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.

7 comments:

  1. that was AMAZING!

    i mean that, it was good!

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  2. Abigail, you are a very wise young woman,...who is learning more everyday as you listen to your mom who loves you very much and who wants only God's best for you.

    I liked your honesty and your discription of the things going on in your heart and mind as you contemplate friendships.

    I love the relationship you have always had with Jared. He is an amazing brother. I know that you love him very much and that your whole life he has been there for you. I know that will continue into your future and that you will always be close.

    Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, and as you yield to Him you will produce much fruit in your life.

    I think that you are a lovely Christian and that you always want to please God.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and for offering advice to young people who read this blog.

    It is a beautiful thing to think of the one that God is preparing for you. I am sure he is out there somewhere, and he will find a true gem when God leads him to you one day. ((smile))

    Blessings From Above!
    Grandma

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  3. Your Momma is a very wise woman and so are you. I am so proud of you and I know that you have such a wonderful future ahead of you!

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  4. I didn't have brothers growing up, & there weren't any boys in the neighborhood for me to play with, either. I think that rather skewed my view of boys/men & i had a hard time with dating for a while.

    I went to college a little later than most do, & i was already married. And it was a Christian college. So for the first time in my life i had the freedom to be friends with males without the perplexity of wondering what they thought of me, etc., etc. I had so much fun! I really enjoyed these friendships without the pressure to have it be anything more.

    One of those "boys" is still one of my best friends. He came to visit my husband & me recently & i just so enjoyed our time together.

    You have a wonderful, wise, delightful family Abigail. No one will ever be there for you like your family. But it is precious to develop friendships also, that can last thru time & give you a different perspective. Friendships outside the family are like having another sister (or brother). You are very wise to listen to your mama & learn from her as you can. But as you say, sometimes we have to experience things for them to make sense.

    God bless you & your delightful family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  5. Abagail,

    Very well written and very good advice!

    :o)

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  6. As I said previously to you, YOU are an amazingly wise young lady with the most beautiful heart for the things of God...not willing to settle for His "permissive" will, but always in pursuit of His "perfect" will for your life! As others have said, what a gem some blessed young man will have one day in you! Your Mama and Daddy have done so well by all of you, and I know you will continue that legacy as you grow and mature, marry, have babies....thank-you, precious one, for sharing even with us "older" folk the beauty of seeking God in all things!
    Blessings and love,
    Lolli (aka Lisa)

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  7. Dear Abigail & Olivia,
    So I know this is from years ago, but I just found this blog for the first time. I LOVE IT. I am sitting here reading yours and Olivia's posts and being so encouraged. I'm cheering wildly inside my heart. (Not at all kidding) Like, seriously girls. I wish we lived closer together because I know we'd get along crazy well!
    Ab, in this post you wrote the story of my 12 year old life!! I so wish I'd read this when I was 12. Ha! Everything you said is so right on. There's so, so, so much more you wrote that I agree wholeheartedly with, but if I told you all of it, this comment would be an entire BLOG. XD I just wanted you both to know how much you blessed me. Because you did. For sure. The end.
    I love you! (a lot)
    -maria

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