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The Christian Dating Game: Love Yourself First

Relationship coach Tera Carissa Hodges shares the most important tip for attracting your soul-mate

Woman embracing herself smiling

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life, love and dating is: you attract who you are. Having heard this time and time again, I am one of those people who has to learn something on my own before I can fully embrace it as truth. Call me a test dummy, dare devil, or rebel, I must see it, experience it, feel it, or have it to believe it.

I am now a firm believer that the flaws you refuse to see in yourself, God will send into your life through other people in such an extreme way that it spurns you on to ask, how did I get here? How did I attract this? What can I learn from what I attracted? And, finally, what changes can I make so I don’t ever attract this person, situation, or circumstance again? It’s what Christians call reaping what you have sown.

When you start to evaluate the seeds you are sowing, you can start to see where you may have misprioritized your relationship goals. Perhaps you’re looking for someone with a certain look, or bank account, or accolades, or social standing or some other external feature because you feel being in relationship with a person who has these kinds of things will increase your self-worth, as well as your standing in the eyes of others and will therefore increase your happiness.

Read more: The Christian Dating Game: Attraction vs. Compatibility

Or maybe you’re seeking out a relationship with a certain person because if that special person finds you valuable and lovable, then others will, as well, and then you can finally be happy. None of this will work. People are not happiness tools, they’re people–as are you. When you disconnect people from their humanity and see them only as what they can do for you and how they’ll make you feel about yourself, you are putting unbearable and unfair pressure on them and guaranteeing you’ll both be miserable in the long run. Your happiness and joy cannot be found outside of you and God. 

Put attracting your soul-mate on the backburner and just love your own soul first. Love the shell it is housed in; love your God-given life. Love the mistakes you’ve made, pain you’ve caused, missteps you’ve taken, and even the bad seeds you’ve sown;  surrender it all because, as Romans 8:28 teaches us, it all (the good and the bad) works together for your good. Just be willing to take responsibility for your mistakes. That maturity will show you who you really are and who you are capable of being, with the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

Read more: 5 Tips for Christian Dating

When you love yourself–who you are, who you’re not, what you have, what you don’t have, lessons you’ve learned, mistakes you’ve made–you no longer put the responsibility of your happiness on someone else’s shoulders. But how can you get there? Fast from dating, and spend alone time asking yourself some pertinent questions: Am I happy with me? Do I really love me? In the words of Pastor Andy Stanley, “Would I marry me…not the representative I present to the world, but me?”

While it may take some work to get yourself ready to be in a relationship with someone, know that it doesn’t take any work for you to be loved. You are already wholly and unconditionally loved by Jesus Christ, no matter what you’ve done, are doing or will do! Rest in that truth. When you finally start to believe you are perfectly loved by God and you get to that place of self-love and inner joy, you just might see that romantic love was available to you the whole time. After all, a soul-mate is nothing more than an imperfect but compatible person with whom you’re willing to work, serve and grow.

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