I haven't gone on any dates for the past nineteen and half years.
But I chose to not go on any dates specifically these past five months, and my dating fast will end in less than two weeks. What have these past five months been like?
Simply opening up every aspect of my life to God this year, including my love life (which I have been so reluctant to give Him) has been an amazing, humbling, gratifying, humbling, and beautiful experience. Did I mention humbling? God has used these past five months to really let me in on somethings I didn't know - and things I didn't know a dating fast would even bring about.
I didn't know that there were people who struggled with the same things that I did - both men and women. Being on a dating fast and interacting with guys as brothers in Christ has given me the opportunity for amazing conversations with men that I wouldn't have been able to have if I had been over analyzing and projecting my hopes for a relationship on them.
I didn't know about the beauty of being spiritually attracted to someone and their walk with the Lord instead of just being attracted to them based on their outward, physical appearance. Because when you can't date someone, you begin to realize their qualities and observe with a general appreciation of who they are in the eyes of God.
I didn't know about how much God can speak to your heart through scripture. Switching my God journal back from a 'talk at God about guys' journal and back into 'talk with God about life' journal has made an incredible impact on my prayer life. Opening up His word on a more regular basis and hearing Him speak to me through liturgy of the hour prayers and the rosary has also been something I wouldn't have been able to tap into if I had been spending my time obsessing over dating. Over and over I was shocked at the immense amount of love that was just waiting for me in those pages.
|What opening the Bible up felt like to me.
I didn't know how much I loved my sisters in Christ. Both biological and spiritual, I am truly blessed to know some of the best ladies in the world. And I'm not exaggerating. Spending my dating fast as a time to sincerely get to know some of the women in my life was something I will never regret. I've felt friendships get deeper and stronger than I ever have, and have been inspired by them over and over.
Would I advise going on a dating fast? Yes - on the condition of one thing.
Truly discern. Don't go on a dating fast because you've heard that once you go on one, someone will ask you out. Don't start because you're afraid of what a committed relationship would look like, and scared that you're not ready for that in your life. Don't begin simply because your singles status on Facebook has become a bargaining chip that you throw at God.
Yet be prepared.
Be prepared to be blown away by the way that God can speak to you through countless mediums. Friends, family, scripture, a homily, the rosary, the way a tree blossoms in the spring, or the smell of chocolate cologne (which shouldn't be a thing, but it is.)
|Does this make me smell spiritually attractive?
Be prepared to meet some amazing people who God will put in your life exactly when you need them. Get ready to be awed by the maker of the universe.
God can reach out and touch you through human interaction, and when those around you are open to being His hands and His feet, it really is a beautiful experience.
Am I glad it's over? Hmm....yes and no. Complicated answer, huh? Let me explain.
I am glad to have experienced one-on-one God time. And letting Him really take a hold of my heart and soul and flood it with love. But that isn't something that is going to go away now that the dating fast is over. If anything, that time probably should increase. Because when you are in a relationship with a human being, your relationship with God can't take back burner. You're prayer life can't become something you just do with your significant other and never solo.
But I do think that stepping away from even the thought of a relationship has really let me define what I want a God-driven relationship to look like before I even begin.
My dating fast, despite the fact that I didn't have to physically give up dating or a boyfriend, wasn't a walk in the park. I had an incredible mix of days where I struggled with my emotions. On a Monday, I would so happy to be on the fast, and by Tuesday I felt like beating my head against a wall. There were some knocked-down-dragged-out-crying-in-the-rain nights with the realization of how much I really needed God in my life. Because, put simply, I don't have it together. It's a challenge.
REAL dating, real chastity, and frankly, real love involves real work. It's not easy. But one of my favorite saints, St. Catherine of Sienna, once said "Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring." I can look back at the past five months without one regret. I'm striving to treat guys like brothers in Christ and I've grown closer to the lover of my soul and maker of my heart.
So when it comes to dating, relationships, and all that jazz. Whether you're in a relationship that is great and God filled or frankly you would be closer to God if you weren't in the relationship you have, remember this. You are worthy of respect. And true love. The greater the amount of respect that you have for yourself as a child of God and other people as brothers and sisters in Christ , the greater your ability to show true love is.
Father Benedict once said "You were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness." Let's go out there and live great lives together.