We are honored to welcome a Brenda, of Triple Braided, to More to Be today with a timely perspective on the topic of dating.
My mom was sitting at her sewing machine when I went into her room to ask her “the question”. My heart pounded, my hands were sweaty, and I slowly began. “Mom?”, I said. “Chris asked if I could go to church with him on Sunday. Can I go?”
I was fourteen years old.
“Is he going to drive you to church?” she responded.
“Yes, he is.”
“Then, no, you can’t go. You cannot date until you’re 16.”
In our house 16 was the magic number to begin dating, and dating was defined as “going anywhere alone in a car with a boy”.
At the time I thought this was completely irrational. We were going to church after all! It wasn’t a real date. But it didn’t matter. That was the definition and 16 was the number. Period.
My mom made dating a milestone under the assumption that by 16 years old I would be ready to date.
What I didn’t expect was asking myself this very same question, “When is a girl ready to date?”, as a twenty-eight year old single woman. I had obviously passed the 16-year-old milestone by over a decade.
As I lived out my twenties, and even the beginning of my thirties, I began to appreciate the boundary my mom set for me at fourteen. Here I was, a grown woman, still asking the same question. If I wasn’t sure if I was ready to date as an adult, then I knew I wasn’t ready at fourteen.
But as I got older, “dating” became more significant than just “going anywhere alone in a car with a boy”. Dating carried with it lasting consequences.
I was never one to date a lot or to always have a boyfriend, but the experience I gained dating throughout my twenties left me feeling hopeless, fearful, and very insecure. In many ways, as I entered my thirties still unmarried, I realized I was spending more time recovering from my dating relationships than joyfully using them to discern God’s will.
So I began asking myself, “When is a girl ready to date?”
God does not want us to have to recover from singleness. During this season of our lives, we have a special opportunity to pursue Him fully and wholeheartedly, making wise, healthy decisions, in order to glorify Him and reap the blessing He has for our futures.
In order for this to happen, dating must be taken seriously, and age does not determine whether a girl is ready.
Maybe a sixteen year old is ready to date. And maybe a thirty-three year old is not.
Being ready to date is not determined by your age but by the state of your heart.
So how do you know if you are ready to date, whether you are sixteen or forty-six?
1. As a Christian who is seeking a Christian spouse, you have a firm, growing relationship with Jesus independent of anyone else. You are already actively involved in pursuing Jesus by spending time with Him, serving Him, and giving to Him.
2. You understand the purpose of dating. Dating is not for selfish reasons, to get your needs met, or to end loneliness. The purpose of dating is to discern God’s plan for your life in regards to marriage.
3. You date intentionally. There is no need to date just for the sake of dating. It is important for you to date with the intention of marriage. This begins with a first date. If you know already that the man you are contemplating going on a date with is not someone who should pursue a relationship with (because he’s not a Christian or some other reason), then it is not wise to go on the date.
4. You are healthy. Of course no one is completely healthy in all aspects of their lives. We all have different obstacles to overcome within ourselves. But for the most part, it is important to be as healthy as possible spiritually, emotionally, and physically when you are dating. This will help prevent you from carrying excess baggage into a future relationship.
The pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta, Andy Stanley, has given single people this challenge in a few of his sermons: Take one year off from dating with the commitment to grow your relationship with God. Kind-of-like a dating fast.
If you find yourself wondering, Am I ready to date?, then I highly encourage you to take this challenge as well. It will be the biggest growth experience and the best use of your time as a single woman setting you up for a future filled with blessing.
What are your thoughts? When is a girl ready to date?
If you are a mom, what is your perspective? If you are a single woman, what do you think?
Fall for Him
Want more challenges for your season of singleness? I wrote an eBook out of my experience as a single woman called Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. It’s available now in PDF, Kindle, and Nook formats. The purpose is to help single women see that their life is not waiting out there in the future for them. Their life is now. But it can only be fully revealed by being surrendered to Jesus.
This book is a great gift that woman in your life. Maybe your daughter, niece, cousin, or sister. Maybe your best friend. Or maybe you’re a single woman. This book would be a great gift to yourself. You can purchase a copy by visiting www.FallforHim.com.
Our Topics & Truth guide on Dating is packed with answers to the most common dating questions. It looks at God’s design for relationships, how to know if you’re interested in the right kind of guy, what to do and not do in a dating relationship, thoughts on considering the concept of courting, and how to break up well. You can download it free, here, and also pick up the Dig Deep Guide on Dating for Moms & Mentors.
Brenda considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing her dreams instead of God’s dreams for her. Now she lives with her two miracles: her husband who God physically saved from Cardiomyopathy after a dramatic heart transplant and her baby girl who was recently born from those three hearts. Brenda encourages women to live a life surrendered to Jesus in every season on her blog, Triple Braided, and she recently published her first eBook, Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.