By: Olivia Smit
When I was 19, I was worried constantly.
Not about school assignments.
Or my future career.
Or even my friendships.
So what occupied every spare inch of space in my head?
A massive, overwhelming fear that I’d never find anybody to marry.
That my dreams of being with the perfect man would fall flat.
You see, I had a lot of friends who started dating in high school, or who were at least texting boys (!) but by the time I graduated, I’d never held hands with a guy, let alone been on a first date. I’d never even been asked out (except the time a co-worker called me on the phone to ask if I’d go to prom with him … one week before prom. I said no).
And even though everyone told me it would be fine and I just needed to trust God, I wasn’t sure I believed them. Try as I may, I couldn’t stop worrying about it.
Experts say we tend to worry about things that are important to us. So is it wrong to worry about finding your future spouse?
Well, I for one, learned from experience that worrying that much didn't do much good.
I spent most of my teenage years in a frantic, desperate head-space, paralyzed and terrified that finding "the right guy" just wouldn’t happen for me. What I didn't know as a teen was that it was hugely detrimental to my mental health to hold on to these fears about my future, especially because they were completely out of my control!
I held on to all of my worries and fears about the future because it made me feel like I was doing something, even if it was just thinking about everything that "might" happen.
Little did I know, I was creating a habit. Our brains love to do what is familiar, and as I built a seemingly endless pattern of worry. Worry became my default mode.
Even when I started dating my soon-to-be-husband, it took almost six months for those feelings of stress and worry to go away! Being in a dating relationship wasn’t a magical solution!
You see, even though my external circumstances had changed, my inner world didn't! I had set up a habit that took a LOT of work and practice to break down, even though I didn’t have anything to worry about anymore.
We all know that we're not supposed to worry. That's the easy part.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:25 "Do not worry about your life..."
We can all quote and memorize that passage. But how are we supposed to apply it? How can we form new habits, and truly stop worrying?
GIVE IT TO GOD
Tell the Lord how you're feeling!
He's the one who told us not to worry, therefore He will give us the strength not to!
But that only begins by casting our cares on Him, knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
You can do this by praying, journaling, listening to worship music, and asking Him to help set your mind on the truth.
Worrying can keep our minds busy, but that's the wrong kind of mental activity.
Use your energy instead to develop great friendships (with both guys and girls!)!
Explore new hobbies.
Discover your gifts and talents.
Have FUN. Your life doesn't begin when you start dating! There are so many awesome things about this season you're in right now!
Make a list of all the things you love about your life. The people you're thankful for. Make another list of new things you'd like to try. Places you want to travel. Set some goals with new Monthly Intentions.
I think a lot of people subconsciously feel that they have to wait to meet their future spouse before their adult life will really “start.” Not only is that blatantly false information, it doesn’t go away when you get into a relationship.
Once you start dating, you’ll think you have to get engaged in order to really feel satisfied.
Then you’ll want to get married.
Start your career.
Buy a house.
Get a dog.
This “grass is greener” type of mentality will leave you permanently discontented, always thinking that the future is better than the present. And it’s all a big lie!
Each season of life is different, but none are more important than the other. All are difficult and beautiful, fun and tiring, monotonous and so amazingly special, each in their own way.
So no matter what stage of life you’re in, whether you’re dating or still waiting, this is the advice I have for you: check what you’re devoting your time and energy to.
If it’s worry, impatience, or thinking “when will my life begin?” maybe you need a refocus.
You don't need to feel trapped in a tower like Rapunzel. Now is the time to begin pursuing your dreams and passions, to build a firm, life-long-foundation of friendship with God, and be excited for all the faith-filled adventures ahead!
NOTE: Struggling with your mental health (like worry and anxiety) can be a real fight, even for the strongest of girls. Please know that in this article, I'm offering some simple tips to help us worry less, but I am well aware of the fact that some mental battles may require more assistance. So please, if you're struggling, reach out to someone you trust.
Olivia Smit loves baking, visiting small towns, and writing stories that faces hard truth with hope and encouragement. She currently lives in Canada with her family, where she spends most of her time trying to finish her to-do list and dreaming about her next story idea. Her debut novel, "Seeing Voices" came out in April and is available anywhere books are sold. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter.