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Jul 7, 2013

Girl Talk // The Waiting Game


Part of what I've always wanted for this blog, and really, what it's been from time to time, is for it to be a place where friends can stop, sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, and browse, feeling refreshed or encouraged or that they maybe gained something, whether it be a new recipe or some new insight or just having found a like-minded friend. And so let me take a moment to acknowledge the fact that most of those readers are women, and as women, we like to talk about boys.

So can I do that?  Awesome.  Thanks.

Two weeks ago, my dear friend Alayna and I visited some senior high girls at a camp, where she spoke to them about purity and having a Godly view of relationships.  She did an absolutely fantastic job, by the way.

Sitting in that chapel took me back to my years as a camper (and eventually a counselor) at that same camp, always looking forward to that girls chapel, but always knowing what the ultimate advice would be for a single girl like me..."wait".

(Before I move on, Iet me clear the air...you might be thinking "uhhh...I'm pretty sure you're not single." Yes, I'm not. But I was. For a long time. And I have some thoughts about that waiting game, so stick with me, ok?)

I spent pretty much all of my middle school, high school, college, and even a few post-college years waiting.  And so I know, waiting is exhausting.  So many times, we impress upon young Christian women that they should just wait...wait on God, wait on the "right" guy, wait on themselves.  Trust me, I'm not knocking that advice...it's good to wait.  But I also think that so much of what young girls read and hear is that that waiting game will eventually pay off, as long as they just bide their time.

Here's the thing...it's about so much more than just biding time.  The church tells single women that they need to seek God and become complete in Him and then He'll deliver Mr. Right.  We tell girls that they don't need a guy in their lives, but does our culture (and I'm talking about church culture) really say that?

I spent so much of that waiting working on seeking the Lord whole-heartedly and trying so hard to put aside those desires, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I had grown up with the expectation that as long as I followed the rules and made it look like I didn't need a guy, it would eventually pay off, and I'd eventually have that storybook romance.  God would bring my Prince Charming riding in on a white horse.

But God doesn't always.  I know plenty of women who are amazing mentors and who are fulfilling God's purpose for their lives without a guy by their side...and not by their own choice.

I doubt that many of those women sat at camp and shrugged off that "girl talk" chapel because they just didn't have an interest in a relationship.  And while I'm currently not one of those women, I easily could have been.

There's no recipe, no science behind meeting and falling in love with the right guy.  Frankly, until AJ and I are both wearing rings, there's no guarantee beyond the commitment that we've made in a dating relationship that we will never be single again.

So now that I've ripped down most of what Christian culture tells young, single women, what would I suggest instead?

Here are three simple things...maybe they'll lead you to eventually finding your future spouse, maybe not, that's not the point.  But I think that at the end of the day, you'll be a happier and healthier (emotionally AND spiritually) person for it.

1.  Stop searching.  Seriously...one of the biggest things I did for myself when I was in the land of singledom was to just stop looking.  Stop eyeing up every guy you see thinking (is he my future husband?).  And I'm not saying this in a "as soon as you stop looking, God will bring him to you" sort of way...there's no science, remember!?!

2.  Make a list of qualities that the person you want to become would have and make a list of all the things you can do because you're single.  Do you need to work on being more humble?  A better listener?  Do you want to go on a trip with your friends?  Move to a new city?  I recently listened to an Andy Stanley sermon in which he said "You'll never have more time than when you're single."  It's true.  I'm not even married and I know it's true.  A dating relationship takes time.  If you're dating with the intent of it ending in matrimony, it means you now have someone else to consider in just about every decision, and a future that doesn't just include you any more.  Making lists like this will help you to rejoice in your singleness instead of viewing it as a curse, which, if you're anything like me, you do.

3.  Get involved.  Serve at your church.  Join a small group.  Take a class.  First of all, it's a great way to fill time and contribute.  But also, getting involved will align you with other like-minded individuals.  Individuals who care about the same things you do.  Maybe one of those will be the person you spend the rest of your life with, maybe not.  That's not the point...you're supposed to stop searching, remember?  The point is that getting involved will help you to create deep and meaningful relationships with others who have similar values, and that, in itself, is invaluable.

So that's my take on the waiting game.  I'm no expert; I'm just a girl who didn't date until I was in my twenties but still had her heart broken over things she never had, all while "waiting" on the Lord.  So if you're 16 and reading this, I hope you take this advice to heart and don't waste this part of your life searching and waiting for and idolizing a relationship...and if you're in your twenties or thirties and reading this, I hope you can find some encouragement in it.

I love girl talk, so you know where to find me if you need me.

17 comments:

  1. When it comes to a list I couldn't agree more. I have recently wrote a post about relationships & how hard they are. After a lot of trial and error I have found that making a list of qualities is SO IMPORTANT. Yes there is some wiggle room, but keeping to who you are and what you want is key in being happy. Also, taking a class or joining a group is not only a way to meet people, but it is also great for learning more about yourself!

    xo. Kailagh

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    1. I agree! I think it's important to have a list of what you want in a spouse (plus it's fun to write), but even more important is a list of who YOU want to be! It provides some accountability.

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  2. I'm glad that you spoke from your heart and gave great insight and wisdom :) Love you Betsy!

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    1. Thanks Nat. This is the kind of stuff I can't wait to say to those little 7th graders some day...you know, when they stop thinking boys are gross. Though let's not rush it. ;)

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  3. AMEN! Love, love, love this post. Working in youth ministry for a few years now and being in the same position you were for some time I couldn't agree more. I think it is so destructive to teach young women this because it makes it seem like God is saying "If you do this...then I do this." I don't believe there are any if, ands, or buts to our sovereign Lord. While waiting upon God is a beautiful thing I do not believe in any circumstance we should do it with alterior motives. Thank you for this post! You have a beautiful heart.

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    1. I totally agree! God isn't a deal maker, His sovereignty doesn't depend on our performance! And He will always know when we have other motives, so there's no use in not being honest with ourselves and with Him! Thanks for your thoughts!

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  4. This is so spot on, growing up as preachers daughters my sister and I experienced the same teaching and grew up with the same mindset "if i just do everything right...my knight in shining Armour will magically show up" Now we're both in our 20s and have long realized that's not so. The most important thing for me is to seek God while living a full life. I've come to a point of contentment, if it's His will for me to be married then it will happen eventually, but until then (or if not) I'm going to lean in and experience this lovely planet that God created! Great post!

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    1. Ah, thanks Haley! What an important mindset to have...fulfillment in God and finding a sense of contentment in all circumstances is something we're called to as Christians, but can be so hard to attain.

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  5. I was blessed to grow up in an amazing church and thankfully I never had this message taught to me, it's so sad that girls grow up believing they need to be 'good enough' in order to be 'rewarded' with a husband. Funnily enough I read an amazing post on this exact thing only the other day, I'd really recommend checking it out, I love how she shares how falling in love with God is the aim in life not waiting to find a man to fall in love with. The link is http://gracefortheroad.com/2012/02/03/idontwait/ . Thanks for such an honest post.

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    1. Ah! Thanks for the link! Love hearing from like-minded women!

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  6. Bets! love it. good thoughts. I appreciate #2 - I remember being told as a teen that we should work on ourselves so we will be a better person by the time we find someone, but it's important to do regardless of if you ever end up in a serious relationship! Thanks for sharing your experience and reflections.

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    1. So true! It's a shame that girls don't realize this sooner. It's such a freeing revelation, and one that allows you to realize how important it is to find completion in Christ and not in finding a potential spouse.

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  7. Thank you, Bets. Girl Talk is such a great title for what will surely be a meaningful series! If I may, I'd also add to your list something along the lines of cultivating FRIENDSHIP with guys. Friendship. As in, enjoying common interests, having honest conversations, and creating space to let one another be yourselves. I know personally that I was the kind of girl who weighed her friendships with guys way too heavily in her mind, and I often walked into those relationships with expectations that crushed them from the get-go. But, lo and behold, my husband was first and foremost my friend-one of the few that had seen me as I am and yet one in which I hadn't envisioned "our" potential future-at least until the time was right and we were both open to conversations about our future together. I know it's a mysterious process, and friendship won't necessarily result in marriage, but I get the feeling that it's becoming increasingly less common and I think that's a great loss. After all, you don't stop navigating and appreciating male friendships just because you get married! It's a lifelong process. I wish I had started mine earlier.

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    1. Ah, yes. Friendship! Such a good point. I have to agree...I often have put far too much emphasis on the potential beyond just being friends with a guy instead of just appreciating the relationship for what it was. I'm so glad that mine & AJ's story started with friendship as well.

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  8. seriously the best advice ever! I tried to encourage my highschoolers by helping them stop searching and open their eyes to all the things that they can do now. I wanted to show them that wishing their life away wasn't fun or easy. there is so much they could do know and so much the Lord wants to do in them!

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  9. Love the post! Just started reading your blog and am currently loving it! That was such a insightful post. I have dated a lot through my school careers. However I have often looked back at those years and relationships and thought, "i wished I chose to wait." and it's not so much about the rewards of waiting for the right person to come along but really just for the time lost that I could've done so much more. Instead of spending all this time and energy investing in someone who wasn't going to marry you.

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  10. Betsy, this post is exactly what I needed to read today!

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Hi! Thanks for reading! I read every comment posted here. Your thoughts are valuable to me! Thanks for taking the time to contribute!

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