Reader be wear, it’s about to get really real. One of the things I notice we as women do is coddle each other when it comes to love. If I do something triflin’ at work my girlfriends will call me out on it. I don’t get to vent about my boss without them telling me that I was actually the one in the wrong. We don’t coddle the mistakes because we take professionalism seriously and we want to see one another succeed in our careers. But when it comes to love, we coddle big time. We listen to one sided stories. We agree with each other. We cry on each other’s shoulders. It’s rare that we call bullshit. It’s rare that we tell a close friend that she f*cked up.
Why is this? I think it’s because love is so intimate and personal. When you mess up, it feels like someone is telling you, that YOU are a problem. We start to feel defined by our actions, especially the mistakes. It burns. And so when our girlfriends come to us venting about a relationship, or sharing details that really don’t sound good, we coddle because we don’t want to spread the fire. Not when we know how bad it feels to get burned.
In the spirit of love and not coddling my fellow sisters…I’m calling Bullshit. I won’t coddle and I will tell you this…
You’re Settling in Love for three Godly reasons:
- You’re misinterpreting God’s signs
- You have blind faith in God’s delivery of a soul mate
- You are ignoring your God given tools to process information and make strong decisions
#1 You’re Misinterpreting God’s signs & settling in love
When I was 23 I dated a guy whose first name was the same as my fathers and whose birthday was the same as my brothers. The guy was terrible. He was emotionally abusive, and overall just the worst possible match for me. But I thought his name and birthday were signs from God that he was my soul mate. NEGATIVE! Everyone knows that you can’t marry your dad or your brother, and hence maybe these were signs I shouldn’t be with him.
Throughout my dating years I constantly looked for, imagined and strung together signs where there were none. I’m not saying God doesn’t give signs, but I I’m doubtful that his signs are as obvious and cliché as a bad scavenger hunt. Why would they be? Isn’t God more creative? He did make the whole universe. So let’s give Him more credit.
If you are looking for signs from God about a relationship then I advise you to not just pray but to LISTEN. So often we pray, we ask for things and we negotiate with God, but we forget to listen. The best times to listen are early in the morning (dawn) before the day has begun and your mind has filled with clutter and obligations. The best way to listen is to just sit in silence and wait. At first your mind will be cluttered with streams of to do list, anxiety, and random irrelevant thoughts. But over time you may find you develop more clarity and space in your mind to organize the cluttered ideas and emotions. You may also experience increased comfort or intolerable discomfort regarding a situation. Maybe something in your gut just feels NOT right. This is your answer. When I’m confused or conflicted, I ask God to make things better or unbearable. With time I am able to gather more information about the correct path because strong gut feelings develop of either comfort or intolerable discomfort. But you have to ask, and then you have to listen with your entire being, not just your ears. And you have to stop trying to create signs where there are none.
#2 You have blind faith in God’s delivery of a Soul Mate
I’ll start by saying I don’t believe in Soul Mates. I love my husband and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He is intricately an excellent match for me. But with 7 billion people in the world, I dare to think that he is the only match. Besides, the average person only meets 10,000 people in a lifetime. You could argue that God puts your soulmate in your pathway…maybe. But once again, isn’t He more creative than the Hollywood representation of cupid? Regardless of if you believe in soul mate’s or the possibility of multiple matches, the point is you only need one good match for a lasting marriage. And you need to find them within that 10,000.
So, we carry on making terrible dating mistakes, moving too fast, overextending ourselves, setting unrealistic expectations in search of this match. We screw up in a million ways. We do everything God tells us not to do. We misbehave badly. And then, when we are finally exhausted of bad boys, heart breaks and assholes we decide we need a redo. We pray, we make vows, we denounce unholy things. And then we make a plan. We make a vision board. We get gym memberships. We lose 15lbs. We meal plan and eat healthy. We think positive and ignore jealous tendencies. We clean up our friend pool and get rid of negative energy or friends that lead us to those bad habits. We feel great. And we legit are doing a lot better. We are on the right track. And we are spiritually getting reconnected.
Then we meet a guy. He seems great at first, as they all do. And because we are in a good place, and we know God is proud of our efforts and change, we assume this new guy is his gift. We think, “God knows I got my ‘ish together finally, and so he is rewarding me with this husband”. We proceed into a relationship with this already made up determination. And our girlfriends, if they do see our errors, are too busy coddling to help us find clarity. Just because you got your life together, and are legitimately doing awesome doesn’t mean that God has sent you your soul mate in this moment. And this leads us to #3.
#3 You are ignoring your God given tools to process information and make strong decisions
My favorite scene from the movie Pursuit of Happiness is the final scene where the kid tells a joke to his father. A fisherman was stranded at sea. Four boats came and offered to help him and to each he said, “No thanks, God will save me” and declined the help. Finally the man died and went to Heaven. When he asked God why he didn’t save him, God replied, “I sent you four boats silly!”.
God helps those who help themselves, and his constant gifts to us are the tools he helps us develop in order to become stronger wiser individuals. If we are so busy assigning divine value to trivial signs, and committing to the idea that our positive lifestyle changes have finally led to a divine introduction to our soulmates then we have no time to do what God has actually equipped us to do. We have no time to use the tools he has been helping us develop. God helps us find a loving partner who is a strong compatible match by giving us life challenges that help us define who we are and what we value. Yes, at some point God put me and my husband in a room together facilitating a chance encounter. But he did not create a love potion or spell.
God is not cupid. Cupid is not real!
What he did do was give us each 10-15 years of dating, mistake making, value questioning, heartbreak, professional failures, failed friendships and etc. to strengthen our ability to judge character and our ability to define what we valued and wanted in life. While dating my husband, I used my tools to judge his character. I noticed how he treated wait staff. I noticed how he behaved if he as angry. I noticed how he solved problems. I also knew what my core values were and could assess and openly discuss if his aligned. We have the same religious view, we both want kids, we value travel, we value experiences over material things, we value charity, we share political views, and etc etc. Because I didn’t believe he was my soul mate, or that he had been divinely sent to me, I had the clarity to evaluate our compatibility. I didn’t forgive or ignore unfavorable deal breaking character traits or mismatches in values.
When it came time to get married, I prayed and I listened. I didn’t poll the audience, or look for signs. I trusted that I had used my God given tools successfully. I trusted that I had properly assessed his character and value alignment. Then I listened to the gut feeling of overwhelming confidence and comfort that I felt about the decision to marry him. 6 Reasons Why I Married Him Other Than Love In contrast, I could remember the discomfort I felt about value alignment and character traits when dating ex-boyfriends. Yet with each ex-boyfriends I was committed and convinced that I’d make a relationship work. I was blinded sometimes by lust, sometimes by desperate desire to finally have found the one, and sometimes by a fear of not being able to do better. Is Fear Your Biggest Barrier to Finding Love? a guest post for BeThatWoman.net
Life will bring you so much joy and so much pain. God doesn’t want us to go through it alone. I truly believe and you should too that it is your divine right to love and be loved. I truly believe that God wants us to have a life partner, a spouse, a road dog for the long haul. And I do believe that he will create the opportunity, just not perhaps as overtly as we may think. So, use your tools, pray and listen, and whatever you do don’t settle!