Growing up I heard that God has one person picked out especially for me. I believed that way of thinking but quickly became discouraged because relationship after failed relationship it felt like I would never meet “the one”.

I tried fixing myself, being Ms. right, lowering my standards, giving up, and finally accepting that a good relationship and lifelong marriage may not be for me. Maybe I wasn’t meant for marriage. I was in despair and fell into depression.

But I couldn’t stop the longing in my heart for a spouse. I couldn’t fake happiness when clearly I was hurting and wanted to be in a relationship. There didn’t seem to be much hope, but I remembered the text in scripture that told me that God would give me the desires of my heart. He longed to see me happy in relationship because that is what He’s all about.

I got back out there and decided to give dating a try again. I knew there was someone out there for me and I would not give up no matter how many failed attempts.

In the process I learned other valuable lessons that would strengthen and encourage me along the way.

A failed relationship does not mean I’m a failure
I carried the scars of failure and other people’s opinion of my failed relationships around with me for years. I felt like a failure and began attracting people into my life that validated those negative feelings. I had to literally retrain my brain to think differently.

We have the tendency to label ourselves based on circumstances. I did this when my relationships failed. I felt like a failure so that must mean I’m a failure right? I learned that this is not true. My relationship status doesn’t not determine my worth. The sooner you learn this the better.

Sometimes God is closing a relationship door because He is trying to protect my heart
One day while driving on the highway I was lamenting yet another relationship that had gone down the tubes. I thought through all the things that were great then suddenly went wrong. I tried to figure out what was wrong with him and what was wrong with me.

After going down this path for a few minutes, suddenly I heard a voice say, “Sometimes I close the door to relationships to protect you and save you for something better”. What a revelation this was for me! I hadn’t thought of it that way, much less, thought of how much God protects me not just from physical danger, but from emotional danger and damage too.

The person I least expect could be the person made just for me
We all have an ideal image of the person we want to be for us. We paint this picture and have expectations about how the person should look, behave, and treat us. Most of it is based on external ideals and have very little to do with character. This can be a problem because we run the risk of missing the person who is best for us, because we are looking for a certain package they should come wrapped in.

I thought the man who was right for me would come in a certain package. He would be fit, fine, and in fantastic financial shape. He would be self-motivated, say all the right things, and make me feel like I was the best thing since sliced bread. But I had to let go of this ideal to embrace what was real. The man who would come into my life would not fit the image I had and would not have it all together. He, like me, would be flawed and fail. He would not be what I thought I wanted but be even better once I released the fantasy and gave him a chance. The reality is more authentic than the fantasy and much more satisfying.

I can trust my heart to lead me to the right person
In love, trusting my heart was pretty much none existent. I simply did not trust that I could make a good decision when it came to my love life. All I needed to do was look back at all the failed relationships in my wake. It was disheartening and proof that my man picker was broken.

Fortunately, I gave up that way of thinking and changed my perspective. I had to forgive myself of all the “bad” choices I made in men in the past first. Next I had to look at all the good or the lessons I learned from each of them. Finally, I decided to trust my heart to lead me to the right person. Being still, evaluating the new people vying for my attention, and trusting myself (with God’s guidance) to make a good choice.

I realized that I didn’t always have all the answers and would not know all the challenges I would face, but I could do my best. Looking at a man’s character, social interactions, family relationships, and work ethic are strong indicators for me in making a choice. So far my choice has been good. I trusted my heart and it has not failed me.

Being a single woman in or out of a relationship is challenging. The longing in our hearts for love seems to never go away. Sometimes it seems we are imbeciles when it comes to men, but the reality is we are very capable of attracting the kind of relationship we desire. It takes a bit of introspection, planning, and leaping out in faith, knowing that our heart’s desire is what God designed for us as well. I hope you will implement the four mindset shifts I’ve experienced and shared into your life as you prepare for “the one” for you.

Samantha Gregory a relationship coach, freelance writer, and author of No More Crumbs and numerous other books. Ms. Gregory writes and publishes relationship, motherhood, business, and self-improvement books and articles in Atlanta, GA where she is also preparing her two teens to launch out into the world.