I haven’t always identified with women who bemoaned their lack of a love life. I relished the freedom of singleness, of always being able to do my own thing, considering only my own needs, taking off on a new adventure whenever I wanted or God led. I could sleep without anyone snoring in my ear or stealing the blankets. And I didn’t have to watch any of those shoot ‘em up action movies. As for sex--I could take it or leave it. I did date a few guys. Only one of them was emotionally well-adjusted (like I am?) but his serious, intense personality did not mesh with my free spirit.
Then a few years ago, my contentment began a slow fade. I developed a deep longing for a man of God’s choosing. I wanted someone to love, to serve, someone with whom I could experience this adventure called life. I discovered I was weary of doing things by myself and loneliness set in--not the kind that can be alleviated by lunch and a good chat with a few girlfriends. It was an aloneness that hungers for the intimacy of a soul mate.
Then a friend told me I was, “a good catch,” and suggested I try the internet to increase the size of my empty fish pond to a lake rivaling Erie or a Huron. I learned that a pastor I greatly admired met his wife online. Still, it took me a couple of years till I visited a well-known dating website for Christians and and decided to take the plunge. I don’t know if I was finally “desperate,” or just longing for a new adventure, but I uploaded the best pic I had of myself and created what I hoped was an appealing profile.
Six months later, I had concluded that if I was as good a catch, all the good men couldn’t run fast enough. I also discovered that my mostly empty inbox and lack of being favorited, stirred up old wounds. There are some things I might have considered before grabbing my tackle box and heading off to the ol’ fishin’ hole.
Did God tell me to join?
I knew my wise and loving Father cares about and wants to direct me in every detail of my life. Although I believed God can and does use internet dating to bring people together, I didn’t ask him if it was the right thing for me or the right time.
Did I join with the right motives?
As the weeks went by, the whole experience became an emotional roller coaster ride. My hopes would rise only to be dashed repeatedly against the rocky reefs of discouragement. I remember praying at least once, “Lord, I am at the end of my rope. I am so tired of waiting and being disappointed. I don’t think I can take it anymore. I feel like snatching up the first decent, Christian guy who will have me. I don’t care if I have to give up my dreams be married.”
And then I was reminded of the Biblical story of Esau and Jacob that illustrates the foolishness of making snap decisions based on emotions and overriding desires. Because of what God had called me to do, my man would need to be someone special who will not be satisfied with an ordinary life. I didn’t want to to make Esau’s mistake in Genesis 25:27-34 when he allowed his physical hunger to compel him to trade his inheritance for a mere bowl of beans.
Can I prioritize and set limits?
Reading profiles was a bit like eating potato chips. “Just one more. Maybe the next one will be it.” I sometimes spent the better part of an hour going through dozens of “matches” only to find two or three that met my specific criteria. As time went by, I also questioned whether the the money spent on fees was a wise expenditure. I was a member on only two websites and the monthly charges were not exorbitant. But due to some pressing financial concerns, I felt that what seemed like an exercise in futility could be cut from my budget.
Do I really understand what defines my true worth and beauty?
I attended public school during the first eighteen year of my life. In junior high, I was a Mennonite nerd from a poor, unsophisticated family. I wore the prayer covering, dresses that were fifteen years out of style and thick glasses over eyes that bulged due to a thyroid condition. Certain classmates made sure I knew how unattractive and undesirable they thought I was. Even worse, in the ensuing decades, occasional rude comments were made about my physical appearance.
The lack of response on the dating websites only reinforced the sense of rejection in my mind. I cringed when yet another profile said he was looking for someone, “attractive” and felt immediately unqualified. The enemy whispered, “See. Your classmates were right. You really are repulsive. No really great guy will ever want you. You’re a failure.” I had to deliberately remind myself of who I am in Christ: A beautiful, talented, lovable, redeemed daughter of God who has the mind of Christ. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am bold, fearless and more than a conqueror.
Can I trust the one who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift?
Occasionally during my search on the websites, my unfulfilled longing would overwhelm me. I would fall on my knees and sob out my broken heart to God. “Father don’t you see that I am lonely? Is it so wrong for me to want to love and give myself to someone? Jesus, you’re wonderful but I need someone with skin on.”
I realized that when Jesus talks in Matthew 6:25-34, about trusting that our heavenly Father knows and will meet our needs, he was also talking about those things beyond our daily survival. My desire for a husband was and is legitimate. I am now at the age when many women have raised their children and are anticipating grandchildren. It’s easy for me to feel cheated, left out and resentful. I have to trust that whatever the Father chooses for me is the best and wait patiently for it.
Can I enjoy my life as it is now?
I found that rather than being thankful for the blessings I already had, I became like the hungry donkey with a carrot dangling before its nose. Never mind the nice warm stall and a loving owner back at the barn. Forget the green pastures where I could graze now and the feed bin full of fresh grain and all the carrots I could ever want. My desire for that elusive, “Mr Right,” hindered the full enjoyment of my life as it already was. I missed the wonder of everyday miracles, craving the one ingredient I thought would make me truly happy and fulfilled.
The Lord cares about our hearts’ desires. He has compassion for the pain we feel when we are rejected, whether on a dating website or in any other situation. He wants to bless us abundantly, far more than our capacity to be blessed. One of my favorite verses says that God is, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
God does not need internet dating to find anyone a soul mate. He can do whatever He pleases as long as the people He’s working with hear His voice and obey. He is the God of what seems impossible to our limited minds. Maybe someday I’ll try internet dating websites again--if God says to. But for now, I can make the commitment to enjoy every moment, every hour God allows me on this earth--with or without a man.