It was two months after my divorce. I was sitting at the dining room table staring at the phone after submitting a dating profile. It was hard, being all alone. I was feeling the heavy weight of responsibility as a single mom and I longed for friendship and support.
But what had I just done?
From that dating site, I met a guy living in California who insisted on meeting my kids within a couple weeks of our first phone conversation, to which I said no. For the next few weeks he consistently asked, but I kept putting it off. A month after our first conversation, he was talking about flying out my way, seeing how we connected and if all went well, he would give me a red rose, symbolizing his desire to become serious.
Warning bells were clanging in my head.
“ This guy is moving WAY too fast!” I thought to myself. I had zero interest by this point. Talking just to talk had been fine, but panic set in at the idea of a serious relationship.
He picked up on my hesitancy and he also figured it would be easier to get to know someone who was more local, so we made the decision to just be friends.
I cannot describe the relief I felt.
Be he did insist that I talk with his brother. We were more alike, he said. For whatever reason, I decided to give it a try. It didn’t last past two or three conversations. Hearing him state that he felt God allowed his deceased wife to get cancer because she had become vain, was mortifying. If he talked like that about his deceased wife so flippantly, what kind of a man was he?
I was done. Completely done. I told God I was happy to be single for the rest of my life.
I wasn’t ready for a relationship, despite how lonely I felt. I was too insecure; I was filled with doubt about my ability to recognize how a good man should treat a woman; I needed time to think, heal and then move forward into what God had for my life.
Little did I know what, or who, He had waiting for me.
I had actually first started noticing him and his family at church toward the end of 2017, about a year before my divorce. It was all I could do to fight back the tears as I witnessed the tenderness of this man toward his children. They, in turn, sat up close to him, their body language showing they felt safe and loved. My heart longed for my children to have that kind of relationship with their dad.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2019, one year after the divorce. The family still managed to catch my attention since we sat in the same general area. I began to be curious about the man. Who was he and where was his wife? I brushed the absence of a wife and mom off and assumed maybe she was involved with church duties or was a nurse and worked every weekend. There was no way he wasn’t married; he was too kind and caring for a woman to up and leave him.
And so these were my thoughts until the hot summer day I caught him staring my way in the church parking lot.
“Dude is checking you out, mom,” pointed out my daughter. It was in that moment that I realized, after two years, he actually wasn’t married. I felt my heart jump. Could he be interested in me?
For another year this question would weave in and out of our brief interactions either at church or eventually on Facebook Messenger. “Dude”, the nickname dubbed by my daughter, was shy and reserved like me.
Despite the fact I was growing more and more interested in this mystery man, I was in no hurry. At all.
I had just bought a house in the Spring of 2019 and the kids and I finally settled into a routine. That’s when it hit me. The pain from the emotional abuse in the marriage, the betrayal, the utter sense of failure my entire life. I had hit bottom. There were moments of ugly crying. Days filled with despair as I looked ahead at a seemingly bleak future with a deadend job and alone, once my children left home.
I had already started journaling the year before, but now I journaled more intently, filling the blank spaces with my struggles.
It was hard staring my insecurities and past neediness in the face. How much of life I had wasted thinking that the ultimate goal was to find a man who would love me unconditionally!
But eventually, I wallowed less and less. Journal entries ended with praises rather than laments.
I was reminded that I am “…fearfully and wonderfully made…”; that…”He who had started a good work in me would be faithful to complete it”…and that He would provide for all my needs.
And He has.
I worked through the hurt, rediscovered my passion for writing and had my first big publication.
And all the while, he was there in the background.
By the summer of 2020, my curiosity in “Dude” was growing deeper, but I waited for him to make a move. For three months, I wrestled with what to do. Did I need to just give up or should I be the one to take the first step? Doing the latter was way out of character for me, but I couldn’t shake the thought that that’s what was going to have to happen if I wanted to get to know him more.
I took the plunge in September 2020. I sent a simple message on Messenger asking if he would like to join me for a walk sometime. Two years later, we are still walking and talking and laughing, thoroughly enjoying one another’s company, looking forward to when we can spend the rest of our lives together.
But it wasn’t easy for me, taking the step into a serious relationship. I wasn’t prepared for the old insecurities to come back, taunting and tormenting.
“You’re not good enough. There are much prettier women out there.”
“You don’t have a degree and he has a PhD. He’ll eventually find you boring and move on.”
“Maybe you observed wrong. Maybe he’s really good at hiding his true self.”
On and on these thoughts hammered in my head. It took me about a year-and-a-half to finally realize that it was okay. I was okay. “Dude” was patient, understanding and respectful of what I needed, without me having to say a word. He won my trust and now, he is my best friend, my safe place.
It wasn’t until I realized my worth in God and allowed His companionship to fill the aching hole in my heart, that I found true peace and contentment in whatever path God led me down.
I’m glad that this special person is a part of God’s plan for my life.
God’s timing truly is perfect.
So, to anyone out there who’s thinking about jumping into the dating world after divorce, take the time to really consider the decision and your why for doing so.
Make sure you’ve given yourself plenty of time to work through the baggage from your past and don’t be afraid to face the tough realities of your mistakes, but also find what you did right.
Recognize that the person who caused you pain had his or her own issues. Their causing you pain was not your fault.
Rediscover a passion-a hobby, career change, or volunteer work. Rediscover who you are.
Make the effort to create a circle of friends, if you don’t have one already.
Educate yourself on what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.
Embrace the value God sees you having as His created child.
And if, or when, you do meet someone, take your time. If he or she gets serious before you are ready and doesn’t respect that, it’s okay to walk away. You must be emotionally ready before you can be successful in a new relationship.
Recognize that, even when you do feel emotionally ready, there will be times of doubt. That’s okay.
If he is patient, understanding, and respectful of your needs, don’t let him go. You are good enough for that person and he will love you no matter how much time or space you need. He will bring out your inner qualities, encouraging you with confidence and a belief in your abilities.
Settle for nothing less.
And be okay with being single for the rest of your life, if no one does come into your life. A man or woman is not the answer to happiness or purpose in life. The happiest people I know are the ones who are content and working toward goals, whether single or married.
Life is hard enough; live it to the fullest with your hand in God’s and you won’t be disappointed.