Two weeks ago, I explained to you all why I took a year off from dating. This week, I want to give you a bit of insight as to what I did during my little hiatus. What I’ve learned is, it’s not the time off that counts. It’s what you do with the time that makes a difference. In order for my little break to really be effective and to produce the maximum results, it was important that I not even entertain the idea of getting to know someone of the opposite sex during that time. That meant no phone calls, no text convos, no let’s see where this goes, no let’s just be friends. None of that.There was absolutely no communication between me and another guy unless it was friends at church or at different events. Having it any other way would still be flirting with the idea of being in a relationship when I knew I just needed to close that door altogether for the time being in order to work on some things personally. You may think that this would be a very boring time in someone’s life, but oddly enough, it was one of the busiest, funnest, most fulfilling seasons of my life. So here’s what I did during that time.
I worked on my relationship with God
I dedicated my life back to God about 7 months prior to taking this no dating hiatus. It was going extremely well, and I was falling in love with Jesus like never before. However, the different relationships, situationships, and random guys I kept finding myself involved in, made it difficult to get a good rhythm going in order to really dive in and pursue God like my heart was desiring. When you decide you’re going to live for God and really get to know Him for yourself like I did, it’s like a whole relationship within itself. So for me to think that I was going to add a whole romantic relationship on top of that was not very wise. Eventually, one of the relationships would get neglected, and my relationship with God was way too important to me to put anything (or anyone) else above it. So, this little break was the perfect opportunity for me to finally make my relationship with God a priority and really go deeper into building on the foundation that was already there. During this time, as I set myself to really seek His face, I became so very hungry for the things of God. I was hungry for His Word, thirsty for His presence, and He gave me a heart for His people. I went on dates with Jesus to places like the park, restaurants, ice cream shops or at my house. I went to just about every worship concert and conference that came to my city, and I took every class offered at my church. I just wanted to consume everything God so that God could consume me. God promises that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8) and that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. (Jeremiah 29:13). Both of those things happened for me just as God promises, and it continues to happen as I set my heart to seek Him in every season. Because I took some quality time to build my relationship with God, my foundation was stronger than ever. Throughout that process I gained a stronger identity, God placed purpose on the inside of me, and I came out truly knowing and understanding my worth. Not in an overly cocky way, but it was more of a quiet confidence that any guy I came in contact with could instantly identify. This led to better decisions in my relationships and greater patience in the process of waiting. Not to mention, a rock of a foundation for every season of life because of the One my life is built on.
I served others like never before
You want to learn a lot about yourself? The best thing you can do is serve. One of the things that I really gave myself to during my dating hiatus and beyond was serving others. The main way I served was through different departments at my church. I served on the dance team, I served as a leader in small group, I served on the outreach/evangelism team, and on the singles events teams. I stayed busy, but there was never any burn out because I was exactly where I was supposed to be doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. In addition to serving at my church, I also served others in my personal life through different means. I would pray for people (my best friend and I used to collect prayer requests once a week on FB and pray for them together). I would also give rides to people who didn’t have a car (this was a way for me to give since I didn’t have a lot of money at that time, but I did have a car and lots of time on my hands since I had no job so I would give from the resources that I did have). One time for Christmas, I couldn’t go home to see family so I decided instead of moping around and being all sad, my best friend and I visited a nursing home and danced for some of the residents. The way some of their faces lit up was priceless. I’m not saying any of this to puff me up. The point is to get you to see that serving has many different benefits of course for the people you are serving but also for yourself.
There are tons of benefits to serving, for me serving took up a lot of my time so I had no time to be sitting around thinking about dating or moping around because I had no bae. I was way too consumed with all the extracurricular activities in my life, and when I wasn’t doing that I was hanging out with friends, spending time with the Lord, or sleeping! Secondly, by serving in different areas at my church I was able to discover, develop and hone several giftings that I never knew were on the inside of me. When you are serving God’s people, He has a way of showing you your true gifts and talents. Some you may have already known were there, but some you may be completely surprised by. You will unearth different passions that you never knew existed and God will begin to show you or confirm to you His purpose for your life.
In addition, serving takes all of the focus off of you and increases your ability to focus in on the needs of others which overtime helps with any selfishness, self centeredness and pride you may have (if you’re doing it right and if you’re open to the Holy Spirit’s leadings). It’s a gradual process that takes place over time, but eventually you will look up and realize you are a completely different person because you have allowed God to work in you as you served for His glory. Just this morning as me and my family spent the night at my sister’s house, I found myself waking up early to make breakfast for everyone. This may seem small to you, but for me, it was huge, I didn’t even recognize myself. A few years ago, I would’ve been the one sleeping in waiting for someone to knock on my door and offer breakfast, but the new Rita thinks about how she can serve others first. I get so much joy from serving now. When you’re able to see the impact that your actions have on other people, it makes it all worth it.
I know that serving others during that season built a foundation in me that God could continue to build upon in the seasons to come. I wouldn’t be half the wife or mother I am today had it not been for that season. It made that process of becoming much easier to where I wasn’t shell shocked or struggling when that time came. 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 says this: “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.” I wanted to make sure I was making my time as a single woman really count, so serving God and serving His people was a priority, and it is was worth every single second.
I had A LOT of fun and enjoyed LIFE
This is very important. Do not skip out on this one. You will thank me later. One of the main things that keeps younger people from really living for God is they think that it’s going to be boring, and they will be missing out on a lot of fun. I know this was a concern for me. My idea of fun was going out to the club every week, drinking and meeting guys, so I didn’t really see the appeal of living for God. I now know that to be completely false, and I knew this to be true more than ever when I went on my break from dating and just decided to LIVE. It’s amazing what can happen when you just decide you’re not even going to think about dating or getting to know anyone, because you then begin to focus on the things that really matter, the beautiful life that is unfolding right in front of your eyes with all of its opportunities.
During my break,I took the time to go out to just about every singles event at my church (not for the sake of meeting guys), but simply for the sake of fellowshipping with friends. I had girls nights with my friends, took road trips, learned how to thrift, learned new skills, and just had pure fun! If you don’t have a solid friend or couple of friends who are on this whole Jesus journey with you, then I STRONGLY suggest that you make some godly friends or pray and ask God to send you some. It makes ALL the difference. You need them for accountability, to tell you the truth about yourself and to have fun with. Everyone needs someone to do life with because none of us are an island.
Ultimately, my 1 year of no dating was such an important time in my life. I made it a point to really listen to God and to be open to correction and to always do the hard things.I began to love what He loves and hate what He hates.I learned a lot about myself: the good, the bad and the ugly and I worked on those areas that were bad and ugly while trying to build on those areas that had some good in them. I learned what I really wanted and what I didn’t want, and it felt really good to just take some time and work on ME.
I never once for a second thought that I would be missing out on my husband if I turned down an opportunity because I knew that this was a God-ordained decision, and He wouldn’t bring my husband at a time when I was not ready so I decided that this would help me get ready. For me a year was perfect. For you, it may be longer or it might be shorter. But whatever amount of time you and God decide, make sure you decide to do it right because it’s what you do during that time that really counts and makes all of the difference.
Have you ever been on a dating hiatus or are you considering one? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell me on social media.
**FYI the Hidden & Found Boot-camp started today. YAAAY! Registration for the Oct. event begins Sept. 10th. Click here to learn more.
Still Hidden in Him,