becoming a sather | dating with purpose

In less than a few weeks, I’ll become Mrs. Regina Sather.

I’m a little baffled.

Last year this time, I was dabbling in online dating and not very hopeful about the fruit of it.

I tried Tinder for 1 month (never meeting anyone), Zoosk for 5 months, Christian Mingle for a minute and Match.Com for 3 months.

This was after I said I’d NEVER do such a thing.

Be careful with your “nevers”.

After about two months of dipping my toe in and out of the experience and having a few dates, a trusted woman from church shared a book with me.

It still makes me laugh how it came to be.

After having a married brother ask me about my dating life in front of his wife in December 2016, heeding the Spirit and asking another woman in the church if she was a ‘matchmaker’ and then having my son tell me he thought it was time – I was ready to give it 100%.

I read the book – How to Get a Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back by Dr. Henry Cloud – and got to work dating with intention.

I will not credit the book entirely with my being ready to be married at the start of February, but I will say that it helps you set your intention, look more closely at your purpose for dating and – the part I think most folks don’t really want to do – look more closely and honestly at yourself.

The book asks you to grow, move outside your comfort zone and bring some folks along on the journey with you.

And I did that. I read the book and put into action the steps I could as best as I could and within a few months of starting the book (early February) and doing the work and asking God’s direction and guidance, I met the man who would be eventually become my husband (in late April of the same year).

While I was taking Dr. Cloud’s advice, I was also watching short vignettes from RedefinedTV while curling my hair or putting on makeup in the mornings, and talking with a few trusted friends about my fears and concerns and especially my hopes and dreams (to be married to a godly man). I was reflecting on what I’d hoped the man would be like and bring out in me. And even spending time praying specific prayers for whoever he was and calling him “Mister”.

It would sound like this, “Lord, I pray that Mister is facing a day at a job that he enjoys and that he is talking to You about Your will for him.”

Or, “Lord, I pray that you would help me to recognize Mister when You match us with one another.”

It wasn’t my main focus, but I was talking with God about him a lot and even in the midst of some really busy transitions at work, my son preparing to graduate from high school and my health not being the best, I made dating and personal growth a priority.

In order to do that, I would encourage you to be…

Less focused on the outcome and the wish list.

More focused on God and what He’s whispering to your soul.

Less focused on the outward appearances and what others think.

More focused on praying and then really listening to what God shares with you about your singleness.

Less focused on the painful, strange, cooky people you may meet.

More focused on gratitude that you’re one step closer to the one set aside for you.

You’ll want to quit. It’s not easy.

You’ll want to throw yourself into work, easier relationships or another book.

You may start (or continue) speaking negative, hurtful, untrue things to yourself.

Persevere.

Trust.

Say “yes”.

Know your goals.

Be real about your hopes.

Be honest about your areas of growth (or weaknesses, sin traps).

And try to have fun.

Have a way to end conversations and relationships that draw you away from God or that are just not enjoyable for you/steal your joy.

Be intentional.

Be real.

Be you.

Before I share about how Mister and I grew to know and love one another, let me share this.

I almost missed out on him.

I almost passed him by.

Mister and I matched on Match.com when I was not expecting it.

Match.com was not the most intuitive platform for me. It often seemed their “calculations” were shifty and though the potential candidates were higher quality than the other online platforms (they seemed like people I’d really talk to or have things in common with and like real actual people) I could not figure out how the matching actually worked.

By the time the last week in April rolled around, I was rebounding from a huge transition at work (we moved into our new church home) and we hosted 8 Easter services in that new home a few weeks later. I was exhausted and my underlying health issue was screaming at me.

I had been on a few dates with a few other men and the latest one (who I’d met from a different app) had moved me toward being jaded.

Even though I had a “dating team” (from Henry Cloud’s book) and was often writing in my journal and was talking and walking with the Lord, I wanted to quit.

Men were either not faithful to the Lord (I had one man tell me he thought Jesus was a ‘fairy tale’ – the last time we saw one another/spoke) and another tell me he only wanted to date and see me (only to learn he was back on the dating site a few days later) – I was over it.

The whole online dating scenario had left me feeling like I was submitting myself for rejection repeatedly to unworthy, hurtful candidates.

And then the last week of April flipped on the calendar and I found myself talking to not one but t-w-o men.

(That’s how it can work y’all…)

One man was desperately trying to convince me to behave like the other women he’d interacted with and discarded – he admitted to not even believing that the system he’d used to meet me (Zoosk) and begin talking with me over the phone – didn’t even work. He was telling me – quite adamantly – that he thought my expectations of meeting someone decent (what he admitted not to be) and caring (which he’d ratted himself out not to be) was unrealistic and was sure that I would be disappointed.

Here’s the rub ladies…

I kept talking to him.

And we made a date for later that week Friday evening.

Yep. Read that again.

Even as I sat shaking my head at this man when he said words out loud through the phone and I knew he was not a man I could or would change, I tried to “help” him. I helped him to try to figure out when he was technically divorced (not even a few weeks before he matched with me). I tried to help him see why women were believing that good men were out there even though he enjoyed arguing (and proving his point) that they were few and far between.

Then I had a revelation.

Two days after talking to this man on the phone, I matched with Mister.

Jaded and doubtful, I was not initially excited about us being matched.

I was focused on all he was NOT. And it was all the superficial.

Mister reached out to me within the app.

He asked questions that demonstrated he’d actually read my profile.

He asked for my telephone number.

He called and spoke with me and was engaging and clever.

He asked if he could call me again and he did when he said he would.

And my heart was moved but I was still talking to the other guy.

(Try to suspend that judgment because…)

God was teaching me something.

I had chosen men and relationships with men based upon a weakness they had that I thought I was supposed to compliment, fix or repair. It had always been my thought that I could not be with a man who was well adjusted, God fearing, stable, successful, kind and healthy.

My self-worth and wounds had dictated my choices and sadly – many of the results.

I spent that last week in April of 2017 talking to both men. And God showed me clear as day – your choices matter – and whispered these things to me:

You choose based upon what you can see Regina, not what I can see. And you get hurt and hurt others because it’s not been my best for you. I’m giving you two very different choices. What you’ve “always” leaned in toward – brokenness, illness, the worldly and what I’ve heard you praying for in your soul since you began walking with me almost 20 years ago.

I wasn’t thrilled that Mister and I had matched initially (he knows this). He didn’t seem like “my type” or someone I would be attracted to. And yet, everything in my spirit knew that the other guy would be a disappointment; unable to be the kind of godly leader I’d been holding out hope for.

So, I sat back.

Sat still.

And listened to the very quiet words of God.

Choose my heart for you. Even though you’ve never experienced this before. Trust me.

And I did.

I remembered why I’d started the dating team, Dr. Cloud’s book and the growth I’d personally wanted God to do in me and knew this was a part of it.

I canceled the date with the “not right” guy and asked Mister if he’d meet me that night instead. And I told him why my evening had suddenly opened up. (Transparency and vulnerability from the beginning).

We met a few days after our first conversation on the phone for our first in person date and I knew things were different. It was special.

Dating with purpose got me to that special date.

Dating not-right guys got me to that special date.

Consulting God daily got me to that special date.

Remembering why I was dating this way got me to that special date.

Real talk (from them to me and vice versa) with trusted friends got me to that special date.

The next post will be about how that first, very special date turned into courtship.

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