Thinking with You
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You Have Options

I’m picturing a lot of the girls who I know read this – you’ve been single for awhile, you’re not getting asked on dates, you’re pretty much a total catch, you’ve been praying hard, online dating is not really getting you anywhere, and you’re starting to feel despondent (or worse).

I feel your pain and I know it’s such a battle.  It’s a really hard season and when you see your other friends getting married, having kids, and being ‘happy’, it can really start getting you down.  Everyone’s busy talking about God’s call on their life, and their new renovations, and their overseas family holidays, and you’re just…nose to the grindstone at work day after day, seeing the same ‘ugh’ guys at the gym, pretending to enjoy all the weddings, engagement parties, and baby showers that you have to go to (and spend lots of money on!), watching the collagen in your face and arms and hands start to lose its elasticity…it’s rough. 

So.  What’s a girl to do?  As far as I can see, you have a few options.  Which one you choose will depend on your age, circumstances, amount of $ you have, family ties, job, personality, and so on.  Only you can decide what risks you want to take, and whether or not it’s worth it for you.  (This is called the ‘cost/benefit ratio’).

Option #1: Do nothing.

Stay where you are, doing what you’re doing, and believe the Cindarella/Rapunzel story that ‘one day your prince will come’. Possible – but unless you’re young and gorgeous, and in a huge dynamic community - not very likely.  (Sorry.) In fact, if you choose this option, you have to be okay with the idea that you may never get married.  It’s not a given, you know.  There are lots of women out there who just missed the boat, so to speak.  They are making a good life for themselves being awesome aunties, members of the community and the church, and looking after others.  That’s great, and we must esteem and include those women.  But be aware that this may be in your future, unless you take action.

Option #2: Date like a fiend.

Get online and get dating.  Join a bunch of dating sites.  Be open to all sorts of guys.  Go on dates with different guys every week (I wouldn’t recommend every day – that is REALLY an emotional workout).  Petition your family, friends and colleagues to connect you with any potential (single and Christian) guys they may know.  Look around for speed dating events.  Go for coffees until you can’t handle any more caffeine.  Get a few date outfits at the ready in your cupboard – date on the go!  Ha.  This is the ‘it’s a numbers game’ approach.  The more men you meet, the more likely you are to meet someone who suits you and who is into you. 

Option #3: Go church-hopping.

I’m a big fan of this because it worked for me!  I changed churches twice before I met my now-husband.  I was initially at a church for about 15 years, dated a few guys there, then went to another church for 8 months, no luck there, then went to another church and was there for about 8 months before I met my husband.  Now to make church-hopping work for you, here’s what I recommend:

-       Go to large churches.  If you go to a small church (say 20-150ppl), after a few weeks you’ll be able to see at a glance how many available guys are there (if any).  And unless they pursue you within a couple of months, I doubt you’ll get any traction after that.  You need lots of people to get to know, because remember, every person is connected to many other people.  So the more people you meet, the more people you meet!

-       Get involved.  If you just attend the service, particularly if it’s the dark, smoke-filled concert-style atmosphere, it’s extremely hard for anyone to even know you’re there, let alone get to know you.  You must get involved in some sort of connect groups, serving teams, and so on.  And join teams that have single guys in them and are quite dynamic (always changing).  There’s no point joining the knit-for-Africa group if it only consists of 70-yr-old ladies! And attend regularly.  You need to become seen and known.

-       Let yourself become known by influential people in the church, and let it be known that you are looking for a good man.  In my case, people who met me actually said to my now-husband, ‘Hey, you should meet this girl Ruth.  I think you two would really get along.’  And people said the same thing to me!  Honestly, if people hadn’t said those things to us, I don’t think we would have ended up connecting. 

-       If a guy does ask you out, and you don’t know much about him, ask one of the leaders or stalwart members about him.  I always preferred to date with references.  In my case, when Nathan asked me out, and I barely knew him, I texted one of the main pastors simply saying: ‘Nathan Harding: boyfriend material?’  And he texted back: ‘100%!’  Haha.  Result: marriage.  But if I hadn’t built relationship with that pastor or become a respected member of the community, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.  I wouldn’t date just anyone, and if you don’t know a guy from a bar of soap, it’s best to ask around about his reputation.  Unfortunately there are some ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ in churches, looking to prey on girls. 

-       Join the para-church ministries.  Your church may have some sort of charity attached to the main church itself.  Maybe it’s some sort of community service, youth service, school program, or whatever.  This is a great place to meet new people, including Christians who don’t necessarily go the church itself.

-       Don’t stay forever.  If it’s been a year or two and you’ve given all the single guys a once-over, and no-one is pursuing you, then I would move on.  You don’t have that much time to waste!

Option #4: Change your expectations.

Maybe you’ve always pictured yourself marrying a corporate-type guy.  Or a church leader.  Or an outdoorsy woodsman.  Maybe you’ve pictured your married self living overseas, or having the white-picket-fence soccer mum life, or living near your family.  But maybe you need to expand your vision a little.  The main thing you need is to be found by a Godly guy with gainful employment who loves youThat’s pretty much it.  If he ticks those three boxes, will you give him a chance?  Even if he’s older, younger, shorter, poorer, less educated, less sophisticated, of a different culture, widowed, divorced, lives far away…?  Only you can decide what you can live with, of course.  But your options are limited.  A lot of girls say, but I don’t want to lower my standards or settle for second best!  I know God has the best for me!  Well, sorry, but where does it say that in the Bible? 

I mean, heck, look at Tamar – her first husband was wicked and died, her second husband refused to give her children and died, her father-in-law refused to give her a third son to marry and basically shunned her, so she dressed up as a hooker and manipulated her own father-in-law to sleep with her so that she could bear a son and finally gain some cultural status and provision.  WHOA. 

Or how about Esther.  She was basically kidnapped off the streets as a teenager to join the King’s harem, became his wife (he was probably way older than her, of a different culture, and maybe even ugly), was threatened with having her whole race killed off, approached the King for favour and in doing so risked her life, then got a guy killed basically in order to survive. 

Or how about Ruth.  Her first husband died, along with her father-in-law and brother-in-law (talk about family trauma), so she and the other ladies were basically childless and destitute.  So her mother-in-law takes her to a new land and culture where she becomes a beggar and basically begs a total stranger to marry her.  (Fortunately he was quite a catch.)

So that’s a little history lesson for you.  The point is: life’s not easy, and sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation.  It’s not about ‘lowering your standards’.  It’s about ‘being realistic’.  If you think that you’re going to end up married to a tall, rich, competent, good-looking, smart, sophisticated, romantic, popular super-Christian guy – well, good luck to you.  Tell us where they hang out and you’ll have a lot of happy girls on your hands! 

Take a look around at your friends’ husbands.  There may be one or two gold nuggets there, but for the most part I guarantee that they are just average guys.  And remember, you don’t see them at home or have to wash their dirty undies.  No one is perfect.  So, does he love you, love God, and have a job?  Give him a chance. 

Option #5: Change your context.

This is the most scary but probably the most productive option.  You need to move.  Maybe you can start small by just changing churches, changing up your living situation, or changing jobs.  If that doesn’t open anything up to you, you might need to do a big move.  Move cities.  Move countries!  When I was 33 and single and feeling completely hopeless, I was going to move to the US and do a stint at Bethel or at the LA DreamCentre, or something.  I even applied for leave from work and started the process of looking at visas etc.  All with the goal of meeting a husband. Then Nathan came along, thank goodness!  But you do need to keep moving. 

Where could you go and do something where you’ll meet a whole different batch of men?  Now don’t get stuck on a six-month mission trip with 10 other ladies and no guys.  You need to make it count. Go where there are guys!  If you want to start small, try moving cities first.  It’s a lot easier to fly home to visit your mum when you live in Sydney (as opposed to Canada).  Ha ha. 

Overall, it’s super tough and scary, but I advise you to do something if you are in your early 30’s or older.  And all of these things won’t work out unless you’re really working on being in a healthy place, physically and emotionally.  As I’ve said before, without counselling to sort through some of my issues, I don’t know if I would have been able to get married.  I just didn’t give off the right ‘vibe’.  So get yourself to a good place, then start looking at visas.  LOL.  Love you girls!