The Introduction

Introduction


If you’re anything like me and every other woman in America, your Monday night guilty pleasure includes watching The Bachelor while consuming your body weight in Pizza Rolls and doritos. That’s right, I called you out. Aint no shame in the game, I’m right there with you. Something about this concept of love just pulls us in. I have always wondered what it would be like to go on the show. I’m curious to know how I would react if I had 25 gorgeous men competing to win my attention. It sounds amazing, but let’s be real, it would be painful to watch. My awkwardness is next level when it comes to dating. If I were on the show it would be like a social experiment gone terribly wrong. Though, it would likely make great TV! When I get awkward, I get funny. Picture Miss Congeniality meets Princess Diaries meets Legally Blond-- yes, that is me. I can provide quality romantic comedy entertainment, no doubt. 


To give you a backstory, allow me to further indicate that at the time I began writing this book over 7 years ago, I was 22 years old and had never been kissed or even been on a real DATE. Several variables have contributed to this unique equation. I promise, I’m not a total freak of nature! For one, I was homeschooled throughout my entire education-- that’s right, I was homeschooled before it was cool-- and believe me, it definitely wasn’t cool. Therefore, I never shared in the common teenage social engagements that encourage the opportunity for dating. I never attended prom or homecoming or experienced the joys (and probably hyperventilating anxiety) that comes with the hottest boy in school asking you to be his date. I also grew up in an area in Miami where cat-calling from car is a common mating call, as you make a quick escape into the nearest restaurant for refuge. 


I have two brothers, two sisters and we were all homeschooled together. Think House on the Prairie, but we didn’t wear bonnets or churn our own butter. We’re we Amish? Possibly, not entirely sure, things are a bit hazy recollections that far back these days. Given this scenario, it would make sense that my dating life would transpire as it did. Yet, unfortunately, I don’t have the Amish to blame for my single-by-default status. 


Growing up my family attended church faithfully every Sunday. Actually, my parents were the pastors so if we didn’t show up-- no one did. You could basically say we were missionaries in our own city. The lifestyle of faith that my parents lived set an example for me and my siblings. They were always willing to go anywhere God called them-- Africa, Romania, Haiti or Mexico, our faith was an adventure, not a boring religious act. 


My childhood was awesome and full of good times, but we had our family issues to work out just like any other family. As we grew up, crossed into adolescence and the ‘cooties’ myth began to lose its effect, my parents were at a loss for helping us navigate the emotional and biological nuances of attraction to the opposite sex-- or even same sex for that matter. Conversations parents should definitely have with their kids! Therefore, navigating the road to romance had it’s awkward introduction. 


I can’t account for my siblings, but my personal experience was one of absolute confusion crossed with awkward embarrassment. When I had my first crush at nine years old I felt ashamed, like I had to hide it. My parents never initiated a conversation about dating and I was too afraid to ask. All I knew was that they believed dating was ‘worldly’ and not meant for Christians to partake in. I grew up during a time where everyone in Christendom was kissing dating goodbye and slipping on chastity belts like it was a trend (#OOTD) for fear of losing their virginity before safely making it to the altar on their wedding day. I say this with slight sarcasm, yet a reverence for the good that came out of this movement. However, this message shaped the emotional intelligence and scope of faith for an entire generation who partook of it. The ideologies that were formed out of this teaching resulted in individuals lost for direction and confused by their emotions. The social construct within the church that evolved produced an environment where dating was taboo, singleness was like the plague and marriage was idolized. Even virginity became the most sacred gift you could give your future spouse-- and while the intention had pure motives, the message built on false religion, rules and works communicated a spirit of shame and condemnation. 20 years later and we see the impact this movement had on the millennial generation, both positive and negative. For some, it helped them navigate their desires and find a safe place of accountability to stay pure in their relationships. For others, it discouraged them from dating and attached shame to natural feelings created by God. I have no bitterness or resentment against those who were involved in sharing this message. In fact, I am thankful for their bold stance to rally a counter-culture radical lifestyle of purity. I rocked my purity ring and still have it to this day. However, as I’ve matured and grown in my personal faith and relationship with God, I have a new found perspective and personal conviction that I believe is both Biblically sound and relevant to the day we live in. Yet, I still face the challenge of the dating culture within the church that is tainted by the ideas introduced during that time. On one end of the spectrum I’ve met guys who are hardcore super Christians, serious about dating and ready to wife me up over coffee. I’ve gone on dates that literally felt like a housewife interview-- thank you, next! On the other end of the pendulum, I’ve met guys who don’t know how to respect a girl and have their hands all over me like white on rice. Somewhere in between, I’ve met guys who string me along for months, passively leading me on without any serious commitment, but just enough attention to keep me hanging on. Where are the normal good guys that know how to open a door, carry a conversation and express what they actually want in a relationship while having a good time at mini golf?!


This seems to be a common landscape for many Christian girls who have been raised in a similar upbringing or in the church. The journey of gaining the right perspective for dating can be confusing and distort God’s dream for his daughters. This is why I decided to write this book. It is my hope as I live my dating life with transparency, exposing my honest thoughts and actions, it would equip you with foresight to assist in navigating your own personal journey. 


There are many great books on relationships and dating and I encourage you to read them to gain a wider vantage on this topic. Every love story is unique and every journey looks different. There is not one set formula that leads you to a fairytale happily ever after. We must approach this season of singleness not living by a set of rules, but rather living out of the motivation of genuine love for God and all people. When you love God you will want to, not have to obey his Word and trust his guidance. And when you love people, in the context of dating, you will choose your words and actions wisely to build them up not tear them down, no matter how it works out in the end.


This book is a chronicle of my dating experiences in real time. When I began writing this book I imagined it would take me a year, 2 years at tops to finish it. 7 years later I’ve finally feel like I have only just begun to understand and uncover the mystery behind the concept of there being just one person for you. It has been the greatest journey and my honor to invite you into. Although, you may be surprised at the conclusion I come to in the end. But don’t skip ahead! It’s an adventure to get there as I have lived to find out.


I solemnly swear to document every awkward moment as they happen to me, not leaving out one bit of the comical embarrassing story. I am living this season with you in mind-  with the awareness that my decisions will set the course for how you perceive your own journey. I want you to know that you can walk in purity, have fun and enjoy this season of dating from beginning to end as you embark on your search for the one. 


This is me-- my story. All beginning at the age of 22 when I had just moved from South Florida to Southern California. I got a job as a nanny for a couple who worked in full time ministry and ran an Anti-Human Trafficking organization. The organization was thriving and they needed someone to travel with them and tend to their personal life, including caring for their two little girls. I lived in a cute apartment by the beach and had just published my first book. Back then I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was on track to becoming a New York Times Best Selling Author and believed nannying was just a side gig to get me to the big leagues. However, I would soon find out, everything I thought I wanted would drastically change. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but the greatest adventure of my life had just begun! 




We hear these slogans thrown out there all the time at church or conferences and we watch in awe as the crowd roars. “Don’t wait for the one, be the one you’re waiting for.” You hear it from Aunt Suzie at Thanksgiving when you show up yet again without a man to introduce to the family and she pats you on the back sympathetically. But what does it actually mean to “find the one” or “be the one”. How many “ones” do I have to go through before I get to “THE” ultimate “one”? Is there really just one? Or are there multiple ones that we can choose from that all lead to God’s ultimate will? And if that’s the case how do we know which one is the right one? I’m spinning in circles and dizzy with all of these unanswered questions! 


Hear me out-- I am not on a quest to get married and I think that the ideology behind ‘the one’ creates much confusion in many Christian circles today. We have become so obsessed with locating ONE PERSON in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE that we have ignored the world around us. We’ve hired matchmakers, paid for online dating subscriptions, downloaded the apps and spent endless hours falling into the instagram black hole of tagged photos looking for a man or woman that could be our ‘one’, (obviously, I speak from experience). Even as Christians, our culture has become self consumed. Most guys have become apathetic in pursuit of women, settling for mediocre relationships that serve their emotional needs, but don’t place a demand on their leadership. And the majority of women have become resentful with lowered expectations to protect their hearts from being disappointed. We care more about our reputation than we do our relationships.


The millennial generation has been greatly impacted by messages presented to us during our formative years of adolescence concerning singleness and dating. This has shaped out outlook, expectations and engagement in romantic relationships. When it comes to our aspirations for the future, we find a greater appeal in traveling the world and calling it missions or becoming a storyteller photographer. Everyone wants to be their own boss and an entrepreneur. ‘Work smarter, not harder’ is the new mantra. God forbid you have to sacrifice the things you love in order to serve someone else’s vision for a time. This is the trajectory of how we are building our lives and all the while we’re convinced ‘the one’ is waiting for us somewhere out there, once we get our lives together. We have it painted perfectly in our heads. There he (she) is: a virgin, body like a greek god, and a sex machine waiting for you to make it a holy union! I mean, obviously, the longer you wait for a spouse it’s like accruing interest in favor from God, right? *Palm to forehead* How messed up is that? We’ve made the pursuit of a spouse entirely about OURSELVES- a narcissistic approach to life and relationships won’t get us anywhere! I’m afraid most of my fellow millennials and now Gen Z’ers have missed the whole purpose of singleness.


Here’s the thing I’ve discovered in my few years of studying this topic- marriage is a blessing and a gift, but it’s not for everyone. Hear me out, I’m not encouraging cohabiting or affirming non-commital sexual relationships as opposed to marriage. That’s another topic for another time. What I am saying is if you approach every friendship through the filter of marriage than you are only pursuing your own agenda and what you can get from that person as opposed to what you can give. The finish line is not in ‘finding the one’ or in just learning how to ‘be the one’. Shaping your heart, habits and finding healing is extremely important, but the season of singleness is also and incredible opportunity to use your undivided attention to make a difference in the lives of people around you. The lessons you learn now will carry into your marriage, should you find that gift, and you will be living out what you learned in this season for the rest of your life. So-- no pressure.


Singleness is a season you will never get to repeat again (at least, that’s the goal). Growing up in the 90’s there was a movement that was highly influential and taught that dating (or courting) was only appropriate and godly if you were intending on marrying the person you found interest in. And while I agree that being intentional and future focused is important, I disagree with this idea, and even theology to some, that you can only date someone you are going to marry. Dating (in a healthy context) is for the purpose of deepening a friendship, not for marriage. I believe much of the message that distorted this subject matter had good intentions of protecting young people from falling into sin, I totally get it. But overprotection leads to resentment, distrust and a confused value system of personal ethics. Though there has been a lot of confusion, I believe it’s important to re-elevate the conversation of dating, singleness and sex and re-evaluate our idealogies and theology based on what these years have taught us. 


I’ve dedicated these last seven years to writing this book. Yeah, that’s right-- it’s taken me seven years to figure this out (What can I say, I’m a slow learner). You see, the thing is, I haven't only done research on this topic by reading a bunch of books and interviewing people. I’ve LIVED this book out with the fullest intention of scribing my life as the google maps navigation trailblazer tool for you. In all of my experiences I have learned that the purpose of dating is to get to know someone and build a deeper friendship with them. Not strategize how you can make all your dreams come true through this one person.


Most Christians date with the sole intentiona of getting married and most non-Christians date with the sole intention of having sex and co-existing. Both of these approaches are wrong because they revolve around a selfish “give me what I want” mentality. Neither are compelled by genuine, selfless love. I want my journey of dating to be marked by adventure! Not the chase of something I don’t have yet and have no control of getting. 


My goal throughout this whole experience is to be thankful for the chance to be single, fulfill the dreams in my heart and call of God on my life; to live in the beauty of the moment not wishing this season away for another ‘one day, some day’ or resent the fantasies that don’t come true. Even if I am president of the, “Single for Life Club” forever, I am determined to fill up on all this season has to offer me, all that life has to offer me. One day, Lord willing, I will round a corner, find myself at the end of this season and begin a new chapter of marriage and family. I truly believe this will happen as I know God is not one to put a desire in my heart without the best intentions. I know one day I will look back on this season and either feel regretful or fulfilled. These are the days we will look back on and say, “Those were the days”. I want to live this season with that in mind, like a story worth telling my future children when I’m old, wrinkly and kicking everyone’s butt in shuffleboard. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect or have to have it all figured out. In the redemptions, in the trials and in the challenges, I want my story to be one worthy of walking in relationships with my Jesus-- to make Him famous and prove He can be trusted even in the messiest moments.


Hold on tight, I have a feeling this is going to get interesting.