It’s possible that all around you are the beginnings of what you might term an intentional supportive community: empathetic people who have experienced similar situations and emotions and to whom you can reach out for emotional support in your intention to find your life-partner. Many will be willing to listen and help with advice and wisdom. So here are some pointers from my experience about identifying the right people for your own intentional supportive community:
Someone who has been through a similar experience
When I went through a miserable divorce, my soul was crying out, “This shouldn’t be happening! Why isn’t God stopping it?” Divorce is common but I longed to talk specifically to Christian women who had been through it and who understood the spiritual confusion you go through.
The two divorced women I hesitantly contacted gave me a welcome that was warm and real and generous. As we talked, something of their faith and dignity communicated itself to me and I came away that little bit more able to see a way forward. The fact that they had gone on later to find loving partners encouraged me to realise heartbreak does not mean your romantic life is over, and that, when the time was right, I too could take steps to be proactive — maybe even join a dating site!
While you might not have experienced divorce or similar, you may well be in an emotional place that someone else will recognise. Sharing your experiences with them and hearing what steps they took can help you move forward.
A male confidant or female confidante
I’m female and dated men, and when unsure about some aspects of male behaviour I really appreciated my good-natured, older brother-in-law’s take on things. I had just been on a first date with someone who never stopped talking, which I was inclined to see as a red flag of arrogance rising over his head.
When I told my BIL, however, he just laughed, told me it was very likely my date was over-talking through sheer nerves, and advised me to give him another chance. Wise advice. The conversation on the next date was much more give-and-take and I really began to warm to him, but if it hadn’t been for my sensible male friend’s insight I might have rejected a man with lots of potential.
Someone who ‘gets’ you
We all benefit from someone we can be ourselves with, cry our eyes out in front of, scream, “I’ve been dumped!!!!” down the phone to, ask for an emergency after-work meeting with when we need the warmth of human companionship at that exact moment and not a moment later. Someone on the same emotional wavelength. Someone unshockable. They are that earthly reminder of the supernatural unconditional love that exists for us just as we are.
A couple whose marriage you admire
When my relationship bad news went “live” I’ll never forget the lovely down-to-earth woman, one half of a couple, who wasn’t too embarrassed or too shy to pick up the phone immediately and say simply, “Just wanted to say, we don’t want to be pushy or intrusive but we’re here, just down the road, if you ever fancy a cuppa and a chat.”
Although I hadn’t known this couple particularly well before that point, sharing with them over the next few weeks and months did a lot to reassure me and start the healing process after relationship breakup. They had the wisdom of years, warm hearts of pure gold, and a marriage with its inevitable ups and down under their belt. Being with them began to restore my sense of marriage as a committed partnership, and that you didn’t have to be perfect to have a perfectly good imperfect marriage.
We are meant to be in community with each other – even an intentional supportive community!
‘Encourage one another and build each other up’ (Thessalonians 5:11)
’Encourage one another daily’ (Hebrews 3:13)
If any of this resonates with you and you feel your relationship journey would benefit from the support of an intentional supportive community, mull it over, pray about it, and see if God prompts you with any people in your network who might be just right for you at this point in your relationship journey. Community is at the heart of our faith and the beautiful thing is, God may want to bless other people around you through being there for you.
And someday, maybe quite soon or maybe longer term, it’ll be your turn to encourage others in their relationship journeys because of the amazing things that happened in your own.