Monday, December 6, 2010
Private Counseling in Last Night's Chat
Due to holiday festivities, no doubt, there was just one person in the chat with Expert Emily Shupert from Atlanta, GA. Here are some excerpts from the chat, where the chatter is airing her frustrations in not meeting Mr. Right:
Emily: Here I am :) Glad to help you with any of your dating questions!
Chatter: Well I've got lots of questions! I hope you are ready! I'm in a dating drought. I just don't know what to do.
Emily: Interesting, tell me how long you have been single?
Chatter: I've never had a serious boyfriend. So I would say all my life I've been single (I'm 30 y/o)
Emily: Well, I think that one really wise thing you have done is being proactive through joining cache connections. Have you found any matches online? how long have you been on?
Chatter: Off and on since 2007 (???) not really sure of the first year I tried it.
Emily: Well, you have definitely been giving it a try so that is a plus! How about your social life/work life...are you in an area where you are meeting new people and/or developing deeper relationships?
Chatter: All of my coworkers are married and I'm not really meeting new people.
Emily: That is a problem for sure because you can't meet your husband doing life like it has been done. However, I would encourage you to consider these possible options. I like telling my clients in private practice to not shut down them immediately but try them on to see which is the best fit...not all is one size fits all. One really easy and less direct way to start dating would be to tell your married friends to set you up with their single friends. People who know you will hopefully be willing to set you up with those that they love but might not know you. I'd encourage you to give them some hints on what you are looking for like Christian, age range, etc.
Chatter: I've done that and they don't have friends that fit my hints.
Emily: Even if they don't have anyone in mind, they can be looking out for you and having other people help you with you in mind. Also, make sure that your criteria isn't too narrow because you might be limiting your choices. Another option is your church group....are you active in a church or singles group?
Chatter: Over the years I've widened my criteria considerably .. my church is primarily older members and we have no singles group.
Emily: Ok, that isn't a problem at all. I'd encourage you to continue going to your current church but start plugging in at another church nearby with a singles group that is known for an active singles group. I know that some people feel uncomfortable with that option but honestly, there are few places where you will meet Christians and create quality relationships...def. not found at the bar.
Chatter: So do I just call around to churches and ask if they have a singles group?
Emily: Yes, it is as easy as that! Go around and see which churches you like the most and then get involved. You don't necessarily need to move churches but you can be active in their activities outside of the Sunday church hour through activities and such. Christmas and New Years is a perfect time to plug into new groups and try them out because there are often many parties and activities.
Chatter: I'll be honest that idea is a little uncomfortable to me.
Emily: Understandable but when is doing anything differently comfortable? Many things that require stretching and growth require discomfort....discomfort associated with change allows us to grow and experience new things :)
Chatter: I guess...much easier said than done.
Emily: I think Dr. Cloud or Townsend said, We don't change unless the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. I might be butchering that a bit but basically nothing that changes is often easy but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I'd encourage you to tell others and have them join you, pray for you, and check in with you on how your search is going....that is what community is for. It is not easy at all to do this process but I have seen clients who have said similar things to you but they took on the challenge to make such changes...now they are in committed relationship. Look at the end of the road and what you are wanting...that will make the discomfort worth it and kept in perspective.
Chatter: Did your clients have any societal barriers? (i.e. race, age, socio-economics, etc.)
Emily: Yes....can't go into it due to confidentiality but they all had challenges and while I'm not saying that you are the same, you can use your challenges to be creative in this process and let God work through them to get you to a fulfilling relationship.
Chatter: If it would be helpful, we can look at some of the barriers that might be in the way.
(Chatter reveals her personal social barrier.) ... but I don't think that other people are as open minded (meaning people in my same socio-economic status)
Emily: That is so unfortunate! Have people been direct in telling you this? That must have been so painful.
Chatter: No one has ever been direct, but I stick out when I go places.
Emily: Well, I think that you probably would feel like you stick out more if you are in a setting where you are the only single person or in a smaller group. However, if you get into bigger groups, there also might be greater diversity. Do you live in a small town by chance?
Chatter: The town isn't small, but it isn't diverse.
Emily: I live in Atlanta and it is a very diverse city but I've also lived in smaller towns...however there were cities nearby that had bigger groups of people and a bigger pool. But 2 hours might be a bit of a drive. Another option is to change your patterns in your daily habits. For example, if you go to the same coffee shop each week, you can change your route and try new places. If you need to check emails on the weekend, catch up on a good book, or whatever, go to a new coffee shop in a more diverse area of town and stay there each week to meet people
Chatter: I guess so..I just don't know what to do anymore. Part of me just thinks maybe I should be content with being single ..maybe that's what God's plan is for me.
Emily: It isn't a huge change of living but it is basically finding new places that you shop, entertain, etc. and then meet them. I know that there are many views on singleness but I interpret it in the Bible that singleness is a gift. If it isn't something you want, I don't think God would give you a gift you disliked unless He changes your heart. It is in His timing and His ways but I wouldn't give up right yet.
Chatter: Its just very frustrating for me, especially since I can see no reason why I'm not "equally yoked" with anyone.
Emily: Totally understandable! It makes sense that you would be frustrated, especially when you are working with all married people and probably feel singled out. If you are feeling frustrated, that is real and honest and I think it is very important for you to be honest with yourself and God about this frustration. With this said, I'd encourage you to put these frustrations before Him and ask Him to fill your path with new people whom you can meet...possible dates or new friends.
As a counselor, I tell my clients that they have the choice to stay stuck in their frustration and let the situation shape their perspective or they can choose rest.
We rest in the confession that things aren't what you want, when you want or how you want....in rest we accept that some things are not complete but in the same sentence, we thank the Lord for what is in our lives (job stability, friends, church).
Chatter: Very true.
Emily: It is a balance of admitting what is lacking while also thanking Him for what we have....gratitude and honest acknowledgment of what is lacking. That will help frustrated hearts find rest in our Father's hands. He knows who you need more than you do but I think that this is an opportunity where you can use the frustration as a treasure in this desert dry time. Christ didn't die for you to live in the desert, He died so that you could live life to the full...not only in eternity with Him but also here on earth.
Chatter: I try to keep that perspective that He wants me to focus or do something else with this time, but I really don't want anything else so thats what makes it hard. I would give up my job, house, car, etc to have someone in my life.
Emily: When we think we will just stick it out in our frustration and take what we feel we have been given, we are camping out in the desert and acting like it is what we are supposed to do...deserts are for walking through, not camping in :)
Yes, you do truly desire it but I would also encourage you to do something that you are passionate about like volunteering, taking a class in the community center, or serve at a new church you find...you will be enriching yourself, honoring the Lord and possibly meeting someone who is interested in the same/similar things.
There are two really great books that I would recommend for you if you are into reading..... One is Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove and the other is How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Cloud and Townsend. One is on dating and has a pretty aggressive strategy for dating. I would recommend you read that while also reading Choosing Rest as it helps you keep perspective in the process. I'm so sorry that this has been such a difficult season for you and I know that He doesn't waste any pain or tear! Ok, our time is up and I'm glad that you joined tonight. Best wishes in your future steps and as God leads!
Chatter: Thank you!
Emily: My pleasure. Take care!
We love Emily and her love for the Lord and her special understanding of singles and their frustrations! For more information on Emily Shupert, click here.