Contributed by Thomas B. Holman
A relationship with God is essential to establishing a strong sense of self.
I learned that accepting myself and embracing who we truly are is the first step into connecting with people. I have learned that it helps to think about our best friend when we are beating ourselves up for something. “If this happened to my best friend, would I think about her differently? Would I think she is a loser? Does her big nose make her not lovable? Is she not a person of worth because she is not dating somebody?” We need to learn to be compassionate to ourselves as we are with others.
These kinds of expectations lead us to do weird things sometimes. Things like not even trying to date for fear of being hurt or clinging on to the first person who shows interest in us and scaring them off. Even if you are pretty secure in your feelings about yourself most of the time, dating has its ups and downs, and so all of us have to deal with the thought, “I know I am okay, but I’m sure not feeling very good about me right now!” Notice what feelings like this did to a single friend of mine, Natalie, and how she dealt with it:
Am I looking sideways or am I looking up? This was a question I asked myself during a dating low: A boy I really liked didn’t reciprocate interest and I was devastated. I started analyzing every little thing about myself; what about me caused him to lose interest? When my own self-analysis didn’t yield any results I decided to go collect data from my friends. While my friends kindly pointed out my dating “blind spots” I found myself being tossed emotionally from one comment to the next until I was worn down. I dismally concluded I had a serious dating impairment. I was ruminating over this new realization when it occurred to me that I was looking sideways at what everyone else was saying. What if I were to look up and ask God what he thought of me and my dating potential? To look up meant asking God what He thinks of me. Looking up is asking God how much I’m worth to Him who suffered and died for me. It was time I stopped focusing on all of the chatter coming from every side and started listening to the whisperings from above. From the Lord’s perspective, the lack of interest from a boy was nothing compared to the great interest and infinite concern the Lord has for me. I feel strongly the Lord knows His children so well that He will carefully guide those who look up to Him.
Notice what one young woman, Samantha, (not her real name) said during a research interview I had with her about her almost non-existent dating life over the previous 12 months and how she dealt with it:
SAM: A year ago, I didn’t care that I wasn’t dating anyone because I didn’t feel bad about it. None of my roommates were either, but then around Christmas time, two of my roommates started dating someone and then spring term, I was just surrounded by everyone else in a relationship but me. For a couple of months I thought really poorly about myself, thinking that since I wasn’t in a relationship that I was not as good. I have worked myself back out of that mindset the past couple of months. Now I am fine with the fact that I am not in a relationship because I stopped thinking that it was something wrong with me and it is just how it is.
INTERVIEWER: What did you do over that two month period that helped you get back, even-keeled and satisfied with yourself?
SAM: A lot of it was spiritual growing. I feel like it was Satan’s way of saying since you are not dating, all of a sudden all of these other things are wrong with you, but then you just need the encouragement that that is Satan telling you that and that I have good qualities and that I am still a good person [even though] I am not dating someone. And I had friends who would talk to me about it and help me improve my personal faith in Heavenly Father and that He knows what is going on and that not being in a relationship is not the end of the world….
Notice how Samantha recognized that her dating life wasn’t the gauge to measure her level of self-worth. She also opened up to friends who encouraged her and helped her feel better. She also had friends help her “improve [her] personal faith in Heavenly Father, and that He knows what is going on…” Samantha gives us more insight:
SAM: I have had my own trials and I have had to get through my own trials, so the only way I know how to get through them…I mean friends and parents can help you as much as you want, but a lot of times, the only thing that really works is to get on your knees and pray to God. And the only way to pray is if you believe there is a God, and then by getting answers, it confirms it. Last week was a good example because it was a really bad week and I was really bummed out. It was a low point in my life and I more than anything needed comfort and reassurance that I was worth something and that God still loved me, sorry [she is getting emotional], just to kneel down at night and pray for it, and I feel better when I do that than when I just talk to my friends. Even though my friends are great, they can’t provide the same reassurances.
Also note how Travis (not his real name) found his faith in God an indispensable part of making it through the tough times in dating.
TRAVIS: It has helped a lot because [dating can] become a frustrating process. Like you could get down on yourself thinking that you are inadequate when things don’t work out right with somebody. But after failure after failure [it] can get tough, but knowing that [Heavenly Father] is always there and He is always there to love me and He is always there to…He is there. He is always there and that is a constant thing and He can help me and he can uplift me and help me keep a good attitude. That has been huge. So even though things might not work out with somebody and aren’t working out with any specific person right now… having somebody there, even when there is nobody here to rely on…that is important for me.
Feeling good about yourself is fundamental to moving into a successful intimate relationship and happy marriage. A relationship with God is essential to establishing a strong sense of self.
This article is one of a series. For others in the series, see: