The Valentine Conspiracy

valentineValentine’s Day is nothing more than a marketing ploy.  That’s my consensus on the matter.  By appealing to women’s hearts and men’s pocketbooks, the nameless faces on Wall Street are forcing us to spend money, time, and emotions on a ridiculous, pointless day that nobody would even care about if it weren’t pounded into our heads that we should. 

Valentine’s Day was in fact contrived by a group of financing companies when they saw the economy going in the tank.  Taking a formerly-ignored holiday they managed to push its marketing to an extent that, with revenue from chocolate and heart-shaped candies alone, it has financed the entire stimulus bill.  That’s why it got passed yesterday.

Even more interesting, those financing companies run under false names:  Ghiradelli, Macy’s, Hershey, Starbucks, JC Penney and Victoria’s Secret, to name a few.  With a clever twisting of words and a plethora of deceiving commercials, these companies have taken the nation by storm — convincing the collective that you need to spend money on your “loved ones” on this particular day.  How interesting that the stimulus bill has been debated during this same week.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

As a staunch conservative there was no way Wall Street would snooker me into financing my own extra $13-per-week increase in salary.  What better way to keep the public in ignorance than to have them finance their own pay raise?  It keeps morale high while also filling the government’s black hole of a treasury.  Every Ferrero Rocher truffle is one more dollar into the dining room curtains at the White House.    How innocent that Godive box looks, yet within it lies the means of government control larger than we have ever known.

My patriotism inspired me to forego those wide-eyed sweets beckoning from the shelf at Walgreens.  I know the bankruptcy of the nation lies within their wrappers — so I walked on to the freezer section and picked out a half gallon of Baskin-Robbins instead.  For the sake of America I sat on my couch with a spoon and a box of kleenex, and Baskin and I watched While You Were Sleeping until midnight.  God Bless America!

And I hope He zaps February 14th off the calendar.

I wish I had a real reason to hate Valentine’s Day, but I don’t.  It’s one of those days that is nationally glorified, yet at the same time gloriously exclusive.  Whatever happened to tolerance?  Is there such thing as romantic racism?  I can see myself at the head of the Romantic Rights Movement, banging down the door of the Capitol with a heart-shaped picket sign declaring, “Singles For Equal Treatment!”  That one’s going in the history books.

It’s easy to throw a pity-party when you’re single on the most romantic day of the year.  You think you might find solace in watching Patrick Dempsey and instead find yourself throwing your slippers at the inevitable love interest that appears on the scene.  The fact that she’s always ugly as a horse, fat as a hippo and dressed like a bag lady doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.  She’ll probably have buck teeth and hair like Phyllis Diller too.  You’ll be convinced by the end that she didn’t deserve Patrick at all.  Being delusional has never been so beneficial.

Benefits are scarce for the single girl on Valentine’s Day.  You may try to think of all the people you love, but truth be told, no matter how much you love Aunt Bertha it’s not the same to kiss her as it would be with Prince Charming.  Maybe it’s because Prince Charming remembers to shave.  Whatever the case, counting your blessings can even be hard.  You may have to put some effort into it, beyond “I am thankful I am breathing.”  But that’s a start. 

Just start somewhere.  The government may be behind Valentine’s Day but we don’t have to get caught up in their trap.  Just because Wall Street says it isn’t alright to be alone among the cupids and love darts doesn’t mean we have to listen.  Go look up your friend Baskin Robbins and enjoy what you have now.  It only gets better from here!

Asked Out: In a Quandary

My sixteenth summer:  I learned a lot in those three months.  I worked for the first time in a retail environment and it was an eye-opening experience. 

There will always be ‘those guys’, and there were definitely a couple who I quickly learned were not of the mettle to mess with.  For the most part I escaped their attentions, and they gradually ceased with their bombardments, but through it I began to learn that my response was everything.  If I sounded the least bit unsure of myself , that indecisiveness proved to be a huge mistake.  Without being rude, I had to shut them down!  Fortunately for us, most worldly guys are just testing the waters to see if you will give them the attention they want, and a few cool, but nice, “Um, no”s give them a 180 the other direction.

But what about the good ones?

Never had a boy liked me before, and in that summer I met a young man at the greenhouse who I thought was… well, really nice.  He was handsome, and friendly.  One day he took down all the baskets that I had been told to take down… without me even asking.  I didn’t know who he was at the time, but I met him a few days later.  I was working in the range when he came up to me with a delicate blue flower in his hand.  “Your name is Phylicia, isn’t it?”  He asked.  “Yes.” I answered, smiling at him curiously.  “This is a Felecia flower… like your name.”  Yes, it was a simple observation, but it was so sweet!  …Right?

He talked to me.  We laughed together.  He met my extended family and endured an hour-long exposition from my great-uncle.  He brought me chocolate.  And he was a gentleman.  But somehow it still struck me as a complete surprise when we walked into each other among the begonias one day…

“Oh, hi Chad,” I beamed (trying to keep the halo of light from stark illumination).  “Hi,” he smiled. “Where are you headed?”  “To water the hydrangeas.”  “Oh.” “Yeah.” “Mm-hm…”  “So where are you going?”  Chad looked at his feet and then at the ceiling.  “Well, I was going to ask you something…”  I felt my stomach tighten — what?  I swallowed my heart and plastered a grin on my splitting face.  “Go ahead.” “Well…” He swallowed too.  I watched him carefully — was his eyebrow twitching? “I was wondering… if I were… sixteen (which he wasn’t)…”  My ears were ringing… I was rehearsing… what do I say, what DO I SAY?!  “… would you date me?”

No.  Anything but that.  NOT THAT QUESTION PLEASE!!!

All the purity talks and studies and answers and questions went out the window of my brain.  I liked him!  So I stood there with a columbine draped over my head and burned the rubber off the wheels of my mind.  “Well, see, I –” I stammered. “I, um, well… I don’t… actually — date.” His blue eyes were blank.  Score zero for comprehension. So a new tack was attempted:  “See, I am not going to go out with a guy until my husband comes someday.  I am waiting till then.”  That sounded right.

Chad blinked and looked at his feet.  Then he looked back at me and wrinkled his nose in confusion.  “So you… arrange marriages?” Now I looked blank.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  So instead, I muttered, “Um… no.”

There had to be a better way.  Now, three years later, I still cringe to think of how I handled that.  Now I know that there is a better answer!  Chances are if you have male friends, coworkers, friends-of-friends or church goers, you are going to be asked out at one time or another.  We’ve talked about the attitude with which to answer them — in complete kindness and respect — but what do you say?!

I can’t elaborate too much because every situation and guy is different.  Yet there are two different genres of answers to give:  the first is the high school answer, the second is the college answer.  The high school answer will contain the fact that you do not date anyone, and, if the boy is a good one, you will be able to turn him down without it being a personal affront.  The college answer depends on the family, but I will give you my two styles within this genre.

First, the Bad Boy Reply.  He comes rappin’ up to you and shoots a “Whassup?” that you can’t even grace with an intelligent conversation.  “Sooo, you doin’ anythin’ anytime soon?”  (This would not be an “um, no” moment).  You Smile Graciously but not Invitingly, tilt your head slightly to the side, and say Pleasantly with an undercurrent of Cool Preoccupation: “I’m sorry, but I am in a committed relationship.”  He may press for a better excuse, under which pressure your Cool Preoccupation becomes Cold Sophistication, which, with a touch of Civilization and slight Acceleration should end Communication as quickly as deemed possible.

Second, the Potential Suitor Reply.  He comes walking up to you and courteously asks, “Do you think — um — that maybe we could…er… possibly… go out sometime?” First, determine that it is not a Hallucination, then show some Appreciation without wedding Anticipation; give a quick Situation Evaluation and check again that it is not Imagination.  Once these steps are complete, do some further Intention Investigation.  Once he has met the Qualifications, give him the Notification that you only go out under your family’ s Verification.  If he is still full of Determination, you should show him some Consideration and relieve his Expectation courteously.

Of course, this leaves plenty of room for flexibility as the need arises.  Just don’t be ambiguous — be clear with what you are answering whether it be yes or no.  You don’t want to leave room for misunderstanding, as in the case of a Bad Boy he may take advantage of that ambiguity and in the case of a Good One he may be confused.  The best thing is to prepare your answer with your parents, for then when you are greeted with you will not be caught muttering “Um… no…”

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?

Unbeknownst to Me…

Since we are discussing friendships, I am going to turn from the blessing of female friends to the delicate matter of having male ones.  We have already talked about the extent a friendship should go with a man, where and how to spend time with one and all the other logistics of such situations.  But now I turn to the possible consequences within these relationships.  While they are wonderful to have, it takes great care and attention to keep them above reproach — while also compassionate to the hearts involved.

Most of the time it seems that girls are the ones with the easy emotions.  Too often, girls run about with “Instant Relationship: Just Add Conversation” written on their foreheads.  I think one of the greatest issues with the courtship/waiting lifestyle is that is breeds girls that go into life with their hearts on their sleeves, willingly offering it to any Christian guy that looks cross-eyed at them.  I was one of those girls for a time: holding my heart in the palm of my hand, marketing it to whichever young man might have interest in it. 

I didn’t date, of course, but you don’t have to date to give your heart away.  This is where some families say that their daughters shouldn’t have young men as friends at all — because it is a threat to their emotional purity.  This, however, is an extreme defense mechanism that will prove more damaging than protective.  Rather than growing in emotional strength, the girl will continue to market her heart — just silently.  She will stifle her emotions and, in more than a few cases, will rebel against her commitment altogether. 

The key is not to remove men from the picture, because that is not only unrealistic but also stunting to the girl’s personal growth.  If a girl cannot control her emotions in an open friendship, how is that the man’s fault?  Too many girls, I having been one of them, analyze the syntax of each sentence a particular friend may have uttered in search of a hint toward ‘something more’.  Usually, there isn’t any.  But it’s easy to fabricate one.  A young woman needs to have a security and confidence of emotion that allows her to have friends without assuming they are more than that.  The problem is not with having male friends.  The problem is with how you view them — as friends, or as prospective ‘future husbands’.

These things often happen completely ‘unbeknownst’ to the other party in the friendship — namely, the man.  The truth is, it is often difficult to maintain a neutral friendship with a young man.  One of my guy friends told me once, “I don’t see why we have to be moving toward a relationship or falling apart — I think we should be able stay at a neutral stage… not moving forward, not going back.”  This is a hard balance to keep.  I could ‘between the lines’ every conversation I have with him. He wouldn’t know anything about it — he would just know his end of things, and his end is ‘just friends’.  If I did this, he would end up being completely confused that I read so much into something he meant to be taken at face value.  That is the danger of an active imagination!

The girls aren’t the only ones with emotions, however.  Guys have emotions as well.  I would say women put a little more ‘effort’ into their emotions than men, but all the same, a girl can hurt a man’s heart more than she would have ever thought… all ‘unbeknownst’ to her.  I would say the more quiet and sensitive the man, the more apt he is to form an attachment to a girl who is oblivious to his affections (any male readers may verify or refute this as they please; I am obviously speaking from experience as a female!).

From what I have learned, men don’t ‘name the children’ and dream fantastic dreams about the wedding when their emotions are being caught up.  Rather, it is more of a fascination brought about by the girl’s actions.  This is why flirtation is so dangerous.  Leading a man to believe that you ‘like’ him, when truly you don’t (or aren’t serious about it) is deceitful and false.  Fundamentally, flirtation is a form of lying.  As girls then, in our friendships with young men it is of utmost importance that we treat them the same way we would treat our own brothers (perhaps a little nicer!), without ‘special attention’ to any.

Back to Bill, the young man in my college class:  he, unbeknownst to me, decided that I was interested in him simply because I talked to him once or twice.  Out of that assumption, he inferred that every time our eyes met across the room all the angels in heaven broke into a chorus.  I was sitting at MY desk wondering why he had that ridiculous expression on his face.  I did nothing to encourage his fascination, but he formed an attachment anyway. If I was my normal outgoing self, he’d probably be picking out a ring! 

As young women we need to not only guard our own minds and emotions toward the opposite sex, but also be careful in our interactions with young men, knowing that they have hearts as well.  And for any male readers:  perhaps this gives you some insight into how girls think!  Also, be careful for your emotions as well.  Don’t let yourself be led on by a girl’s insincere actions to gain attention — especially if you are still in high school. 

 Let what was once ‘unbeknownst’ now be known!

Desperate Measures

I think that the commitment to waiting, preserving purity, and going about relationships with accountability is definitely God’s plan for every young man and woman.  That commitment requires great trust and faith, as well as patience and fortitude.  The results of keeping that faith are true love, happiness and a deeper walk with God that glorifies Him always.

But there can be a negative side.

This side is not the ‘fault’ or responsibility of God — it is entirely the result of Satan’s temptation.  Yet it is so easy to give into this temptation, that often, it is not even recognized as such.  This is the temptation to desperation.

The positives of waiting far outweigh any negatives, but if there is anything I have noticed the ‘waiting girls’ have in common is a desperation to get married.  I covered this briefly in another post, but it can become such an overwhelming feeling that I am addressing it all on its own.  Desperation, frustration, discontent — I know them, and so do many other girls.  They cast a dark shadow on the beautiful purity of the committed life.  What is to be done?

Satan’s work begins entirely with the mind.  If he can capture your thoughts, he can capture your feelings, emotions, and eventually, your actions.  His is the little nagging voice that tries to gain a hearing with you: “Feeling alone?  I knew you would.  He’ll never come.  Why are you waiting?  Go out and look, you’ll never meet him otherwise…  you’ll be an old maid, an old, single, unhappy maid…”  If you give him the hearing he desires, soon those thoughts will take hold.  You will begin to believe them.  And when they take root, soon your heart will begin to turn.  “Why am I doing this?  It hurts!  It take too much!  I can’t wait anymore!”  Those girls who allow their feelings to guide their actions soon lose what was once precious, out of desperation for the love they are deprived.  Deprived?  Wait…

Satan wants you to think you are being deprived of something wonderful, and that God is the source of the deprivation. But let’s think back to another situation where someone felt ‘deprived’… her name was Eve. She had everything in the garden, but the one thing she didn’t have is what Satan used to bring about the fall of the whole world. 

You have no reason to feel deprived, because you are not.  God has given you everything necessary for the place He has you now; he does not allow the righteous to suffer, nor to starve.  Every good and perfect gift is from above.  And His grace is sufficient for you.  Does this mean you will remain in the state you are forever, because you have ‘everything you need’?  No.  You have what you need for where you are now, but down the road, God may give you more for the different position you are in. 

When those thoughts try to lodge themselves in the back of your mind, take them captive for Christ.  He is your King, your Heavenly Husband, the source of Contentment, and the Hope of the world.  You are not deprived!  You need not feel desperate for anything…  except for the love of the Man who died that you might be His.