Several years ago in my early 20s my friends and I read a slew of books on singleness and dating. We had dated in the world and knew that wasn’t God’s desire so certainly dating according to the teaching of the church would equip us with the godly marriage we wanted. I’m using sarcasm here just in case you couldn’t tell. And not sarcasm from bitterness. Just sarcasm because of the lack of knowledge we and the church had at that time.
Anyways, one of the books we read (I really can’t remember which one) encouraged the reader to go on a “dating fast”. Meaning we were to set aside a period of time to not date and just spend time with the Lord. I remember going on the dating fast and how hard it was for me. Not that a slew of men were beating down my door for a date. No, not at all. But it was difficult b/c I had some unhealthy non-romantic male relationships in my life. And by the leading of Holy Spirit I was not in communication with any men at the time (outside of church functions of course). I had already broken up with the guy who broke my heart and was feeling rather lonely b/c of it (which is pretty normal after facing heartbreak). I remember at one point looking at my phone contacts and not seeing any men’s phone numbers. It was the weirdest feeling in the world b/c I was so used to having male companionship. One night during my dating fast I went on a “date” with Jesus. We ate at a restaurant, I had my meal and sat there with all of my heart focused on the Lord. It was so painful for me and I felt so empty. I had no idea that I was just beginning my journey of healing and wholeness. I thought that giving up that relationship was enough and giving up the male companions I had at that time were enough. I thought going on dates with Jesus and fasting from men and spending time with God meant that I was ready for a godly marriage. After all, that is what the books I was reading taught me. That if I just do x, y, and z, I would be “blessed”.
What those books didn’t tell me, and what I wish I knew then, was that I was already blessed. I was already a whole person and did not need another person to complete me (though I would probably have still needed a revelation of this in my heart to receive it). I wish those books told me that I actually needed a lot of counseling to deal with childhood trauma and my own dysfunction and the blood of Jesus was not an overnight fix of my deeply rooted issues.
But thankfully I had the Holy Spirit and His gift of counseling led me on a path of wisdom, though until now I never knew it.
After the dating fast, I discovered there were a lot of other different people and things that were rivaling my affection for God. There were a lot of other idols in my heart. And one by one, He asked me to sacrifice them for Him. But that old idol of marriage (as well as men and sex) was going to take some time to get rid of b/c it had infiltrated my bloodline through the choices of my ancestors and was in fact, a generational curse. The idolatry of marriage also permeated the culture I lived in and even the church culture I was a part of. It was going to take time to walk in freedom from this particular stronghold.
There is wisdom being dispersed today in the church regarding being a healthy single and having healthy relationships. Maybe this teaching has always been around but Holy Spirit only allowed this to be given to me at this time. But I am apt to agree with Dr. Myles Monroe in “Purpose and Power of a Man” when he says previous generations did not have time to get healthy and work towards meeting their emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. They married young, had a family and were focused on providing for that family. They did not have time to get healthy. They were just trying to survive.
God has blessed me with time to not survive but to overcome and thrive. I was just sharing with my boss yesterday all of my recent and upcoming trips and events I have experienced. I would not have had those experiences had I chosen my own way. I would have missed out on so much b/c I was so focused on marriage and children. I was fearful of never experiencing marriage b/c I was fearful of never being loved. I equated marriage with love. I equated a man with being wanted and needed. I thought only a man could fulfill the gaping hole in my heart.
It has been a rocky path, but I am seeing the victory. I think back on my 20-something self and on her dating fast. I watch her in my minds’ eye fighting against her own desires and pain, pushing forward on a seemingly endless journey of faith and I’m so grateful she did. Even though it was hard and she had no idea what God was doing in her, I can say now it was to reveal His best in her. And to make sure that He is first in her heart.
Now I dont desire a “godly” marriage. Instead I desire a healthy one. Because I am a whole person and need my relationship to reflect this wholeness in all areas of life; spiritual, mental, physical and emotional.