The Cardinal Element

winter-2401Anyone who watched the Super Bowl last night would have to agree that it was an amazing game.  The last two minutes packed in so much action that it was breathtaking to behold — including the disappointing, but still impressive, touchdown the Steelers scored in the last thirty seconds of the game.  From the picture on the left you may gather that my family and friends are dedicated Cardinal fans, so the Steelers’ victory was indeed a blow — especially considering the fact that we were still soaring from their dramatic gain over Pittsburgh before that final touchdown.  To illustrate our ardent dedication, the only Steelers’ fan present was promptly thrown in a snowbank when the game ended.  Thus always to tyrants.

Rather than going to church yesterday we did our once-every-two-months Homeschool Fellowship:  a gathering of homeschooled believers in one family’s home.  One of the fathers leads the study and discussion and an assortment of the young people leads the music.  It is a very enjoyable time.  Due to my distraction over the Super Bowl, I did not post a sermon review for yesterday’s “service”.  Today, then, will have to do.

We have been slowly studying Daniel, and are currently in chapter two.  This particular passage details Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchanezzar’s dream.  We talked about Daniel’s faith and virtue, his merit to the kingdom, and his position as a wise man.  Daniel was surely something else.  He was different from the Babylonian astrologers and enchanters, but even among his colleagues he excelled. 

Daniel had something about him that separated him from the others.  It wasn’t a horizontal separation, but a vertical one.  He was not removed from others on a level of personality but on integrity.  Daniel was above and beyond.  This is what kept him at the forefront of current events throughout the reign of three different kings — each of which promised him greatness and riches for his wisdom.  Yet the integrity that gained Daniel his position also instigated his humility and deflection of praise to Almighty God. 

Integrity is a rare virtue in this day and age.  Integrity means you don’t change with circumstance; you don’t manipulate, connive, or weasel your way through life.  You have goals, purposes,  and convictions that are unmoved by the wave of society’s ideals.  To quote a much beloved country song:  “You’ve got to stand for somethin’ or you’ll fall for anything.”  This was Daniel.

This can also be us.  Integrity is a facet of the Christian character that cannot be emphasized enough.  Love and peace sound great, but the nuts and bolts of Christianity come down to how firm a foundation you stand on, and whether you even believe that foundation is real.  Remember, love and peace sounded great in the seventies too, where integrity went out with the doo-wops and poodle skirts.  The Christian faith is not all feelings and fuzzies.  It’s rock-solid. 

The Cardinal element in the Super Bowl didn’t quite cut the mustard, but what’s the cardinal element of your character?  Is it emotion and fluctuating feeling?  Or is it the eternal strength of integrity of heart?  That was Daniel.  Is there a Daniel in you?

Lassie, Come Home

thanksgiving-012That adorable little ball of fur on the left is my Sheltie, Lassie.  She will turn three this spring, just a few days before my own birthday, and she is a happy little creature without a care in the world.  Thanks to mom feeding her while I am at work, she is a fat little thing, too! 

Lassie’s main vice (besides yapping) lies in her timid nature.  She is deathly afraid of strangers and strange places.  She has an emotional breakdown every time I take her for a ride in my car.  She hides under furniture and shakes like we’re having an earthquake whenever she is confronted with something new. 

Sound familiar?

I hate to subscribe to the idea that in time, the owner begins to assimilate to her dog, but I see too much of myself in Lassie’s nature.  Physically, we have the same profile (check out my nose) and when it comes to our personalities, I see many of the same tendencies that Lassie displays when life throws her a curve ball.  She never goes and fetches.  She runs the other direction.

My world and Lassie’s are obviously very different.  She doesn’t have to go to work or do chores — she just has to be.  Well, she does have to be good, in addition to just being, and as a whole she does a fair job at that.  The test comes when  I give her a command:

“Lassie, come here.”  I see her round eyes recognize my voice — but then she surveys the situation.  Is there anyone around?  Anything new, strange, or fearful?  If so, she doesn’t come, but lingers timidly in the corner.  “Lassie, come!”  She takes a few steps forward, but quickly darts back when she hears footsteps nearby.  Her ears flick back and forth and I can tell I am not the only voice she is listening to.  Third time:  “Lassie, I said come here!”  She then has two reactions:  a mad dash into my arms, or a fearful huddle in the corner.  If the latter, I come thundering into the corner to collar her into obedience. 

What Lassie always misunderstands is that I call her to give her blessings.  I give her commands so I can enjoy her company, pet her, feed her, and brush her.  It is she who makes it an ordeal by her fearful disobedience.  When she continues to ignore my commands, the difficulty is prolonged as I have to punish her before I can give her what I wanted to give in the first place. 

I don’t know about you, but I see this as a fair example of my relationship with God.  He calls — and I survey the situation.  “Is it safe?  Will I be embarrassed?  Will I get hurt?” If I don’t like it, maybe I don’t go.  He calls again:  “Phylicia, follow me!” I start to follow, but I get dissuaded by fear and pride.  So God comes thundering into my corner, to pull me out of my huddle and show me what I could have attained with much less hassle.  I end up with my ears pinned back and my tail between my legs.  It didn’t have to be that way.

So tomorrow morning when I feed Lassie, that’s what will be on my mind.  Maybe I can’t help looking like my dog, but I can certainly put a stop to acting like her.  I just have to get out of my corner… before the Master has to drag me out of it!

People Will Say We’re in Love

I went out to eat with a guy friend the other night, and as we sat across from each other we talked about our classes at the college, and our lives, and what we were doing in our spare time… all the things we aren’t able to catch up on when the business of the day intrudes.  I explained to him a few things that had happened in my own life, people I was interacting with and situations that I had been in, and he gave me some advice in those areas.  His perspective as a guy involved things I never would have thought of if he hadn’t spoken.  “Do you really think that?”  I asked him, somewhat indignant since the topic was one that I held dear.  “Well, I’m just telling it to you as a friend and as a guy,” he said.  “That’s how it seems to be to me.”

As I thought about the things he said over the next few days, the more true they seemed.  I had never thought of my situation from a guy’s perspective before — other than my father’s — and it was interesting to see it through the eyes of my friend, whose genuine concern for my well being and happiness guided what he told me. 

Now that’s a friendship.  As I sat poking at my salad before heading off to a night class, I looked at my table companion and smiled.  How wonderful to have a friend like this, who would tell me the truth out of care — but would never deceive me about his feelings.  He has never been ambiguous when it comes to our relationship – or lack thereof.  “Phylicia,” he had said.  “We’re friends, and both our families know that, so we should be able to do things together on that basis.  There’s no pressure for anything more — and I like it that way.” 

I like it that way too.  The stability of our friendship lies in the fact that both of us have obligations elsewhere — to family, work, church and studies.  We have no obligations to each other.  We have no pressures and emotions to deal with.  We have no jealousies over each other’s friends of the opposite sex.  When we meet, we enjoy the time that we have together — and the rest of our lives aren’t spent pining! 

This is the kind of freedom I have spoken of in previous posts.  In the Victorian era, we would have been out of line to go to the cafe’ for our dinner without a chaperone.  Yet in the mid-1800’s, we would have been perfectly acceptable!  Because we are not in a relationship the guidelines for our interaction our less stringent than they may be in that situation.  This, of course, depends on the family.  However, my friend and I are in no dire straits to gain each others’ attention — and thus, we have no motivation to attain it.  Without motivation, there is no temptation.

If anything, my friend has given me great insight into how young men think, feel, and react.  He tells me honestly his opinion of certain character traits in girls, if I ask.  This in turn helps me in my view of myself and in what femininity is in regard to masculinity.  We never go too deep:  we don’t share feelings, emotions, and establish connections that belong within a committed relationship; but we do have a mutual friendship that transcends opinion, gossip and pressure.

Often “what people think” colors our reactions to the opposite sex, and can limit us in our friendships and interaction with girls or boys.  I call it “People Will Say We’re In Love Syndrome”.  Part of this is rooted in pride — concern over others’ opinons — and part is rooted in fear, but there are really only two causes:  Guilt or Pride. Guilt comes when a ‘friendship’ is not actually a friendship but an ‘illegitimate’ relationship (one not authorized or supervised by parents).  Pride instigates PSWLS when we walk around in fear of what people are thinking or saying about us. 

How do you build an immunity to PSWLS?  Two steps:  first, evaluate if you are above reproach in your parents’ and God’s eyes.  If you are, you can eliminate guilt as the cause.  Second, evaluate yourself for prideful intent.  Are you in the friendship to make it look like you’re in a relationship?  Are you so obsessed with yourself that your utmost concern is what people say and think about you?  Why can’t you enjoy the friendship for what it is?  If you work at keeping yourself in line on these two fronts your friendship should be pain and pressure free.

Immunities are built up over time.  They aren’t pills that you pop, although vitamins help in the long run (in regard to PSWLS, I suggest taking Humility, Patience, and Self-Control; write 1 Cor. 13:4-8 on the prescription and Celestial Pharmacy should hand it over  pre-paid).  If you wait until you’re love-sick, emotionally distraught, or fearful of friendships (all symptoms of advanced PSWLS) you will have to take some bitter pills to get back on track, and continue with that medicine until your weakened state is strong again.  Build an immunity now, and you won’t have to take the bitterness later.

My cell phone beeped 5:45 — time to head to class.  My friend was devouring a turkey sandwich and watching the news over my shoulder.  We’d been quite quiet for a while.  “We’re probably the only people who can go out and say nothing and still have a good time,” I laughed, gathering my coat and purse together.  “You know what they say,” he smiled with a twinkle in his eye.  “‘You say it best when you say nothing at all’…” 

Friends don’t have to say anything to know where they stand.  They just know.  And in that knowledge, they’re content.

Is Courtship Biblical?

Now there’s a question you haven’t heard.

A lot of time we take courtship for granted as a Biblical concept, without questioning where it is found in the Christian faith — if at all.  Is courtship a Biblical concept, and if so, are Christians who do not follow it in sin?

There are some denominations who truly believe that courtship is a firm facet of the Christian walk; that to compromise in this area is indeed to wander into sin.  In these denominations, there is a specific way to go about courtship and each couple is to execute their relationship along those parameters.  Other denominations are much more lax in regard to male-female interaction — some just confront the issues pertaining to sexual immorality and leave it at that.  Are either of these branches wrong?  What about all the systems in between?  Is there one set method for courtship that God has ordained for His followers?

I truly don’t think so.  The relationships of Scripture were influenced by culture and era, so the example set by those will not be completely transferrable to our present society.  We can’t lift Ruth and Boaz off the pages of the Old Testament and pop them into contemporary, metro-sexual New York and expect the story to be the same.  Then again, some women like the idea of marrying their former mother-in-law’s cousin, who happens to be about twenty years older and considerably well-off due to a couple decades of careful investment in the wheat industry…

Does this mean that the Bible leaves relational methods for us to decide?  God is not into relativism, in case anyone  noticed.  Just like any other aspect of life our relationships are to proceed along specific guidelines that the Lord provides — but there’s no Dating Rulebook either.  Rules do not equal legalism — but legalism does equal rules.  The true Christian abides by the Lord’s commands because he honors Him and chooses to obey from love; the legalistic Christian abides by commands to one-up others and feel good about himself.  Whether those rules are right or necessary is not relevant to legalism. 

Picture a bowling alley.  You’re standing, ball in hand, about to hurl it down the lane and into the pins for a stunning victory to impress your friends.  But before you send it flying, you purposely put up the bumpers so the ball has no chance of spinning into the gutter.  You send the ball down the lane and — WHAM! A strike!  You walk back smugly… but  no one’s very impressed.  “Let’s see how you do with the bumpers down,” they say.  So you try it — and fail miserably.  You’ve played so long with the bumpers you can’t keep the ball in the lane without them. 

Unfortunately, many Christians operate in relationships this way.  By putting up the bumpers of legalism, they keep themselves on the straight and narrow, knowing that if they take down the bumpers they might head straight into the gutter.  Rather than strengthen and perfect they choose to operate in ‘safety’, within rules, so that they never have to face temptation.  One day the bumpers will come down.  When that day comes, if you can’t keep the ball in the lane, you will have a harder time re-learning so that you can keep it where it should have been before.

Legalism breeds weak Christians — and this means legalism in any area.  However, legalism as pertains to relationships is especially dangerous because of arrogance and selfishness that seep in.  Satan can use legalism to his direct advantage because legalism equals pride.

Am I saying that operating in discipline is legalistic?  By no means.  To live in the flesh, without reserve or control, is equally damaging and full of self.  We must strike a balance, and more importantly, understand our motivation for how we go about our relationships.  If a woman goes into relationships with the intention of landing the man, she may compromise many things in order to accomplish that.  If a man goes into a relationship with the idea that he will tread the line physically, he will be sacrificing his morality on the altar of instant gratification.

What guidelines, then, are given to us?  Check out Titus 1:8-9, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; and Romans 6:12-15 (view this link for an even more thorough Biblical support).  All these emphasize the fact that a Christian is to live a holy, upright life.  Part of living this life is not only to seek righteousness but avoid evil.  Where Christians go wrong in relationships is when they question, “How far is too far?” This clues us in to the fact that they are already wondering when sin becomes sin — and if it is really wrong at all.  The question should not be “How closely can I tread the line?” but “How can I most glorify God in this relationship?”   A person asking this question of himself will not need legalism to keep him in the middle of the lane.  His devotion to God will keep him there.

So then:  is courtship Biblical?  Because of what it stands for, and the concepts, methods and and ideas that are involved, yes.  But courtship in and of itself is not the God-ordained fashion that all people must use for their relationships.  For most of us, our parents dated and they grew to glorify God with their marriage even with any mistakes they may have made.  Even a couple that dates can glorify God if they are abiding by his painstakingly clear standards for sexual intimacy — it belongs within the bond of marriage alone.  If they choose to tread the line of that command it is their own spiritual walk they threaten.  It is their choice.  It is everyone’s choice — rules cannot protect, defend or excuse anyone before God. 

This view of courtship should not be viewed as threatening or undermining to its foundation.  Rather, it should be viewed as incredibly freeing to us as Christians.  We have the choice in all parts of our daily lives to choose God or choose ourselves.  Relationships will be no different, no matter what method you choose to go about them.  Temptation is not picky, and even with the bumpers up it can reach you — and destroy you if you aren’t able to stay true when they’re down.  We have an amazing freedom in Christ — for He “did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control.” (2 Tim. 1:7).  Legalism operates out of fear — fear that without it you will fail.  Strength comes when you beat fear down and become victorious. 

Think about your motivations for choosing courtship.  But more than that, check your heart when it comes to viewing others and their decisions about relationships; especially fellow Christians.  Understand the freedom you possess — and that every one possesses in Christ — because grasping this concept will determine whether you keep the bumpers up in life or if you lay them down and send the ball straight into the pins.

Think of it this way:  I’ve just given you an incredible excuse to go bowling.

Good Morning Heartache

Have you ever felt a pain, somewhere inside, that you can’t express?  The kind of ache that can’t be calmed with Advil or any other medicine… the kind that you can’t reach, can’t touch, can’t soothe away?  When I was little, my dad told me my soul was inside me, and I thought that if a doctor opened me up he would be able to see it.  I thought it was like my lungs, or my bones, or any other physical aspect of my body.  But a soul isn’t like that… a soul is who we are apart from our physical attributes.  So when a soul is hurt, that ache can’t be remedied with human medicine.

It’s called ‘heartache’, although the pain does not originate in our physical, blood-pumping muscles.  A heartache is perhaps the hardest of pains to cure because there are so many things that instigate it… it could be a death, or an illness, or stress, or the loss of a job or finances.  There are as many reasons for the ache of a heart as there are days in the year, because with each day there will be new trials to face.  But tere is one real reasons for an aching heart — and that’s a breaking heart.

Ever heard Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart”?  It’s a classic for country music lovers like myself.  Anyone aquainted with country music has heard their share of ‘aching heart’ stories — but if you take a closer look, you’ll see the main reason for an ‘achy breaky heart’ is a broken relationship.  It is through relationships — of any sort — that our hearts are most susceptible to pain.

The heart is the seat of emotions, and when a person enters into a relationship, be it a friendship, or a romantic relationship, or family, the emotions are always involved.  When that relationship falls through, or disappoints us, our hearts are ‘broken’.  Have you felt the pain of a broken heart?  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t.  It has been said that if  ‘you love deeply, you hurt deeply’.  In genuine love, this is very true.  Yet pain is still felt in what is mistaken for love: infatuation.

Many people today mistake infatuation for love.  Infatuation is the warm fuzzy feeling you get around a person that you like; the happy thoughts, and sweet words, that all seem to be what love is all about.  What so many girls, and boys, don’t know is that emotions lie.  You can’t trust yourself!  All the ‘believe in yourself’ jargon you hear today is silliness, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  (Jer. 17:9, ESV)  You may be thinking, “My heart is not ‘sick’!”  yet in your own nature, it is.  Your heart will lead you astray after your own desires, rather than submitting them to God.

I said I was starting another series on relationships, and this is the beginning.  I decided to start with broken hearts because I am very well aquainted with them!  While I will try to warn and advise my readers, I certainly can’t guarantee that you will never have a broken heart.  Life brings disappointments.  I can offer you a way that makes a broken heart much less common.  Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way.

I mentioned infatuation briefly; now let me give you the more commonly used name: a crush.  For many girls crushes are ‘okay‘, and I certainly don’t think that in and of themselves they are sinful.  It is perfectly possible to admire someone within the relams of purity.  Too often, however, crushes get out of hand.  My first crush was at six years old.  There was a little boy at my church who always came dressed in a little suit with his hair combed.  His name was David, and I adored him.  All I knew was that he could spell “Mississippi” faster than anyone else in the first grade (I went to the Christian school then) and that was enough for me.  Quite a standard, hm?  I’d like to see how that would hold up now!  *hee hee*  Anyway, it seemed that every year I had a new ‘crush’:  Phil, Zach, Aaron, Rich, Daniel, Jesse… and they all ended up being nothing but a marvelous waste of time. 

If someone had told me while in the throes of my devotion that I was ‘wasting my time’ I would have hardly listened.  I didn’t want to.  Infatuation is blinding that way: you give and give your emotions without regard for the consequences until, like a knife in the heart, reality strikes.  Too often my reality was that the guy I liked had a girlfriend.  Thus, I perfected the admirer-from-afar status.  (Which, during my infatuation heyday, it is lucky for my admirees that I was ‘afar’, for I had some pretty bad hair years!)

The problem with infatuations, or crushes, is that no matter how hard you try to hide them they are always obvious, and generally a wonderful instigator to embarrassing moments.  I could never hide anything.  Thus, my bi-yearly rotation of crushes was well known to my close friends, and even to some of my crushes themselves.  It didn’t do anything for me — or my friendships.  There was jealousy, insecurity, embarrassment… and most of all, a broken heart. 

Looking back, those ‘broken hearts’ weren’t as traumatic as they felt at the time.  All the same, they were real for me.  I felt the pain.  Problem was, it was self inflicted.  The blame for that kind of broken heart cannot be placed on anyone but myself.  I let my heart go too far — I ‘loved too deeply’, when it wasn’t even love!  Out of my lack of self control, I broke my own heart. 

There is only one way to keep this from happening to yourself.  It is to maintain emotional control. There are several aspects of this.  First, you must recognize that you are the proprietor of your heart, choosing to sell it or keep it as you wish.  No one ‘makes’ you fall in love with them (and remember, it’s not love); they can encourage you, but it is your choice to give your heart.  Secondly, you must maintain cognitive control: watch your thoughts.  Thoughts lead to action.  Lastly, go to Christ.  Take your heart to Him alone.  That is where I found my solace.  When my emotions were raging, crying, wishing — I went to Him.  I knew He cared, even if it seemed that no one else did (which of course wasn’t true, but pity parties are part of the shebang too). 

A loss of emotional control always precedes a loss of physical control.  That’s why dating leads to physical involvement so quickly.  Emotional prostitution is a harsh phrase to describe it, but consider a moment:  to sell your heart for the thrill of the moment without regard for future consequences — does it not fit?  King Solomon sold his heart out to his foreign wives, thus leading to the destruction of his kingdom’s morality.  How gladly would Satan destroy the lives of girls who gave up on preserving their hearts!  Yet before Solomon fell, he left us a challenge that I forward to all you young men and women:

“Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life…” (Prov. 4:23)

Join me?

Party Down in Godliness!

Work is always there.  Eventually, I will have to talk about keeping a good attitude on the job and all that stuff that you know but don’t want to do.  But for NOW — we are still talking about fun! 

I went through a stage, and perhaps other girls have too, where I didn’t know what to do with my friends.  I saw them once a week at drama, but other than that I was at a loss!  I have given it some thinking since then, and I have come up with some great ideas for fun, some of which can be just girls, and others can be a mixed crowd. 

Spa Day:  I haven’t been to a real spa (yet!) but when my girlfriends came over in the summer I used to get out my Klutz natural spa book and we would make up face, hand and foot masks.  These are all-natural — like the banana and honey mask I did on my sister’s face (she looked… interesting).  There are also hair rinses and masks we would do outside.  One recommendation:  don’t rinse out an egg yolk hair mask with hot water.  I had scrambled eggs in my hair all day.

Shopping!:  One of my best friends (the one pictured in the last post) loves to shop, and so do I.  Often we go downtown and window-shop, or when the district has a Spring or Winter Open House, and the streets are closed off for shoppers, we go together and help pick out Christmas and birthday presents for each other’s families.  It helps knock items off the lists and is a great time together as well.

Movies:  I usually check the ratings before I head to the theater, simply because of one mistake I made with three girlfriends.  We all had recommendations for the movie “Mamma Mia” and were appalled with what we saw.  We thought it was PG, but I guess it was PG-13.  The theater didn’t show ratings on the board!  When there IS a good movie in theaters, my friends (guys and girls) usually get a group together and watch it.  We had a great turnout for the latest Indiana Jones movie — I think we had 15 homeschooled and graduated movie-goers!

Horseback Riding:  My family has horses, so for those who ride, we take on trail rides out into the country.  It’s a blast, and the more experienced the friend, the more fun it is.  There is so much wildlife and nature to see, and depending on the time of year, we can eat different wild fruits, berries and plants. 

Dancing:  Our local arts school offers dance lessons of all kinds, so for several months (before I started working late) my sisters and I, along with a group of guys and girls, would go Tuesday nights to ballroom dance lessons.  Afterward was an open dance that we stayed for.  Twice a month the local Big Band played at an old ballroom for special swing and ballroom dances.  I never made it to one of those, but my friends did.  This type of dancing is clean, elegant and beautiful — and SO much fun!  We had a blast learning the steps and hope to continue it when we can.

Skiing and Skating:  Depending on where you live, the snowy sports can be a great place to go with family and friends.  Of course, as my readers may know, don’t spend any quality time with the lift runners (see ‘A Little Flirt Don’t Hurt’)!  If you know how to ski or skate, or are at least willing to learn, these are some of the most memorable sports for wintertime. 

Go to a Game:  What sports do you and your siblings and/or friends share a liking for?  My fam is really into hockey — it’s a multi-generational sport with us.  I also like baseball.  And I will watch football, although I don’t understand it.  My cousins and sibs go to the hockey games that my dad and uncle play in, and I went to a baseball game this past summer with the church.  This is another great group event. 

Kayaking, Canoeing and Rafting:  Now we’re getting more athletic, and slowly moving out of my area of expertise!  I do participate in these sports though, and this past summer we had such fun kayaking the Crooked River with friends.  Canoeing is my personal preference, although I did go rafting with the college group as well.  If you have water nearby (and Michigan does, I assure you!) there are plenty of great outlets available.

These are just some options for a great time that are still honoring to God and including family.  This is one of those ‘fluff’ posts you write when you can’t think of anything else :-).  I will be talking about making brothers and sisters best friends next time.

So… Can I See You Again?

Girls who choose not to date in high school are making a hard but good choice.  Not only does it give them time to focus on God, but it also gives freedom in friendship and time for the family.  These girls are preserving their precious gift of purity as well.  We have already gone over the ‘dangers’ of dating and what to do in the time of waiting.

But now you are eighteen.  High school is over.  What now?

I have watched several girls go different directions when they finished high school.  For some, they ‘put in their time’, and were swiftly seen with a boyfriend, scruffy and short, as soon as their Open House was over.  Others continued on with the exact same commitment they had in high school, perhaps more stringent than before.  Others were married within the year.  Each family had a different system for what they deemed appropriate after high school, and their daughters, for the most part, followed that system.

I turned eighteen six months ago.  No one showed up on my doorstep with a pocket full of posies and ring.  But things do change when you turn eighteen, and how you deal with those changes will determine who you grow to be, who you meet, and how you go about relationships in this new adult life. 

Some of this will reiterate what I said in the post, ‘Can I Have Guys as Friends?’ and for those of you that haven’t read that post, I would suggest it simply so that you can see where I am going on this topic.  Truly, it all comes back to that question — can I have male friends, and how do I interact with them?  There are, however, two different answers.  The high school answer was used in the ‘Guys as Friends’ post, and I have a different answer for those who have graduated.  While very similar, there are a few differences when you become an adult.

Eighteen is the age where guys become bolder.  You are no longer in high school; you are recognized as an adult.  With this in mind, offers for dates will become more common.  How do you answer?  Young men will want to spend time with you in public places, or in groups.  How do you deal with that?  And what about when you can’t stand someone, and they won’t leave you alone??  I have an example of the last question, so let’s start with that one:

There is a young man at my local college named Bill.  I am only taking one class at the college (the rest are online) and it is at night.  So every night I go to class, and there is Bill.  One time, I repeat, ONE time, we walked back to the parking lot on the same sidewalk simply because both our cars were parked in the same lot, and I had no choice.  But he took that one little walk as a sign that we were meant to be.  The next few weeks he made sure we left class at the same time so we could walk again.  I was very much not interested in him, he is not a Christian and also, our interests are just too different.  So I got smart:  I parked in another lot closer to the building so we couldn’t walk together.  That worked at first, but soon he got smart too, and parked in the same lot.  He chased me down the sidewalk to ‘ask my advice’ about a speaking project.  So I got smarter:  my desk was closer to the door than his, so I made a run for it like Eric Liddle as soon as class ended, and by the time he maneuvered around to follow, I was gone!

Unfortunately, that method is not going to work with everyone.  I knew, though, that Bill was the type of guy who would ask you out on his fourth week knowing you if you gave him the time of day.  I was not interested, but I didn’t want to hurt him or make him afraid to ask other girls out, which can happen if one girl turns a man down rudely.  So I came up with a plan.  If Bill asked me out, I would say: ”I’m sorry Bill, we can be friends in class, but I am in a committed relationship right now and can’t date you.”  My parents helped me come up with this.  Am I in a committed relationship?  Yes — with Jesus Christ!  This answer will be true and also unoffensive to someone who enjoys your company but just doesn’t meet the standard.

But what about when you LIKE the guy that asks you out?  This is where it gets tricky.  I have another example for this one:

I went to a concert in the park this past summer, and although I had invited a mixed crowd, I was the only one that showed.  I was sitting by a pleasant older lady when a tall, dark and handsome young man came up to me.  (Yes, it’s true, but I didn’t believe it either, at first) He patted my dog and we chatted generically a moment.  Then it began to rain… or rather, pour.  Everyone ran, soaking wet, up to the Presbyterian church.  I put Lassie in the car and slipped quietly into a pew, dripping from my skirt and hair.  Who comes up but Mr. McDreamy.  “May I?” he asked, gesturing toward the seat.  “Yes,” I answered.  He asked me my name, if I lived around here, and all that stuff they ask in the movies, you know. “I’m Samuel, but you can call me Sam.” He said it as I were receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He went to tell me how well he sang, and how he had a paid lead part in a play, and how he knew all about voice techinique and where he was schooling and how old he was and what his dreams were.  Now, a man’s ego tends to take over a bit when he is nervous, but this was over the top.  He gave me a cordial farewell before joining the choir for the performance.  (He did a good job, too, at least he’s not a liar!)  Afterward, I left the church and walked down the tree lined sidewalk in the summer sun.  The trees were still dripping, the sun was gleaming…  I looked back, and there, on the steps, stood Sam, frantically looking over the heads of the crowd.  He spotted me and raised his hand.  I waved demurely and walked out of sight.  It wasn’t five seconds before he came running down the sidewalk hollering, “Phylicia! Wait!” I turned to face him and he said, “Can I see you again when I come back to town?  I mean, do you have a phone number?”  So I told him, “I don’t usually go out with people I have just met…” “I understand!” “But you can do something with me and my family, if you like.  You can call my dad if you want to.  Here is my card –”  His face had fallen. His manner grew cold.  It was like night and day.  “Alright then.” And he left.  I liked him.  He was proud, but he was friendly and attractive.  My human, girlish self liked him.  But as you can see by his change of manner, he didn’t want family involved.  He didn’t want accountability. And when he read the Bible verse on my business card, his face revealed he didn’t want that, either.  He wasn’t the right one.

These instances will become more and more frequent.  I would suggest planning your responses so you are not caught off guard.  Being distracted by these attentions can cause you to be either rude or unable to answer, which usually translates as ‘yes’ to the normal, confident male! Also, if not already, plan with your parents what you are to do after high school when it comes to relationships.  I will be getting into my own family’s methods next week.  However, now is the time to figure it out, because whether you like them or not, the suitors will eventually come!