"I only like guys that are not nice. What is wrong with us girls? It's not like I want somebody to treat me badly. I want somebody who looks like they could treat me badly, but then really treats me good. I would rather lick the bottom of my shoe than go on a date. The minute I think I'm ready to start dating, then I realize, 'Oh no you're not.' I just don't know how to date."---Jennie Garth, actress, 40
Bless Jennie Garth's heart. *For real*. You know, they say that truth is stranger than fiction and so when I read these quotes on her current state of resolve regarding relationships (she's fairly recently divorced), I couldn't help but think about her role as Kelly Taylor on the original Beverly Hills 90210. Do y'all remember how it all played out? She fell for her best friend, Brenda's boyfriend, Dylan: a signature bad boy. And now, here the real person speaks, umpteen years later, about recognizing that as being her pattern in "real time".
I used to have that pattern. I remember when I told my mom that I had a thing for thugs and she said, "Makes sense. Your daddy was a thug." Indeed. So was my first..."not God's best for me" lesson (which is what I choose to call my "first love" on this side of wisdom). And while to some reading this, it might seem odd that Jennie would say that she looks for a "bad guy" that she wants to treat her well, I get that too. Well, I'll speak for me.
Whether we're single or not, we as women came into this earth to be *helpmates* (Genesis 2:18). This means that married, we are to be a "wife", "companion" and "helper". But as a single woman, we also are to be helpmates: "anything that aids or assists, especially regularly". However, *aiding* and *assisting* does not mean *changing* or even *enabling* a person.
MEN ARE NOT TO BE OUR PROJECTS. MEN ARE TO BE OUR PARTNERS.
I believe that in some of us, subconsciously, we feel that when we take a "bad boy" on, somehow, we'll earn brownie points with God if we are somehow able to miraculously change him into a good guy. Yet, where---where anywhere in the Bible---are we told to be *anyone's savior*? Trust me, having that kind of mentality does not impress God, it disturbs him because it is a deceptive indication of wanting to do God's job rather than our own. In other words, we can love a man but we can *never* save a man. Spiritual wholeness and maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14) is between God and that man. And real talk: Oftentimes our "efforts" really only end up getting in the way of that.
So with the hopes that women can be spared from feeling like Jennie, I asked the Spirit (John 4:24) to provide me with some telltale signs that will help single women all over the world (or at least the regular blog readers-LOL) *break the pattern* of choosing the wrong kinds of guys:
Pray. Tell the truth and shame the devil (*for real*-LOL). When's the last time you met a guy that you really liked and you told him, "Before we go out on a date, I need to ask God if he even wants me interacting with you"? Most of that gals that I know that are in *totally spiritually irrelevant relationships* even now waited until they were all caught up *and then* decided to ask God his opinion (if then). Do you know what that is the equivalent of? Going to premarital counseling *after* you have an engagement ring on your finger. By then, it's more like a "courtesy protocol" than a sincere effort. I Corinthians 15:33(AMP) says, "Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character." These days, I really try and keep a safe distance from people who would rather be in a relationship than please their Heavenly Father. That's a spiritual disease that, if you allow it, can be quite catching. James 1:5 says that we can ask God for wisdom. It's best to get that *before* getting into a relationship. (And heads up: God is not going to tell you "Yes, date a man who doesn't have a relationship with me so that you can become a weaker woman yourself and now I'll have two people to restore rather than one.")
Make your spirit a top priority. Romans 8:5(NKJV) tells us, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." God is Spirit. This means that we are to live our lives according to what God expects of us and Christ made it *quite clear* what that standard should look like: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30-NKJV) Something that I am learning more and more in my own journey is that if you *really* love God with your *all*, there's not much room for a lot of foolishness. God helps to set the standard of what loving and being loved should look like and so you find yourself not really having the desire to put your spiritual growth in jeopardy just for some "flesh attention". Especially since God says that if we do it *his way*, we can get to the point of having *his blessing* with the spirit and the flesh in the sense of being naked and *not ashamed* (Genesis 2:24-25).
Look for character more than personality. This was *such* an ah-ha moment when the Spirit told me that this was one of my biggest problems. And of course the Spirit was right! Personality traits are things like funny, charming, interesting and a good conversationalist. However, the Word, which is God (John 1:1), shows us what a man's *character* should look like: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." When *the Spirit* is leading, you tend to naturally (yes, a play on words-LOL) look for the "gift" rather than the "package" that it comes in. Remember, Lucifer was once "perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12) and he is now Satan. Looks can be deceiving. At the very least, it fades (Proverbs 31:30). If "the guy in question" is not showing signs of *spiritual* mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness and a *deep and profound* love for God (and his Son and the Holy Spirit-I John 4:1) and you decide to "take him on" anyway, you are showing signs of someone who is more personality than character prone. It's a hard way to live. I've lived it. Several times.
Make sure you have spent at least six months not dating after the end of a serious relationship. Guy to guy to guy to guy to guy to guy. Did you get tired reading that last sentence? That's how tired you should be of being in that emotional hamster wheel. You know, running from relationship to relationship without really getting anywhere. This is where the Proverb, "As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" (Proverbs 26:11-NKJV) fits in really nicely. Once a relationship comes to an end, this is not the time to "get under another guy to get over the last guy". This is not the time to go on dates to make yourself feel attractive and appealing. This is not the time to get desperate. This is the time to really stop and think about why you have more boyfriends than *a husband* in your heart history. Write down what your past guys have in common. It also doesn't hurt to write down what you have in common when it comes to interacting with them. For instance, did you have sex too quickly with most (if not all) of them? Do you immediately think about marriage with most (if not all) of them? Do you spiritually compromise to be with most (if not all) of them? If you are the same you, you will attract the same guys who will find that version of you to be intriguing. And if those guys always bring about fractionation and prove to be a waste of your time, then there needs to be some serious time spent alone doing some internal reconstructing.
Stop having sex. What drunk or high person makes wise decisions? So, why (oh why...OH WHY) do women think that they can trust themselves to pick the right guy when they are having sex (oral sex is included) with them? This is a big part of the reason why the Word says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified." (I Thessalonians 4:3-6-NKJV) You peeped the underlined bold part, right? It is not, nor will it ever be, God's will that we be sexually involved with someone who we are not married to. *Under any circumstances*. So, when you're sexin' up your dude tonight and then sitting in church tomorrow asking God to "bless the relationship", it might be a good idea to keep this in mind: "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (I John 5:14-15-NKJV) God grants according to *his will* and *his will* is that you don't have sex outside of covenant. So no, he's not going to grant your petition to be with someone who you are spiritually violating and who is spiritually violating you. At the very least, you will need to repent (and totally stop having sex) first. Yeah. You'll need to "sober up" so that you can see things *clearly* (Psalm 18:28).
Listen to wise counsel (people who know and follow the Word). Proverbs 11:14(NKJV) tell us this: "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." And not just counsel, but *wise counsel*(Proverbs 24:6). Counsel is defined as being "advice; opinion or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another". OK, but don't stop there. It's also defined as being "deliberate purpose; plan; design". Therefore, wise counsel is not just going to give you advice or their opinion; they are going to speak in ways that will keep you focused on the purpose, plan and design that God has for your life. That's why Satan tempts (I Corinthians 10:13) people into isolating and lying and hiding information when they are in a relationship that is spiritually not God's best for them. It's because he knows that wise counsel is to get people to *really think* about what they're doing more so than what it is that they want. It takes things out of "present tense" and puts people in the mindset of focusing about their future.
Stop picking out of loneliness and desperation. Whenever women tell me that they are tired of being single and so that is why they are in a relationship, do you know what that makes me think of? When I asked a particular guy why he was getting married to a spiritual sistah of mine and he flippantly (yet oddly, it was still somewhat sincere) said, "If I don't get married now, I'll never get married." Yeah. Let's all break out the champagne for that *touching sentiment*. Their marriage is *really struggling* five years in. Should that be a real shocker, though? When you pick to fill a void, you usually end up digging a bigger hole for yourself. Besides, the Woman didn't "pick" Adam. She was *brought* to him (Genesis 2:22). And she wasn't *lonely* or *desperate*, either. Remember that Genesis 2:18 says that it's not good for *man* to be alone and so *God* will pick a *woman* who is suitable and right for him. So, how do we as women end up picking, anyway? Relationships are some serious work. If you are looking to feel loved, God needs to be the Spirit you are panting after. Not some dude. A guy *adds* to your life in a way that brings surplus. This means that you should already be "filled" by the time that he arrives.
Understand the difference between *dating* and *courtship*. There are a lot of different people who have a lot of different opinions on the difference between the two. Personally, I think it's like this: Dating is like "casual sex" in the sense that there doesn't tend to be a serious intention involved between one or both parties involved. Dating is hanging out with the opposite sex that you are attracted to with no real guarantees. Period. I remember when I was out with a guy and he said, "I'm dating you. I'm dating a lot of women." Hmph. "He" ain't neva lied (LOL). He also ain't with none of us, either. He's not looking for that. *He's dating*. Now, when it comes to courtship, I immediately think of The Little House on the Prairie. A man *wants to get married*. A man goes to the woman's father about his intentions (a man should be *going to God* about his intentions for you). A man has *a job and house* to bring the woman into (she is not having to find a way to put him up). Both people are abstinent (in those days, they were actually virgins). Both people spent roughly two years preparing for marriage and then *they got married* (they weren't dating for years and years and they weren't engaged or years and years, either). Real talk: A lot of women are in relationships in their hearts with men who are only dating them in their minds. And as Jeremiah 17:9 *warns* us, the heart is deceitful and (catch it) *desperately wicked*. If you want a husband, doesn't it seem like you would *court* and not *date*? That's definitely something to think about.
Don't use romance. Use common sense. Romance. OK. Here's the thing: Song of Solomon is full of love, passion, sex and intimacy. What it doesn't have an abundance of is romance. How can I say such a thing? It's because I don't think that all of the definitions of romance applies to that Book of the Bible. Romance is defined as being "a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention". Now there is one definition that is pretty cool: "to court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness". Indeed, chivalry is not dead. It is dormant for a lot of people, though because many women don't demand it in relationships. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on *noble* things and that's one definition of chivalry. So, you should be looking for a man who has the qualities of "courage, courtesy, and loyalty" (chivalry), who is "considerate and courteous to women; gallant". Proverbs 3:21-22(Message) says, "Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive." Common sense tells us that it's not the right kind of "romantic" if there is no *consistent chivalry* involved.
Have an end goal in mind: not marriage but *covenant*. I counsel a lot of couples that simply "got married". That is not synonymous with *marital covenant*. I say this because people in covenant with God know that they need to marry *covenant keepers*. Covenant keepers honor God. Covenant keepers keep God's law and precepts. Covenant keepers know that God doesn't like it when people make a vow and then break it (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). Covenant keepers care about the fact that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). In other words, covenant keepers keep covenant. Covenant is a word that needs to be discussed more in the Church because it's a really big deal. So much in fact that it is mentioned in the New King James Version of the Bible approximately 315 times. Yes, you *definitely* need to be involved with a man who understands the point and purpose of covenant and wants to only have a *covenant union* with his wife.
When it comes to patterns, a man by the name of J.G. Gallimore put it this way: “Your self image is your pattern!. Every thought has an activity visualized. Every activity belongs to a pattern. You identify with your pattern or thought. Your patterns leads your life.” If you recognize yourself in this piece and you don't like it, if you want God's best and you keep ending up with less than that, if you're sick of wearing "date clothes" and you want to put on a *wedding dress*---one of the first things that you should do is *change your pattern*.