Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guarding Friendships

In the first years of my life, one of the major things I remember thinking is that “boys have cooties!” I didn’t like to talk to boys, I wouldn’t sit next to boys, I wouldn’t even pretend to tolerate boys…I just didn’t like them! I knew exactly where I was supposed to be—gathering with my girls, giggling, and talking while the mischievous little boys were off doing their own thing; we would pay no heed.

Of course that didn’t include my brother, after all he wasn’t a boy to me but “my brother” and I actually spent most of my time with him. There were also a few of my brother’s friends whom I would play with on the occasion when I was little—I always had my role of the princess or maiden in distress to play when they would put on their swords, shields, and masks of knighthood, but I never found a little boy who I could be as comfortable with as I was with girls.

This was the face of my childhood—“sugar, and spice, and all things nice” vs. “Frogs, snails, and puppy dog tails”. The two go together in a sweet, storybook fashion. Girls wore bows and dresses, boys wore holes in their jeans and never ceased to adorn themselves with disheveled hair. To be completely honest, while I was “all girl”, I was also a little tomboy when I played with Jared. I often threw aside the bows and dresses to romp around the “forest” (our tree row) with Jared.

Throughout my young years, I did have my little crushes and such, but they were absolutely forbidden in my home so I kept them to myself. In my preteen years, I can honestly say: I wasn’t the type of girl to call boys “hot” or “cute”, and it made me fairly uncomfortable when girls I was with said those things. However, looking back—I can see that this is when the trouble truly began.

My momma has told me my whole life “The moment you render yourself incapable of doing something is the moment you’ll slip up and do it.” I always heard her say it, and I believed her; but as is typical with anybody, personal application was not something I was very good at.

I had some girl friends that had some very good friends who were boys. I had never had a good friend who was male (other than my brother) and again, my mom discouraged close boy/girl friendships (outside of sibling relationships). She’s always told me it was potentially very dangerous. It’s not that I didn’t believe her but I just didn’t think I would get close enough to a guy for it to be so.

I became casual friends with a few guys at the age of 11 or 12. I quickly realized that it was quite fun to grab their attention. I guess you would call that “flirting”. I never would have thought I would be the type to flirt, but that’s exactly what I was doing. Flirting is one of those things that feels really good while you’re doing it, but afterwards leaves you with this pit in your stomach; a feeling of sickening dissatisfaction. That disturbing feeling is dreadfully unpleasant, but surprisingly easy to ignore. And that’s exactly what I did with it—I ignored it until it formed a giant mass of vanity in my heart. I suddenly started to care about how I looked; how fashionable my clothes were, how big the heels on my shoes were, how my hair was cut, how big my earrings were…all merely for the sake of attention!

In time I realized that I didn’t like myself that way and my family wasn’t impressed either. They missed the little tomboy who threw her hair in a messy pony tail and put on flannel shirts and rubber boots. It was at this time that God began to work in my heart, and my mom shared her concern with me as well.

I started monitoring myself and purposed to view guys very differently. They were not a playing field. I would begin to look at them as friends…but how close should a girl/guy friendship be? A friend listens to you, gives you advice, understands you, accepts you, and loves you—yet another situation to consider.

I believe that my personal number one, God given source for these relationships is my family. I consider those friendships and supports to be among my greatest blessings in life. However, I can also see the value in friendships outside the home, and that is where confusion arises.

I think to a certain extent, both guys and girls can be friends, but we need to be careful whom we allow ourselves to get close to. What kind of things do we share with our friends? We share our dreams, desires, hopes, fears, struggles, temptations—we bare our souls to those who are close to us. Who do I want to have that kind of deep attachment with? Who should I allow to become that “in tune” with me? I don’t believe I should grow close enough to a guy where I feel that type of attachment emotionally. To bare my thoughts with another is a great bonder, and bonds formed with guy friends could someday plant seeds of envy in the heart of the man whom God has been planning to be part of my life all along. Should I, or do I really want to waste that precious gift of my heart on someone who won’t be a part of my future and will in fact rob my future husband of that special place?

“The moment you render yourself incapable of doing something is the moment you’ll slip up and do it.” I’ve realized that personal application is best exercised when you’ve learned the hard way. Over the past year, my conscience has taken a quiet beating. Not from relationship regrets, or impurity—simply from being ignorant to the dangers of something as innocent as friendship. It feels good to talk to someone who will listen, and it’s easy to ignore the gentle prodding of the conscience; but at the end of the day, I want to say that no man has ever seen my heart like the one that God has chosen to cherish me forever. Doing the right thing will always be worth it; no matter how difficult it is at the time of application.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Eyeball Rule

When I look back at my life two to three years ago I sometimes shutter. The way I acted towards my guy friends and even words that I used to describe guys, as mild as others may find them, grieves me. Debating which popular Christian rock star was “hottest”, giggling about my crush and swooning, not caring when I was being flirty, and those characterizing “qualities” of the modern jr. high girl. Two years ago God really got a grip on my heart and challenged me to be sold out for Him and to pursue holiness in every area of my life. How I related to guys changed drastically.

One of the things that sparked this change was reading Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy. Her husband Eric talks about how when realized that his future wife was out there are actually alive it changed many things for him. A few months previous, he had let God take control of his life in the area of romance and had decided that the next girl he dated would be his wife. One Friday night at a McDonalds with his college buddies, he had a moment of realization about his future wife and that “She’s alive!”

So how did this effect his life? Because of this realization, not only did he have a drive towards purity (as we will address in a later post), he also decided to live his life as if he future wife was with him. And this he called the “Eyeball Rule”.

When we examine our lives and thought lives we often don’t see ourselves honoring God or our future spouses by them. But when we live with a realization for the God that indwells all believers and the fact that we (most likely) have someone out there that we will marry, our actions are shaped.

Realizing the presence of God and the existence of our future spouse is amazing protection against temptations. When we are tempted to flirt, have impure thoughts, watch shows and movies that we should not, lust, and give away our hearts, the reminder of most importantly God’s presence and secondly our future husband can help us fight off temptations.

Above all we are called to a holiness. In Timothy 5:2 Paul commands men to treat younger women as sisters, and that doesn’t apply only to men. We are to treat all men with honor and respect for the sake of God, our future husbands, and the men’s future wives.

Some questions to ask yourself…
  • Do you flirt? Even slightly?
  • Do you use your power as a woman to manipulate or get your way?
  • Do you take advantage of guys?
  • Do you let anyone into your heart and share intimate things with them?
  • Do you watch TV shows and movies that breed lust in your heart?
  • Do you treat guys like brothers?
  • If the guy was married or in a relationship would you treat him the same way?
  • Do you find yourself lusting over good looking guys?