waiting? Are you prepared to remind her/him of your boundaries?

In some cases, couples don’t share hotel rooms. They may not kiss or touch very much or they may do all of the above and be fine. It comes down to knowing yourself and your partner.

Maybe you have self-control and can manage intimate moments or maybe you need the other person to have more self-control.

Whatever the case may be, you have to know you and know when to say good night or good-day. Waiting isn’t easy but it creates more opportunities to get to know someone outside of the physical.

So now that you know better, do better. 

Don’t let lust get in the way of finding out if you have something that will be long-lasting. Doing better will help you make better decisions. It will also keep you from going to far too fast and getting hurt. Trust me – setting boundaries has kept me from a world of hurt. 

It also helped me figure out who was really for me. You never know, setting boundaries and putting you first might lead you to the partner your heart desires.

There’s someone out there who knows your worth. You just have to know it first. 

Happy Waiting!