‘To everything there is a season,’ the classic Sixties rock number goes (though the Bible got there first in Ecclesiastes 3), and so it is with your dating life. There will be times of fallowness, like winter, when romantic life appears dormant. Don’t be discouraged. During winter a lot happens below the surface so that new life takes root and then blossoms into relationship possibilities when spring comes. Here are some suggestions for making a fallow time fruitful.
Start with your own heart
First of all: how are you feeling? Life at the moment may not be conducive to good mental health, so be aware of things you can do to love and nourish yourself. Good food and sleep. Moving that body. Little treats. Affirmations that strengthen and comfort. Remember that love-letter written to Greek city-dwellers nearly 2000 years ago, ‘Think on these things…’ with the writer listing the special and precious things of life (Philippians 4:8). Seek that mental place: it’s beneficial.
‘During lockdown I…’
You are fine as you are. You are enough. Be assured of that. But you can also use time and opportunities to develop yourself as a person. We’re told we’re living through ‘unprecedented times’ so why not do something unprecedented? Absorbing new interests that may have intrigued you in the past though you didn’t have time to pursue them, learning something fresh, planning something unique for your future. Everyone will have their own little lockdown story to tell. What’s yours?
Do something for someone else
One good thing to come out of this time has been a focus on people helping each other within communities. Find a way to share the love in some practical or supportive way. Jesus wants us to, it will make someone happy, plus it helps demonstrate the fact you care. When I met my husband at an internet-organised group, something that casually came up in conversation showed me what a kind-hearted person he was. All these years later, I haven’t changed my mind.
Review your social media presence
As part of the Christian Connection community you are already aware of how much we inhabit the virtual as well as the physical world. While your dating profile may be appealing, what vibes are you giving off elsewhere on social media? The day we met, my husband-to-be went home, looked me up on Facebook, and at least wasn’t put off by what he saw. No need to fake the perfect Instagram life but see if your online presence is authentic, which maybe means including sociable photos, friendliness, a sense of enthusiasm and energy. Ask yourself how you are presenting yourself to potential partners and curate your digital self accordingly.
Watch films or read books that are uplifting
To keep motivated and optimistic during down times try watching films or reading books that provide inspiration and reassurance on your relationship journey. Ask friends you respect and with similar values to your own to recommend what they’ve found helpful and uplifting. For me, a particularly touching ‘how we met’ account is by the American Young Adult writer Madeleine L’Engle: From This Day Forward. It tells the story of her early life which shows her growing from shy ‘wallflower’ to independent woman to marriage to her husband Hugh. As she wrote at the time of her wedding, ‘The best I can ask for is that this love, built on countless failures, will continue to grow.’ An acknowledgement of our human imperfections coupled with the recognition that committed love is a journey of growth.
So take the fallow times peacefully, using them for gentle care for yourself and others, remembering the most beneficial relationship you will have isn’t, as the popular saying goes, with yourself, but with God.
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