On the outside looking in, my life is Insta/FB worthy. I’ve got three great kids who are healthy and functional, a job I love, a new dog, and a husband/bestie who is a pastor.
There are 59 kids in our neck of the woods of Ladera Ranch. A rope swing dangles on a tree in our yard. It’s picturesque and our Christmas card’s don’t suck—thanks to the golden locks of my little lamb, my gorgeous son and cat-eyed girl.
It sure sounds pretty, right?
But this is so far from the WHOLE story.
If you only see my life from this angle it’s like you’re wearing beer goggles.
The details are foggy.
But in the morning, when the makeup rubs off and the bathroom smells like puke, the rest of the picture comes in crystal clear.
Our family is pretty ordinary, slightly neurotic and occasionally downright crazy. I think it’s awesome but it’s a far cry from perfect.
Sometimes I like to pretend I’m not divorced—a shuushed word in the ministry realm. I also wouldn’t mind forgetting past depravities and burying some of those wretched decisions of my youth in the sand (Can I just say I am so freaking grateful I didn’t grow up in the social media era!)
I am highly sensitive and I FEEL stuff intensely. It’s probably why I write. I create drama in my mind.
I also dated REALLY badly as a Christian.
Yep, I’m the one the Good Christian Girls pointed their fingers at.
Whisper, whisper, whisper, “Sam wore a bikini to the singles retreat.”
I didn’t know the Christian rules or I ignored them occasionally when I felt they were dumb.
I did missionary dating—that’s where you to try and convert a hot, rich guy who’s not a believer into one and then you lie to yourself and pretend you have something in common.
I did gold digger dating. No comments necessary.
I did “try really hard at purity” dating.
I made so MANY mistakes during my time as a single Christian woman.
Much of what I talk and write based off of me blowing it, turning to God in desperation, and finally surrendering my dating life to him.
And when I finally stopped to listen, there was a repeated theme that God kept bringing me back to.
My identity was broken.
And this gaping wound was causing tremendous pain, ruining my dating life and destroying any chance of meeting the man God had for me.
So what was my big sin that kept me from God’s best?
Not seeing myself through God’s eyes.
Beer Goggles vs. God Lenses (Note* Beer is a metaphor. I don’t drink beer although I do like a good Cabernet on occasion)
I incorrectly labeled myself and others because my lenses were distorted.
I pigeonholed people. I pigeonholed myself.
We think we are so politically correct. WE would never label anyone,
And yet…I see it all the time in dating.
I believe it’s one of biggest obstacles we face as singles.
We write people off all the time by their outside appearance, job or demeanor.
The problem: a label is a description applied from the outside, rather than something intrinsic to the labeled thing.
Labeling discounts character, spirituality, intelligence, humor and heart.
I was so guilty of this not only outward in my judgment of men but also towards myself.
So where does this start? As kids we get labeled by our well meaning parents, coaches and friends. A child incorporates the label into their identity and then feels the thing they were told they are.
- They stop taking risks
- Forget what God created them to be
- They believe the lies someone else fed them.
What were my LABELS?
$$, achievement, image was MOST IMPORTANT
And although I knew God’s truth, I still operated (or defaulted) to broken thinking and a false identity based on a worldly view during times of stress.
Gal 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I had an approval problem and a label problem.
And because I believed lies about my own identity and self worth, I then judged others through a faulty lens.
I labeled myself and I labeled others.
If you do not know who you are, you will struggle your whole life to know what is right and what you should do. If you know who you are in Christ, you will know what to do.
So God, in his infinite mercy challenged my thinking.
I dated out of brokenness but expected health.
I was the girl who kept saying, “There’s just aren’t any good ones out there who are spiritually mature and have good character.”
What I really meant was there are NO wealthy hot guys who love Jesus like I do.
Then came the enlightenment moment!
I was at dinner with guy I met online. He was a wealthy business guy. And we had nothing in common.
The Epiphany—I was looking to replace one bad relationship with another.
I hid in the bathroom called friend –“call me and pretend it’s an emergency.”
She said, “Why? Is he awful?”
I said, “No he’s just awfully familiar.”
I cried uncle.
I stopped dating. I needed to heal the broken parts.
John Townsend and Henri Cloud say this, “Those who blame external circumstances for their situation do not find what they want. Those who work on themselves, take responsibility for dealing with their circumstances, and then take action, have success.
Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Our external life comes out of our internal life. Therefore my ability to judge character would only be as good as my beliefs about myself.
I needed to learn, who I was in Christ.
I needed to dig deep into the lies I believed about myself to uncover my true identity.
God was saying to me, “What do you believe about me?
Do you believe I love you?”
I honestly began to search my heart, study His Word, I concluded He did love me—but conditionally.
Which was why I kept taking over in the dating area because I didn’t trust he had my back.
I also needed to unpack the lies and personal labels I’d been stamping myself with and rip them off.
- I needed to know that my desire to be with a spiritually mature man was good.
- That my heart for God was not shameful or less than, but good and worth fighting for.
- That I was more than the way I looked and that I had value and worth to add to a relationship.
I had to stop comparing myself to others and look to God for my self-worth.
We must take off our horizontal glasses and put on our vertical shades. Look up not out.
Here is what God showed me during my dating fast:
•Recognize Your Value—
There is difference between having an inflated ego and simply understanding your significance based on your God-given gifts and value to Him.
God knew what He was doing when He created you. He gave you everything you need to do everything He wants you to do.
Stop focusing on all that you cannot do.
Take an inventory of your gifts. Embrace these and maximize them!
•Stop Harmful Thought Patterns—consider some of the thought patterns and other factors that are leading you to believe lies about your worth.
“Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is a false identity—an illusion! Loudly and clearly He says, ‘You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.’”—Henri Nouwen
•Begin New Thought Patterns—each negative thought can be countered with God’s idea of your value.
Scripture tells us to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5). Counter every negative thought with the truth that God reveals about you in His Word.
Rom 12:2 says:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
•Be Patient—healing does not happen overnight.
It will require replacing bad thought patterns with good ones. It will take daily dedication and conscious effort to stop believing the labels and lies and embrace your identity in Christ.
•Read God’s Word—study what the Bible says about your worth to God. Explore what He says about His love for you and His purpose for your life.
We must replace the lies with truth…
God, our Creator, sees us has having great worth because He created us in His image.
◦He created us a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7).
◦We are crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:7).
◦We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).
◦We are valuable enough to be purchased with the blood of His Son (1 Peter 1:18-20).
The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity.”—Neil Anderson
Story of Bookstore:
First met Tim. Thought he was cute and smart but I didn’t like the pastor idea.
Let me run this by you. I wanted a man who was spiritually mature but I told myself a pastor was not an option.
Here are the lies I believed:
Pastors are poor therefore I would have to work and couldn’t be a stay at home mom. Pastors live in a fishbowl and everybody watches you. Pastors are boring. My parents and affluent friends will not approve
Lie #1: God won’t provide
Lie #2 Good moms stay at home
Lie#3 I am not worthy of spiritual leadership
Lie#4 Man’s approval is more important than God’s best
So my friend sees Tim sitting with me at lunch at the café and she does everything she can to interfere because she wants me to marry a rich guy and be like her.
So, she corners in the bookstore at Mariners and makes me Pinky swear, “I will never marry a pastor.”
And then apparently God laughed.
On our first date, which took a while because I first said yes to going out with him, then changed my mind (because I had this nagging feeling this was a God thing)
Then called him back a few months later and said let’s do this.
Balboa Island –Dazzle me
But I had to wrestle with God some more before I agreed to be his girlfriend.
And part of that was because I was still holding on to labeling others.
Because what do we do?
- We judge ourselves wrong
- We judge others through distorted lens
So Tim wasn’t my type:
He wasn’t wealthy.
He wasn’t big and dark haired and he didn’t look like Superman
No boat or a Porsche or huge business.
Tim was about the exact opposite of my type. He was the same height I was, slim and muscular with light hair and glasses and when I wore heels I was about 3 inches taller. Tim was quirky and he liked retro fashion, house music, and he had a 1969 Caddilac the size of a boat. He was smart and loud and charismatic. And Tim was really fun.
I spent an entire night on my knees praying for guidance.
And God challenged me on my type. I had to trust that God would provide for me financially. I had to trust that I would still feel sexy and small and taken care of with a man who didn’t dwarf me in size. I had to trust that good character and honesty, a heart for God and spiritual leadership were more important than my type.
I had to surrender to God.
He brought the right man to me but I had to recognize the good gift right in front of me.
So I said yes to God and yes to Tim.
I recognized that being obsessed with what people think of me is the quickest way to forget what God thinks. You will never be able to please all people. But, you can live a life that is pleasing to God.
Matthew 7:1-2 says:
Judge not lest you be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
We do this so often in dating. We make quick rash judgments based on looks, career, height, and bank account.
And we miss out on some of the greatest people because of our broken thinking.
Matthew 22:37-39 speaks to this. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
I don’t like to be labeled! I’m a Pastors Wife. That’s like a comedy routine of awkwardness just waiting to be scripted.
People confess to me. They tell me their church attendance. Then they swear and swear some more apologizing at their gaffe.
It makes me want to swear just to make them feel better. (Ok, maybe I just like to say a bad word occasionally)
So why do I judge other people if I hate it so much?
When I catch myself discounting people. I stop, recognize the lie and reprogram my brain with the truth.
I am so happy I took a risk on a guy that wasn’t my type. I’m so glad I ripped off the labels on myself and the ones I put on him.
I love my pastor husband. He leads me spiritually, he is fun and open and easy to talk to. He’s a great daddy. He respected my purity and helped to restore much of my dignity after a devastating divorce. He loves my kids and he loves God. I am the one who was blessed.
So here is my advice:
Let go of the labels!
Go out with anyone once and then go out again (unless they are a stalker or crazy).
Reflect on your date.
Pray, pray and pray some more.
Open yourself up to real humans not labels.
Get rid of the beer goggles.
We need to see through God’s eyes.
The great theologian Blaise Pascal says this:
Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ; we do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ.”—
What would it look like if we stopped operating out of our brokenness when we dated and instead operated out of love?