I used to lie in bed at night and dream up the perfect man.
I used to pretend that the next boy to walk into the cafeteria at school would be my future husband. I used to watch my friends fall in love and wonder if it could ever possibly happen to me, too.
I could have easily said YES to the first boy who asked me out in 8th grade. But I didn't. On the contrary. I trained myself to say no, because I believed from a very young age that dating WAS SERIOUS. You date to find a husband, and I wasn't planning to find a husband when I was 13.
Instead, I didn't date. I didn't have boyfriends. My first boyfriend was my last boyfriend. Yep. I married that boy.
I know, in a world where dating and breaking up and dating and breaking up is the norm, this is hard to believe, right?
Dating Leads to Marriage.
To understand my willpower, we have to unpack this claim: Dating leads to marriage. I've believed this ever since I was a little girl. My mom takes credit for this one. I can't recall when she first said this phrase (or one like it) to me, but she did. Maybe when I was in fourth grade? That sounds about right. She used to say it before I even liked boys! It wasn't forced. In fact, it was very nonchalant. But at the same time, it was absolutely intentional. She wanted to lay a solid foundation early, even when it didn't seem to matter.
It did matter. Those words held power.
I cherished those words throughout my life, and my brain backed them up. If dating leads to marriage, then did I really want to start looking for a husband at 13?
Only Jesus Can Have My Heart.
The next thing she and my dad taught me was this: You shouldn't give you heart to just anybody.
Growing up, I knew that boys couldn't have my heart. It belonged to God. And until God brought me a husband, it would belong to him alone.
So I turned down boys who asked me out. I stayed away from parties and teenage romance. I'm not sure it was ALL me. God seemed to supernaturally shield me from drama and boys (plus he gave me a GREAT dad, so I didn't feel the need to find love elsewhere).
Strangely enough, I was never jealous when my friends started dating. I didn't feel alone or left behind. It was just what was happening to them, and I was still living my life just fine. Eventually in my 20s I'd go through all the feels, like, was there something wrong with me? But it makes way more sense that your 20s are when you're supposed to panic. What I'm emphasizing is that as a teenager, purity was more important to me than anything. And jealousy wasn't even a blip on my radar.
Look, I get it. It's not THAT easy, especially when your friends start dating and it seems like you're left behind. BUT IT IS WORTH IT TO WAIT. Trust me on this. The older you get, the more knowledge you gain. And the more knowledge you gain, the more you learn about yourself. And the more you learn about yourself, the more you can improve WHO YOU ARE so that you can be ready to be someone date-able. Think about it: would you really go back in time and suggest someone date your high school self? What. A. Mess.
For me, dating was never a temptation. I still don't know why, but I'm THANKFUL. God protected me from the dating scene, because waiting to date the man who would become my husband was beautiful. He was worth waiting for, and I'm grateful I waited.
It's OK If You Already Gave Your Heart Away.
My husband gave his heart away before he met me, but I wouldn't have it any other way. He dated and he loved other girls. But it was through those relationships and heartbreaks that God molded him into the man he is today. Those relationships taught him how to approach me. They taught him what NOT to do. Most importantly, they taught him to keep God at the center of our relationship.
If he hadn't dated other girls and learned from those relationships, he wouldn't have been ready to woo me. Quite simply, I would have turned him down because he would have been just another guy asking me out. We would have missed each other.
While it sounds romantic and wonderful to save your heart for one person (AND IT IS!), God can still bless you abundantly if you don't. Trust me. I know we shouldn't compare, but my husband's story is JUST as cool and as powerful as mine. In fact, I think it's WAY more powerful.
Why Waiting for A Man Ruined Me.
Waiting to date one man (my husband) ruined me because I can NEVER recommend dating to anyone. I can't. I don't believe in it.
I think dating (especially as a teenager) teaches you that it's OK to walk away when people change or do things that are annoying or disagree with you. And it's not. Relationships take a lot of hard work and dedication, because when you stick two selfish, sinful people together, friction happens. And who's really ready for that at 13?
Waiting to date that one man who would become my husband totally ruined my silly girl self, an only child who thought she knew everything in the world. Instead, waiting taught me patience. It taught me how to remain pure. It forced me to work on myself and become the best me possible. It helped me grow into a more loving, kind woman. And above all, waiting taught me how to better rely on God.
For those of you who are offended because you dated a lot and are now happily married, that's awesome. For those of you who think all of this is cool but disagree with my stance on dating, that's great. My story isn't a blueprint for how life is supposed to be lived. Maybe it's not what God wants for you.
But I still believe the heart behind my story is this: Protect your heart. Make wise decisions. Don't date just anyone because you feel lonely. Don't date just anyone because you think they're cute. Don't date just anyone because everyone else is doing it. Take dating seriously. Listen to God and let Him guide you to the person He wants for you.