So, it’s been a while since your divorce and annulment and you’ve decided the time is right to begin dating again. Life is getting a bit more on track. It isn’t quite smooth sailing, but who’s life really is? You’ve unpacked your baggage and discarded what needed to be discarded, and although part of that baggage will always go with you, it is now a manageable load. Your baggage no longer defines you. Instead, it has refined you and made you shine like a fine jewel pulled by angels from the fires of hell. You have strength that comes from a power greater than your own and can carry your burden without human assistance if need be.
If you know that feeling of being burned by the fires of hell, of being pulled from the depths by angels and made well by the power of the Holy Spirit, then you understand He is active in today’s world and provides us with strength we could not have understood before. Dating can be exciting but scary too. We can have courage knowing the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to date or to not date depending on what we are called to do when we are willing to wait and listen and pray rather than jump right into things.
It may seem strange to think of the Holy Spirit as being involved in dating. Perhaps the old nuns at our high school dances were onto something though when they separated partners saying, “Leave room for the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit wants to be active in your life, and if you are entering into the dating world after divorce and annulment, you would be wise to begin by consulting with the Holy Spirit about the type of person you should date, about the qualifications of your Mr. Right.
There are some who enter the post divorce and annulment dating world expecting to find Mr. Right right away, but their Mr. Right has too many qualifications. He must be x feet tall, have blue eyes, and blond hair. He must weigh a given amount, drive a given speed, and sing a given song. He must like sports, but not be a fanatic. He must have a good job, live in a good home, not drink or smoke or gamble. He must dress in a certain way, eat a certain way, walk a certain way, look a certain way. Mr. Right must act the way we think he should with his family, with his friends, with his colleagues, with complete strangers.
The problems these people face are many. They are looking for the perfect man by making all qualifications equally important. They are not looking for a future spouse. They are looking for Prince Charming (or a Disney princess). Those dates don’t exist and when they seem to exist, they turn out to be short lived fantasies rather than real life examples of real and godly men. The expectations unweighted qualifications make are unrealistic and unfair to both you and your potential date.
There are others who enter the dating world expecting to find Mr. Right very quickly, hoping so desperately to find a match. Sometimes they hope to prove their own self-worth; sometimes it is for other reasons, but these people settle for anyone. They have no qualifications that really matter when it comes to choosing a datable person and are willing to sacrifice values and dreams, hopes, and plans to be with someone who is good for the here and now, but who may not be good long term. There is a saying that you must kiss a lot of toads before you find your prince. Well, I have never met anyone who kissed a toad in real life and had him turn into a prince. That is another unrealistic and unfair to you expectation.
These people lack the ability to see and plan for the future. The open themselves up for heartache and the possibility of another failed relationship. For those experiencing divorce a second time (and a greater percentage of second marriages fail than first marriages), there must be a whole other level of loss.
But there will be some people who have qualifications for a future spouse that are reasonable and important and they will ask the Holy Spirit to give them strength to wait and wisdom to recognize potential in a dating partner. They will weigh qualifications carefully perhaps deciding a date’s faith is important, his height, not as much. The way a date treats people is important. The way he treats his car, not as much. Physical attraction is important, but we can find ways to make ourselves attracted to someone a bit outside of your idea of Adonis. It is harder making yourself attracted to someone who stiffs a hardworking waitress, is cruel to a relative, or who gossips behind the backs of friends.
Before entering the dating world and then periodically thereafter, review and rate the qualifications of a potential mate. When we make all qualifications equally important, we do ourselves and our potential partners a disservice. When we have no qualifications and just seek attention, we deny ourselves and our partners of experiencing the best we are meant to become.
Instead make a list of a few qualifications that are so important that they cannot be sacrificed (although we all need forgiveness for a slide back once in a while) and let the rest go. Don’t be in such a rush for a relationship that you sacrifice your values. Pray for your future spouse now before you meet. Take risks, but be True to your faith and let God handle the rest.