I decided in July to take a hiatus from dating. I had just been dumped by a man who claimed to be a Christian, hard worker, reformed boy who wanted to be a man. I entered this dating relationship after having had successive relationships with nonChristians and I was trying to be out of that habit. It was like coming out of a fog. I don’t mean the kind that sits in the mountains and which you drive through in a quick blast, where there is a wall that ends abruptly and you are thrust into the brilliant light of day. No, this fog was more the drifting kind that nags at your heels and refuses to dissipate but slowly. So I took halting steps forward. One of these was to slowly disassociate myself from those nonbelievers who I desperately loved, and for whom I wanted salvation and peace. But I had realized in the dim and grey light that I was not strong enough to be with these people and I needed to move away from them so as to avoid the poor choices that so often plague my generation. I was introduced to a guy by mutual friends who admitted to having made poor choices in his early twenties but claimed to be reforming and growing as a Christian. Being a foolish and lonely girl, I took the bait.
Two months later, he ended things. He turned out to be something different than I had expected and that was incredibly disappointing. Not only in the situation, but also with myself in general. How had I fallen into such a relationship? Was I so blind? Or was the truth that I had terrible standards?
So I took a break. It wasn’t one of bitterness, nor was it one of learning to be happy single, nor even the desire to put God first. Certainly those things had a place in the hiatus. But the intentions were to examine myself, my standards and discover the reasons behind them. I chose a time period of six months because it seemed like a significant amount of time. As well, that meant that I could be open to the possibility of dating in the new year when I would have completed my first semester of seminary, the lease on my apartment would end and I would hopefully have a somewhat better grip on what my future might look like.
It’s January now.
The past six months have been a bit of a roller-coaster. My first semester of grad school was vastly harder than I expected. Financially it’s been interesting–I’ve had to learn a lot about trusting God. I’ve been faced with a good deal of sin in my life which is never enjoyable. I’ve had to go without a mentor for the first time in two years–just when I was starting to yearn for such direction and correction. There’s been a shift in my social life. I spend my time differently, my finances stringently, my energy is expended too quickly and I have learned to sleep while typing a paper. It’s been great fun. It’s been hard.
In terms of dating, it has been a great joy to be at seminary. I am incredibly well taken care of by the men in my life. They are gracious and kind. They often pay for things unexpectedly. They value me as a friend, a woman, a scholar, a sister in Christ, a person. This has been a startling experience for me. Most men I’ve dated don’t pay for me, let alone my guy friends. I have been told by nearly all the boys I’ve dated that I am “intimidating” because of my intellect. It’s never been celebrated, it’s been a threat, and something I have often felt encouraged to suppress. The men I know at Seminary do just the opposite. They value my opinion, they consider it worthwhile and useful. Corey teases me about my “brilliancy” and several of them have encouraged me to continue my studies even when I’ve been discouraged.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to ask some of these men for advice, for spiritual direction, for their thoughts and reflections on a variety of things. It has also been great to witness my married friends and the way that they treat their wives or speak of them with friends. I am learning a good deal about what it means to be honoured as a woman, cherised as a sister in Christ and encouraged as a fellow human being, student, and person of worth.
I am open, now, to the idea of dating. I don’t know that this will be happening any time soon. One guy from school wants to take me out for coffee and I have some marginal hopes there. I have also learned the importance of guarding my heart and keeping God first. But I would say, the past six months have been a huge period of growth–or an introduction to the growth that I believe is just now beginning (and painfully so at times!). I’m glad I took an intentional break from dating. It was incredibly helpful and freeing as I started seminary. I was able to focus on school, my life with God, my new friendships and my family life as I didn’t even consider the men around me for dating or possible companions. Nor, were they allowed to think of me that way.
I’m quite content single.
But, of course, I wouldn’t mind if the scrawny half -bearded kid would take me for coffee soon.