Recently I was asked to speak to a new Singles group at my local church. Because a big part of my story is my difficult marriage and my devastating divorce, God has put me in a position to use my education and life story together to help others. Most of the clients I see are in the midst of a divorce, post divorce, in a difficult marriage or single. I learned a lot when I was single before and after my divorce and continue to learn a lot from my clients. I see a lot of trends. Below are some “common mistakes I see in single and single again clients.”
· Somewhere along the way we lose sight of who God made us to be. This may happen early in life due to our family of origin, or it can happen as a result of unhealthy relationships. The result is us not knowing our self worth. So how do I address that? Well, when we start to look for someone to define us or look for someone who we think will make our life better, all our time and energy goes into getting on dating sites and figuring out ways to meet someone. Is there anything wrong with trying to meet someone? Absolutely not, however you have to be the best version of you before doing so and this takes time. Patiently taking time helps you know your self worth and your identity needs to be grounded in Jesus. If you lack confidence and look to others besides Christ to define you, then you will settle for someone who is not best for you. Soon you will believe you can’t find anyone better, or you are timing out, or you don’t deserve better.
So my challenge to you is to get grounded in your worth as God’s child so that you can make wise decisions today that are still good for your future.
The 2nd most common theme I see in my single clients is FEAR...So many fears..
· Fear of unknown
· Fear of getting hurt
· Fear of what others will think
· Fear of making the wrong decision
· Fear of being alone.
· Fear of never being chosen
· Fear of never having children and the list goes on and on
Making decisions while being guided by fear, leads to trouble. We are trying to control the outcome and fulfill our dreams apart from God. Being apart from God’s will leads to decisions that can cause you to justify compromised standards for potential partners. Although you may see some concerns in the relationship, you ignore them because of FEAR.. You may even twist the truth to make it seem like this is God’s will.
I think a lot of us do this. We are so desperate we try to make things happen on our time. But sometimes making wise decisions will require you to wait patiently on God . Yikes-this is tough. We think, “Gosh why isn’t God’s timing the same as ours!” So, let me say it again - Typically when we make decisions out of fear they are not the right decisions. A good question to ask is: If I fully trusted in God, what decision would I make?
Lastly, we all tend to make decisions from a place of loneliness. This one really resonates with me. I felt super alone. I used to listen to the song, “I am not alone” by Kari Jobe all the time in the car and cry. I felt alone as a parent, alone as a family, and alone in my pain. But the truth is that even when I feel lonely, I am not alone. God is with me always. When we forget this simple truth, problems can come when we make decisions based on our loneliness. Typically these are not wise decisions. Wise decisions are not always convenient or comfortable. It is not comfortable to be lonely, but God shows up in the uncomfortable when we lean into him.
Loneliness can also lead us to make decisions that go against our moral compass and/or lack of boundaries. We may be more willing to hang out with people that aren’t a good influence or have the extra cocktail or ride with someone we shouldn’t. The lack of setting boundaries can make us more vulnerable. It is better to be lonely than with the wrong person! Do not rush to meet someone before you need to be comfortable with yourself. First, you should work toward being in a place where you are content. Being content allows you to be open to what God wants. His plan is the best!
What about considering counseling?
So these are the three biggest mistakes I see single and single again clients make. However there are two more that I would consider red flags. Red flags are usually the things we see in others that show us some concerning issues. However, I am talking about red flags in your own life. Are you actually ready to start pursuing a relationship? Besides the concerns I already addressed, I would ask you to consider counseling for two important reasons: 1. If you have no friends and 2. If you haven’t dealt with your pain from the past.
As a first step, I recommend that you ask yourself:
Who are the people around you?
Who are you doing life with?
Can you keep long term friendships? If not, why?
Are you the common denominator?
To have good friends you have to be a good friend. Are you a good friend?
Secondly, what about your past?
Are you still angry or even bitter about past relationships or where you are in life?
Do you need to forgive someone, God, or even yourself? (This can show up by being easily irritated, quick to anger, judgmental or a lack of joy or contentment.)
If you are struggling to forgive, it might be time to seek counseling. A great first step is the book “Forgiving what you can’t forget” by Lysa Terkerst. Many people want to rush to the other side of their pain, so they look for ways to feel better instead of dealing with the pain. No one wants to sit in the pain, but in order to get to the other side of your pain you have to go through it.
I know all this can feel a little overwhelming and maybe even a bit depressing but I really want you to remember one thing. God has a GOOD GOOD plan for you. You can trust Him and His plan is always better