A couple of years ago, Oprah’s OWN network released a reality show called Ready To Love. Filmed in Atlanta, the show features single black professionals in their mid-thirties to early fifties on a quest to find their one true love. Viewers journey with these eager participants through the twists and turns of the sometimes awkward dating scenes, and as I watched episode after episode, I found myself wondering, “Wow. Do I do that?” But then I also found myself wondering, “Why am I still single?”
The reality is that it’s a new year…a new decade…another Valentine’s Day, and on this day of love, like me, you may have hoped that this year would have been different. You may have hoped for new life experiences…new love, and, yet you find yourself in the same old season of waiting. But here’s the thing, regardless of how you may feel please do not attempt to rush through this season.
There is value in the wait. Your waiting season is your season of preparation. Use this time to prepare for the twists and turns that will undoubtedly come as you embark on your personal love journey. Use this time to get ready for the love that you undoubtedly deserve. To prepare for your future love, here are five tips that I have learned in my own season of waiting:
TIP 1: DEAL WITH YOUR OWN STUFF FIRST
It is easy to point the finger at others and tell them what they need to work on, but a huge part of preparing ourselves to love is having the courage to deal with our own stuff. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have emotional and spiritual baggage, and even though we know it’s a pain to carry around, many of us are afraid of letting it go.
I used to drag my baggage from relationship to relationship, accumulating heaps of regret, hurt, and disappointment over time. Afraid of being abandoned, I stayed in relationships longer than I should have. I thought if I could just “fix” this – rearrange the load, then the relationship could work. But, I have discovered that until we choose to face our fears openly, honestly and courageously, they will dictate every decision we make.
Deal with your own stuff. Decide that it’s time to unpack, confront, and release. This may be a scary task because the reality is that there are some loads that are heavier than others. But, here’s the thing…you don’t have to do it alone. God loves you and God is your Helper. No matter what your past looks like, God is there with open arms to help you through your areas of struggle. In addition, if necessary, do not be afraid to seek professional counseling. Licensed professionals are equipped to help you unpack your stuff and move you towards healing. When you have dealt with your stuff, the person God has for you will not find their “other half,” but instead they will find a healthy, whole YOU.
If you are seeking love to find joy, you will always be seeking. Joy is an inside job and is evident when we are content.
TIP 2: BE CONTENT
To be content is to be satisfied. To be content is not having a desire for more or for less. It is the state of being satisfied with where you are in life. Contentment…it is at times quite elusive, especially for singles. Why? Well, let’s be honest, how many of us are truly satisfied with our lives? How many of us are truly satisfied with being single? I imagine that a few of you are raising your hands, but the reality is that many of us are still not content. But here’s what I discovered...if you are not content in your singleness, chances are that you will not be content in marriage.
As you get ready to love and be loved, learn to be satisfied with where you are. Yes, the desire for marriage, companionship, and love are real, and not to be trivialized, but here’s the thing...if you are seeking love to find joy, you will always be seeking. Joy is an inside job and is evident when we are content.
To be content we must actively work on ourselves and develop our faith. Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.” In essence, Paul reminds us that no matter the circumstance, it is God who gives us the strength to press on and live a peace-filled life.
We can be content knowing that God is always present in our lives and that God's got us. When we are content we can relax and trust that when God changes our status, God will do it in God's perfect time, and it will be better than we could have ever imagined.
TIP 3: ENJOY THE PROCESS
Let me begin by saying, everyone you date is not your mate, so date wisely. Oftentimes we attach ourselves to potential love interests way too quickly and find ourselves in undesirable situations. How do I know? Well, because I used to view my dates as potential future mates. I, like many of you, sat across from my date and imagined a life together. I wanted the label…the status of "wife," without doing my due diligence. Can you relate? Well, what I quickly discovered was that this approach placed an enormous amount of pressure on the moment and robbed me of the joy of dating.
The dating process is supposed to be an enjoyable process. It is a process that teaches us about ourselves. It helps us to understand with greater clarity the things we desire from a relationship. When dating is done right, we learn how to listen and watch for subtle clues. It is a time of discernment, as we learn to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit may be showing us about our date. Healthy dating is also a time of self-discovery. It is a time to discover our own shortcomings and recognize the challenges that may arise when attempting to communicate with someone new.
As you get ready to love and be loved, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process. Avoid dating from a place of fear, lack, or desperation. Being ready to love is reminding yourself that some people will come into your life for a season, and others for a lifetime. When we accept the person sitting across from us as they are, and not who we hope they will be, we can enjoy every moment of dating and discovery.
TIP 4: TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT YOU
In the process of readying ourselves to love it is important that we teach people how to treat us. One way we can do this is through good communication. Why? Simply because countless arguments started with these three words, “But I thought…” A lack of communication, or improper communication leads to assumptions, miscommunication and headaches.
Good communication involves transparency. Love requires you to be upfront with others about your desires and expectations. Teaching others how to treat us means that we are active participants in our relationships. It means that we live by example, ensuring that we do our part to maintain healthy communication. Being ready to love is keeping in my mind that true love starts with our willingness to be students, as well as teachers in our relationships.
TIP 5: USE DISCERNMENT
Discernment is the ability to judge well. It is listening to that inner voice within – the voice that we often choose to ignore. How many of us can admit to ignoring that voice within us that told us that something was wrong? How many of us can pinpoint a time in our lives when our "antennas" went up about someone, but…we chose to ignore the red flags? We all have done it and reaped unfavorable repercussions. But here’s the thing, the first time people show you who they are, believe them.
Use discernment. Being ready to love requires us to follow God’s lead and not our own desires. This may not be easy, but thank God for the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth who guides us in all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is our Counselor who helps us to see clearly and hear clearly. Use discernment – don’t stay when the Spirit tells you to leave. Listen to the voice of God, and when you do so you will be perfectly positioned to love and be loved.
GETTING READY TO LOVE
On this Valentine’s Day, you may not have the relationship you desire, but do not despise your season of waiting. Embrace it. Embark on a journey towards self-discovery. Acknowledge and work through your personal hang-ups and issues. Strive towards contentment. Lift the pressure and enjoy the dating process. Teach others how to love and treat you while loving and treating yourself. Pay attention to the voice of God at all times and in all situations. This journey is simply about being a better, healthier version of yourself. Do the work, get ready to love and expect only God’s best.
~Danisha Nicole Bailey
Danisha Nicole Bailey is a Vine Author, Educator, and the Founder of the Waiting In Heels blog.
When you have dealt with your stuff, the person God has for you will not find their “other half,” but instead they will find a healthy, whole YOU.