"Take your time."
This is some of the most admonished advice given to the dating divorce. And I understand it--or the intent behind it. Kids are in the picture. There's already been pain. No one wants more hurt.
But it's also a load of crap.
Time is not a guarantee. I just read a story by a pastor who was paged to a hospital ER during her CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) while she was in seminary. A 30-year old mother lay dead on the table while here two preschool aged sons were in the next. Last year I read another story by a Midwestern writer and volunteer EMT in his small town community about being called to the scene of a fatal accident and finding it was his sister-in-law who had only recently married his brother. I'm already 41. I hope to have a long life, but there is no guarantee. And time passes more quickly than I'd like.
And none of us (speaking in generic terms on behalf of other divorced people) honestly know what going slow means anyway--other than the well-meaning warning not to get too physical. Nor do we know what guarding our hearts means either--at least not in practical terms.
I was teach the senior high Sunday school class at church today. We talked about discipleship in the ancient Hebrew setting. If a young Jewish male wasn't chosen to become a disciple of a rabbi, he went home to learn the family trade and start a family of his own by age 14 and 15. Scholars believe that Mary was likely around that age when she and Joseph raised Jesus. Did anyone tell them to take it slow?
I think the proper aphorism is to make the most of your time and use your head as well as your heart. I know there are plenty of mistakes we make when dating after divorce. I've made several. But in relationships sometimes you have to give things a try. It's a learning process of trusting your heart and your mind--and learning when to question them.
What I'm discovering is that when things are right and meant to be--when a lot of prayer goes into the relationship and God's hand is clearly at work--that you know when and how to proceed.
There is plenty of advice out there on when to take the next steps in dating--especially with children involved. And it varies quite a bit. It's all well-intentioned. It's also frustrating and confusing as you try and figure out what's best. Sometimes you can only trust God, trust the other person, and trust yourself. Which is what a good relationship needs anyway.