Being Single/Dating/My Relationships/Teen Relationships What Jesus Taught me on my Dating Fast by Timea Zabo Going through a breakup is a painful experience of its own. It is confusing, crushing, and sometimes even paralyzing. Months can pass and it can feel like nothing has healed inside. It can be easy to grow impatient and let other things try to numb the ache. I know your pain. I have been in these shoes. Years ago, I barely understood it myself, but deep down I knew that God was present and wanted to reclaim my heart for Himself. I recognized it was Him by the gentle, inviting, and freeing nature of the pursuit. The Lord’s consolations made it clear that there was more in store for me if I was willing to trust Him. After the breakup, Jesus took me on an adventure to serve as a summer missionary in the beautiful mountains of Georgia. One of the great joys of being a Life Teen summer missionary is living into the “Rule of Life” which serves as a guide to root one’s life in Jesus Christ. It is a spiritual kick in the butt. A religious hot chili pepper that sends you sprinting for the Lord’s mercy every other minute. It is glorious. One of the commitments we make is to glorify God in our relationships by not pursuing any new romantic relationships while being at camp (which is super difficult because, um hello, you’re surrounded by holy, on fire, Jesus loving missionaries 24/7). But it really helped me focus on the mission of leading teens to encounter Christ and deepen my own personal relationship with Him that I had neglected for so long. When the summer was ending, the idea of continuing my own dating fast was stuck in my head like shoes at the bottom of the messy games mud pit. To be honest, I didn’t picture spending my later years of college withdrawn from the dating scene, shriveling away into singles’ land while all my friends rode away into the sunset of Olive Garden with their handsome dates. I was at a loss. My head started to spin. “A dating fast is so counter cultural, Timea, and to so many people, even absurd! Even my grandma’s generation would think it’s crazy… I am headed towards the prime of my life, so why would I hibernate when it’s #weddingszn?! What if I “miss the one”? Wouldn’t I be wasting time that I could spend on meeting dashing young marriage prospects?” Basically, I saw it as: Cloud of Doubt Ok hold the phone… I just want to take a second to debunk the lies society and the enemy have fed us. Our generous, gracious God would not let us “stale” or miss the future Mr. or Mrs. for the sake of investing deeper in the heart of Christ. He knows and honors the commitment and sacrifice it is to give up the things of this world. He is not oblivious to that. Above all, He delights in our hearts after His. He placed that desire in us. So I had a choice. I could choose to numb my aching heart with old habits such as running back to that relationship, partying, or hiding in the busyness of life. Or I could listen to what Jesus was trying to tell me, to let Him, the Spouse of my soul, heal my wounds. I knew that if I didn’t bring my broken heart to God, something else would tape it together. But tape doesn’t last. At the same time, I wondered, “If God wants to make me new, why doesn’t He just do it? I mean He is God…” But think about it… just like a true gentleman wouldn’t barge in against your will, neither does He. He knocks. And knocks. And knocks… until He is invited inside. He respects our free will that He gave us. Transformed Who says you have to say goodbye to the dating scene while on a dating fast? How about dating the most perfect man EVER?! Who’s the real winner now? So I decided I would exclusively date Jesus for three months after that summer ended. I went on “dates” with Him every day. Sometimes the “date” would be at a coffee shop while I prayerfully journaled. Sometimes it meant going to the chapel for an hour and doing Lectio Divina. Other times it meant reflecting on the daily readings in a park and then feeding the ducks (I know I’m a dork, ok?). In a normal romantic relationship, you grow in love by spending time with each other, getting to know one another, and sharing your hearts. Why would Jesus deserve any less? Needless to say, I had a blast and a half. And Jesus totally gave me a heart transplant. He bore fruit in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Here are a few of the things Jesus taught me on my dating fast: Men and women are not a measuring stick. In the past, I would be tempted to see men as potential dating material. When I met a nice, Catholic guy, I would frantically think, “Is he dateable to me? Am I dateable to him?” As if there were some crazy metric system in my head that could calculate the answer in 7 seconds. By not dating for some time, I had the opportunity to let Jesus transform my perception of men for who they are as my brothers in Christ, rather than the romantic relationship they could offer me. The time is now. The time to build a solid relationship with Jesus is now. So many times I made the excuse “I’ll be more intentional with Jesus when I finish this hard class” or “when I go on a retreat” or “when I stop this habitual sin.” Heads up, nothing gets done “tomorrow” because tomorrow will always be tomorrow— so start little by little today! My vocation. I had the freedom to clearly discern my vocation, the way in which God calls me to love Him and His people more fully. He, first and foremost, calls us to holiness (CCC 2013), and then the way in which we live that out (e.g. married life, consecrated life, priesthood, etc.). I even spent a part of my spring break at a convent with sisters — it rocked!! Intimacy is beautiful. I feel the most beautiful in my life when I am close to God. But it’s not because I have a solid tan, a new tube of mascara, or a fresh new haircut. It’s because I realized true beauty is intimacy with God. Jesus will always be the love of my life. Truly, only God can satiate my thirst. He is the only one that will totally know and love every fiber of my being. It takes a whole lot of pressure off others when I allow God to be my main source of love. I am so thankful God doesn’t let my heart be satisfied by someone or something else because He loves us so much that He wants to fill us abundantly. To infinity and beyond. This intentional time with Jesus built a strong foundation for my future relationship with Him and others. However, it takes a constant renewal and further building to maintain that relationship, which means I do need to keep a rhythmic daily prayer life to allow the fruits to multiply beyond the time of being on a dating fast. To the soul who is still reading this blog post: I understand the ache. I understand the unsteadiness you feel after a breakup. I understand what it is like to lose a best friend and confidant. But I also know the healing that is waiting for you on the other side and the authentic love that is ready for you with arms wide open. Freedom is just around the corner when you seek intimacy with Jesus instead of worldly ways to mask the pain. What does Jesus want to teach you? Be not afraid. Your Bridegroom will not disappoint you.