This Is Your Time!

Whether you are in high school or graduated, if you have committed to maintaining your heart purity for a man who will commit to you, there will be waiting involved.  During this time, we have established several things:

1) Marriage isn’t the goal.

2) Good male friends can be beneficial and healthy.

3) Jesus Christ must be your focus and the Love that satisfies.

4) Finally, this isn’t a time to ‘twiddle your thumbs’ – and this is what we will talk about today.

I am naturally a procrastinator, and have tendency to do the things I like before the things I don’t.  Thus, all the things I don’t like end up having to be done on the same day.  This wouldn’t happen if I did them during the week, but as it usually occurs, my weekends are spent catching up and trying to finish everything before college, church and speaking deadlines.  I’m working on it! 

Now apply my method of organization to your life as a young woman or man.  If the years before marriage are spent daydreaming over a mate who isn’t there, or spent ‘just being a teenager’, or wasted on more trivial things than how to run a house, cook, and clean, what do you think will happen when you ARE married?  Serious catch-up time!  You will be learning by the seat of your pants, and wishing that there had been a few less movies and a few more hours in the kitchen.  Am I a gourmet cook and amazing laundress, who cleans the bathroom every day and scurries about like a magical Mary Poppins?  Far, far from it.  And none of us will ever have every day to be and get things done perfectly.  But these years are years of preparation, not just play.

How do we maximize this time?  There are several things I think are essential for any girl to learn if she hopes to get married.  I have not learned them completely; most are very much still in the works.

Cooking:  “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is actually very true.  Henry Ford proposed after eating his girl’s apple pie.  Bob Evans married his wife because of her buttermilk biscuits.  Learning to cook is essential to raise healthy children, have a happy husband, and to keep the family finances within budget as well.  Meal planning and using the grocery flier is necessary to make economic choices.  Fast food and eating out are fine once in while — for dates, or when you are in a hurry — but if it is a regular occurrence, the bill soon racks up.  Cooking from the home is a talent too many girls lack and all should learn.  I’m one of them! 

Cleaning:  I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning bathrooms.  It never lasts longer than three days anyway.  And dishes too — every meal there they are again!  Unfortunately, this will be the story of our lives for… the rest of our lives!  Proper, thorough cleaning has to be done not only for a good presentation, but for health and comfort.  And not surprisingly, there is a way to clean a house that is indeed the ‘right’ way.  Swiffers and dust wipes aren’t going to cut the mustard — or the dirt.  They are great for quick cleanups on an already mostly-clean room, but for a regular cleaning hands-and-knees mopping, dishcloth dusting and edge vacuuming are what make the difference.

Sewing:  I hate sewing.  I don’t have a bit of patience for it, and I always do it wrong. I was the one that sewed the sleeves shut on a jacket and put the interfacing on upside down.  But still, this is a very beneficial talent to have.  My mom taught herself and has been able to sew costumes, nightclothes, dresses, formals, and all the valances in the house.  My best friend is an amazing seamstress.  Not only does she sew her own clothes, but she designs them as well!  While these days buying patterns, buttons and fabric can make sewing just as expensive as buying clothes, there are many times this talent is of great benefit to the family.

Budgeting:  Learning about money and how to use it is the most important thing to learn in these years.  I am still learning it myself.  With the economy in its current state, and with our new president soon to bring much ‘change’ to the nation, we need to be prepared to be frugal.  And we need to know how.  I am reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” on my mother’s recommendation, and I would suggest it to other girls as well. Learning these things now is essential, because learning them on the fly in a marriage will just cause extra stress and strain.  One of the primary reasons for divorce is finances. Educate yourself in budgeting and using funds — help your parents with the bills, and watch how money is spent and what it is spent on.

Interpersonal Communications:  Can you talk to a bank teller?  Can you talk to the JC Penney clerk?  Can you call a company on the phone and get the refund they didn’t give you?  Can you talk to an angry person without getting angry yourself?  If you can’t communicate, you can’t marry.  Them’s the breaks, Binky.  Communication is what makes the marriage.  ‘He says, She says’ has to be constantly worked out with understanding and love, and if confrontation makes you angry, or incites a collapse into tears, not much will be accomplished.  This is the time to learn to listen, and think before speaking.  This is the time to develop excellent phone and computer skills.  This is the time to learn how to get what you need from a clerk, teller or other employee.  I was terrified of clerks when I was younger.  What finally broke this was working in a retail environment.  Suddenly, I was the clerk!  I was forced to learn to communicate in many different ways.  I think this is unfortunately a weakness of many girls.  Practice now!  This is the time.

Work and Education:  I guess you could call me a stay-at-home daughter if you wanted.  I am living at home, and staying with my family.  However, I am not ‘staying’ at home in the sense that I am there all the time.  I work Tuesday through Saturday, and Mondays assist as stage manager to a drama troupe.  Sundays I have a few ministries at church to help with as well.  I am also midway through my second year of online college.  I do not intend to have a career in any way, but I have other reasons for getting my degree.  Homeschooling is becoming more and more threatened, and with our government changing hands, it may one day be illegal to teach children in the home without a Bachelor’s degree.  Am I wasting money on a chance occurrence?  Not in my mind.  I am maximizing my time: working to pay for college and insurance on my car,  teaching young ladies in the drama group, helping in my church and gaining a degree in something I love.  If you are at home, rather than just waiting to get married, make the most of these years.  If you don’t get married, what would you do with your life?  Do it now! 

What this comes down to is faith.  My dad told me this.  Did you see Facing the Giants, the movie?  The old man in the movie told a story.  There were two farmers whose land was suffering because of a drought; both men prayed to the Lord, asking that they might have rain.  One farmer prayed and kept waiting for a downpour.  The other prepared his fields to receive it.  This is what we are to do.  God blesses those who ask in faith and then go to work for Him, maximizing the talents they have been given.  Don’t just sit!  Go, seek, find, pray, work and learn.  This is your time.

Twiddling Your Thumbs?

This past summer, before I began working at the showroom, I worked as a waitress in a little diner a mile down the road.  I had to be there at 6:30 every morning to open, and then I stayed until 2 or 3 pm cleaning up.  The restaurant was very small — only eleven tables fit in the dining area — but I spent every day, all day, running back and forth and to and fro like a frantic hen.  People could be friendly, fussy, flirty or freaky — rude, rambunctious, Really Annoying… it didn’t matter what you felt, you were to wait on that person and serve them to the best of your ability. 

The title of ‘waitress’ implies that you are waiting on something.  Truthfully, a waitress ‘waits’ on the customer to order his food, ‘waits’ on the cook to produce it, and finally brings it out to be served.  Yet while she is waiting for these things to happen, she is alway moving.  She is not idle, she is not shiftless — she continues to work even while the food is not ready.

Waiting on love is the same.  As Sarah Mally said in her book Before You Meet Prince Charming,  waiting does not imply that you are sitting around waiting for something to happen.  You aren’t twiddling your thumbs and humming “Someday My Prince Will Come”.  On the contrary, this time of waiting is to help you become all the woman (or man) God wants you to be. 

The reason we wait is often lost in the occasional pain of the waiting.  Truth be told, you aren’t waiting to get married.  The goal is not to get married.  One of the problems that arises with the ‘wait not date’ mentality is that it produces girls who think that marriage is the end-all.  It becomes their life goal, their only calling, and any other services are either scorned or ignored.  This is not a right or true way of thinking.  Do you know I know?  Because I did it. 

Being a wife and mother is a wonderful thing, but there is a time for it.  Until that time, girls should not spend their days focusing on reaching that time.  This time, this day, this present, is where you live.  This is where you become effective.  You may be waiting, but keep moving.  Keep other goals!  Develop alternatives.  What if you never marry?  Then what?  What if you don’t marry till you’re thirty? What will you do with your time?  Make the most of the years God has given you.  While I do believe that singleness can be a trial, making the most of that trial grows you into a person worthy to marry another. 

Each day is given to you and me to glorify God and grow in our walk with Him.  While planning ahead and having dreams are fine in moderation, an over-focus on the future produces discontent.  As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious about itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:33-34) 

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Got a Boyfriend Yet?

Every Christmas one side of my family used to gather together in the town hall of the little village where my grandma lives.  There was usually a huge turn out — up to 100 family members total.  And every Christmas, while I piled my foam plate with mashed potatoes and baked beans and my cousin’s squeaky violin was tweeting out “Silent Night” from the corner, my Aunt Charlotte would come out of nowhere and ask the question she had asked every Christmas since I was eleven:

“Got a boyfriend yet, Phleesha?”

While other people may not grab your elbow and ask it in the same nasal tone, you have probably already fielded this question plenty of times.  And you will continue to answer it for years to come, until you’re married, and society becomes bored with your faithfulness to monogamy. 

As one guy friend of mine said, “It seems to me people are so bored with their own romantic lives that they have to go meddling around in everyone else’s.”  It seems that that is the case.  Now, some of these are well-meaning relatives that just want to see their little babies grow up and move on and be happy — but often even they can’t understand why a girl would consciously choose not to spend her high school years dating.  “Hey, it’s fun! I did it, and I turned out okay, right?”

Maybe in the 50’s, when there was a current of morality still running through the culture, dating could be viewed with a little less caution.  Back then television had just appeared on the scene, and music wasn’t constantly blaring with sexual innuendos and overtones.  Children grew up innocent, girls learned to be homemakers, and boys learned to be men.  But even in that time, dating opened up room for temptation and consequently, failure.  With the invention of the car, young people could ‘take off’ anywhere they wanted to.  No one was watching. 

And no one was watching while the dating scene became more and more centered around physical interaction.  No one was watching when children — fourteen and fifteen years old — were committing adultery without even knowing what the word meant.  Namely, parents weren’t watching. Or perhaps they watched, with hands thrown in the air, and ‘let kids be kids’, rather than training them to be the adults they should be.  The current of morality became nothing but a trickle through the 60’s and 70’s, and in our present day, we are lucky to see but a drop of it on the wasteland that once was our country’s moral standard.

Choosing not to date in high school should not be done out of fear, which is what many people would like to say is our motivation.  The decision to wait is a decision not to avoid, but to attain. Our motive should not so much be to make known what we are against as to proclaim what we are for.  While a discussion of the problems with dating is necessary to understand why we need an alternative, focusing only on the negative turns off the world faster than anything.  What solution do you have?  Why should you wait instead of date?  What are the benefits?  What can you attain by waiting to be marriageable age before entering a relationship?

So we tell them.

“You can attain freedom to have friends, and to be one.  You can attain character as you wait, free of distraction.  You can attain a greater understanding of family and marriage.  You can attain appreciation for the sanctity of the marriage relationship.  You can attain inner peace knowing God will bring the right one, rather than grasping for him or her.  You can attain, and maintain, purity of body — out of the way of temptation.  And you can attain a purity of heart, unbroken, untarnished, and precious in the sight of God.”

What can a temporary relationship offer that outweighs those benefits?  The teen years should not be wasted with broken hearts and unkept promises.  They should be a time to grow, and enjoy life with friends without the unknowns and pressures of a ‘special’ relationship.  Am I saying that after high school dating is also unadvisable?  No.  I will be addressing that in later posts.  But high school is a time where a relationship has a 98% chance of ending.  Is that worth the time, energy, emotion and temptation?

I don’t think many people realize the implications of the teen dating scene.  Unsupervised interaction between girls and boys in this over-sexualized culture will inevitably lead to the problems we see all around us today.  Parents bewail the state of our generation, wondering what to do, and what went wrong.  We know what went wrong — and now we can offer an alternative; a way to do things right.  Many people won’t want to receive it because it seems too ‘extreme’.  Let me ask you:  in view of the consequences of unsupervised dating relationships, is there any alternative that wouldn’t be ‘extreme’? 

Waiting instead of dating in high school is a commitment.  Like I said before, it isn’t always easy or fun.  But your Lord knows that you are doing it to honor Him and your future mate, and He will bless your decision.  Saving your heart and body will be a decision you will never regret.  Make your high school years the best they can be.  Have good guy and girl friends, have fun, and enjoy life.  A temporary relationship is not necessary to fulfill that goal.  I can testify to that!  I am now out of high school, and no, I don’t have a boyfriend yet.

So one more Christmas for Aunt Charlotte to go unanswered.  But that’s alright by me.