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Navigating Singleness and Dating in Today's Culture


Mentor Mama:

Welcome back to our blog where our goal is to help people delight in God's word. In this chat-style blog with Mentor Mama and Lisa Anderson we are going to be talking about a topic, does God really care how you date? You know, navigating dating and singleness in today's culture can be tricky. So, asking ourselves, does God care how we date gives us space to insert biblical truths into how we date, how we handle our season of singleness and how to prepare our hearts for relationships that are to come. Well, our guest today, Lisa Anderson, director of young adults for Focus on the Family, will be talking about dating well, she'll be talking about what healthy relationships look like, qualities that we can look for in a future spouse and trusting God with it all along the way. Lisa will guide us in this discussion and provide truth-filled answers and practical advice to those who are facing singleness or dating with uncertainty.


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Mentor Mama:

Lisa Anderson is director of young adults for Focus on the Family and manages the ministry, Boundless with the goal of helping 20 and 30 somethings navigate adulthood, own their own faith, date with purpose and prepare for marriage and family. She is the author of the book, "The Dating Manifesto," a drama-free plan for pursuing marriage with purpose, and she hosts The Boundless Show, which is a national radio program and weekly podcast. Her previous career was in media and public relations. Lisa grew up in California, went to school in Chicago, and lived on Capitol Hill and with billionaires in Paraguay, she now calls Colorado home. She enjoys hiking, cruising the Caribbean, eating pastries, and wasting time reading articles about celebrities and other people that shouldn't matter to her. Please welcome Lisa.


Lisa Anderson:

Oh, it's so great to be here, Ellen. I'm so glad that you're Mentor Mama. That's good. I might have to capitalize on that myself and ask questions of you too.


Mentor Mama:

Oh, that'd be awesome. Well, we are actually so excited that you're here. Such a large number of people that watch Coffee and Bible Time are young women who are exactly in the throws of what you're going to be talking about, including my own two daughters. So why don't you start out with telling us a little bit about your own story and how you came to be a part of Boundless?


Lisa Anderson:

Sure. Well, I love talking about dating and obviously I wrote "The Dating Manifesto," because I think so many people think like, oh, that's not a spiritual topic, you shouldn't talk about that. That's very worldly or secular, but really God is all about relationship. And clearly God is the designer, and the architect of marriage, and marriage is a good thing. The Bible begins with marriage, and it ends with marriage, and yet I'm someone, Ellen, who is single. I've never been married. I have no kids, and so people are like, why would you even talk about this? Like, do you have any authority to speak on this? But it's weird because I never expected at this stage of my life to still be single. I never felt I had the gift of singleness. I felt like many other young women, I'm just going to be sitting in a Starbucks, I'm going to lock eyes with some guy, he's going to be amazingly Godly, and fantastic, and we'll just get married. And meanwhile, what I was hearing from the culture, you know, you alluded to the fact that I grew up in California. I went to the California public schools and my teachers and my instructors were saying, Lisa, you just take care of you, because you get an education, you start your career, you become successful, and then someday in the future, on your terms and your timetable, maybe you can tack on this thing called marriage, but don't let it rule you, don't let it be too important. You make sure that you're successful. And it's not like I really believed that, I mean, I had parents who loved Jesus, who had a great marriage. I saw good marriages in the church, but it kind of made marriage and relationships for me, kind of a plan C in what the other things that I wanted to accomplish, and so I was getting this strong message from the world, and then from the church, I just kind of got crickets, and I think it was because a lot of my parents, peers, and the folks I looked up to in church, like me, kind of thought it would just happen and it would be so easy. And, you know, Ellen, even in conversations with my own mom, she met my dad at a Christian seminary. She literally stalked him at a few basketball games, went to a senior banquet and got married and she's like, Lisa, this shouldn't be that hard. And I'm like, mom, it is really hard today in this generation, in this culture, it's very hard. And so, I've been working here at Boundless now for 10-ish years, and I feel like my role here as a single woman is to be just a few steps ahead of the men and women that listen to my show, that read Boundless resources, and to put an arm around their shoulder and say, you trust God with whatever season you're in. Marriage is for most people, he will get you there, but in the meantime, being single is a great season of life as well. It's not a waiting room for marriage. So, you trust God with where he has you and move forward confidently.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. Embrace where God has you today. What are some of the most common mistakes that you see dating folks make today?


Lisa Anderson:

I want to preface this by saying, I have made every single one of the mistakes that I tend to talk about when it comes to dating. In fact, because I wrote "The Dating Manifesto," I jokingly say, I'm the one person for whom this book, its advice has worked for so many other people so why hasn't it worked for me yet? So again, that's where it comes to trusting God. I think one of the big mistakes that we make is this assumption that there is, you know, a lot of people will classify it as "the one", or the soulmate myth, this idea that there's one person out there that God has crafted for you to marry, and it's this mystical holy grail experience of finding that person, and if you don't find that one person, then you've somehow missed God's will and you've shot all your chances. God will not forgive you for that, or he won't give you a second chance. And so, I think that idea is so crazy. It's permeated culture largely because of romantic comedies and other cultural tropes, you know, that have built this in that you have to be star-crossed lovers in some sense. And so, as I said before, God's crafted marriage. He knows it's a good thing. He's really the creator of great matches, he's in the business of making great matched, and I think what this idea of "the one" crafts in us is it either puts us in a paralysis state because we're constantly looking for the one, like, this guy is great, this guy loves Jesus, he's in my small group, but this guy over here, he plays guitar, so what about him? Because that's awesome, you know, and I love the guitar and, all of a sudden, we realize we're in a culture of too many choices and the whole world has opened up to us, and so we're going to be paralyzed if we look at all the choices around us and think that we have to somehow orchestrate the one right choice. The other thing it does, is kind of the polar opposite of that. It gets us into bad relationships because we try them out, and then if they don't work, like say it could be a date or it could be someone who eventually moves towards marriage, the minute they hit a bump in the road, they think to themselves, oh, I must not have picked the one, I must have made the wrong choice. And so, we see divorce rampant, we see a lot of broken hearts, we see people ending relationships without really putting in the hard work. And so that's why I try to free young women up with this thought: Let's just say, conservatively, there are hundreds of Godly men in the world today that you could meet and marry and build a life with and be attracted to and serve God with and find a calling with, you pick one of those guys, once you do, he becomes the one and you invest in that relationship. You cultivate it. You trust God with the process of moving towards maturity, because another truth Ellen, that we often don't talk about is, remember, there's no marriage in heaven. God is going to level the playing field. Marriage is a picture of God and his church here on earth and it's imperfectly done. So, we can all trust that wherever God has us, he's going to sanctify us in the process of becoming more like him, and that's what we need to look forward to and have as our goal. And if God uses marriage to accomplish that, then that's fantastic, but it's not our be-all end-all. So that's definitely one of the big ones I would say, and I'll just cover these quickly, a couple of the other big mistakes daters make is coming up with unreasonable lists, and we'll probably talk about that in a few minutes of what their future spouse, what this young man has to have, and then they get tied to their list and they cut out a lot of other possibilities. A lot of other young women, I think a big mistake we make is we just don't date. Some of that has come out of the nineties culture of, a culture where we thought all answers have to be put into place before we can date someone. So, it's put a lot of pressure on, I need to be pretty certain that I'm going to marry this guy before I can go to coffee with him. And as a result, I mean, goodness gracious, we're talking about Coffee and Bible Time here, just getting to know someone, having a conversation with someone, exploring topics with someone is a great way to determine potential matches. And so, I think putting all this pressure is something that we as a culture have done too much even within the church. And then I would say in the dating process, another big mistake is, once we get into a dating relationship giving up too much of ourselves; that could be time, that could be attention, that could be our emotional capacity, that could be giving up too much physically. We get way too enmeshed and entwined in relationships where the amount of commitment does not match the amount of connection, and we have to be willing to explore that and say, where is the commitment in this relationship? Because now I have given up a lot of emotional capital, I've moved forward, I've cut out a lot of other things in my life. Too many people are doing that because they're trying to cling onto something in this relationship that they have no business clinging to. And so, we have to be willing to approach dating biblically, as well as just with some good, solid, common sense of still maintaining our own worth and our own dignity as an individual.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, and so many of things that you just mentioned, as I'm sitting here listening, they feel freeing. Just let some of those things go and let God do his work.


Lisa Anderson:

Absolutely. Getting out of the formulas.


Mentor Mama:

Yes. Let's talk a little bit about this concept that you alluded to about people talk about compatibility and finding their type when they date. Help us understand why you think that's the wrong conversation.


Lisa Anderson:

Again, this is something that I've been guilty of where I go on a date with a guy and all of a sudden, I'm giving him like five personality tests. It's like administrating a relationship test and, you know, some things are necessary to do, especially in this day and age, to be safe, to understand, who are you talking to? A lot of people, especially with digital mechanisms can misrepresent themselves, so we have to be careful, but at the same time, this idea that if you just find the right match or the right personality type or the right compatibility factor that everything will be smooth sailing, well, that's just a myth. And so, I think we put too much focus on finding the right person or the right formula, instead of saying, what's the whole purpose of marriage, which really, you're going to start a life with someone and all of a sudden, it's day to day stuff that you're just walking through, it's personal growth that you are each going to do. You're not marrying a final product, you know, it's also sanctification. It's a process of sacrifice, laying your life down for another person, modeling the character of Christ in a team effort that ultimately is outward facing to a world that needs Jesus. I often tell young women, Ellen, about when I was in junior high, I had a very well-meaning youth pastor who during youth group night, we all had to split up the guys and the girls, and, a woman came aside with us, with us girls and she handed us a piece of paper and she said, okay, ladies, I want you to write down the 50 qualities that you want in your future husband, you're going to write all of these down. And she gave us a few minutes and I started scribbling, you know, and my first few were totally legit, you know, I want him to love Jesus, I want him to want a family, I want him to serve God. And so that was fine, but by the time I hit the forties, man, it was: hair color, it was height, it was music preferences. But then she told us, and again, so well-meaning, she said, okay, take this paper home, tape it up on your bathroom mirror and pray about it every day, pray over that list. And so, I did, and God did not deliver that guy to me, Ellen, and it was just crushing like, oh, I prayed about this, all of these qualities, aren't they good qualities? And the fact is, God is not delivering on lists. God does not put his stamp of approval on what we think we want or need, and it doesn't mean that you don't need a list. I often encourage women, it's good to have a list and it's good to have non-negotiables, but that should be very small. And so, I say, here are the things that you need to look for in a potential date and ultimately a potential mate. Again, getting back to the Jesus factor; is this guy a true disciple of Jesus Christ? Now that's where you have to know what a true disciple is, and only scripture can tell you, because it's not that he was born in Texas or he's an American. It's not that he retweets John Piper every other day. It's not that he goes to church or even is in leadership at church. It is really those character qualities for a person who loves Jesus, and again, I want to preface this by saying, and these (qualities) should also be in you too. You know, this isn't like, let's just look for guys who are perfect so we can be train wrecks. I mean, ladies, come on, you need to get to know Jesus too. Is he a person, and this is where I say it's characterized by where we see in the Scripture it says the marks of a believer are love for other believers. What does it look like to love the church? They're going to know that we're Christians by our love, someone who evidence is the Fruit of the Spirit, and you can look in Galatians and see what that list is because you cannot conjure that up for yourself, that is only God working in you. That's going to give you love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, all the things we want to run after. And then finally, and this kind of bleeds into my next one, is this guy someone who is humble and teachable? Because to be in a posture of receptivity, to correction, to authority, maybe that's a group of elders in your church, maybe that's a body of believers that you're accountable to, to be that person who's not going to strike out on their own and say, okay, I know all the answers, Jesus and me, we're just going to accomplish it. No, you need to be humble and teachable, someone who is going to walk in the way of a contrite spirit, be open to correction, open to growth. That is someone that will set you on your way. And then finally, a person who is, is kind of headed in the same direction you are, and I don't like to be too specific about this, because then I think a lot of women think, oh, okay, we need to be Chip and Joanna Gaines, we need to start a TV show where our ministry is we're going to renovate houses and have this amazing calling. No, you just need to be looking on either side of you and find a person who's in ministry with you, find a person who you can serve with, you can be walking out life with. An example of this is I had a girl write into my show, and she said, well, Lisa, I'm trying to figure out, this guy and I are about get engaged, but he believes that he should start an accounting firm here in Iowa, but I feel called to Uganda to start orphanages. And I said, okay, both of those are great callings, but if you're going to be married, someone's calling has to change. because we're talking geography here, so that's an example of where, maybe if you stay in Iowa, you can work with refugees or you can work in a campus ministry with international students, or maybe he, if he's going to adjust his calling, maybe he can work in finances for a mission organization overseas or something, but that's a conversation that has to happen. And so just walking through a few of those key questions as you're looking for a potential date are things to keep in mind and then everything else: hair color, music preferences, what this person's socioeconomic background is, leave that to the Lord because he'll help you sort it out.


Mentor Mama:

Yes. And I think it's absolutely fascinating that so many of the things, oftentimes in a spouse, aside from those essentials that you've described, but so many of the other periphery things can be completely the opposite of what you thought. I know my husband and I are opposites in a lot of ways, but I feel like our core beliefs are the ones that we talked about.


Lisa Anderson:

I think you would probably say this as a married person, that much of married life is- life. It's doing life. I think too often we go into relationships thinking that it's going to just be this mind-blowing, romantic experience, day in and day out, and we forget that, oh no, actually married people pay bills. They have kids and get their kids to school. They serve within the church. There's a lot of mundaneness that goes into life in general and into married life, and it's like, you want a friend and a companion who is going to be there for you in the ups and the downs and just the gray areas of life, and so don't get too caught up in these amazing, oh, I need this, I need that, but really look for someone who's willing to walk it out.


Mentor Mama:

Yes. Walk it out, and I feel like one of my objectives is, how can I radiate Christ in this relationship to others? And how do they see us in this relationship with others? And it's not always easy, and it is just every-day life, going to work and just the usual things. I know you're a big fan of assembling a dating team, you call it, before you date. What's the role of the team before dating and while you're in a relationship?


Lisa Anderson:

I always like to give a distinction between, the team really does carry you into that relationship and walk you through a relationship, so again, I'm a person, Ellen, who if I were to tell you, for example, my Myers Briggs profile, I am an E N T P. Okay? And my T, which is the thinker versus feeler, is like off the charts, so when I've been in dating relationships, I arrogantly think to myself, I've got this. It's okay. I'm not going to get weird. I'm going to approach this very objectively and logically, and it's going to be good. Then I start dating a guy and I am so wrapped up, I get so excited, and I'm so wrapped up in him that I completely lose my mind. So, everything that I said I was going to do goes out the window, this is why I need a team from the get-go, because too often we, as women, get into a guy, we think he's so dreamy, we saw him across the sanctuary at church or at small group and we lose our minds in objectively assessing what is this guy about? All of a sudden, we ditch our friends, we ditch our responsibilities, we ditch our family, we just start staring into this guy's eyes and think that it's us against the world. And so, for me, the team going into a relationship is going to help you. First of all, a team is going to help you find potential candidates, because like I said, unless you are sitting around at a Christian college where you are constantly interacting with Godly guys who are headed in the same direction as you, we need help in this area. You know, like I said before, with qualities, there are a lot of posers out there, there are a lot of people that think they're Christians. So that team is going to help you find great candidates. I often tell single women this, why have we gotten into this position where we think we want help with everything else; we want help finding jobs, we want help finding apartments, but when it comes to finding a Godly spouse, we're like, oh no, I've got this, don't worry, I'll figure it out. I'll go online. I'll do... No. We need Godly counsel in this area. So, to help us farrett out potential folks, to help us identify red flags, to help us be ready with developing that short, short list of what we're looking for in a person to make sure that we're not going to go out with guys who don't love the Lord, who aren't mature adults, they know what they're a about and they're willing to go after it, and so, that dating team is going to help you do that. And when I talk about a dating team, I should probably define that as well. This isn't like the whole world, this isn't like, let's just have everyone have a say in who you're dating. This is a small group of trusted people. I would highly recommend some mentor types, you know, maybe even your own parents in the mix, if you can have good conversations with them, but also maybe a Godly couple from church, and then maybe a few peers who you know are wise, they're mature, they are willing to tell you a few things straight. That's another good hallmark of one of your team members; they're going to tell you the honest truth, because then as you move into dating and start dating, these are the people that are going to embrace you in community, so that, when you're dating, it's not just all you as a couple. You're going to go have dinner with friends, you're going to let other people lay eyes on this person and see how they relate to other people to ask them some hard questions, to be that person who's going to be your protector in a sense. And that group of people who are your protector, when you maybe aren't asking the right questions yourself. I often use this caveat too, which is probably one of my most unpopular statements ever that I make in "The Dating Manifesto," my book. I say, when you have your team, pick three people on that team and these three people are going to be your wisest folks and your most tell- it-like-it-is folks. They're going to tell you something hard when you need to hear something hard and all those three people, if they agree that the person you're dating is not a good person for you to be dating, you will cut it off, no questions asked. That is giving them authority in your dating life that you need to have. All three of them will agree on this. This isn't just a one-off person. They're going to agree that based on what we see, this is not a good fit for you. This person is not pursuing Christ. There are some red flags here we see that you're ignoring. You're going to give them that authority in your life to speak that in and you will cut it off and you will trust their wisdom and their counsel in that. And no one wants to do that. You know, because we want to think that we can handle it, but we sometimes need people to step in and speak into our lives in that way. And so, this team is just, they've got your back, they're rooting for you, they are praying for you in your relationship and as it moves forward, and they just, you just know that if things crash and burn, they're going to be for you too, to help you grieve and pick up the pieces and get out of a broken relationship, they're just the people that are being the body of Christ to you in the midst of it all.


Mentor Mama:

Yes. And like you said, having someone who can look at it very objectively and feel strong enough that they can be honest with you is an important member of the team.


Lisa Anderson:

Yeah, for sure.


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Mentor Mama:

Dating, oftentimes people think about it as, I need to take action. I need to be doing all this. And then there's another camp that says, no, I just need to trust God to bring me that right person. Help us understand like what you feel about the balance between those two.


Lisa Anderson:

And it definitely is a balance because usually folks fall into one of those camps. We'll have people write into Boundless who are like, well, I'm not going to try to date because I just want to trust God. And you know, the intention to trust God is a good thing, but I've heard Henry Cloud say this, I've heard others say this, that unless you're going to marry the FedEx guy, you're going to have to get out of your apartment, out of your home, and be willing to meet other men. You're going to have to be willing to kind of put yourself out there. Whether you're a guy or a girl, you're going to have to be willing to be open to matches, and so I say, do what you can and trust God with the rest of the process. So, there are definite steps, there are things that we can do in the dating process that will help kind of move the ball down the field in that sense. So, for example, being the person who is willing to get a team, who's willing to even say that you want to date and eventually be married. And I think so many women feel such a sense of shame around this. Like if they admit it, it means that they're desperate or they're sad, or they're going to be a spinster. No, I mean, this is where, this is where we could learn from say the Jewish community or the Indian community who are still- their family and their community is very involved in the process of helping them find good matches, and so be willing to say like, I would love to be married someday. I would love for this to be part of my story, because then that kind of perks other people up to say, oh, I'm going to pray for you, or I'm going to keep my eyes open for you and maybe a great Godly guy will be listening and he will be like, oh, she actually wants to be in a relationship. I should consider her. I should, I need to pay attention here. So, that's kind of one of the first ways to take some intention into it. Now I would say too, because a lot of women will say, okay, well Lisa, I don't want to be too forward, I don't want to take too much control. And I, wholeheartedly agree, I think that men are created to risk, and women are created to respond. I think that, you know, and we can all feminist all of this out of that and make arguments or whatever. But I'm just saying so many women say they want to marry a guy with leadership qualities and yet while they're dating, they want all the control themselves and ladies you're working at cross purposes. I know plenty of women who are married, who gripe at me and say, Lisa, my husband won't even pick pizza toppings when we order a pizza, I have to make all the decisions and they're so frustrated and blah, blah, blah. And I'll say, well, what was he like when you were dating? And they're like, well, that didn't matter because I wanted to pick the pizza toppings then, I wanted to make all the decisions I wanted. And I say, look, if you're going to date a guy who's passive and unwilling to step up, that's what you're going to marry, and so give that guy space to lead, give that guy space to honor you, give that guy space to make decisions. So that's a great way for women to give up a little bit of control in it. But in doing that, you know, because for example, Ellen, I, say this when I talk to guys: Proverbs 18:22 says, he who finds a wife, finds what is good and finds favor with the Lord. Not he who sits around waiting for women to make all the moves and women to make all the choices. So, you know, women be willing to look and wait for that guy who's going to take some initiative. Now that doesn't mean you don't say hi to him at church, it doesn't mean that you never reach out to him, it doesn't even mean necessarily that you can't ever ask a guy out on a date but do what you can to encourage that in him. Now on the flip side of that ladies, it's also okay to, if you're letting the guy be the hunter per se and be the one who's going to go out and seek relationship, it's not a problem for you to snap some twigs. So to be seen, to be found, to be known, that is fine, and so approach the guys, with the spirit of kindness, approach them, be available. Women that travel around in packs and, you know, have their girlfriends around them. Like what guy wants to break into that, that's a terrifying scenario. And so be the woman who stands alone at church or sits alone at church or is willing to walk up to a guy and start a conversation, be an initiator in that sense. I think this idea of, you know, God is certainly in control, certainly. I mean, even where I am today, Ellen, God could get me married if he wants to get me married, he could, he could marry me to someone I've known for 15 years and that is entirely within his power, but it doesn't mean that I just sit around and sit on my hands and say, well, I'm not going to talk to anyone. I'm not going to cultivate, my own character. I mean, there's so much growth that we can do in the meantime, as women personally, in the Word of God, and in cultivating the qualities we will need in marriage. So be active in that and proactive in that, and then you add some trust of God as an underlying foundation for all of it and you know, that he will be able to accomplish what he will.


Mentor Mama:

We've been touching on the steps leading up to getting into a relationship, talk about some of the principles for actually being in a relationship and dating well. What does a healthy relationship look like?


Lisa Anderson:

This is where I want to give some credit to our grandmas who, again, where I alluded to my mom on the front end of our conversation about, it just seemed so much easier back then, and a lot of it was because they were just willing to hold things loosely in pursuing a relationship and exploring whether or not something was a good fit. So, this is where I say, don't go into a relationship and let it hit you like the flu. Too many women do this where all of a sudden, they're so caught up in it, and they're so excited that a man is interested in them that they have no rhythm, they have no scheduling. So as a result, they let the relationship take over their lives. I dated a guy not too long ago, who I was a little bit taken aback by this, but he would set up date nights and I was kind of like, what? we're just going to go out like once a week? How are we really going to get to know one another? But he was so respectful and so forward thinking in, no, we're going to get to know each other, but I don't want you to give up your commitments at church. I don't want you to give up your friendships. I don't want you to give up your family. So, let's just carve out this time. And you know, maybe once in a while, during the week we would hit one another with a text or something, but the converse of that is women who get all of a sudden with this new guy that they've met, they're in text trails all day or phone calls all day, or they see each other every day or every evening, and it takes over their life and they've given precedence to this burgeoning relationship, that again, like I said, commitment versus connection. It shouldn't have that power in their life at that point. So, a great principle to think of is just before you start out, decide where are your boundaries going to be? Not only in a time, like I just described, but emotionally, what are you willing to share at what juncture in the relationship? And you've got to be willing to guard that space within your own heart to not be getting too intimate, too close too soon. What are you going to share? This is why I'm such a big fan of dating in community and inviting other people in because you don't need to be going to that heart level in your first couple months of dating and taking ownership of that and going too deep too soon, and then certainly setting up the appropriate physical boundaries in a relationship because too many people don't think of that until it's too late. For example, I think it was, Lakita Garth Wright, who's a popular speaker in the abstinence movement and beyond, she said the way I always thought of it when I was dating my husband is, don't be doing something that you wouldn't want to be interrupted by your granny doing. And so, for some people that means just being in public spaces, for some people that means being in community, for some people it means limiting the time they spend together or when they spend time together. So, don't invite that guy over to your apartment in the evening and hang out late at night, you know? Just thinking stuff like that through, and then I always, say that a great chart for a relationship moving forward is to say, always have checkpoints. So maybe it's going to be after that first month of dating and then in another couple months, but you know, we've heard people describe it as the DTR that stands for define the relationship, you've got to have these checkpoints because you need to make sure that both people in this relationship are on the same page. So, it's like that checkpoint to say, okay, how are you feeling about where we are right now? Do you want to continue dating? Are we actually going to become exclusive at this point? What does this look like? To what extent are we going to involve our families now in this relationship and getting to know, at a deeper level, our family members. And then I would say finally, Ellen, that once you're able to have these conversations and do these checkpoints, that's a great barometer for, should the relationship continue because I think a lot of people, they get into relationships well, but then they don't know how to get out. They maybe languish in a relationship too long that maybe just needs to be stopped, and it could be something where there's, you know, all the way to the extreme of there's some toxicity there it's not good, or it could just be, it's not a good fit, and that's okay to just say, you know what? I don't think this is really a good fit for me, I'm not feeling called to continue here, but I wish you all the best. And so, to be able to be that person, and again, it only works when you've established the relationship on healthy footing and not gotten too enmeshed and not put too much stock in the relationship itself so that you can say, you know what, this is always a brother or sister in Christ first and foremost, apart from any relationship. So, you're honoring a brother or sister in Christ to say, you know, I wish you all the best. I thank you for the time that you invested in me. We can part ways and move forward, healthily on our own.


Mentor Mama:

Do you have any tips or advice for the breaking up process? More specifically?


Lisa Anderson:

I do. Back in December of last year, I wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune on how to break up like a grownup because, really December, leading into, in fact, they've decided it was December 11th, somehow all these algorithms, decided that that's the biggest breakup day of the year. And so, I wrote for the Chicago Tribune saying, how can we do this well as mature adults who can respect the other person? And I think just a couple tips for making it happen, first of all, do it in person. In a digital age where we are so into ghosting people, texting random text trails, just going, like I say, on the fade where all of a sudden, you just kind of like start detaching without ever telling the person what's going on, do it in person, show up with your real self, in real time and real space, and that's just honoring of that other person. Also, in the midst of that, this isn't the time to rehash the relationship and assign blame or shame to a person for how they showed up. Maybe you just need to say, you know, this is why I'm breaking up, we're ending it, but you don't have to go into a big trial about it with judge and jury for who did what. So just again, allow it to just be done, and in doing that, be clear. I love to tell this to women all the time, because I think we're the worst at this. We think guys will understand what we're saying, and they really don't unless we spell it out, so you may actually need to say, I am breaking up with you, this relationship is over, because otherwise the guys are going to show up and be like, okay, wait, is there still a chance? Like, are you really breaking up with me? Maybe she's just like, not serious, maybe. So, you need to be honest about your feelings and just say, and again, honoring him as a brother in Christ, but just saying, yeah, it's actually over. And then once you've ended it, this is not the time to reach out to that guy again, whether you were the one dumped or you were the one that ended it. You're not stalking him on social media, you're not checking in with his friends and family, you're going to give him the space and you're going to take the space to heal and to move on. And then finally, you are going to move on confidently and it's okay to do that and give yourself some space, so don't jump into another relationship too soon. Don't be the person that has to be dating someone to find your self-worth, give yourself space to heal and to process and to learn what you can from that relationship that ended. I think that's a great way to look at it maturely and realize that you are not defined by any relationship except your relationship with Christ alone. I remember a friend of mine was so upset when a guy that she was dating dumped her and she felt so hurt by it. It affected her value and her identity, and she said, her mom told her, just because this guy doesn't love you doesn't mean that you're not worthy of love. And so that idea of we cannot look for that in human relationships, God first and foremost will fill our tanks and give us our identity and our worth. And then out of that outpouring, we can love others, but just because a guys not interested doesn't mean others won't be and doesn't mean that you are not worthy of relationship and being loved.


Mentor Mama:

I can speak that from a long process of dating that I had as well. That's encouraging. Can you tell us, in your own personal life, how has God encouraged you in singleness and how have you struggled to trust him and what has he taught you along the way?


Lisa Anderson:

Sure. Well, and it's been quite a journey and I would say almost I've measured it in decades because I only semi- jokingly tell people that for being single, my twenties, I blame on myself, my thirties, I blame on men, and then as I got into my forties, I was like, well, I better just blame God, because there's no one else to blame, but here's the deal, I feel like God has been so gracious to me because in my twenties I was very, again, I was pursuing that path of like career and everything and no guy was good enough, and I was just going to chart my own course. Well, then I got into my thirties and I kind of was like, oh wait a minute, I thought I'd be married by now. What happened? Where did I miss the boat? And I kind of freaked out and started making up for lost time. So then that's when I got online and I kind of dated guys who were Christians, but definitely not good fits, definitely not mature brothers in Christ. I just went through some really lame dating experiences, let's be honest. They were lame and there were some hurts there and, and whatever, and then I feel like now, in this decade, I've settled more into, you know what, God has a purpose and a plan, and there are so many great things about singleness. That said, Ellen, I want to encourage women, this isn't like, let's all lift up our Hello Kitty coffee mugs, and act like, oh, we're all okay and we don't need to be sad about this. It's okay to grieve singleness because a lot of us want to be married. And so, I remember, when I turned 30, the year I turned 30, my dad passed away from cancer and I had to grieve. I mean, I had to grieve first of all, turning 30, because it meant that I would never be married in my twenties, and that was a loss that I had to acknowledge and name and grieve. Well then, my dad passed away and I had to grieve the fact that he will never be at my wedding. If it happens, he will not be there, and that is another loss that I had to grieve. Well, then I left my thirties and I had to grieve that, you know, and say, okay, that decade is gone. You know, time marches on, it's passing by, but this is why the Scriptures are so important because you know, first of all, what do we hear from the Psalmist in the Psalms, pour out your complaint to God. God is willing and able to handle our hurts, he is near to the brokenhearted. He is there for us. He is, he walks through circumstances with us as a brother who is not unfamiliar with sadness and heartache. And so, I tell women, I say, the person not to pour your complaint to is the guy that you want to be dating, who broke your heart, dumped you, let him go. You don't need to complain to him. That's going to get you the label of crazy or catty or whatever. What you want to do is take it all to the Lord because he can handle it and he can actually do something about it. So, grief is okay, but at the same time, there are so many blessings that I found in singleness, Ellen, and I don't want to say that in a happy, clappy way. I think all of us as women, whether we're single or married, we need to invest in friendship. Too many of us are assumptive that, oh, I'm just going to wait it out until I get married, and then there's going to be this man there who has to love me or who's going to be in relationship with me. And you know, we realize that first of all, that's not a guarantee, but secondly, a husband is not meant to fulfill every role in our life. You know, we need others in our lives, and so what does it look like to build a community of friends? Those who are going to have your back and walk through life with you, be sisters to you? I've got a few of those now in my life, here in Colorado and they're my tribe. They're my people. They're the ones who are rooting for me and who, you know, give me a little slap when I need it too, when they're like, nope, Lisa you're out of line, and so we need those folks in our life, but also then to remember that, and I said it at the start of our conversation, singleness is not a waiting room for marriage. It's not a second-class status. It's not where we're waiting for our lives to begin. It is a season, for some of us it'll be super short for some of us, it'll be longer for some of us, it'll be throughout our lives. And it's a season where God has good things for us. You know, we know that as a single person, there are great things and there are hard things that we're going to trade those things when we get married, and if we get married, we're going to have more great things and we're going to have more hard things and they'll probably be different things, but one isn't better than the other. They're just different seasons with different opportunities and different graces and mercies and hardships. So, walk forward wherever you are confidently, because God is going to use you and he's going to use whatever you're learning now to take you into that next season.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. And you know, listening to yourself, listening to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth when she was going through her period of singleness is so encouraging. And I think it's just important for women who are single to have people like you that are kind of pioneering and being open and honest and vulnerable. So, I thank you for that and how you continue to pour into women to help them and encourage them. For those people that do want to find out more information about you, Lisa, where would they go?


Lisa Anderson:

They can certainly find me personally on social media. I'm usually on Facebook at, I think it's Lisa C. Anderson or on Instagram, I think it's reversed Anderson Lisa C, but then at Boundless, we're at boundless.org. We have articles, we have a group blog, we have our weekly show. You can also find our show anywhere podcasts are found. So, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, all of that, and it's really fun to be at Boundless because we're a community of single young adults that really are trying to root for each other and walk out life with each other and be encouraged because, you know, if we're honest, not all churches do ministry to young adults and the single young adults the best, you know, and that's where I want to encourage listeners. Don't blame your church. Don't get bitter, be part of the solution to help them understand where you are walking. What season you're walking through in life because your precious pastor, you know, especially post COVID now he's just trying to hold things together. He's trying to lead a flock and preach the Word, and many pastors were married young, and they don't understand. They're like, I don't know what to do, you know, with these young adults, these singles. And so, give them some grace and give them some opportunity for you to dig in and be like, how can we best cross generations and pour into one another and learn from one another, be part of that solution. And so, at Boundless, we give folks an idea of how to do that, and so we just want to be a community of folks who are spurring one another on to trust God for every detail of their lives, whatever season they're in.


Mentor Mama:

That's so beautiful. I will put all of the links to what you've mentioned in our show notes for people. Before we wrap things up, I just wanted to ask you about some of our favorite Bible study tool questions. So, what Bible do you use, and which translation is it?


Lisa Anderson:

Okay, so I currently use the ESV, which, you know, is obviously a very literal translation. It's super popular now. So, I primarily use the ESV at church that's the one we use at church and then in study, although being a child of, you know, the eighties and nineties, the NIV has a special place in my heart. So those old passages that I memorized as a kid in Pioneer Girls and beyond and all that. Sometimes I hop back and forth, and I'll read it in the ESV and then I pick up the NIV or even The Message, it's fun just to get fresh eyes from that as a paraphrase. So, it's kind of fun to diversify a little bit.


Mentor Mama:

I absolutely agree. It's a great idea to look at multiple versions. Do you have any favorite journaling supplies or anything that you use to enhance your Bible study experience?


Lisa Anderson:

It's so funny that you asked this question because I am probably officially the worst journaler ever. I don't even know, like I always tell people, I said, part of it's this fear of like, I'm going to die, and people are going to open journals and read them and be like, oh, was she even like a Christian? Like what in the world? But I will say that I love, in fact, one of my big encouragements for women, Ellen, is to figure out as early as you can, how to study the Bible in a way that works for you. Because I think too often, we think what other people are doing is what we need to be doing. And so, for me, it's always been about homework. So, I often do studies now that have homework or studies associated with them where you are looking stuff up, you're finding things. And then I often do a women's Bible study Thursday nights that, uh, we have our study has homework. And so, I know that when I hit Thursday, those ladies are going to be asking me my thoughts on the passages that we studied, and so it's kind of that mix of writing down personal applications and reviewing them. And I like to do that and go back then to previous studies and see what I was learning and where have I come from there and what else have I studied that has kind of supported that. And so, I'm a high thinker and am I someone that can journal and emote all this stuff? I'm not good at that. But I love to write things down and go back and reflect on it later.


Mentor Mama:

I agree that being in a Bible study with a group of people is just so challenging in the sense that you do get to hear how other people are responding to the same questions that you answered, and it really gives you greater insight, I think, into interpreting the Scripture.


Mentor Mama:

Last one. What is your favorite app or website that you like to use for Bible study tools?


Lisa Anderson:

This also is tricky and very funny. I'm going to tell on myself on this one too, because I have lately really been enjoying Daily Audio Bible, which I know many people, in fact, one of my best friends, she's also my housemate, she listens to that every night and it is literally the audible reading of Scripture that accomplishes reading through the Bible in an entire year and the guy who leads it, it's a community of folks. They even do prayer requests at the end, and he often is a pastor. He does commentary usually on one of the passages that's been read. And it's so funny because I'm like an aspirational Daily Audio Bible listener because I'm not an audio person. Generally, I'm not an auditory learner. And so, it's exercising that muscle in me that has been very good to take in Scripture, even passively, even as I'm walking around, if I put on a day and I just start taking in that Scripture, it's just a good thing to do. There are so many messages bombarding us via social media and entertainment. And, so for me, it's that way to say, no, I'm going to have something else to enter this space that's going to take that over. I also subscribe to several newsletters, from prominent pastors and others, where they bring in a word throughout the week. One example of that is, Paul Tripp's, Wednesday Word, every Wednesday. You can never hear too much about grace and Paul Tripp is excellent at taking grace into daily life. And the fact that everything that we've been given is from the hand of God himself, and we have not done anything to earn it or deserve it, or we don't bring ourselves to the table in a way that's like, Hey God, let me just show you how amazing I am. We're all just children of his that he loves and bestows so many blessings on, and so that's just a pick me up. In fact, we're recording this on a Wednesday, and I read today's already, and it's just something where I take it into the day and I'm so excited to see what he has to share.


Mentor Mama:

Excellent tip. Lisa, thank you so much for being here today, just to encourage people, to share your insights on dating relationships. I appreciate it so much and I know our listeners will as well. For our listeners, I just want to encourage you to pick up a copy of Lisa's book, "The Dating Manifesto." You can find the link in our show notes, and please share your comments on this podcast. We also have a video portion if you're listening to this, on YouTube. So, you can go on there and share your thoughts on Christian dating and singleness and we can all learn from one another. So lastly, I just want to remind everyone to head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website. We are actually super excited because just last night, we launched our new updated website. So go on over there, take a look for our Prayer Journals that will help guide and document your prayer life. Thank you for joining us on our podcast today. We love you all have a blessed day.






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