Many single moms of faith come through the end of their marriage toting a little baggage behind them. (Mine was in a sparkly pink suitcase, in case you’re wondering.) If we haven’t done the hard work of working through all of it, it can pop up when we least expect it in moments of our lives where we think we’re ready to move on but clearly aren’t. It especially comes to light when the thought of a new relationship floats across our mind.
And to be expected.
Maybe you’ve known a few women throughout your life (or maybe like me, you’ve been one of them) who held negative views on men to the point that it was only hurting themselves. Negative views that seemed valid because they were based on personal experience. But while they weren’t paying attention, turned into assumptions about entire people groups in general (i.e. men) that were unfair and biased.
It’s not only a sign that you aren’t really ready to move forward into another relationship, it’s a clear sign that your expectations may be out of whack.
Expectations Determine Your Reality
Expectations are beliefs we hold based on the evidence we are given. Our past experiences, achievements, and failures influence them. Basically, we draw assumptions about our future, based on our past.
But relying on that, sweet friends, is like jumping ahead of God as if we know better. Because in this second season of dating, we don’t want to make the same mistakes twice. And the only way to avoid them is to stop basing all of our decisions on our wealth of knowledge—and instead rely on God’s guidance. To believe His truth instead of our blurry vision of reality at the moment.
“To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 NIV
When we allow the pain from our pasts to determine our expectations of our future, we based everything on ourselves, on our abilities, on our knowledge. And doing so allows our pain to cross a line that it shouldn’t. Because God doesn’t offer us a future of failure. He offers a future filled with hope, a future filled with abundance, a future filled with His plan for our lives.
But, only if we allow it by listening to Him and letting Him lead us—instead of our past.
If you think about your future relationships and all you can come up with is negativity, you sweet friend, are listening to the enemy.
The enemy tells you:
- Every man is manipulative.
- All men are liars.
- All men will hurt you.
- No man will accept the way you look physically.
- No man will love your children completely.
- No man is faithful.
- You can’t have what your heart desires, because that man doesn’t exist.
- At your age, the only option is to settle.
- Men are too much work, and not worth all the effort.
- The only thing men are good for is financial support/battling loneliness/sex.
- Any man will do. A warm body is better than being alone.
Read that list again. Would you want a man seeking your affection to feel that way about you?
When we have sought out healing for our broken hearts, and allowed God to lead us toward the relationship He has in mind, we avoid the mistakes of our past because we are no longer solely influenced by them. And in turn, we allow ourselves to see each person that comes into our life from His point of view, not just our own. A point of view that shows us a potential partner is:
- Someone to be honored
- Someone to be respected
- Someone to be loved
- Someone to be cherished
- Someone we can trust
- Someone who is following Jesus as we are, not perfectly
- Someone who deserves a fair chance
- Someone we feel He has chosen for us
Are you looking at men in the wrong light? A light lit by others in your life who were not good for you? Who shouldn’t have had access to your heart? By those who wounded you to your core? When we choose to do that, we objectify men we don’t even know yet by not making the effort to see them for themselves. We dehumanize them. Making it impossible to see them as we should—as Christ sees them.
Don’t cling to the stereotypes you’ve created of men based on how you’ve been treated in your past, or the things you’ve allowed in your life previously. Doing so will guarantee one thing: the same kind of relationship you’ve just broken free from.
On the other hand, seeking a new relationship with God’s leading can guarantee you two things:
- He will gently show you what you need, and you’ll find that it’s what you secretly wanted in a partner.
- He will be concerned with BOTH parties, and won’t allow the person He has for you in your life until you are healthy enough to love them well.
There are good men out there. Just as many as there are good women. If you balk at that statement, you may need to start this article over.
Men are human too, and imperfect just as we are. With past hurts they didn’t cause. With broken hearts they seek to heal. Men who want to love and be loved. Men who’ve made mistakes. Men who’ve been abused. Men who love their children deeply. Men who will make room for your children in their hearts.
Take a long, hard look at the expectations you are holding over men at this point in your life. Consider where they were born. And allow God to set you free from them by seeking to earnestly heal your heart and choosing to follow His lead in this season instead.