Yeah, that title isn’t a joke. I recently went on 14 dates over the span of 5 weeks. There’s that 14* again. But back to the dating part, I am fully aware that some of you are going to be sHoOk by this blog post title. Lol.
I’m telling you about this to hopefully encourage someone who is struggling with anxiety, self-worth, singleness, feeling the need to be in a relationship, feeling the need to be pursued, or simply feeling lonely. I’m also telling you this because my 14 dates in 5 weeks will forever be known as the time where I finally started to become who I’ve always wanted to be. Aaaaah!!
So, 14 months ago the Lord used an (almost) killer panic attack to, as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would say, flip-turn my life upside down. I’ve never been more grateful for the hardship that has come with my panic disorder. You see, one of my most reliable coping mechanisms when I’m having a panic attack is to pray out loud. I try to be still, breathe as best I can, and slowly pray through the panic:
“Lord, you have seen me through this time and time again, and you will do it again. You tell me to be anxious for nothing and bring all of my struggles to You. God, I am struggling right this moment. I need Your peace, Lord. I thank you for who You are and for your resounding presence in my life. You have seen me through this before, and you will see me through it again. You are a faithful God. You are a gracious God. You are a loving God. You are a mighty God who saves. I ask that you take this feeling away in Jesus’s name. Amen.”
I will repeat that prayer and slowly but surely, my panic attack goes away. Y’all!! It’s truly an unfathomable experience to feel panic literally leave my body as I trust the Lord with my life. For as long as I’ve lived, I have known I can trust God, but I’m gonna be real honest here, I have never fully believed it. Or at least I’ve never been in a situation where I have nothing left but to fully surrender and rely on Him. My panic attacks used to last hours on end. I used to panic pray as I would have them— that was a bust. The reason? It’s because I wasn’t truly believing I could lean on God. I wasn’t fully believing the words Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”
Here is my take-away: The Lord has used my panic attacks to pursue me. He has been longing for a deep relationship with me my whole life, but I haven’t pursued Him back. God used this season of brokenness to put me back together. I am a stronger person because of this. I am resilient because of this. I am confident in God’s plan for my life because of this. I can say these things and actually mean them. What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer and truly know and believe that He is for me and He will carry me through.
Whatever hard situation you are walking through right now, whether it be anxiety, self-doubt, job-hunting, failure, fear, heartbreak, addiction, or sickness, look at it in terms of the Lord using this difficult season to bring you back to Him. Or maybe it’s so you’ll come to Him for the first time ever. Either way, I am telling you He is constantly looking for a deep relationship with you, His beloved. And when you finally enter into a living, breathing relationship with the Lord, you’ll experience a joy like no other.
So that’s number one: I have learned to TRULY trust the Lord with what He has planned for my life. It’s hard and I’m not always excited about the path He is taking me on in the moment, but ultimately, I know without a doubt His ways are higher than my ways.
I have always, always, always dreamed of becoming a wife and a mama. That is the deepest desire of my heart. So, you can imagine the pain I felt and feel as I watch my friends date, fall in love, get engaged, have bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, weddings, and now babies. Please hear me clearly when I say this: I am genuinely happy for each of them, but, I’m not gonna lie, it stings when that’s what I want more than anything in this world and it just hasn’t happened.
Singleness is something I’ve only talked about with a handful of my very best friends, well, up until I started this journey of self-love. Now my dating life is basically entertainment for everyone who is in the loop on it. Before this, I have always acted like I didn’t care that I wasn’t in serious relationships. If I don’t get invested or share that I actually want that, then I can’t get hurt, right?
So in July, I went on a date. Then the next week, another. Then 4 more the next week, then 4 more, then 3 in a weekend, then I had a week off, but I rounded out week number 5 with my 14th date.
I kind of wish this was about to turn into a hilarious tell-all about these recent, let’s call them, adventures. But 1. I’m not going that direction with this post (v sorry) and 2. I live in Lubbock, so even if I use code names, word’s probably getting out.
I will say that I went on one date with a guy who grilllllllled me on deep, weird, awkward and heavy first date questions that you shouldn’t even ask until like date 5 or 17. And he strongly disagreed with every single word that came out of my mouth. When the date was over, I could not scurry out of there quick enough and I literally whispered “what the…” to myself at least 35 times on the way home. I also went on about 4 dates with a guy who I wanted to end it with but couldn’t figure out a way to break it off— well, he went ahead put the nail in the coffin himself by calling me 27 times, texting 13 times and knocking on my door for 30 minutes straight at 2 am while I was HOME ALONE. Praise the Lord for my brother-in-law who came to my rescue! But I do I feel like I’ve finally made it because I had a low-key stalker for one night. Hah jk. The next morning, I answered his phone call where he responded with a chipper, casual “Hey what’s up!?” like NOTHING happened!?! Literally, lol. Laugh out loud. I would go on, but I’m stopping here because the coolest part about that middle of the night stalker moment is the realization I had in a very tearful prayer at 3 am, after the smoke had settled.
Here it is and this is what I want to tell you:
I was living my life all wrong. I was self-absorbed and glorifying the hustle. I treated myself horribly and didn’t think I was worth a thing. Here is where the story shifts: 14 months ago, God used July 20, 2017, to completely alter my world. I was shaken. I wasn’t in control. I thought I was going to die. Through having a panic disorder and an unending supply of panic attacks, I learned that the only way to get through them is to trust that the Lord will get me through. Time and time again, He was faithful in giving me relief and peace from the attacks. Next, I could trust Him. He didn’t have to prove Himself to me by any means, but He sure did prove Himself to me through this situation. He taught me to let go of my control and completely trust Him. Through trusting Him, I decided to trust others with a secret that I had been holding onto for 14+ years. The secret? I had no self-worth. I hated all parts of myself so deeply and my self-esteem was non-existent. God used the people I confided in as vessels and taught me to look at myself the way He sees me, rather than just asking Him for self-confidence. I began to pray to see myself through HIS eyes and the way I viewed myself began to shift. I started focusing on the positive attributes about me, rather than the negative. Then, for the first time in a while, I decided to just put myself out there and be open to going on a date. Then it turned into talking to and dating multiple guys at once. Before each date, I would pray. I would ask the Lord for courage to be myself. My fun, witty, loving, kind and confident self. Notice how I didn’t pray for confidence? I just prayed for specific attributes about myself to come out. I also prayed for clarity and discernment. And last, I end with “Your will, Lord.” And I mean it. Whatever His will is, that’s what I want.
Picture a sliding door, made of the heaviest, most sturdy industrial steel. It hasn’t been opened in over 14 years and it’s rusted into place. But after I have walked through everything I listed in the paragraph above, I see that industrial steel door slowly sliding open. It opens as I let God fill me with His love and hope and promises. It opens a little more as I decipher what is Truth from lie. It opens even more as I proclaim that I am worthy of the very best. It opens more as I realize that I can be confident, because I am made in the image of God. And just like that, this steel door is OPENING right before my eyes and I can see the other side, full of life and beauty and the riches of His love.
I want to be very clear on something: it is NOT the guys I am going on dates with that are giving me this new-found confidence. I am finding it by the way I am reacting to these dates. I could easily say, “Oh, he’s interested in me! What if that doesn’t happen again for a while? I should just date him.” But NO NO NO. I am using discernment and I am being resolute in my convictions and guess what? I’m completely at peace with whatever happens because “God’s will.” I say those two words out loud or in my head more times than I can count because God’s will for us is already set into motion and it is going to be better than anything we could ever dream up for ourselves.
Listen, God could totally Paul me up and keep me single forever. (1 Cor. 7:32-35) Lol only He knows. #pleasedonttho. But, seriously— The only thing that truly matters is our eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the waiting, I am going to be thankful for my singleness. I couldn’t watch whatever I want on Netflix whenever I want if I was in a relationship. I couldn’t spend 3 hours at Target. I wouldn’t have had the time I have had with my seven nieces and nephews, proving to be the best aunt in the world (humble brag), if I already was married with kids. The person I was 14+++++ months ago wasn’t ready, and even though I didn’t know that, the Lord knew that. His will, His ways. So whatever it is you are waiting on, consider that waiting time to be a gift from God and focus on making the most of it!
Last thing! I’m going to talk about the number FOURTEEN. It’s been 14 months since my ER visit, 14 months of dealing with a panic disorder, 14 years of struggling with self-hate, then confession of my low self-worth to my 14 coworkers, I recently went on 14 dates in 5 weeks, and last, I am sharing the final part of this blog series TODAY, exactly 14 months from when all this started. Remind you, this was all unintentional. The Biblical significance of the number 14 means double perfection- a new beginning. It also means deliverance and liberty. God is literally prophesying over me that I am going to be free from this and I WILL BE delivered of this anxiety and self-doubt. What a chilling and amazing thing. God showed up in a tangible way through these blog posts. I had no idea 14 was a reoccurring number until I was writing, and if that isn’t proof that OUR GOD is good and faithful and so detail-oriented in His plans, then I don’t know what is.
“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, My Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy rains
Unending love, amazing grace”
Thank you for reading. My story is not finished and my struggles are still very present, but there is a new found Hope and I’m so excited about this major shift! I’m done writing on this subject for now, but I promise to always share more when I feel the Lord place a call on my heart.