By Hilary Scheppers
I want to share a funny story of how God has recently worked in my life. I recently decided it was time for me to “put myself out there” in the online dating world to meet someone new by declaring my single-ness and ready-ness.
I spent an entire weekend setting up the profile, reading other profiles, and searching for an interesting match: can’t be blonde, can’t be more than two years younger than me, can’t smoke, can’t be an atheist (agnostics I could work with). You get the idea.
It took a lot out of me. I felt the rollercoaster of emotions: scared, fun, downright awful, rejected and silenced. But here are the stats, ladies: Out of the 7 matches, 3 established a conversation, and 1 asked me on a proper date. (Well, one did ask, “meet at the beach?” to which I responded, “not tonight.”)
So to this one man, I suggested talking on the phone first. We video-chatted, and it was a good exercise in being vulnerable. It was a real conversation. I thought it was fruitful and he was interesting to me. I liked everything I learned about him – intelligent, curious, thoughtful.
So then, a few days later, when it came down to the moment before meeting this person for a date, why did I spiral into a panic? In the hours before the meeting — the world tilted. The reality of meeting someone new on my own made me freeze up. I had opened a door, and I no longer wanted to walk through it.
When I feel inundated with anxiety and despair, I like to open my horse-leather pocket gospel. I ask for help from the Lord. Flipping to a random page, I asked, “Lord, tell me what do I need to know?”
I opened to 1 Corinthians 7:25-40, where the passage heading read “THE UNMARRIED AND THE WIDOWS.” In the passage, Paul speaks to the Corinthians, the Greeks about “the unmarried,” saying this:
I think that in view of the impending distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage…Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that…and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint on upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
According to Paul’s judgment, the summary is that he (or as I saw it, she) is happier if she remains as she is and to have the Spirit of God. And so you are more content if you can secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
I heard the message. I laughed. God certainly has a sense of humor and the best timing reminding me to seek Him before anyone else!
So what did I do? I prayed and asked for a blessing over this meeting. I went. I felt strange but protected. Oscillating between doubt and trust, I held space for God to come in. And even after the encounter, I spent time reflecting on how I would continue to seek the Lord first. By maintaining my faith and remaining in love with Jesus first.
So for all you other ladies out there unmarried or widowed, when navigating the sea of love, turn to St. Paul’s counsel. Seek first the Lord. Having an anchor of devotion to the Lord will help us swim in the deep water of romance where sometimes there’s ground, and sometimes there is not.
How do you make sure you are first securing devotion to the Lord?