Dear Ginger: How do I know if this is the ONE?

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,

How do you know if someone is the right person to marry? –E

Dear E, thank you so much for taking the time to send in this important and universal question. Who hasn’t wondered about this whether single, dating, or even engaged? I pulled out my own journal from when my husband and I were dating and had started talking about marriage. Look what I found:

“Lord, Thank you for this man. Thank you for this choice. I have so much fear mixed with the adrenaline. God- I ask that you continue to guard and guide. May we both seek wisdom in your Word and from the advisors in our lives. Speak Lord, clearly, for your child is waiting on you. Unveil my eyes. Let me see and know you. Help me to listen for your echo. Lord, please, please, please be clear. I don’t want an answer other than “Yes, this guy is the one!’ So up until we say the “I Do” – if this is not what you have for us, you must please be abundantly and overwhelmingly clear. But Lord, if it’s my choice and lines up with your will … I choose this gentle man who loves deeply.

I don’t want to regret. I want a co-pilot in love and ministry. We don’t get to see or know how hearts will change in the coming years, what hardships lie dormant, just waiting, but my desire is to go through the valleys with David. I choose it. I want it.”

You can see I was wrestling through my feelings and emotions.

David and I were married on October 17, 2010. We planned and prepped and dreamed of the day for months. We decided, somewhere along the way, that we wanted to have both our own personally written vows and some traditional vows recited in our ceremony.

I spent an evening alone thinking about what I desired to communicate to my husband and the people who were witnessing our vows. I wanted to acknowledge that my promise was about more than simply having fun together or loving each other when things are easy. I’d witnessed too many relationships struggle, too many marriages end, and too many indestructible relationships break down after years of what seemed like perfection. We had been challenged that marriage wasn’t for our happiness but for our holiness and that rings weren’t an accessory, but a reminder. And so I set out to explain why I knew David was “The One.”

I always wanted to know how married couples knew that this was IT. Was it just a desperate physical desire? Was it a long-term slow warming? Was it burning hatred turned into passionate love like Beatrice and Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing) or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? (Part of me really wanted it to be that!) Was it a voice inside my head that whispered, “This is the man you are going to marry”? (I also really wanted it to be this one too.) Or was it something else?

My husband received the title of THE ONE, when He was the one I said “I love you” to and the one that I said “yes” to. I prayed all along that God would end things if I wasn’t listening to His voice closely enough. But I feel like we enjoyed each other, pushed each other to fall in love with the Lord, and challenged each other to be the best versions of ourselves. My relationship with David never called for any sort of personality or moral compromise – instead David encouraged me to not change myself for him.

And so I decided that this one was THE ONE when I could wholeheartedly promise to seek HIS best for the rest of my life.

“In making this vow today,
 I declare-I know-that you are THE ONE.
 You receive that title not because of storybook romance,
 I know that you are THE ONE because you are the one man in the whole world to whom I CHOOSE to make this promise.”

I said those very words, made some promises to my one and suddenly it was official. The words were spoken, the rings exchanged, and then the next adventure of actually living out the vow began with a joyful party.

wedding

Is this the one you choose to love with all your heart, with all your life? Here are some questions for you to consider.

  1. What if “in sickness and in health” looks like Ian and Larissa’s story? Would you willingly give up your plans and dreams for a “normal” marriage and life to love and serve your spouse?
  2. Does this one person bring out the very best version of you? Does this one push you to be the woman God designed you to be? Are you able to be your true self around them? “Don’t be in a relationship where you have to second-guess yourself. Be confident in who you are. If you are dating someone and feel like you have to walk on eggshells or constantly worry that you are not smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough, or whatever—it’s not the relationship for you. You deserve to be cherished for who you are, not who you are pretending to be. Changing to conform to someone’s idea of a perfect match will leave you resentful, fearful, disenchanted, and somewhere short of happily ever after.” (Forget the Corsage)
  3. Are you willing to think of this one first and foremost as your family? Are you willing to leave and cleave? …The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:22-24
  4. Have you allowed your community to be a part of this relationship? Have you hidden this relationship from the eyes of others because of any hesitations? (It was important that both my friends and his friends witnessed our relationship. We visited each other’s churches and tried to see the other in their own “environment” as much as possible. This was challenging as we had an hour distance between the two of us.)
  5. Are you seeking godly wisdom about your relationship from someone who knows both of you?
  6. Do you have purpose and identity ASIDE from this relationship? Your purpose and identity should be found in the Lord first and foremost. I know from experience how easy it is to want to make someone else the end all, be all.
  7. Are you able to freely share your thoughts and opinions and have them heard and considered?
  8. Do you assume the best in your one? It can be tempting to assume the worst. “They’re late because they don’t care. (This was a huge light-bulb moment for all of my friendships and relationships. Just because someone doesn’t behave or respond the way that I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me. I have yet to benefit in the long run by getting all huffy and bothered. Giving a strong dose of grace to a situation can do wonders in keeping a small thing like giving me advice on how to brown onions from exploding into, “YOU DON’T THINK I CAN COOK?” Simmer down there, Chef.)
  9. Are you praying, asking and seeking for the Lord’s direction and guidance?
  10. Are you willing to see love as a choice rather than a feeling?

Loving someone isn’t a sentiment. It’s a daily choice. It is a repeated action.

“Love is a commitment of my will to seek your best for the rest of my life.” –Lynelle Zandstra

Andrew Peterson – Dancing in the Minefields from Centricity Music on Vimeo.

I know this was by no means an all-encompasing list. I’m hoping other readers will comment with their own thoughts and perspectives.

Pray, pray, pray. Ask. Seek wisdom. Seek the Lord. He is faithful to answer.

Praying for you, E.

Following,
Ginger

 

Learning to Say “No Thank You”

I’m honored to be guest-posting over at Single Roots Blog today!

 

How to graciously say “no thank you” to another date.

I moved to Arizona from my beloved state of Texas in the fall of 2006. I came alone, not knowing anyone. Eventually I did what any single and adventurous young woman might do; I signed up for online dating.

I actually met my husband through online dating in 2010, but my first go-around wasn’t quite as successful. My first date was with a very nice man who loved God and others. He just also happened to be… clingy? Yes. Clingy. I received a laminated poem on our second date. When I broke things off after the third date there were tears. His. Not mine.

To keep reading follow this link over to Single Roots to read the rest of this post!

Following,

Ginger

True You: In Dating

There was an ad campaign by Dr. Pepper that launched in 2002. “Be you. Drink Dr. Pepper.” Sounds great, right? It’s catchy and points to the American ideal of being an individual. Take a closer look. Be you… Drink Dr. Pepper. Problem: I don’t drink Dr. Pepper. I never have. I moved from RC Cola to Coke and then Diet Coke. I’ve never been a “pepper.”

I’ve always been a Ginger. ;)

That’s why it’s so important for me to share this point in our True You series: Be yourself… even if it means losing the guy.

I know it sounds totally cheesy and like it’s part of a school assembly, but hear me out.

I’m a random, unique individual. I know that. My family certainly knows that. My friends know that. I’ve been in a few relationships where I honestly felt like I had to alter my personality and interests for a guy. I felt nervous about the relationship in the first place and so I tried to over-compensate by picking up new hobbies and even changed the way I dressed. It wasn’t fun. I was terrified that I was going to do something wrong to end our relationship. It was so much pressure.

But now I can honestly say that I am in a relationship where I can be the quirky, ridiculous dreamer that I was created to be. My husband not only accepts my goofiness, he loves it. (He tells me this frequently.) Can I tell you how freeing it is to be loved for just being me?

Question for you: If you had to do something to get a guy to notice you or accept you in the first place, what are you going to have to do to keep the guy?

My friend, please don’t be in a relationship where you have to constantly second-guess yourself. Be confident in who you are. If you constantly worry that you aren’t smart enough, funny enough, cute enough, athletic enough… whatever – it’s not the relationship for you. You deserve to be cherished for who you are, not who you are pretending to be.

“I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know this very well.”
Psalm 139:14, NCV

Be YOU. Embrace the you He created.

– –

Have you ever tried to be someone you’re not in order to get someone to like you? How did that turn out?

Following,
Ginger

p.s. A version of this post appeared in April of 2007.

 

Interested but not Desperate

Dear Ginger,

So I have a guy friend that I really like. I want to make myself available and convey my interest in him, but I also want to allow him to pursue me and not portray myself as desperate. I find it hard to create a balance, sometimes even more so when we’re already friends. I don’t know how often it’s appropriate for me to call him or initiate seeing him? T

GIRL! Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt and then had to take it back because it was the wrong size.

Awesome, I love that you’ve noticed some great characteristics in one of your guy friends. If he really is one of your friends he is already aware that you are “available.” In my mind, not dating someone = available. I remember telling a girl friend that I had “guy problems” with one of my guy friends. I liked him but he wasn’t doing anything about it. She asked me some tough questions.

Girl friend: “Are you dating him?”

Me: “Nope.”

Girl friend: “Has he expressed interest in dating you?”

Me: “Not really.”

Girl Friend: “Is he socially capable and mature?”

Me: “Yes.”

Girl Friend: “Is he coming onto you but not making dating intentions clear?”

Me: “NO!”

Girl Friend: “Then what’s the problem? It doesn’t sound like he has the problem.”

“Guard your heart” is a popular phrase thrown around in Christian dating circles and books. It’s from the book of Proverbs and has a ton of wisdom packed in one very short sentence. It’s a great truth to remember in dating situations. I should protect my heart because it’s valuable. But I often wish Solomon had something to say about the OTHER side of dating… like: “How do I put myself out there?”

After my heart was broken a few times I began to take guarding to the extreme.    I decided enough was enough.  I was not going to do any more grieving… and I took it too far.  I became a giant ice block.  When asked about my opinions or feelings I would change the topic, shy away from sharing, and refrain from making eye contact with the opposite sex. 

I’m the first to admit that I don’t want my heart to run out ahead of me, but at the same time… I can’t close myself off in relationships. Sometimes you have to “put yourself out there.” I have a go-to friend when it comes to relationships.  She’s given me countless words of wisdom over the years and her most frequent comment actually comes from her dad. She was always quick to remind me that if I want to win big, I have to be willing to risk big.

This may come as a shock to you (cough, cough), but men are not mind readers.  I know, this would have been good to know from the beginning, wouldn’t it?  I have sent hundreds of hints toward prospective guys only to find myself saying, “Why isn’t he doing anything?!”  Sometimes they need more than a hint.

-Be specific. Only show ONE guy partiality at a time.

-Be intentional. Ask him about his life and interests; convey that you want to get to know him! Remember the things he tells you.

-Be engaging. Rather than playing it super cool or hard-to-get, try SMILING when you see him!

I very much applaud your desire to have your friend pursue you. And I’m not suggesting that you need to ask him out. I still believe that the relationship needs to start with the guy. But while I admitedly don’t have all the answers, I do think it comes down to a balance of protecting what God has given us while being willing to risk rejection. 

Last minute thoughts:

  1. Don’t act weird around your friend. Just be normal and be you.
  2. Don’t manipulate situations to end up alone with him. If it happens, it happens.
  3. Surround yourself with dreamers and realists. You’re right, it’s fun to rejoice in all of the little happy moments when you like someone. “HE TEXT MESSAGED ME AGAIN!” But guarding your heart is an active decision. Make sure you have friends that are willing to keep you grounded! (And beware of telling the ENTIRE world. Choose a few solid women you trust.)
  4. Spend time with him in all sorts of settings. Get a group together to serve, to play games, and get to know each other. Let him know you are glad when he shows up!
  5. I think you have the freedom to call or text if you want to – you are friends, right? But you also have to know the motives in your heart. If your day is made or destroyed by how quickly he texts back, then I think you are treading on dangerous ground. Anything that has that much power over our emotions could be an indicator of an idol in our lives.
  6. Trust and believe that God has things under control and that your life doesn’t surprise Him! He knows your worries before you express them. Find freedom in placing the desires of your heart with the One who created your heart.
  7. If you find yourself obsessing, pull out Psalm 63 and note David’s love that kept him awake and dreaming at night. How often do we express such devotion to our Heavenly Father?

Relationships are amazing gifts, but with two broken individuals they can quickly become complicated. Continue to filter your emotions through the truth of God’s Word. Be real with yourself and with your trusted advisors. Be open and honest in prayer. Keep this situation in perspective and realize if this truly is to be part of your story, the Master Storyteller knows exactly how to make the characters come together.

Thanks for asking, T! Praying for your heart and your adventure.

Following and Listening,
Ginger

Dating

Prior to dating my husband I had been in three relationships, the longest of the three was five weeks in length.

I make no claims to be an expert on the topic of dating.  My track record shows that I am somewhat versed in the art of being rejected.

  But all of the introspection and relationship examination this week caused me to think about the few nuggets that I learned from my dating experiences.

ANOTHER GIANT LIST – THIS TIME THINGS I LEARNED WHILST DATING:

Live your own story!  Your story is not going to be the same as any of your friends or family members.  Don’t get discouraged or frustrated when the timing or situation seems to be different.  (I met my husband on E-harmony.  BAM.  There, I said it.)

-Be open and honest in your relationship.  You may be wishing for a prince or a perfect ten, but I can promise that you won’t ever find a mind reader.  It ain’t gonna happen.  If you don’t speak up you won’t have a say in your relationship

-Be WISE and follow some basic healthy dating principles. (Follow the links below!)
-The type of bait you use determines the fish you catch.
-Be yourself.
-Recognize that no other person can complete you.
-Maintain godly relationships outside the dating relationship.
-Open up your hands and entrust the relationship to God.
-Establish relational lifeboats.
-Guard your heart.

-Involve your community in your relationship.  It was important that both my friends and his friends got to see our relationship.  We visited each other’s churches and tried to see the other in their own “environment” as much as possible.  This was challenging as we had an hour distance between the two of us.

-Get some sleep.  In the moment it always feels like you’ve got to stay up talking on the phone, e-mailing, texting, or spending time together.  I’m always more prone to be emotional, irrational, or unwise when I’m tired.  Choose to be wise!

-Remember that you have purpose and identity ASIDE from this relationship.  Being in “this” does not define you.

-Pray every step of the way.  My prayer from the start of the relationship went something like this:  “God, if this is in any way not wise or good for me- then would you please hit me in the face with a frying pan of truth.  Use my friends.  Use your Word.  Just don’t let me plug my ears to anything you would say to me during this relationship.  I don’t trust my heart.  I trust your Word.  Help!”

I’m sure there are going to be hundreds of things that I missed in this post, so feel free to add to the list in the comment section.  What advice would you give for a dating relationship?

Following,
Ginger

(Check out THIS GUIDE if you are looking for more on this topic.)

Living Your [Love] Story

Dear Ginger,
Recently several of Christian bloggers and friends on Facebook have been sharing links to a blog post that talks about “How to live a great love story.”  I was intrigued by the title, but was very disappointed to find the actual content of the article extremely… lacking. Surely there is more that a single Christian female can to do prepare herself for marriage (if that day ever comes) than to 1) not be a slut, and 2) sit tight and wait (and cry yourself to sleep while you wait, apparently!), which is what the advice seemed to boil down to.

Do you have any practical advice for what Christian singles can do to prepare for a future spouse?

Thanks,
V

Dearest V,

Thanks for your question and candor… it’s real nice, ya see? :)  The specific post you referred to has actually been taken down by the author for various reasons- but I still wanted to address your question because I feel like it is going to spark some great discussion.  (Fingers crossed.)

1.  Although I do think the article made some great points, I also believe that there is so much more that can be said on this topic. (Duh.)

2.  I was both excited and apprehensive to tackle this question.  Let’s face it, no one wants to be the married lady trying to give advice on how to live out being single.  It’s not that I don’t have the experience or desire to speak about the topic, I just don’t want to EVEREVEREVEREVER come across condescending or whatever other word you would like to fill in the blank.  I am humbly coming to you with my suggestions, story, and what I’ve discovered from scripture.

3.  Know that I’m spending a lot of time researching, reading, and praying before I post each day.  Today’s is just the start.  I hope you’ll stick with me throughout the entire week.

4.  That being said – – here’s the first video…

Live Your Story from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

You still with me?

I think I often became so weighed down with the desire to have a relationship in my life, that I forgot to actually LIVE MY LIFE!  Don’t fall into that same trap.  Remember that you are called to live, love, and believe right where you are.

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.” 1 Corinthians 7:17, The Message

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: A Method for Dating

I’m excited to have such a great resource to share with you this week.  A personal friend who happens to be a phenominal Biblical teacher and engaging writer started a blog this summer talking about… well…

A Method for Dating

because dating happens…and it doesn’t have to be horrible

Matt Lantz

Who would have thought there could be so much good and practical advice on the topic?  Here’s the scoop from the author, Matt Lantz:

My friends, my students, and now even my wife have all told me that I should take the time to write down my philosophy on dating and publish them into a book.

Yuck.

The publishing part, I mean. Who wants to bare their sole in a manuscript only to send it off to a publisher to get torn apart or, more likely, thrown into the trash can? Even if it did get picked up, it would take forever to get published and then money would be involved, contracts, obligations, deadlines… yuck.

Then, one of my friends suggested that I should write the book via a blog instead of publishing it into a book. A blook? Now that sounds way more intriguing to me. Not only could my posts be media rich (video clips, links to other materials, etc.), but they could also be interactive. Readers will be able to watch the book take shape and participate in the chapters that are produced by leaving comments and engaging with the author as the book is being written.

So, that’s what we have here. This will be a blook (?) about dating. Each week I will make a post and categorize it into one of the ‘chapters’ of the book (see the navigation on the sidebar). Since there will be multiple posts per chapter, the title of each post will begin with a number: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on. So, even if you’re finding this site after the book has been written, you can easily go back to the beginning of the book and read from the start.

Obviously I’m publishing my thoughts here for free – mostly because that’s how they came to me. If you would like to reproduce or distribute my thoughts, please feel free to do so, but please do not change my words or make other people pay for them. In whatever reproductions you make, please include the following statement and include a link to this website: © Matt Lantz, 2011 | www.matthewdlantz.com

You hooked yet?  You should be!

And then you should get your sweet self over to http://thedatingblook.wordpress.com/.  Read, follow, jump in on the discussion.

Following,
Ginger

Fish Bait

Dear Ginger,

It feels funny asking for help with relationships – but here goes anyway.  Do you have any advice for someone with little to no experience in the DATING relationship department?

Thank you,
S

S!  Thank you for having the courage to ask this question.  Obviously this is a topic many of us wonder about.  All you have to do is head to the relationship section at your local bookstore to discover just how much “advice” exists on this subject.  I feel your question is going to spark some great discussion, so be sure to stay tuned for more on relationships.

 

Bait from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Principle #1: The type of bait you use determines the fish you catch.

Maybe you sit there today and you are thinking to yourself, “It doesn’t matter what I wear, as long as I’m comfortable.”  Can I challenge your thought process for just a second?

I get the argument.  You like the skirt/top/dress.  You like how you look and it’s comfortable.  What’s the big deal?  If a guy wants to keep his eye pure, that’s his job, not mine.  Let’s check 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6:

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.”

When you dress modestly you guard the hearts of our brothers.  Guys are visually driven – that’s not a shocking statement.  You can say you are dressing for other girls all that you want but the responsibility to guard hearts and eyes is still yours!

Do you want a guy who is in the relationship because of your heart?  Give him a chance to see your heart rather than your cleavage.  The end goal is to live in purity and modesty… and the truth is that modesty is more than the length of your shorts – it’s a mindset.

Following,
Ginger