Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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Why Hanging Out Is Really Dating

We have created this fantasy regarding dating, especially in Christian circles, that you wait for God and sooner or later you get “the one.”

If you do it right, there’s no muss and no fuss.

Well, that certainly hasn’t been my experience.

As Christians we boycotted “dating” and created all of these other pseudo-dating practices to facilitate the fantasy. We “hang out” or “talk” or “chill,” and then finally we might “date” when we feel some sense of security. What if it doesn’t go the distance though? Now you’re dealing with the guilt and weight of being a leftover relational choice because you don’t fit the fantasy narrative.

In the end, this narrative has crippled our courage.

Every Journey is Unique

This article originated as a Facebook post for my single friends. I recently got engaged to an amazing woman named Brenn. That led me into a time of reflection regarding the relationship journey I’ve been on. It certainly has been a journey.

I’ve noticed that when you see someone step into a relational blessing, like engagement or marriage, it’s easy to claim their story by faith when it’s something you desire. The problem is, you haven’t been on their journey.

I had a failed marriage that resulted in one of the darkest periods of my life. I found myself a single dad of three girls under the age of 5, raising them on my own. Then I began a 9-year journey with the Lord, untangling the past and preparing for the future. Every journey is unique, and trust me … you want your own journey.

My journey consisted of a significant amount of dating before I found “the one.” I didn’t always call it dating because I was pursuing the fantasy narrative.

You see, I was engaged a few years ago, and that didn’t end the way I thought it would. That period of my life was a transformational time, and I’m so grateful for it. Ultimately it blew my fantasy narrative to bits. I had dated prior to that, but I never would’ve admitted it. I called it all the other things. Fortunately the narrative was destroyed, and I could be real with myself and the rest of the world. I never called it anything but DATING again.

As I observe others’ journeys and reflect on my own, I ask myself, “What is the common thread?” The number one thing is the importance of hearing Holy Spirit and obeying. Brenn’s journey was different than mine, but it was also marked by the Holy Spirit and obedience.

Clarity Takes Courage

Previously, when I didn’t value the process enough to call it dating, the benefit I took away from it was limited. It also seemed to leave things badly. However, when I honored the person and valued the process, I always walked away enriched as a man and individual. I hope the women were enriched as well.

As men and women of God, we are able to explore romantic intention with someone in a dating context and leave them better than when we found them. Ultimately, we can set the standard for what it looks like to date a man or woman of God.

Conversely, what do we expect to come from pseudo-dating? We don’t honor and value the person enough to even call it what it is. When you engage with someone with romantic intention, it is a date regardless of the activity. What are we communicating when we don’t even have the ability to commit to calling our romantic intention a date?

Ultimately, pseudo-dating devalues them, ourselves and the exploration.

In Brene Brown’s Ted Talk “The Power of Vulnerability,” she states that everyone needs to feel worthy of love and belonging. Regardless of the outcome, when we are clear with our intention, we are communicating “you are worthy, and I value you.” When we are tepid and vague, we create an equally confusing interaction that is communicating the opposite.

When I met Brenn, I was extremely clear of my intentions. As a matter of fact, shortly after I met her, I literally told her “I’m comin’ after you, girl!” Maybe that shouldn’t be your approach.

However, clarity takes courage.

What I found is that Brenn was captivated by that courage, and now we’re less than 90 days from stepping into a lifetime of adventure.

Challenge Accepted

How does this apply to you?

Now, the dating conversation is multifaceted, and there’s a lot we’re not saying here. However, I have good news for you. Christ Himself invented the man’s pursuit of the heart of a woman. It didn’t originate with the world, and it’s time we redeem it. Let me tell you this, His pursuit of us has never been tepid or vague. His whole being shouts “I’m comin’ after you!”.

I’ll leave you with a challenge, especially the guys. Have courage. Call it a date. A coffee date, a dinner date, a movie date, whatever kind of date you want. Value the woman you desire to know enough to be clear. If she doesn’t want to go on a date with you, it’s OK! Regardless, you never know how things are going to turn out.

Have courage and enjoy the journey. When you journey with the Holy Spirit, you can’t mess it up.

Stephen Womack

Stephen is a certified leadership coach and business consultant. He is currently serving as an instructor and leadership coach for The Ramp School of Ministry in Hamilton, Alabama. He has a passion to see people activated in their God-given destinies and live out the fullness of their potential. Stephen is a single father to three beautiful daughters, but recently became engaged to an amazing woman named Brenn. In his free time he travels for ministry, leads mission teams and trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with his daughters.

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