Some of things people do today are ridiculously outward, creative, and even weird. For example we have things like the cinnamon challenge which the participant has to try to eat an entire tablespoon of ground cinnamon without any liquids or spitting any of it back out. There is also the one hour gallon challenge which requires the participant to drink an entire gallon of milk in just one hour. Sounds easy at first, but almost every attempt has gone down in vain followed by a disgusting puking spree that helps turn our stomachs as well. Not only do our minds think up things like the cinnamon or one hour gallon challenge we also tend to find ourselves doing crazy dares/challenges just to prove we’re better than the person next to us.
If you are a devoted reader, then you know that for the past year starting on July 11th, 2012 and ending July 11th, 2013 (that’s today!!) a group of five including myself have been going through and just completed our challenge. Our challenge isn’t something ridiculous to us, and it didn’t cause us to throw up. But to others it might seem a little bit weird that a group of high school students would decide to make it of the highest importance not to date anyone for an entire year, but instead with our extra time (not being spent following or pursuing a relationship with the opposite sex) we would focus more on our relationship with God. Throughout this past year we have experienced a lot as a group, but even more individually.
On July 9th of 2012 I was standing on a beach in Oregon talking to my best friend about anything, politics, girls, sports, etc. But something had been pressing on my mind that I wanted to talk about, for awhile I had felt the call that I should take a year off from dating and focus more on my relationship with God. My cousin had decided to do this challenge and has now completed two years of it, but she had shared her experiences and thoughts with me, which seemed like a great idea for myself. So feeling this call of my own I shared my idea with my friend Austin who was hesitant at first, but was willing to give it a try. So we decided that we felt called to an entire years worth of focusing on God more than girls, as we walked back to camp we both had different thoughts of how hard this would be, and exactly what it meant. As we left the beach the next day with our mission trip team we began our trek to San Francisco California, through the car ride and the rest of the trip we decided to let the group know of our decision so that we could be prayed for, and here the rest of their thoughts on it. San Francisco turned out to be an amazing trip with many fruitful lessons, and serving opportunities between the bay area and inner city Oakland. But on the way back home we had six more commitments to this challenge, and it was decided that we had started on July 11th, and we wouldn’t date anyone for a whole year.
So we went back home and began our new adventure of focusing more on God. The challenges for myself and many others where overwhelming, and we were just barely beginning to realize how challenging this would actually be. Quickly we had two of the group drop out, and begin a relationship with one another because they had never actually done the challenge for the right reasons. The group was narrowed to six before we had even finished month number four, and we had already seen people quit, but we had also seen the work that God was working on and going to do in our lives throughout the year. But disaster struck the group again as another person dropped out of the challenge because they felt the lack of necessity if they were already going to date the guy she is in a relationship with now at the end of the challenge. So before month seven was over we lost another, and found our group being narrowed down to just the finishing five of us.
As we began to near the end of the challenge it became easier, it wasn’t focusing anymore on “not dating” but turned into the focusing on God part. During the first 6-7 months we had a lot of time struggling through the fact that we couldn’t focus our attention on girls but instead needed that time to be more with Christ. So we began to wrap up this challenge all having focused more on what God desired for us.
Personally God used this time to build my self-discipline and help me not give into temptation so quickly. This can be shown throughout many ways from a year ago to now. For example one problem I use to have was anger, and I would get angry at someone and just use my tongue to rip them to shreds with the worst, most vulgar, hurtful words I could. Now having practiced self discipline even more, I have now gotten my tongue under control, now when I get angry with somebody I have control over what I say, I don’t just throw out what I think is best but I wait and reflect with God before responding, or saying something unnecessary. Another example I have is with a girl who I hope to ask on a date so I can get to know her a little bit better, and see if this is a relationship that meets my criteria. This girl I have noticed for just a under a month, and if this was early on in the challenge I most likely would have approached her, gotten to know her, and asked for her to “wait” so I could finish the challenge and then date her after it was done, which isn’t being very faithful to the challenge. But now having focused on my self-discipline I made sure that I wouldn’t even talk to her or begin the slightest pursuing of her until the challenge was completely over and I felt that I was no longer under a “no dating policy”. These are just two ways God has shown my growing of self-discipline due to focusing more on him throughout the past year.
I mentioned that I would have to figure out if this girl met my criteria, which sounds a bit harsh. But my criteria is a list that doesn’t have to be 100% but needs to be close, and if its not close they have to be willing to make a change that’s honest and real to God not just to me. So a small list of what I have put together is this:
- Must be a Christian that is constantly growing their walk
- Needs to refrain from drugs no matter what, and from alcohol until legal age
- Needs to have an active accountability partner
- Needs to have the same interests as me
- Has to be approved by two other Christian role models.
This is a small, but important list to my future in dating and having a relationship again with the opposite sex. A relationship I have must be God driven, and needs to benefit me as well as the other in the relationship.
So after a year I can finally say that I have completed one of the hardest challenges in my life, but one of the most beneficial as well. Benefitting my relationship with God, my relationships with friends, with girls, with family, and with people I’ve never met before. This challenge has been amazing to do with a wide range of emotions felt towards the challenge, towards others, and towards God Himself.
But today we celebrate with a awesome year that will never be forgotten.
Please continue to pray for each one of us, and congratulate any of us if you see us anytime soon. Congrats April, Austin, JD, Stefani, and myself.