Ha! I'm not the dating expert! Had you nearly fooled...
I’m the divorced single mum, remember?
A failed marriage to the first Christian man I went out with and single ever since. NOT an expert.
But a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a video from a dating/life coach that focussed some of the blurry thoughts around relationship and identity I had.
Here’s what Mr. Matthew Hussey, (IMHO, a rather Hugh Dancy-ish lookalike) explains. Breaking down confidence into three levels, he unpacks what it's made of.
Level 1 - Surface: BODY
This is what you look like, sound like, act like. As he says, confidence in this layer can be faked with a great wardrobe and assertive body language...but anyone who knows you well will see through the fakery.
Level 2 - Middle/Lifestyle: MIND
This is made up of your hobbies, interests, work and passions. What you do with your thoughts and energies. How you spend your time, talent and treasure. We all know people who have got this area nailed, and many who haven't (that includes me!)
I'll write about those two layers in later posts, but I think we need to start with...
Level 3 - Core: HEART & SOUL
This is your values system, your core beliefs, your identity, your deepest loves, your purpose for being.
Who you are, and why.
Actually Matthew Hussey doesn't say what I just typed. He says the core layer is the love you have for yourself.
In one way, he's not wrong. God says I'm to love my neighbour as I love myself. So we should love ourselves...and love others with as much passion and enthusiasm as we do our own selves.
Taken too far though, self-love takes over and harms others, purposefully or not.
But not everyone loves themselves. Some hate themselves, often because they've been hurt and trodden down by those meant to love them....or they've built up a picture of themselves that's false, as this Dove ad clearly shows.
And that's wrong too! If God makes a creature, declares it beautiful and lovable, so much so that he's willing to die for it, what right does that creature have to say it's unlovable and ugly?
And if you don't love yourself, how are you meant to love others well?
So here's my question: can we love well without knowing who we are?
I believe not. The Bible is quite clear about this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Luke 10:27
You need to know who you are.
Hence why I renamed the third level 'HEART & SOUL'. Our souls are the core, the wellspring, the source, the seat, the essence of who we are. When we know 'the Lord our God' and as a result, who we are - everything clicks into place. When our souls are full, without lack, very little can crush or shake us. We love ourselves properly and love others much better.
What does that have to do with being single?
So much of our search for the perfect relationship is looking to satisfy the lack in our lives.
Lack of friendship, understanding, stimulation, identity, affirmation, fun, admiration, shared interests, security, affection or sex.
Fed up of trying to complete ourselves, we long to hand over this weary task...a relationship seems the perfect answer! Along comes a new person who's interesting and interested and, tada! "The job is now yours, love" (or honey or darling or sweetheart).
And it works.
Our darlings, knowingly or unknowingly, begin the job of filling up where we've been lacking...
Cuddles, laughter, fun days out, deep chats, in-jokes, quiet companionship, teamwork, sexual stimulation, gifts, security, compliments, ego strokes, character exploration, shared wonder, comfortable silences.
It's all good and pleasant, like butter sinking into a warm crumpet.
It's the way God intended marriage to be: beautiful, sacrificial and mutually satisfying.
What about the ones who never find their darlings? Or those whose love walks away after 10 years? Or those whose soulmate dies? What happens to them?
Well, this is where those layers come back into play - unless that soul layer is solid, unless you know who you are and why you're here, what your purpose is - being alone may crush you and define you. It can become who you are.
I AM DIVORCED. I AM SINGLE. I AM WIDOWED. I AM LONELY. I AM ALONE.
But if you allow Jesus to fill you, to love you, to give you confidence, to satisfy the lack you feel, to be the spiritual butter sinking into your crumpety holes; you might feel lonely, sad, depressed, unloved by humans...BUT IT WILL NOT BECOME WHO YOU ARE.
Single, married, divorced, widowed or awaiting proposal, if your confidence is in Jesus, your relationship status will not ultimately define you.
Jesus has declared his love for you and wants you for his own. He knows you better than you know yourself.
Let him satisfy your lack.
Let him define who you are.
Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for the next in this series...