- 2 - 3
- 4 - 5
- 6 - 7
- 8 - 9
- 10 - 11
- 12 - 13
- 14 - 15
- 16 - 17
- 19 - 20
- 24- 25 - 26
Issue 11 - ©2001 by Kari West - Garden
Topic: Dating Again
Dating after divorce is the
focus of this issue. It is a topic rarely discussed yet one
most of us eventually think about. Try as we might, we can't
avoid it. Everywhere we look we see couples--strolling the
mall, dining out, sharing a church hymnal, or holding hands.
As we remember what we have lost, we yearn for what could
be--and we wonder if somewhere out there love waits for us
In this newsletter you'll
meet Lynn and Melissa, wise women who graciously open their
hearts to share their corporate but separate dating experiences,
the discoveries they made about themselves, and their advice
about "the wrong man."
Here's what's new
May I recommend a good book?
The Journey of Desire--Searching for the Life We've Only
Dreamed Of by John Eldredge released in 2000 by Thomas
Nelson Publishers. A friend recommended it to me while I was
finishing the manuscript for my second book. Preoccupied,
I took a quick glance, then relegated it to the bookshelf.
Later, when I picked up the book again, I couldn't put it
down. Each page speaks of our search for love, affirmation,
belonging, and relationship.
Reflection ... by Lynn in Florida
I remember the day a fellow
teacher said to me, "You ought to get down on your hands and
knees and thank God every night for your husband." That is
how my ex-husband was viewed by EVERYONE: The Perfect Man.
Godly. Handsome. Successful. Fun. A great father. He still
opened my car door after 15 years of marriage. For many of
those 15 years, it was an ideal marriage. We loved. We laughed.
We played. And we raised a wonderful family.
However, as my ex-husband's
career took off so did he. I found out that he had started
having affairs while traveling for business. I was beyond
shocked, especially when he didn't immediately repent and
beg to restore our marriage. By the time I found out, his
heart was hard and very much removed from our home. About
10 months after my discovery, he moved out of our home. I
will NEVER forget the conversation with our children that
proceeded his departure. I wanted to die at that moment, but
I knew from that point on I was responsible for my kids and
I had to survive.
The next couple of years were
hard--and that is an understatement of incredible magnitude.
Night after night of my children cried themselves to sleep
asking me, "Why did dad leave?" I had no answers, and my
faith wavered as God's silence taunted me.
For a year, I believed if
I prayed hard enough God would bring my husband back. I did,
but God didn't. I still don't understand why, but I do
know that even in my disappointment, God never left my side.
During that time, I learned that even when we can't see the
hand of God, we can always trust His heart. Ironically,
instead of God changing my ex-husband's heart, He began to
work on mine. He called me to forgive the man who had
betrayed me and He gave me the grace to do it. He beckoned
me to trust Him even when the path was dark. He challenged
me to hope again for things not seen nor even imagined.
Well, fast forward three
and a half years. My kids are well and happy. My career
is back on track. I have since bought my own home, financed
my first car IN MY NAME, and have been doing the "dating thing."
Ugh. Talk about feeling like I'm 13 again!!! Who knew at almost
40 I would have to worry about How do I get his attention?
Does he like me? How far is too far? Will my children EVER
go to bed so we can have some time alone? How do I handle
another heartache? Are there any men who aren't married, gay,
needy, or commitment-phobic?
During these years of being
single, I have had one serious relationship. Unexpectedly,
I fell madly in love, but with the wrong man. He
was (and is!) charming, and wonderful, and everything I was
looking for--except he didn't share my faith, not even a little
bit. I desperately tried to make things work. It was so nice
to feel loved and loveable again. It was unbelievable to me
that I could feel such deep, intimate emotions again.
I knew from the beginning
that the lack of common spiritual ground would be an issue,
but I was too afraid to let go. What if this was my second
chance? There might not be a third. After a year and a half,
we amicably decided to call it quits. Even though there was,
once again, much heartache, I don't regret our time together.
I learned that there is LIFE after divorce, that it won't
always just be survival. I also learned that each person who
enters our life has the potential to forever change us. This
man left his mark on me, and in the process, I learned much
about myself. For that, I am grateful.
Most importantly, I realized
that love is worth the risk of rejection. Vulnerability is
a small price to pay in order to fully embrace a loving relationship.
Opening my heart and even having it crushed a bit is infinitely
better than the numbness of shutting down.
I have no answers to my dating
dilemmas. I don't even know if my "Mr. Right" even exists.
But day by day, I am learning to give my heart to God for
safekeeping until (or if) He brings the right one along. It's
far too easy to throw your affections out carelessly in hopes
that someone will return the attention that is missing after
a divorce, but the end of that road leads to even more heartache.
So, I'm being more careful
and looking at the big picture. The last chapter of my
story has not yet been written, but I have big hopes and dreams--and
I know my God is able even when I am not. I also know
that my God will never leave me--ever! And
I know that He loves me with an unconditional, everlasting
love. That knowledge helps me through those days that are
hard and lonely.
Yes, there are still "those"
days, but they are less frequent and less intense. The aftermath
of divorce does not go away quickly or easily. It truly is
two steps forward, one step back. But I'm heading in the right
direction. And my future looks bright.
... by Melissa in Florida
After careful thought it seems
to me that we come into problems in three areas: wrong person,
wrong reason, and wrong time.
Even though I had repeatedly taught my own teenagers and other
youth group teens that they should never date a non-Christian,
the first person I went out with was not a Christian. Because
I had convinced myself that I was "mature" enough to keep
things on an even keel, I compromised my convictions on several
occasions. It wasn't really anything earth shattering; but
upon reflection, I realized that I saw movies, went to concerts
and clubs that I would never have considered going to before
Because I was reeling from
the rejection of my husband, I, a normally very outspoken
person, did not speak up about the fact that these activities
did not really fit my lifestyle because I didn't want my date
to think I was "weird." I felt weird enough without having
someone else confirm it!
I also was involved more physically
than I wanted to be because I didn't set boundaries beforehand
based upon my biblical convictions. It's really hard to explain
to someone your Biblical convictions when they don't even
know what those ARE! It was a real struggle for me; and although
I managed to extricate myself from the relationship, it was
NOT where I should have been. With a little wisdom, I should
have avoided this trap entirely.
This also relates to the wrong person but in a different way.
One of the reasons I went ahead and accepted the first date
with this person was that I was flattered that he had asked.
After having my husband leave me for a woman 14 years my
junior, it really didn't take a PhD to figure out that I was
trying to "show" him that someone still found me desirable.
It's a dumb reason to go out
with someone! So are: I'm lonely, he's the only one who
asked, and I don't have anything else to do.
By examining my motives and lifting the whole situation to
the Lord, I was able to really see where I had gotten off
track and take steps to get back on the path I needed to be
I was desperately lonely in
the first couple of months after my husband left. I never
realized how much you could miss having someone to snuggle
with before going to sleep, take your hand in a movie or just
give you a hug and a kiss whenever you arrived home. These
things all contributed to my saying "yes" to a relationship
that should never have happened.
Another reason for not dating right away is that you can cover
up a lot of self examination by staying busy and not taking
the time to examine your heart before the Lord. I found that
I kept looking to a man to give me things that really only
God can give us.
Because I had met my husband
at such a young age (16) and had been married for so long
(20 years) I really had never had an identity apart from him.
Because I was dating and "looking" for someone, I wasted a
lot of time that should have been spent in quiet contemplation
of where I was and where I needed to be in my life and in
my children's lives.
I now realize that my sufficiency
will never be found in a mate and I will never be made complete
by a man, there is only one Person who makes us complete and
that is the Lord Jesus. We can have companionship and love
with a future mate but before we can really come to a new
relationship whole and healthy we need to be sure that we
have done the necessary soul searching, repentance and forgiveness
required by God. For me, dating so quickly obscured that
Help for today ...
Perhaps you relate to Lynn
and Melissa. You know those up-close-and-personal fears and
longings of the dating scene and that desire to have an arm
around your shoulder and a hand clasped in yours. Sometimes
you vacillate between getting involved with someone just for
the sake of it to wiling yourself to wait until you can navigate
better through your topsy-turvy emotions. Maybe you are railing
at the unfairness of your singleness while you fantasize about
marrying in haste so you won't be alone. Wherever you are
in the dating scene, know that you aren't alone in what you
For some of us, the pain of
having been promised belonging and acceptance and receiving
instead betrayal and rejection is so overwhelming that we
may vow never to get involved with anyone else ever again.
Others of us truly wish to remarry, if only we could
find "Mr. Right." And most of us, if we would admit it, aren't
sure we can trust our judgment anymore. We question our ability
to distinguish the counterfeit from the real. Betrayal and
rejection have left us with a loud message that we are
not enough, that we are unlovable and unworthy of love
even if it came our way.
The truth is that you are
more than enough. Loveable. Loving. Worthy. There really
are men out there who are looking for someone just like you--men
of fidelity and integrity. I know. One came my way. We celebrated
our 11th anniversary last fall. If God wills, it
can happen to you too. Don't give up the desires of your heart.
Don't close your mind to the possibility of remarriage. And
never be embarrassed to pour out your fears and longings to
God. He already knows your thoughts. Take time to cultivate
your relationship with Him. Don't rush His plan for your life.
In the meantime, nurture your gifts and talents. Stay active
and involved in your community and church, with family and
friends. Be open to new friendships and great relationships--and
dating. You'll know when the time is right.
Lynn and Melissa remind us
that it is possible to reenter the dating scene--and that
we can reenter it too soon in our quest for belonging and
acceptance, affirmation and love. But how soon is too soon?
I don't know the answer. No one does, except you. Many experts
advise waiting one year for every five years that you were
married. In other words, a four-year wait after the end of
a 20-year marriage. What helped me work through the dating
dilemma is this: Pray about your particular situation and
for patience to wait. Seek wise counsel from credible people
who respect your values and beliefs. Study scripture. Remember:
Healing the wounds of your heart may happen quicker than
you expect or take longer than you think. While you wait,
don't put your life on hold. There are things to do, places
to go, and people to bless. Trust your instincts--and God.
You deserve God's best. And you are wiser than you think.
A promise you can trust
The Lord your God is with you, he is
mighty to save. He will take delight in you, he will quiet
you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
stop by again soon. In the meantime
Please let me hear from you.
I answer every letter and e-mail. Be encouraged to share what
helped you through your divorce so others know they are not
alone and that they too can and will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here or write Kari West, Garden Glories Publications,
P. O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588.