Let’s talk about dating
I’ll be fully honest with you, I haven’t been on a date in 5 years! I know this is going to sound crazy and unusual for women my age nowadays, but it’s the truth. I dated a boy in high school for over a year, and when it ended horribly, I swore off dating for a while. This might sound bad, but it actually was quite good for me at the time. Entering my senior year of high school, I had a lot going on in my life. I didn’t just want to focus on singleness because of my break-up. I really needed to in order to grow myself and my relationship with God. When I entered college a year later, I promised myself I would focus on intimate friendships with new sisters-in-Christ, something I felt I really pushed aside in high school during my pursuit in finding a boyfriend. One thing led to another, and after walking through a season of depression my sophomore year at Messiah University, I took a step back from it all. From my friends, extracurriculars and dating at that point wasn’t even on my radar. I had finally realized that I had a lot to learn about myself and growth that needed to happen before I would be in a mature place to have a healthy and loving romantic relationship.
getting back out there
After much time spent with myself and God, I have found more than just contentment, but enjoyment and freedom in my singleness during my senior year of college this year. That’s a conversation for another day, but as I prepare to graduate and enter what they call the “real world,” I have been thinking a lot about this new season of life I am about to enter into. It’s scary and overwhelming at times, but it’s also extremely exciting. I am living in constant anticipation these days, as the clock ticks to graduation day. The possibilities in front of me are endless, and one of things that has been on my mind recently is dating. I have thought a lot about how open and ready I feel to start dating again within this next year. Along with this comes feeling of insecurity again though. It has lessened quite a bit from when I dated in high school. This insecurity used to be about my body image, of course, but also stemmed from a lack of understanding about my identity in Christ. Now that I confidently know who I am in Christ, I no longer feel insecure in that sense, which has also definitely helped my body image. Body image freedom is a journey though, and I’ve found that things like dating certainly drudge up negative feelings and thoughts surrounding my body.
body image insecurity as a heart issue
The important question to ask ourselves is not “how can I get over this?” or “how can I learn to love and accept my body,” and “how can I make myself prettier or more beautiful?” The important question to ask ourselves is what is truly important here? Physical beauty or being transformed by Christ and revealing Him to others through our life? This is going to sound harsh ladies, but it’s important. Our minds, thoughts and actions stem from our hearts. If you are more concerned about your appearance and what a man will think of your appearance, then this is not a body image issue you are struggling with. At the core of it, this is a heart issue. God does not care about physical beauty. He doesn’t care about our appearance or what we wear. Now don’t get me wrong, God does want us to take care of ourselves and treat our bodies well. But this means proper nutrition and normal hygiene, not looking like a super model.
we attract what we seek
What are you looking for in a man? I pray you’re looking for a godly man who reflects Christ in his daily life with whom you can enter into a covenantal, life-long, loving relationship with. What we look for in a man should be what we also hope to be ourselves for that same man. We should hope to be a godly woman whose focus is on God, on bearing His image and living out His unique purpose for her life. We attract what we seek, friends. If we care more about our own appearance, we’re going to care too much about a significant other’s appearance too. If we care about the shallow things, we’re going to attract a shallow man. This will only make the body image problems and pressure to look perfect worse. If we focus on and seek Christ fiercely though, He will transform us more and more to be like Him. And the more He does, the more we will see and seek Him in others as well, including and especially a significant other.
pray, pray, pray
When it comes to dating and body image, we need to be very careful friends. We need to spend time in prayer and reflection, asking God to evaluate our motivations and desires. We need to ask Him to direct our focus to Him. We need to ask Him to transform our hearts and minds to be more like Him every day; for His desires to become our desires, and that what is important to Him is important to us. This is not too much to ask friends. We can never ask too much of God. He wants us to come to him, and for us to be open, honest and bold with our prayers. A little word of advice: God already knows everything we are thinking and feeling anyways, so what is the point in trying to hide any of it or sugar-coat it?
And we should pray all of these things over our future spouse as well while we’re at it. Pray that God would protect their heart and mature them as He matures you too. We need to surrender our season of dating to God because He knows us friends. We can trust Him during this time of waiting for our future spouse because God knows the desires of our hearts, and He knows just what we need. Even when we ourselves don’t know what we need or what is best, He does, and He has it all worked out perfectly in His plan and His timing. We simply need to wait on Him and seek Him persistently.
So friends, I want to encourage you today. If you’re dating or entering a new season of dating to find your future spouse, and you’re struggling with body image, take time in self-reflection and prayer with God. Evaluate your heart and ask God to also. Ask Him to test you and reveal to you any “offensive ways,” as Psalm 139:24 says, that He might lead you “in the way everlasting.”
Hi there, I’m Amber! I am a newly minted college graduate from Messiah University with my bachelor’s in Public Relations. I’m a sister, daughter, soon-to-be aunt, friend, writer, athlete, life-long learner…but most importantly, I’m a beloved daughter of God.
I’m just a 22-year-old perfectionist from a small suburb that knows what it feels like to lose hope and to struggle with love, worth, acceptance, grace, body image, comparison, the list goes on. My passion is to serve and bless others, spread kindness, and share the love and hope found in both knowing Jesus intimately and walking through life with him. My prayer is that everyone may be filled with the eternal love, joy and freedom that only comes from a relationship with Jesus, so that they may overflow with love for others and glorify God in all they do. Read Amber’s other posts here.