Have you ever had a friend where it seems like every time you talk to him or her there’s a new boo in their life? I’m that girl…well, kind of. I hung out with an acquaintance recently, and she inquired about my love life. You know how it goes with questions like, “Hey, are you still talking to such-and-such?” “What’s new with you? Seeing anyone?” I laugh at myself internally when answering because I know the person she may be referencing is long gone given such a short time span. I’m not a serial dater. I just keeping it moving when I know things aren’t right. Here are the three questions I try to ask myself to decide if I should move forward with a budding relationship.
- Is it a win-win situation?
In 2011, I had a boyfriend. For privacy’s sake, let’s pretend his name is Leon. After 3 or 4 months of dating I broke things off with him due to a misunderstanding. We reconnected about 2 months after our initial break-up. As much as I liked him (and he liked me), it still wasn’t working for me. I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick. Not to sound arrogant, but he was the one reaping the benefits of our relationship. Both parties need to be realistic and willing to give just as much as they expect to get out of the relationship. Compromise requires you to bend, not break. If I ever feel like someone is “mooching” off of me, I’ll be gone fast.
- Would I feel shame or embarrassment introducing this person to my family and friends?
About 5 years ago I dated a man who was 18 years older than me. I have never made it a habit to date older men and typically wouldn’t be attracted to someone that much older than me, but he was a complete sweet heart. If ever a woman wanted to be treated like a queen, he fit the bill. Although there was nothing wrong with him as a person, I still felt weird about introducing him to my family and never did. Their assured disapproval made me think twice about whether or not he was someone I should be with. I liked him but he was in love with me. We agreed we weren’t quite right for each other long-term and broke up.
- If my best friend were in the same situation, what advice would I give her/him?
Similar to question #2, this helps me to be more objective about what’s really going on. Sometimes (but not always) people from the outside looking in have more clarity because they don’t have a multitude of emotions blocking what should be common sense.
I don’t know if it’s a woman’s intuition, the spirit of discernment, or high detecting BS sensors that are at work. Maybe it’s a combination of sorts. When it comes to love and relationships, I’ve never been afraid to let go of what (or who) I have because there’s an undying hope that I will have my happily-ever-after with a man God has purposed me to marry. Letting go can be simpler than people make it. If you have a $20 bill in your hand, would you be reluctant to give it away when you know you’ve got a winning lottery ticket in your back pocket? Put your faith into action and divorce your past so you can marry your future.
My eight year old son is a know-it-all (like his mother). He likes to be right and will confidently state his case despite his error(s). One day in the car he quizzed himself. He said things like, “I know what 100 + 100 is. I know how to spell Mississippi.” Somewhere in the sequence of proclaiming his brilliance, he told me he knew how to spell apple. He began, “A-P-P.” Giggles. He started again, “A-P-P.” More giggles. Pee-pee may sound funny to an eight year old but not so much to a more mature person.
As children often can, I find myself easily frustrated. It’s a challenge I have to work on since it is foolish to quickly be provoked to anger (Ecclesiastes 7:9). People like me can become frustrated when things don’t happen as expected. There is a difference between time and seasons. Time is continual but seasons are cyclical. We can’t maximize our time if we haven’t learned from seasons past. We serve a God who does not operate in time but in eternity. Our finite minds can’t always comprehend why God hasn’t done it yet. Maybe it is a job, a spouse, or peace of mind. Whatever it is, we shouldn’t resent the process.
I may be simplifying things too much, but I’ve always felt that if I want something I don’t yet have there are likely two reasons. Either it’s not ready for me, or I’m not ready for it. I recently heard a sermon that encouraged me greatly as I am in a season of waiting. Pastor Marcus Johnson of Hungry Church said, “If the place you’re headed exceeds your maturity level God will delay you to prepare you.” This can be illustrated in the book of Exodus. Twelve spies were chosen to scout the land the Israelites were soon to inherit. Ten spoke in fear while two, Joshua and Caleb, brought back a favorable report. Recall that the Israelites wondered in the wilderness for 40 years as opposed to taking a shorter route. Do you ever feel like it’s taking an exponentially longer amount of time than expected to accomplish some things? Sometimes there must be a season of separation. God had to allow an entire generation of doubting, whining, ungrateful, and forgetful people to die off before those with faith could reach the promised land. If you think your crew, posse, family, friends or whoever you’re connected to aren’t an issue then maybe there’s something within you that God has to cut off. God doesn’t want anyone to go into a promised land with an Egyptian mindset.
Another issue Pastor Johnson reminded me of is at what expense we pursue certain things. We shouldn’t pray beyond our level of sacrifice. Let’s say you’re shopping for a pair of pants and you only have $60 to spend. You pick a pair you like and it costs $50. You would likely buy the pants because you can afford to. However, you could also decide not to buy the pants if you feel it isn’t worth your $50. Your choice confirms how much you want those pants and what you’re willing to do to get them. That was a fairly simple example but things get complicated when you add faith to the mix. Can you let go of what you can see in hopes of getting that which you cannot see?