Sunday, March 10, 2013

"On Fire": 10 Signs That You Have a Dating Pattern (That You Need to Break)

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“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher.”---Chuck Palahniuk

OK...

So recently, I was having a conversation with a woman on a plane. She was going on and on about how crazy men are and how they don't see how wonderful she is. We all have growing to do and two things I am (still) working on in this season in my life is 1) allowing people to finish their sentences (even when they are run-on sentences-LOL) because when you interrupt individuals it's basically like saying "Actually, what I have to say is so much more important than what you are saying" and "Love is not rude" (I Corinthians 13:5-NCV) and 2) I am learning more and more that a lot of times people don't want help finding resolves. They simply want to be coddled through their dramas and there are a myriad of ways to "cast pearls" (Matthew 7:6). In other words, the Bible says that those who heed counsel are wise (Proverbs 12:15) but you tend to appreciate it more when you *seek it out* (Matthew 7:7-8) rather than when it's forced upon you.

So, for about 20 minutes, I just let her...vent. 

Finally, I asked the simple question that oh so many of us do not want to hear: "So, have *you* done anything wrong?" She looked at me with a blank expression on her face for a moment and then proceeded to go into a new rant, er vent (LOL) about the fact that her "wrong" consists of being too good for men who don't really appreciate her. Uh-huh. Well, I'll speak for my own life's journey and say "Growth happens a lot quicker when you take personal accountability rather than placing so much blame on others."

So in the honor of time springing forward this weekend, the Spirit (John 4:24, John 14:26-AMP) and I spent some time this evening on patterns. More specifically on this definition of the word: "a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement". Why? Well, since we are preparing to enter into a season of renewal (springtime), the hope (Romans 5:5) is that many of us can approach our relationships in a new and *far more productive* kind of way. 

You know what they say: "To get what you've always had, do what you've always done." Do you see all of the "you create your own pattern" insights in that sentence?

Let's hit it...

10 Signs That You Have a Dating Pattern (That You Need to Break)

1) You don't pray for wisdom about if it's the right time or season to be in a relationship. OK, so how is it that you can get into a relationship with a guy who you sleep with after a few months (or dates), who has no real relationship with THE GODHEAD (so that would be God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) and who shows no real interest in creating a future with you? I'll tell you one crucial way: You didn't start out the relationship by praying about if you even needed to start one with "him" in the first place. Honestly, a lot of women could spare themselves a lot of tears and bitterness (Hebrews 12:14-17) if, upon the first signs of being interested in a man, they did just what James 1:5 tells us to do: seek godly wisdom. And here's the telling thing about wisdom y'all. Look at how it's defined: "knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight". Knowledge of what is *true and right*. Discernment (Proverbs 2). Insight. If a guy is not living his life according to what *God says is true and right* (and the Word tells us what those things are-John 1:1), he's not right for you. Yep. It's just that simple. Don't let "fine" trip you up. Lucifer was perfect in beauty. He's Satan now. (Just sayin'-Ezekiel 28:12)

2) You don't spend time being single (not dating, no sex) when a relationship ends. I was talking to someone not too long ago and in the course of one conversation, she was telling me how "in love" she was with one man yet because the relationship did work out, she was about to start dating someone else. OK, chicks like that need an "I'm a pattern maker" T-shirt. When you don't give yourself enough time, not just to heal (Psalm 147:3) from a past relationship but to really assess why it ended (and the part that you played in it), you are a likely candidate to look up six months from now and be in a similar predicament with the next dude. I say this to young people when I speak at functions all of time, but it bears repeating to the older folks as well: "Serial dating doesn't prepare you for marriage, but for divorce." I'm not saying that you shouldn't have LIGHT and CASUAL dinners and hangouts. But if every guy is a "I'm going to see if he's 'the one'"..."OK, now I'm going to see if he's 'the one'", I don't care what lie the world tells you; they do everything based on lust and pride (I John 2:16), remember? You don't need to "try guys on" like they're a pair of shoes. God already knows who your husband is. When you realize that your boyfriend is not him, take some time getting healed and whole from that revelation first. Spend a season not dating and definitely not having any sex (I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message).

3) Your relationships run in "circles" rather than lines. I just love the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11, Luke 6:5). It brings insights that don't come any other time of the week (perhaps that's why it's *the only day* that is declared to be "blessed and hallowed"). Today, I was thinking about how *very few biblical characters* were ever called to go back to something they left. As a matter of fact, the only one who comes to mind is Moses and that was *to bring other people out*. Where I'm going with that is this: Every healthy relationship will show signs of forward movement---of progress. This isn't just when it comes to romantic unions, but friendships and business partnerships as well. If you are in a relationship with someone and it's in the same space this year as last year, you are in the pattern of creating "circles" rather than straight lines. Remember, a hamster may put forth a lot of effort running in his wheel. He's not getting anywhere though.

4) You show no real signs of spiritual maturity or emotional growth. We all have a friend who seems like she's 5-10 years younger than she really is and it's because she's not spiritually maturing or emotionally growing. Just tonight, I was telling a "spiritual big sister" of mine that there are some things that I'm not going to say "I'm too old for" anymore; I choose to phrase it as "I'm over it". My age has nothing to do with it. My learning the value of maturity and embracing seasons as they come (and go!-Hebrews 5:12-14, Ecclesiastes 3) does. So, there are some things that I tolerated in my 20s that, quite frankly, due to some past abuse that stunted my "growth", I was more like 14-15 (emotionally) while it was transpiring. My wounds have turned into scars now and I'm simply not that woman anymore. If you are someone who is still acting the same way, talking about the same things and (overly) sensitive about the same issues...if you are a woman who lives in a time capsule (or is it a time warp?), there's a pretty good chance that you're going to be attracted to the same kinds of guys from your past *because you still spiritually and emotionally live in the past*. It's a hard question to get an answer on but if you want to know if you've matured, ask some of your family members and friends. And then deal with the responses that you receive accordingly. Even if you don't like them (Proverbs 27:6), it could save your life (and your future marriage).

5) Fear and/or desperation are your reasons for entering into a relationship in the first place. OK, this one can be brief. Most of us know that I John 4:18 not only tells us that "perfect love casts out fear" but that "fear involves torment". Torment is not just "mental suffering" but "a source of much trouble, worry, or annoyance". If someone asks you "So why are you dating *him*, again?" (or *him again*) and your reply is something along the lines of "I'm tired of being alone" or "I'm sick of everyone else being in a relationship" or "I'm scared that he might be my last shot", that's not *love* talking, that's *fear* getting geared up to torment you. Love yourself (Mark 12:30-31) enough not to let it.

6) You complain about the same problems with each guy. If you don't want to listen to yourself, ask your closest friends to be your ears. Have you been saying the same thing(s) about the past three guys that you've dated? He's not a true Christian. He's not attentive enough. He has no intentions of marrying me. Um, yeah. That's also a blaring sign that you are in a pattern. Sometimes our pride (Proverbs 16:18) and ignorance (Hosea 4:6) have us so focused on (or is it obsessed with?) the fact that "he did us wrong" that we don't even stop to realize that he's no different than the dude before him and the guy before that. If you keep dating men who you find yourself hung up on for years without any real commitment in sight, that is not the guy's problem; that is the kind of guy that you settle for and so that would be something within *yourself* that needs addressing.

7) Each guy provides the same reasons for why the relationship needed to come to an end. OK, on the heels of that is this point. When I went through a season of apologizing to the men that I had sex with (because that is an offense against our God, them and their future spouses---oh, there are so many different ways to covet and steal-Exodus 20:15&17), I asked them what I could work on to be a better person to be in a relationship with in the future. Some of it, I didn't want to hear but I must admit that there were a couple of things that they all said I had an issue with and none of them knew each other. You know what they say: "If one person says something about you, so what? If 20 do, yeah...you might want to look into 'that'." That said, there is one chick that I know and guys say that she has a problem with having crushes on friends. She doesn't think so. She thinks that's a "misinterpretation". To me (and to the guys), it sounds like she has a pattern of liking guys with the same profession, the same imaging and the same set of issues (mostly not being interested in her). If she embraced that, she would stop fantasizing so much about those kinds of men. It's kind of like a crop circle. You have to step away to get a full perspective. Other people looking into your life from the "outside in" oftentimes see a very different picture than you do from the "inside out".

8) You are more focused on instant gratification rather than reaching long-term goals. I'm pretty sure that a big part of this is because I'm getting closer and closer to 40 with every passing day but something that I'm finding to be darn near heart-wrenching are women who are so needy for a relationship that they end up seriously delaying marriage and sometimes sacrificing children because they *waste time* in dead-end relationships. There's someone I know who, oh about four years ago now, when she first told me about a particular guy and I was like "He's *so not the one for you", she was like "Whatever Shellie." She's now in well into her 40s, he is not her husband and the biological clock is not really ticking so much as the alarm is going off. Time is so important and it needs to be respected. Don't be so earnest to want a *boyfriend now* that you make poor choices that make it hard to have a *husband later*. Years worth of time with someone, even when they are not the one for you, is still...*years of time*---time that you won't ever get back, either. If your *true heart's desire* is to be married then Psalm 37:4 tells you how to get to that. "Delighting in the Lord" is not "bible talk" for "go and find yourself a boyfriend real quick to bide your time." Instant gratification and lust are twins and they mean you absolutely no good.

9) The relationship doesn't challenge you. There are a lot of women out here who want men to "worship them" not *challenge them*. One of the most endearing things that my last (and final) boyfriend ever said to me was "Shellie, I'm not going to apologize for expecting you to be a better person." He would push me to grow up in so many ways and on this side of wisdom, I'm really thankful for it. A healthy relationship is going to cause you to think about how you can, not so much change the core of who you are, but improve yourself. If you aren't being challenged in this way, if "he" is not encouraging you to be a better disciple (John 8:31-32), to further develop your career, to "think outside of the box" on matters that you seem to be stuck on---if he's not telling you about yourself so that you can better yourself, you are in a pattern of being in a relationship that keeps you stagnant as a person and still water, no matter how deep it may be, over time, if it doesn't flow...stinks.

10) You're bored. By that, I mean this: Doing something just to be doing something may keep you busy but it's definitely not being productive. Satan does not want us to fulfill our purpose (Psalm 20:4) and so if that means getting into a relationship just to pass time (again, time that you won't get back), he'll do just that. A word that the Spirit recently brought to my spirit when it came to the kind of marriage that I should be focused on preparing for is "potent"; that my marriage needs (and is going) to be powerful and mighty. Being that I'm a doula, I spend a lot of time focusing on the reproductive system. When women are trying to conceive, one thing that they need to do is find out when they are ovulating and have sex with their partner every other day of that week. Why every *other* day and not every day? Because the man needs time for his sperm to build up some *potency*. If you desire marriage, a part of being single is about storing up all of the wisdom, all of the knowledge, all of the insight---all of the "customized love" that our beloveds will need from us for the rest of our lives with them. Expending resources on someone who is not God's best for you not only makes things "less potent" but also tends to yes, *bore you*. And when you're bored, you'll do all kinds of stuff (have sex, create drama, etc.) just to keep some excitement going. *Your husband* has plenty---mind, body and spirit---to keep you occupied because you are his "suitable fit" (Genesis 2:18). Don't allow jadedness, weariness (Galatians 6:9) or even indifference to cause you to get in or remain in a relationship that you know does not have your best interest at heart. A pattern of boredom is pretty dreary, don't you think?

Time is changing. So are the seasons. If you saw yourself in any of these patterns, the good news is this: You can break them.

For the sake of your future husband and your marriage, *please do*.

As you "spring forward", leave the *remnants* behind.

tmm,

SRW

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