A Dating Fast? “What’s that?”
I get this question often. Some time last year, I felt my heart calling me to start what is called a “dating fast”. This is a time where I have committed to take some time away from dating and truly make an effort to step back, learn about myself, my vocation, learn more about not just dating, but dating with a purpose, what it means to treat others (especially those of the opposite sex) with dignity & respect, and most importantly, to single heartedly grow in my relationship with Christ – to encounter the lasting love he has calls me to.
“To treat another human merely as an instrument for my own purposes is to violate the dignity of the person as a self-determining being.” – Edward Sri from Men & Women and the Mystery of Love
It may sound crazy, staying away from dating for a year… but after much searching and finding love “in all the wrong places”, heart breaks, heart aches, wounded relationships, continual feelings of emptiness… I heard Jesus continually speaking to my heart: You were made for more.
I was previously in a relationship for 8 years a few years back. And after coming out of that long term relationship, my heart quickly jumped into the dating scene. Without taking time to get to know myself, and truly discern what God wanted for me or how he was longing to love me and heal me in those moments –I was impatient. As we all can be sometimes, ya with me?! I thought: “this is fun” “i’m just getting to know this person – there is no harm in that!” I found that my on the surface view of dating, was really never calling me to go deeper, and was not only was hurting me but also wounded those relationships too.
“Every relationship should be an avenue to holiness”
I continued to seek out and search for that “more” I knew God was calling me to over and over again through the years. But It was almost like I didn’t know where to search. I knew in my heart I was treating relationships wrongly, and finding myself in this constant “cylcle of using” another for my emotional gain. Wanting so deeply to feel loved, wanted, accepted, affirmed by a guy who truly, was never going to fill this void I felt in my heart. These things, my heart is ashamed to admit sometimes. But with time, the Lord has allowed me to bring them to His light, and in that I have found great healing.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
God knows and honors the commitments and sacrifices we make when we give up the things of this world. The world continually tempts us to seek/find our worth in relationships. It tells us that being in a relationship is the only way we will be loved or that those are the means that we are loved. But this is not true, my friends. I bought into this for a long time too, placing God’s love for me aside.
Singleness if often questioned in our world, “you don’t have a boyfriend?” “you’re not married yet? how come?” These questions can continually bring us back to feelings and thoughts that we are unloved or unworthy. Don’t listen to those lies! Pls. I have spent far too much time dwelling in those thoughts and I hope I can help you know today that You are so truly loved and worthy. We forget how important this time of being single can be. In our growth & in our relationship with ourselves, and most importantly with God.
God is aware of our desires. He truly delights in our hearts for He himself placed these desires in us. To love and to be loved.
“The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and to be loved in return.”
(Shout out to my fellow Moulin Rouge fans)! As I look at this quote now, I have found that, yes, our hearts so truly long for love, but we will only find this lasting love in God first.
Do I really have to give up dating for a year to find this love my heart is longs for? I asked myself. My heart kept telling me, yes. You have nothing to lose. I see now how much healing the Lord has called me to. Healing I was not aware I even needed. What beautiful things God can do when we surrender it all to Him.
I was blinded for a long time. And until the Lord allowed me this clarity in my time of singleness. I was able to turn away from avoiding my hurt and my wounds. That hurt i continually tried to hide behind the busyness of my life, partying, running back to old relationships, rushing into new ones, seeking my worth and value in what a man thought of me, aligning my likes and/or dislikes in what theirs were.
“It is not until we are honest with ourselves that anything can truly change.”
Trust me, it has been tough accepting this hard reality. And being honest about our weakness and hurt is not easy to face. But I cannot tell you how truly gracious the Lord is, and the how much replaces our hurt with His undying mercy and love.
At the same time, we can wonder, “If God wants to make me new, why doesn’t He just do it? I mean He is God…” But, just like a true gentleman wouldn’t barge in against your will, neither does Jesus. He knocks, and knocks, and knocks… until He is invited inside. He respects our free will that He gave us.
It took learning the hard way for me to see that God was and is calling me to this great love I never thought I deserved. But I do. We all do. We were made for more. And that more, is Jesus Christ.
I see now that my view of relationships continues to be wounded when I place my worth, self image, and longing of acceptance in others. I know now that relationships are not made to emotionally use somebody to fill my emotional needs.
“A person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use.” – St. John Paul II
What I have learned through my dating fast thus far is that I ACTUALLY I don’t have to leave the dating scene at all. Why not date the most amazing man ever?! Jesus!
Dating Jesus allows me to learn about Him and truly enter into a deeper relationships with Him, just like we do in any other relationship. My dates with him include time in the adoration, daily mass, afternoon hikes, morning car rides together, coffee dates, dancing and singing on Friday nights, prayerfully journaling, reading his love letters to me by reading scripture, and simply sharing my whole heart with him in prayer. He even sends me flowers constantly, you guys! And get this, sends me amazing sunsets and true beauty in his creation. Jesus is truly a romantic, I tell ya! 🌹
What I have learned on my dating fast, so far…
- Boundaries are important. Identify your triggers. If you are longing for an authentic love, you must identify triggers in relationship(s) that are constantly wounding you. Are you using this person for emotional or physical use? Whether it be eliminating late nights, alcohol, secluding yourself from your family, making out… this sounds silly. But I cannot tell you how important boundaries truly are – Identifying them, and eliminating them and/or making a conscience effort to not put yourself in these situations.
- Importance of Girl friends! AKA best accountability partners! Guard your heart and be prudent with how much of your heart you share in relationships of the opposite sex. It is prudent to discern whether it is best to talk it over with your gf’s instead! 🙂
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
- Prayer! +So important! I have learned to turn to pray instantaneously, reminding myself to give gratitude to God for these virtuous men. Pray for them and their vocation, their future as a husband, father, or religious, etc. I am slowly learning more and more to offer everything up to the Lord, reminding myself that they truly and most ultimately belong to God, so I must always place them in His hands.
- Jesus is our Savior. This idea changed everything for me. How often, as girls, do we feel the need to “save” men in hopes of bringing them into or back to the faith. I have come to understand that everyone comes to God differently, and I must accept the fact that they are also not my saving source of my loneliness or long for love. I find true and lasting peace in placing my worth in the Lord’s love for me. For I am made, loved, and known by Him and Him alone – and in that I have found the greatest peace–rather than placing my self worth in what a guy thinks of me, or how I can impress somebody. (Easier said than done, my friends – I am with you on this journey toward self love and acceptance).
- I love others best when I love God first.
- The more I learn and grow to love Jesus, the more I learn and grow to love myself.
Things I still hope to learn & am praying for:
- Continued growth in self love, self image, and knowing I am loved and known by God and letting that be enough.
- To live out my vocation to love rightly, and allow my heart to always be led by God. To align my will first and foremost with His, always. For he knows the desires of my heart.
- To gain more virtuous friendships with both men and women. Embracing their dignity, flaws, and right to love.
- Growth in honesty and being more intentional in all my relationships (i.e. family, friendships, and with God especially).
I know what it’s like to have your heart broken, or feeling like you are the only friend who is not in a relationship, or getting married, or getting engaged. And friend, I am right there with you in this longing hope to find a love that lasts…we are in this together. We must first seek it in God. Healing and true love is waiting for us on the other side.
I am not asking you to take on a dating fast too, but I do share my story with you in hopes that you will realize that you truly are made for more. You are worthy. And you are loved. What does Jesus want to teach you today? Be not afraid.
I am thinking of writing little sections on dating after this post, focusing on particular topics (i.e. self worth, self love, cycle of use, importance of friendship, defining the relationship, the danger in the lack of commitment/honesty in our dating culture – how this leads to leading people on and the danger in that, how to be intentional, courting, dating with a purpose, Q&A on dating!, “the waiting” – having patience in discernment and living out our vocation…WHAT EVEN IS OUR VOCATION!?!) ahhh, theres just so much to touch on!!
What do you guys think!?!!
I would love to hear from you!
Please know of my love and continued prayers for you all!
We are in this together!
God bless you, my sweet friends!
In Christ Always, Karla🌸