I've Only Ever Had One Boyfriend and His Name is Pain.

I am 25 years old and I've never had a boyfriend. 

Trust me, I know what your thinking.

Just kidding. I don't.

You could be thinking a lot of things. And I'm ok with that. 

Don't get me wrong, I have gone on dates and many "coffee dates" (which in my opinion is code for: I am not brave enough to ask you on a date so I'll just ask you to get coffee instead and we will dance the awkward "do I like you or not" dance the entire time.)

SIDE NOTE TO ALL MEN OUT THERE WHO MAY BE READING THIS:

I have no idea how scary it is to ask a girl out on a date and I am sure there is probably a lot of fear of rejection that keeps you from actually doing it. I get that. But I will gladly offer you a piece of advice about us (complicated) women:

If you like or are even somewhat interested in a girl, please just take the risk and ask her out on a real date. The worst she can say is "No." The best she can say is "Yes." With that, I can almost guarantee that your chances of getting a "yes" go up exponentially if you actually ask her on a real date versus a "coffee date" or texting her an ambiguous text that says, "want to hang out?"

WOMEN DO NOT LIKE OR WANT TO DATE AMBIGUITY.

We tend to overthink everything to death so when you are not clear, it leaves our hearts and minds in an anxious, dramatic mess that constantly thinks of all worst case scenarios. And trust me, those kind of "messes" are hard to clean up. My advice: you can never be too clear with a woman. 

OK. That is all the advice I have for you, men. Moving on. ;) 

You better believe I have heard over and over again, "You really should start going on more dates... you will learn so much more about yourself!"

I am not at all discounting that because I do believe relationships tell you a lot about yourself. I am a firm believer in deep and meaningful relationships-whether in dating, friendships, family, co-workers-they have all taught me so much about my strengths and weaknesses, how to handle conflict, and communication.  

I have seen and walked many friends through heart break, dating, more heartbreak, engagements and marriage.

Guys, I've been in 9 weddings since the beginning of college. I am well on my way to "27 Dresses" before even reaching 27 years of age.

But I say that with so much joy and happiness in my heart. Because if you know me at all, then you know I absolutely love and adore my people and seeing them happy. I cherish my friendships as if they were precious gold. Plus, weddings are truly one of my favorite things on earth, so it's really a win-win situation in my book.

Post-college is where things really started to get "funky."

I would be at one of my best friend's weddings and people would come up to me and ask, "Ok but really.. how are you with all of this?! How are you really doing with being single?!" Sometimes people I BARELY EVEN KNEW.

I would stare at them blankly, as if they had just told me my cat had died. I wouldn't ever know how to respond.

"Ummmmmm am I supposed to NOT be ok?! How are YOU since you seem so concerned about ME?!"

It got me thinking about my "singleness" and all the it entails. You know what I realized?

For the last 5 years, I have had a serious boyfriend. His named is Pain.

I have always been a little weirded out when people say, "I am dating Jesus" so instead I have decided to say, "I am dating Pain and he has pointed me back to Jesus."

Because isn't that what any good and real relationship should do anyway? Point us back to Jesus and make you a better, more kind and humble version of yourself? The version of yourself that you wouldn't be able to be on your own? 

I can honestly say Pain has done that for me. I have learned more about myself through my journey with Pain than probably through anything or anyone else in my life. Because of Pain, I now have never been more sure of who I am, my strengths and my weaknesses.

Pain has taught me that life is short and often times, extremely shitty. You can't always control the hand you are dealt. But you can control how you handle it. So with that, I have learned to stop taking things for granted.

When pain started to make me a more mean, bitter, and angry version of myself, I realized quickly that version not helping this world in any way, shape or form.

So I decided to become the exact opposite. Grace, as is today, strives to daily live with intentionality, passion, humility, joy and love. Lots and lots of love. (Don't get me wrong. I have my off days... and days when you probably just shouldn't talk to me when pain is REALLY bad.)

You also better believe I pray everyday that pain wont be my forever. But right now, it is. So I am learning how to find myself and Jesus in it.  

What I have learned from Pain:

1. You are the only one in control of your heart, your reactions and your emotions.

2. A relationship, dating, or marriage cannot do or fix those things for you. They only heighten them. 

3. It's up to YOU and only you to take the time to actually sit down and learn who you are. 

Pain was never going to make me a better me if I wasn't willing to do the hard work of sitting in it, reflecting on it, letting others into it, going to counseling, and ultimately, asking Jesus to show me who He made me to be, in-spite of it.

"Dating" Pain has been just as messy and chaotic as I am sure dating a guy would be.

The tears, the emotions, the highs and the lows... it has all been there in my 5+ year long journey.

And yet, dating Pain has also been one of the most life-giving and joy-filled journeys of my life. It has truly made me a better me.

I just don't believe you need to be in a serious relationship to find out who you are. I have never thought that. I think you just need to open your eyes to the circumstances and people around you and let Jesus show you who you are through them. 

To be honest, I have always loved my singleness. 

I love my independence. I love my life. I love my people. When my married friends tell me that as much as they love their husbands, "You should soak up my single years, Grace!" You better believe I take that advice to heart.

But I am also learning that one way isn't better than the other. And I use to think it was.

Today I am single.. tomorrow I could be married. (LOL JK KIDDING DAD.) 

One isn't better than the other.. they are just different. And being content with where you are right now, in this moment, that is what makes all the difference. Accepting and loving who YOU are today... that is what makes a person's life truly come to LIFE.

HERE is the catch. I know right? There always has to be a catch.

Any relationship-whether dating, family, friends, coworkers-has the potential to show you who you are...IF you are willing to do one tiny thing:

R I S K.

That, my friends, is the golden ticket.

Vulnerability is a risk. Showing your true self is a risk. Letting others into your mess is a risk. Singleness is a risk. Dating is a risk. Marriage is a risk. Life lived well-it is all a risk.

One of the biggest things Pain has taught me is that risk is worth it. Every single time. 

Whether it's honest words spoken in love, telling someone you like them, telling someone you want to break up, having to fire a coworker, sharing your heart to others, speaking out fears, letting others into pain, asking someone to marry you, having a baby... it's all a risk. Because you don't know what awaits on the other side. Heck. You don't even know what awaits tomorrow.

But isn't that why we are on this earth?! To RISK? How utterly boring and sad would life be without the risk? 

YOU WOULDN'T BE HERE RIGHT NOW, READING THIS BLOG, IF TWO PEOPLE DIDN'T TAKE A RISK IN LOVING EACH OTHER. 

My best friend always tells me: "Grace. Guys can't read your mind. You need to tell them how you're feeling."

I will forever hold onto that advice. And not just with guys. I am learning to put it into practice with everyone. People truly cannot read our minds.

So why leave life-giving words unspoken? Why leave "I love yous" unsaid? Why not ask for help? Why not tell someone you like them? Why not risk?

It is a risk to live life. It is a risk to truly dive into knowing who you are, but my sweet friend, it is all worth it. I can promise you that. 

So whether you are reading this and are single, dating, married, divorced... let's strive to be people who are learning to risk well and live into the beauty of our season right NOW.

Because truly, tomorrow isn't promised. 

Love,

Grace