What is a Blind Spot? A blind spot is an area of your life that you don’t see. You may be saying, “I don’t have any blind spots.” Well, I hate to tell you this, but by definition, you won’t see them. They are there. Trust me. In fact, your family or friends may know what they are. Over time, through self-discovery, you may have fewer of them, but there are always others. It has to do with self-awareness. Dan says: My parents are in their early nineties and still driving. They have done extremely well with staying safe. But, as they have aged, their reflexes and awareness have slowed down. This has led to some nervous moments when driving with them. They recently purchased a car with amazing features that help with potential blind spots. When a car is next to them and out of side-view mirror range, a sensor detects it and beeps. When another vehicle is too close in front of them, the car senses it and beeps, and even slows the car down. It also senses if they are drifting out of their lane, beeps and corrects the car back into the lane. The technology is impressive. But the reality is, all of this technology is to remind them of their blind spots or awareness gaps so they do not get into an accident. I’m grateful for the technology because I know they are much safer as well as those around them. In our lives, we have areas that are blind spots. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a warning system if you were about to get hurt in a relationship? Wouldn’t you love it if you could avoid making a mistake you would later regret? There are some steps you can take to help with your blind spots. Let’s look at some common blind spots people have in their lives. How do you identify possible Blind Spots? Blind spots are usually discovered by seeing symptoms. Have you ever had a bruise and couldn’t remember how it happened? You may have bumped into something and it didn’t register as something memorable in your life, but it left a mark. Blind spots are like that. There is a lingering effect, but we don’t always know or remember what might have led to it. The list below represents some examples of blind spots. These are the symptoms of something you are not aware of in your relationships. As you go through the list, see if you can identify with any of these in your own life. • Friendships—Your friendships deepen quickly and you feel very close to someone, but then they seem to fizzle. Or you seem to have a lot of short-term friends but have trouble keeping friends for a long time. You only feel comfortable with friends of the same sex. You only feel comfortable with friends of the opposite sex. • Dating--People may repeatedly break up with you or you break up with them. Although you would love to find and date someone, you feel frustrated and have given up. You have identified the problem with your dating life and it’s everyone else, not you.
• Conflict—You hate confrontation. You seem to repeatedly have trouble resolving conflict. Even though you’re not happy about something in a relationship, you go along to get along. You find yourself blowing up about things in different relationships. You don’t have the patience to work through conflict with others. • Emotions—You try your hardest to avoid emotions. You fear losing control when you feel certain emotions. You find people are afraid of you or avoid you because of your emotions or outbursts. You have a hard time identifying how you feel about relationships, life events, losses, or setbacks. • Gender—You just don’t seem to understand the opposite sex. You see eye rolls from the opposite sex when you share your “wisdom” about them. You make blanket statements about the opposite sex, but they seem to disagree. You feel uncomfortable around the opposite sex. • Work—You believe you are doing a good job, you show up on time, you stay over, you are willing to take on projects others reject, but you don’t understand why co-workers are promoted over you when you feel you are the most qualified and most committed. • Social—You hear about parties and gatherings, but you rarely seem to get an invitation. Why aren’t you getting invited? If you do get invited, you feel awkward and don’t know why. • Singing—You believe you sing like Frank Sinatra or Beyoncé, but Simon Cowell just said your singing sounds like the mating call of a Tibetan yak. OK, this may not be a problem most of us have, but you get the point. Not knowing what is true about ourselves can impact our relationships. You could have blind spots with appearance, hygiene, leadership, culture, education, goal setting, finances, parenting, spinach in your teeth, and so much more. To read more about Blind Spots including steps to overcome them, be sure to purchase your own “Intentional Relationships for Singles” 12- week study. We also encourage you to attend the www.LaborDaySingles.org Retreat this Sept 2-5th, 2022 where our theme is Intentional Relationships based on the study.
Scenario: A lady is new to my church that I am interested in dating. I finally got the courage to ask her out. She told me no and explained that she liked me as a friend. Because she was new to the church, she wanted to take some time to get to know me. So how long will this take, I thought to myself? How am I supposed to keep seeing her at church and keep my romantic interest to myself? Should I just ignore her and hope the feelings go away? Should I go to a different church now? Or should I wait and see if her feelings change?
First of all, we have all experienced being in the "friendzone." That place where you were either told after you broke up that they just want to be friends, or you never even got a date to begin with. In modern culture, it may also refer to a place I call "Friendationship" where one person is in love with the other hoping they will eventually also love them. In contrast, the other person only has friendship feelings and knows they will never have different feelings.
Often, a friendzone offers little hope of changing. It can be a place of discouragement. It is a place that most do not want to be in unless it's mutual. A place that leads to nothing. But is there a value to the "friendzone"?
In the scenario:
His dating technique is similar to the technique of the secular world. Tarzan sees Jane, Tarzan wants Jane, Tarzan gets Jane. We are in such an instant society that we make assumptions without any information when we don't get what we want right away. These assumptions can lead to a loss without you knowing it. We give up and do not wait on the Lord's direction or input.
There is value in waiting to get to know someone better before you date them in any culture. I call this an Intentional Friendship™. It's a place between generic friendship and dating. It's a period of time when you are both in agreement to get to know each other, asking more questions without the pressure of dating or the expectations that come with dating too soon. What would have been great is if she suggested an Intentional Friendship™. This way, he wouldn't have felt rejected, leading to a poor attitude. It would have given him some hope while still allowing them both to get to know each other.
He was concerned about how long it would take for her to get to know him well enough to go on a date. My question is, why wouldn't he be interested in getting to know her as well. The older we become as singles, the more baggage we carry. So the more we can learn about each other, the better we are when we enter into a dating relationship. Now how long this takes is really up to how much time they get to spend together as friends to get to know each other. In an Intentional Friendship™, you schedule time together such as talking or texting, getting coffee, or going on a hike. This way, you have the time to ask all the questions you want to know the answers to, get to experience being around them, and see them around others. This period will reveal a ton of information. Information that allows you to access if you do want to date.
He mentioned his concern about seeing her at church and how he was supposed to behave in the friendzone? Well, here is the thing, if she could be the one, building the friendship would be worth it. But like in all relationships, you need boundaries. If you are attracted to her, you will continue to be, and that is good as we need to be attracted to someone we want to date. But while continuing to get to know each other, you sense your interest is stronger, you want to spend more time with her than she seems to want to spend with you, or you find yourself manipulating things so you can sit next to her, show up at her activities, etc. then you are not on the same path. This is when you do need to guard your heart. This is when you do need to practice boundaries. It can also be a time to have a DTR: Determine the Relationship.
If, after a few weeks of conversation, group activities, etc., you talk with her again about going on a date and she still feels the same, then perhaps it is time to move on. While I don't think you need to change churches or go to a different service, you need to pray and ask God to help you and let go of your feelings to move on. I know it will be challenging, but you will survive. I promise.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! —Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
Value of the Friendzone
Jesus valued it. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." – John 15:12-15 (NIV)
You can learn about each other. This will help in all opposite-sex relationships, including friends who eventually date and/or possibly marry.
This is a great time to practice boundaries.
You can discover how to communicate more effectively as most men and women communicate very differently.
It can teach you how to care for someone without a romantic attachment.
It can reveal areas that you need to change.
Friends in the friendzone can lead to dating relationships if you spend enough time getting to know each other and involve the Lord through prayer and direction, communication and accountability of others.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.—James 5:16 (ESV)
Before you start dating: • It’s important that you have spent the time working on yourself, including all of the relationships in your life, such as family, work, and friends. Note: Chapters 1-10 will help you in your walk with the Lord, reveal any areas of your relationships that need change, and discover red, yellow, and green flags. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” – Psalm 139:23 (NIV)
• Have you identified an accountability partner? Note: Throughout the study, we teach you the importance of having wise counsel from those you trust. This is important for all of your relationships. “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” – Proverbs 15:22 (NLT)
• Have you prayed? Have you honestly spent time seeking God about this person, and whether or not you should move forward? Have you asked for God’s peace, His wisdom, and direction? The number reason our relationships struggle is getting ahead of God and his best. Note: We talk more about this in Chapter 2, God, our first intentional relationship. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.“ – James 1:5 (NIV) • How is your health? This means everything from physical, mental, spiritual to emotional health. Note: Chapters 2-6 talk about why our relationships fail, our identity, how God designed our genders and their differences, as well as blind spots. Often we are not ready to date because we are still struggling with our identity, emotional issues, holding on to our past, etc. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT) • If you have children, have you considered them? When children are in the picture, they need to be protected from bonding with multiple people as potential parents. Note: Having an Intentional Friendship™ (Chapter 10) can help protect not only your heart but the heart of your kids. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.“ – Psalm 127:3 (ESV) • Ask them out. This may seem obvious, but we have found that people often send mixed messages or make assumptions about what they are doing when it comes to dating. So, make it clear you want to move from an Intentional Friendship to dating. Note: Chapter 11 goes into tons of great detail about intentional dating, including the 2nd date and forward and, when it ends, the next step. “So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Luke 11:9 (NIV) • Who is paying, and who is driving? This cultural question differs depending on how you were raised, your generation, financial ability, and what you may have already discussed in your Intentional Friendship. Note: In Chapter 2, we talk about those unrealistic expectations that often lead to miscommunication. Would it be great to learn how to be realistic about ALL of our relationships, including family, work, and friends? Then when we get to the date part, we are experts. “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” – 2 Corinthians 8:21 (ESV) • Hygiene and appearance. I know this should be something everyone knows, but to be honest, we don’t. As friends, we should help each other in this area, so it isn't an issue when we feel led to start dating. Note: Chapter 9 talks about friendship and the importance of speaking the truth to each other. “Before a young woman’s turn came to go into King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.” – Esther 2:12 (NIV)
• Be creative and have fun. Nobody goes on a date to be bored, so plan ahead. “A joyful heart is good medicine.” – Proverbs 17:22 (ESV) • Talk less and listen more. Continue to ask open-ended questions. Note: At the end of the study, we have over 650 questions on every topic you can think of. While the questions are not meant to go in order or all used, they are a great guideline and help when spending time together. These questions could even be used in all of your relationships. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak...” – James 1:19 (ESV) • Mobile devices. So what is more important, your phone or the person you are with? “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works...“ – Titus 2:7 (ESV) • Set up boundaries. Boundaries are needed for all relationships. Note: We spend a considerable amount of time talking about them in Chapter 7. Today, decide to date the way God has designed by being intentional in your relationship with Him first and then all others.
Everyone has relationships that didn’t work out the way they had hoped. It’s a part of life. But, often, you don’t take the time to understand why they failed. By looking at how they relationships fail, you can learn how to minimize your mistakes or change your expectations for future friendships. In the beginning, though, relationships didn’t start off this way.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.“ – Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
God created you with the distinct purpose of a relationship—first with your Creator, then with each other. However, this idyllic beginning was short-lived. A reading of Genesis 3 reveals that great expectations ended in dismal failure, the consequences of which we deeply feel today.
What Happened? Have you ever had a relationship that just seemed right from the beginning? We’re not talking only about a dating relationship, but any friendship that clicked. You may know many of the reasons you got along so well, but chances are you didn’t understand all of them. Not only does God see relationships as important, but they also benefit you greatly. We gain so many benefits from a relationship that we don’t even recognize them all. Good relationships yield better physical health, better mental health, richer happiness, deeper love, greater empathy, improved creativity, longer life, to name a few. Healthy relationships make us better versions of ourselves. This is why being intentional about them is so important.
Since we are designed for relationships by our Creator, it stands to reason that the One who wrote the operator’s manual can share with you His wisdom on what an intentional relationship should look like.
Why do you have so many struggles in your relationships, especially with those closest to you?
To understand this, we have to look at one reason your relationships fail. What often starts off so well inevitably runs into struggles. In Chapter 2 of Intentional Relationships for Singles, we delve into four relational challenges, and we are certain you will resonate with some of these in your relationships with your family, friends, acquaintances, work-mates, or someone you are dating or engaged to. So to give you a glimpse into why our relationships fail, we will start with a big one: SIN
Sin really is at the core of all of our problems in relationships. We will identify this more specifically as we look at sin in our own lives. The first sin is described in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve decided to take the direction they thought was best, desiring to be in control, having God’s power and knowledge. This encapsulates what sin is. It is being self-focused. Even your mistakes can be the result of missing something you should have seen because your focus was elsewhere. These common sins can have the biggest consequences in our relationships:
• Idolatry: This is listed as the first commandment for a reason. Most people struggle greatly with it. Making relationships your top priority is idolatry since God should occupy that space. • Betrayal: Sharing what was supposed to be kept confidential or cheating in an exclusive relationship are examples of betrayal. • Envy: You are not satisfied with what God has provided you, and you want what others have. • Lust: You focus on something that excites you. It might be a person, a position, or an object of fantasy. • Pride: You are in control, and you know better than God. • Selfishness: It’s all about you.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.“ – 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)
Magazines at the grocery checkout stand give you advice on dating, sex, and relationships (including friendships, work, and family) as you wait to purchase. Every romantic movie tells us love is this magical thing that overcomes all obstacles no matter the circumstances. By the end of the movie, the couple reconciles and lives happily ever after. Of course, there is always a beautiful woman and a man, and, for some reason, a dog. That’s what we all want, right?
Then there are the reality shows, giving us a “true” perspective of what real relationships look like. Simply take sixteen model women; one tall, dark, and handsome guy; three months at a dream location, all expenses paid; and a rose, and you’ve got everything you need to find your spouse. I’m sure we can all relate. Then we discover that some of these reality shows are scripted,
The problem with this picture of happy relationships living happily ever after is that fewer and fewer singles are getting married and far too many marriages end in divorce. Even marriages that last sometimes aren’t fulfilling. Work relationships struggle because of unresolved misunderstandings. People start friendships with the hope of finding that kindred spirit, but find the revolving door of disappointment instead. Often our friendships are like social media. We appear to have hundreds of friendships, yet how many of those are truly close? Families continue to struggle due to personal past problems, addictions, blended family dynamics, or financial issues. These scenarios, and so many others, rob us of experiencing the deep relationships God originally intended for us.
Our culture is also changing the attitude many singles have toward marriage. The single population for adults over eighteen is now over 50 percent. Many younger singles are abandoning the institution of marriage and opting to live together. The reasons for this are numerous, yet the vast majority of singles desire to be in a healthy committed relationship or marriage.
Dan says: After my divorce I didn’t know if I would ever be married again. I had a lot of pain and confusion. But deep in my heart, I wanted someone in my life who I could love and who would love me back. Someone who could share life together with me. Even though I was married before, I had missed some of this. However, my dating life didn’t seem to indicate I would be married again.
When I talk with singles who have lost a spouse or have been through a divorce, many tell me they aren’t interested in dating or another marriage. However, I have seen many of these same people in a dating relationship when they thought the right person came along, some within a year of telling me this.
In my experience, most people in Christian circles are open to a loving, committed marriage. It’s just that they are sometimes still hurting, feeling awkward about looking again, feeling unprepared, or they have lost hope because of their circumstances. Well over 90 percent of the people I have talked to in singles ministry would be open to a marriage if the right person came along.
Kris says: In my many years of starting and leading singles ministries, the most frequent question I get is, “Why hasn’t God brought me someone yet?” They feel they have done everything God has asked them to do. They are in church regularly, reading their Bible, serving, debt-free, healthy, and in shape. They think I have a crystal ball and can just look into it and know the answer. But the reality is, I don’t.
For some singles I meet, it’s obvious what the problem is, from the way they dress and groom themselves, to how they communicate, to unresolved issues, and immaturity. But for those who appear healthy, in love with Jesus and sold out for Him, it’s a tough one.
I wonder, “Lord, why haven’t you brought them a spouse? They seem healthy. Wait a minute! Why haven’t you brought me a spouse?”
Hmm, maybe the answer is more complex. Maybe it’s about an incredible calling of sacrificing my possible, maybe, almost amazing, future marriage and family. Maybe He has called me, like most, to marriage. Has it possibly not happened because of my own junk that I haven’t dealt with? Hmm, and if this is so, then what am I supposed to do about it? I had to confront it, pray, and ask God’s Spirit to show me the areas of my life that still needed help or change.
This journey of personal change led to starting a ministry called “Pray for a Mate™” — a monthly prayer group for those who are serious about praying, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal issues in their own life that need to be changed so you would not only be better prepared for marriage but healthier in the process. But also allowing you time to accept the possibility that God may want to keep you single. I will share more about Pray for a Mate in chapter 10 and how you/your church can start your own group.
We were created not just for “surfacy” relationships or acquaintances, but we were created by God for deep, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationships including our family, our kids, spouses, co-workers, and friends. Our relationships were designed to transform us into better versions of ourselves. That is how God works in our lives. Our relationship with Him has the effect of making us who He always intended, first starting with Him, and then affecting every other person in our lives.
In addition to the world’s definition of what it means to be single, well-meaning Christians often miss the mark with spiritual sounding advice to their single friends. This advice may be, “God will bring you someone when you least expect it,” or “You’re lucky you’re single; being married is hard,” or “God will bring you ‘the one’ in His timing,” or “Maybe God is trying to teach you a lesson.” Though it is possible some of these sentiments are true, only God would know. Its far more likely due to complex circumstances and the broken world we live in than any single, simple factor.
These kinds of comments cause unintentional hurt to single Christians who want to be married. Like many achievements in life, finding the one you want to marry is better approached with the right perspective and effort put toward it. We are relational beings, but relationships aren’t easy. Our primary goal is to help single Christians in their desire to be married to the right person. But we also know this curriculum can improve your family, friends, and co-worker relationships as well. The wisest man who ever lived said:
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning.“– Proverbs 9:9 (NASB)
—QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION-- We encourage you to rewrite the questions and give your thoughtful answer about each one. Don’t rush, take your time, and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. If your answer is “Yes,” write down your “Why.”
• Do you want to stop making the same mistakes from past relationships in the future? • Do you want to experience healthy boundaries? • Do you want to have healthier conflict? • Do you want clarity in your family, friends, and work relationships? • Do you want meaningful friendships? • Do you want your expectations in relationships to fit with reality? • Do you want to have real accountability that leads toward change?
If you said “Yes” to these, have we got a deal for you! We address these as we go through the Intentional Relationship curriculum. We all are in different places in our growth and health. Some of these principles will impact you greatly, showing areas where you need significant work. Other principles might only pertain to you in limited ways. And in some areas you will say, “Wow, I’m already doing this well.” Don’t feel like you have to become a completely different person. God meets you where you are, with the goal of helping you grow into the person He knows you were designed to be.