My team of choice is the Minnesota Vikings. I’ve long thought that I should have married a football player on that team. I’ve been such a huge fan for that long. However, football players are now much younger than me AND much younger than my sons. That dream went away a long time ago. And I’m pretty happy being married to my pro sports player. Though professional paintball is not at all the same as my beloved football team.
A sports team is not what I’m talking about here. This team is a group of adults you assemble and grant the freedom to speak into your life. You should never be brave dating without your team in place. Hence this is one of the first steps.
Start by praying for God to reveal to you the people in your life who you can trust to walk alongside of you. These people need to be in close proximity of you. Skype can help with that proximity because you may have that lifetime friend who now lives away from you. But you also need people who are part of your current and daily life where God has you planted. These team people need to be able to see how you live your life.
Age is not necessarily important. You may want to have a peer or two on your team. I also strongly recommend you ask that older wise person in your life to be on the team. That older person may be grandparent age. Your team may be multi-generational. Hopefully it will be. Age is not necessarily important. What is important is that you choose people whom you can be vulnerable with.
You making yourself vulnerable to your team is the biggie here. You are going to ask these trusted people to walk with you as you brave date. You are giving them permission to ask you questions—particularly the hard questions—as you date to find out who you are. Your team has the responsibility to keep you accountable along the way in all of your behaviors. And most importantly, you are asking them to confront you and prevent you from falling into your self-destructive behaviors, those behaviors which have prevented you so far from being in a healthy relationship. Your vulnerability is important throughout this entire process.
Remember that “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” (Dr. Brene Brown). This is true in who you choose to have a serious dating relationship with and is true with who you choose for your team. You must stay in vulnerability along the way. To your team first, and then it will be so much easier with that worthy person you end up dating seriously. Just think, that person actually gets to date the true you!
The number of your team should be more than two and less than six. Those are manageable numbers so you are not spread too thin as you are living vulnerably. Two people really are enough if those two people are the type to be pro-active.
Formally ask each one of these members to be on this team of yours. This is not a small ask. Ask them to pray for you regularly so you can find your love for a lifetime. Explain to them your version of brave dating and what your goals are. Let them know what they are in for and the expectations you have of them. Tell them you want to be accountable to them in all areas of your dating life. Openly tell them your weaknesses and patterns, at least the ones you know about now. And grant them permission to speak into your life and lovingly confront you, particularly in those patterns and weaknesses.
You may want to bring them flowers for doing all of this with you but my guess they will desire to do this with you.
Brave dating is dating to discover who you are. Your team is to help you not let your defenses and excuses keep you locked up in a small world.
Note #1: Not everyone on your team will give you the same advice. Sometimes the advice may be contradictory. That is okay. You are mature enough to discern what is the right advice as long as you are equally open to all of them. Each one of your team members loves you and wants the best for you. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will all have the same advice because they all have different life experiences that builds their advice. And that is your gift—to get such loving advice from these people who have had different life experiences than you and that they want to give them to you.
Note #2: Your team does not need to go on your coffee dates with you. Nor do they need to be spying at a table across the room. You are capable of doing that on your own and reporting back to your team.
Find your team. Now. You can’t brave date without one.