Don’t waste your pretty: A Valentine’s Pep Talk

***This blog post first ran on February 14, 2012, and was originally given as a Sunday School lesson/pep talk in 2010 to a group of single women in their 20s-30s back before I ever dated Mr. Right. I hope you enjoy!

I was single for 30 years, and the I will admit that I used to hate Valentine’s Day, because it was just highlighting the fact that I was still single. Probably the only one – or so it seemed. So a few years ago I gave this pep talk to my Sunday School class to encourage my fellow single friends that we could survive our single years, and not only survive… but do it fabulously. Here’s what I told them:

How to survive your single years:

1. Your fabulousness isn’t determined by your relationship status.
Sometimes that’s hard to remember when you see all your friends post pics of their beautiful husbands/boyfriends/babies, and you’re home hanging out with your Schnoodle. But whether or not you have a Valentine does not determine your value.

2. No pity dates. Learn to say no.
It seems like yesterday. I was 24. I had a boyfriend. And yet some sweet clueless boy in my singles group at church cornered me and asked me on a date. To a Joel Olsteen rally. (I couldn’t make this up.) I was so caught off-guard, and so worried about hurting this poor boy’s feelings that I panicked and blurted out “I’ll email you.” My boyfriend was obviously mad when I told him, and it just delayed the inevitable rejection. From that point on I decided that I would learn to be good at saying no. And I did. It’s a great life skill to have. I found that boys really do want a direct answer – and for you, it’s like ripping off a band-aid… you can just get it over with.

No pity dates girls. Even if he tells you that God told him you’re the Ruth to his Boaz. If God didn’t tell you, it’s okay to say NO.

3. Never, never, NEVER settle. Don’t waste your pretty.
We all know that the bible says not to be unequally yoked. Meaning, if you’re a believer, then you need to only date believers. No missionary “I can change him!” dating. Don’t even dip your toe in the water, or you may fall in.

But it’s not just because God wants to take away your fun and eliminate what seems like 95% of the hot guy dating pool. God has a better plan for you – check out Ephesians 5:25-33 and know that having a husband who “washes you with the Word” is such a total treat. Wait for a man who will pray for you. Who will lead you and your children well. Who will love you in the same sacrificial, intentional way that Christ loves his church. It’s worth the wait, even if it seems like you have to wait forever. I promise.

4. Being single doesn’t mean there’ something wrong with you. God’s plans are bigger than that.
Well-meaning people used to infer that people were single because God had some work he needed to do in their hearts. Like somehow the entire singles department was made up of weirdos, and the entire young marrieds department had everything together.

Ummm… have you seen some of the crazy people who are married out there?  God’s still going to still refine you after marriage. Probably more. But there may be other reasons why you’re still single.

You may be single because God wants to use you to encourage another single girl. I think God kept me single for what seemed like FOREVER because he wanted some older girls to encourage those sweet 22-year-old girls who thought life would end if they weren’t engaged when they got that college degree. My 29-year-old self showed them that life isn’t over if you aren’t living the white picket fence American dream. God is a whole lot more creative than the American dream.

Or, your Mr. Right may not be ready for you yet. God did a major work in my Mr. Right’s life, and we just wouldn’t have been a good fit a few years ago. Plus he lived in Colorado, and I would have hated long-distance dating. But when the time was right… he practically dropped in my lap. He moved suddenly from Oklahoma to Fort Worth and then drove FORTY-FIVE MINUTES to my church – I have assured him that I prayed him all the way here. So keep praying for your future man… he may have a long commute to get here.

5. Use this time to its fullest. Find an adventure.
For me, I decided I would use my time to travel. And I did – three trips to Europe, plus I traveled all over the US and to Mexico… basically anytime a friend or family member was up for a trip, I was the first to volunteer. And because of that, I watched sunsets on the beach in Greece and saw my Rangers beat the Yankees in New York. I also ran a half marathon, learned to quilt, got a master’s degree, took salsa lessons… no need to sit at home on Friday nights wondering where your man is. Go find an adventure.

6. Serve. Serve. Serve.
“Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

While you’re waiting for Mr. Right, keep yourself busy by serving others. You’ll end up having a blast, and when you’re focusing on others you have less time to sit and worry about when your prince charming will make his grand entrance.

7. Don’t be bitter. Don’t make all guys pay for the sins (or extreme stupidity) of just one.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
There’s nothing uglier than bitterness. The cutest girls are the ones with sweet spirits.

8. When you DO date… don’t peace out on your church and your ministry.
We’ve all seen someone do the break-up walk of shame back to church… they fell in love and disappeared from the face of the planet. And then somebody changed their mind, and whoops, she’s back. Don’t be that girl. But if you see that girl… go love on her, because she probably could use a friend.

9. NEVER compromise your morals. Remember your lines and don’t cross them.
Know your limits in advance… because in the heat of the moment, when that cute guy looks at you with those big brown eyes… you’re probably not going to make good decisions. So already have your mind made up – it’s worth it.

10. Remember that God’s timing is PERFECT. He has a plan for you. He keeps his promises, and he has not forgotten about you.
“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you.” Isaiah 26:3

So my fabulous friends… any other advice that I missed? How have you chosen to thrive?


Big, BIG News

Well, my friends, it’s official. I never in a million years thought this day would come, and yet it did, and it was 100 more times more fantastic than I ever expected it to be.

I. Got. Engaged.
Yep. I sealed the deal. Snagged Mr. Right. Found myself a keeper. And let me just tell you… he was worth the wait. God answered my prayers in a very specific and obvious way. Later I will share with you some of the crazy ways God has revealed himself during our relationship. But for now, let me just tell you that I am blessed. I have found a man who treats me better than I deserve to be treated. Who loves me in a sacrificial way. Who’s an absolute blast to be around. And who fascinates me like nobody else ever has.
Thank you, Jesus.

Valentines Fun

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I came up with a list of some of my funniest, most embarrassing or most awkward dates.
The Money Date
On one of my first dates in high school, the heart throb of my youth group asked me out to dinner and a movie. Only he didn’t bring enough cash, and in my naiveté I hadn’t thought to bring money of my own, so we had to leave the movie ticket line, drive to his parents’ house, and borrow money from them. You can bet that I have never gone on a date since without plenty of cash, just in case.
The Imodium Date
I had been dating a guy for only a few weeks when we went to a little sandwich shop to grab lunch. Halfway through the meal I felt horribly nauseous and had to excuse myself to the bathroom. Once there, I wanted to curl up in a ball on the floor of that nasty public restroom and die a slow death. When I finally emerged after ten LONG minutes of humiliation, my new boyfriend offered to take me home, but I had to hang my head in shame and admit that I wasn’t sure I could make the drive home just yet. So we had to awkwardly stay at the restaurant while I managed to become ill several more times before I could brave the ride home and crawl into my bed. I was so surprised to hear from him again.
Someone didn’t do their homework
On a recent Valentine’s day, a guy surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. And then an hour later, another guy surprised me with another bouquet of flowers. Apparently guy #2 didn’t do his homework to check to see if I was dating anybody.
The Caulking Date
I had to go to a $500 a plate black-tie gala as part of my job, needed a date, and didn’t have any good guy friends I could bring. My sweet friend offered to set me up with one of her law school buddies, but there was one hitch: he had a golf tournament and wouldn’t have time to go home and clean up before our big night out, so he would need to shower and get ready at my house. At the time I lived in an old rent house with a very old shower, so I spent half my Saturday scrubbing and caulking the shower tiles so they’d look good for the boy. He finally showed up at my house, all sweaty and dirty, I answered the door in my nicest black formal dress, and after a quick introduction I showed him to my room. While he showered, my two roommates and I just sat on our couch in the living room and giggled at the weirdness of a strange boy in my bedroom (I was NEVER in the bedroom with him). About 20 minutes later he emerged in his tuxedo, we hopped in the pumpkin carriage and headed to the ball. It was just like Cinderella, but with a caulking gun.
The Eskimo
My first boyfriend in college was was an atheist eskimo. Trust me when I tell you that it ended the moment I discovered my Alaskan friend was an atheist.
The Punch
Once on a date, my boyfriend accidentally punched me in the face. We had snuck in late to a movie, it was pitch-black, and as he whipped off his jacket, his fist hit me HARD in the eye. Of course it was a freak accident, but he felt horrible for the rest of the evening and begged me not to tell my dad. Lucky for him, the bruising was minimal.
The Spill
I dated a guy who was absolutely in love with his car. He put a car cover on it EVERY SINGLE DAY when he went to work – that thing was spotless. So you can imagine my horror (and his) when one hot summer day my rocky road ice cream cone melted ALL OVER the inside of his car. A chocolate, sticky mess everywhere.
The Mojo Killer
I was at a networking luncheon and a handsome stranger (sans wedding ring) got in the lunch line behind me. I was trying my hardest to look desirable yet cool when an old colleague came up to me, right in front of him, and said, “Oh Bethe… we’re all worried that you’re NEVER going to find someone. Are you EVER going to get married????” Awesome.
Probably A Bad Match
On my most recent blind date, I knew things probably weren’t going well when he (1) refused to talk about church, (2) threw down a few cuss words, (3) talked about getting so drunk that he had to walk home the night before, and (4) told me he drove to Dallas three nights a week to play in various kick ball leagues. Really… kickball?? Luckily I was able to drown my disappointment in molten chocolate cake, so it wasn’t a total waste.
And for the most random moment in my dating history: two Christmases ago I got asked out by one of Santa’s elves. Seriously. I said no.