I remember clearly, and in a slow-motion kind of way, this scene from my sweet little sister’s wedding: Before turning her back to the crowd of single ladies who would vie for her bouquet of white lilies, my sister spotted me in the crowd. She was a former softball player, and I saw her look at me like she was “keeping her eye on the ball.” She turned her back and managed to launch the bouquet directly to me. It would have landed in my hands; that is, if I hadn’t, at the last minute, lunged as far from it as I could. Maybe it was even a long jump in the opposite direction. Some other girl caught the bouquet and everyone cheered.
I was off the hook.
Always a Bridesmaid
Flash forward 10 years. My sister is happily married, and I am single. One possible reason for this is that I have been arduously dodging even the idea of marriage.
Why? I’m not totally sure. I know that marriage is a sacred union of two people that beautifully illustrates and represents Christ’s love for the church. And when I think of such love, marriage sounds wonderful.
For other people.
Well, that’s what I thought until a recent heart-to-heart with God and a much-needed epiphany. After turning 40, I spent some serious time thinking and praying about my fears and asking the Lord how I should face the things that scare me most. After much contemplation, I found that behind the issue of marriage — more specifically, the issue of me getting married — was a deeply ingrained fear.
I have always been aware of my marriage fears. But this time, I finally felt convicted to let the Lord walk me through this fear and face it.
What’s the best way to overcome a fear? Face it over and over and over again.
I needed a tangible goal — something to help me reshape my perspective and renew my mind (Romans 12:2). So, I came up with the “40-Date Project.” Beginning in the middle of December, I determined to find a way to go on 40 dates in one year. They can be 40 dates with 40 different people, but they don’t have to be. (For example, if I meet someone special and we decided to date each other exclusively, then I would date only him.) The goals of this project are to date, to get to know others and to overcome my fear of marriage and dating.
I plan to write several more blog posts for Boundless to share what I’m learning about myself through this process. I won’t be dishing the details about each date, but I will be writing about my journey and sharing what I’m learning about God’s design for dating and relationships.
Here’s what I’m hoping to figure out: What false beliefs do I have about dating — or about myself and my past — that have caused my fears about marriage? What is God’s provision for biblical courtship, and what am I learning about this from my experiences? And the most important question: How am I going to get 40 dates in one year?
Next time I’ll write about what I’ve learned from my first five dates, including Valentine’s Day!
With God’s guidance and provision, I truly believe there is healing available for the darkest areas of our lives. He truly can transform our thinking. It starts with stepping out in faith. I’m excited to see what He has for me in this exciting, scary, amazing journey.
Beth Ariane is an artist who enjoys reading C.S. Lewis, eating small bits of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and getting her groove on in Zumba class a few times a week.