Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Conundrum

I have had this blog for over a year now, and have finally mustered up the courage to tackle a subject I have been long avoiding.  Not because it is bad, but because it is so sensitive.  Opinions are rather intricate and stepping on toes cannot be avoided.

It is frightening, intimidating, can lead to sudden anxiety attacks and is 90% of the cause regarding girls' heartaches.

Relationships!  Oh yes!  But not just any kind of relationship, guy/girl relationships, specifically.  While I have vaguely alluded to them in the past, I have not ever devoted an entire blog post to the tender subject. 

But why is it so hard to address?  Because us girls tend to be rather emotional about it all.  In fact, we can tend to get so emotional, that we endanger our hearts.  Guy/girl friendships can be hard to navigate if a worldly mindset is in place.

It is so important for us to remember that God gave us these kinds of relationships for our edification, sanctification and the furtherance of His kingdom.  (1 Timothy 5:2) I learn so much from my brothers in the Lord, but much of this learning would be inhibited if a flirtatious attitude were in place.  A really good way to determine whether you are being appropriate with your male friends, is to ask yourself if you are being more "friendly" and familiar with them than you are with your girlfriends, or your own brother.  I have seen so many instances where young men and women enter into circles and are friendlier with each other than they are with their own siblings.  It isn't right!  This leads to an enormous amount of problems, not to mention the message it is sending to the world.  We need to tread with caution and make sure that the world sees something different in our relationships with young men than they would see in their own.  We are not like the world, how dare we act like it?!  So just as a general rule of thumb, ask yourself if you are being friendlier with you male friends than you would be with your own dear brother(s). 

The other factor that plays into a large quantity of obstacles that proceed the attack of girl/guy issues, is competitiveness among young women.  Didn't think I would ever have the guts to admit it, did you?  Young women are immensely competitive!  Let’s just be totally honest…you know you want your cookies to taste better than Susie’s!  I mean come on, she uses a bagged mix!  Can you believe it!  And the dust that inhabits her home…my goodness!  You would be perfectly mortified if anyone ever saw your table tops with a week’s worth of dust on them!  You serve the best gourmet food on fine china, in an immaculate home, that smells like a primitive décor store, and you do it all while wearing the extravagant taffeta dress that you just happened to finish sewing and embroidering last Tuesday. 

We all do it! 

We want to be better than our fellow homemaker competitors.  We are women!  You think men get competitive!  HA!  Look at Rachel and Leah.  They were sisters who were in a birthing battle to conjure with.  Women are immensely competitive with each other.  It is in our nature…it is in our sinful nature.  It isn’t a good habit, and it certainly isn’t a healthy one.  We are not like the world in that we compete to be the homecoming queen or cheerleading captain.  We don’t compete to get our master’s before our highschool friends and earn more money than they do.  But we do take our competiveness and exercise it in our domesticity. 

We want to be the youngest one married, or the first one to have a baby.  We want to be known for having the most “healthy” habits and the most prepared wife and mother that anyone has ever seen.  “You say you were eleven when you could run a home on your own?  Well I was TEN!”  This attitude is contrary to the scriptures...

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

This kind of attitude is so often carried over into our guy/girl friendships.  It isn't that girls necessarily care about whether so and so is going to court them; but rather, it has to do with that they want to be the one all the boys pay attention to; they want to be the center of attention and be the one that everyone wants to court.  They want the notoriety the world promises, but with the stamp of "holy" on it.  

We don't want to become so consumed with avoiding inappropriate friendships that we avoid friendships altogether.  Trying to avoid any interaction with young men can lead to viewing them all as potential suitors...and that is wrong too.  Staying away from young men isn't going to make anybody's sinful nature dissipate.  Kneeling before the throne of the Lord and seeking His will and being sanctified is what will conquer our burden of sin. Be careful that you don't develop a religious spirit about it.  Staying away from young men and having no friendships with them at all doesn't make you holier; it can potentially inhibit your edification by limiting you to only a female perspective on things (with the exceptions of your own family members who happen to be men) and by giving you a pharisee like attitude towards young women who embrace the beauty that can lie in these edifying relationships.  Avoiding one extreme is no excuse for fleeing to another.    

Bad views on guy/girl relationships are everywhere.  One side says avoid them altogether and the other says to embrace like the world does.  A competitive spirit appears to be the driving force behind a lot of ill actions towards both young men and women.  Young women end up hurting each other for the sake of getting a guy's attention.  It makes me laugh...but then it makes me cry.  "Why does it bring you to tears, Shelby?"  Because I see it tear apart the body of Jesus Christ.  I see it rob young women of their potential to do great and wonderful things for the kingdom of Heaven.  I watch young women lose their identity in Jesus and seek it on an alternative front that promises nothing but despair.  

That is why I weep!  That is why the keys on my keyboard are getting worn out and my voice becomes weary from shouting off of the rooftop.  My hearts passion consumes me and it has caused me to become grieved over some of these issues.  If only we could have the ability to look past what we desire right now and see the consequences our actions could produce.  The thing is that God has given us so many examples of decisions and their consequences in His Word...we don't need to experiment to find out what is going to happen when we misbehave or indulge our flesh and fall into sin.  God has told us and that should suffice any thirst we have to dabble in the world's philosophy regarding anything...but in this post, regarding guy/girl friendships.  

Another good way to maintain healthy friendships is to make sure they're edifying.  Sure, it isn't bad to have lighthearted conversations; but are the lighthearted conversations appealing because they are secretly satisfying a craving for attention?  Or because they are lifting your spirits and encouraging you to fight this battle for the kingdom with a joyful heart?  Ask yourself why...why does this make me happy?  Why does this appeal to me?  Making sure our heart is pure and we don't have an ulterior motive, is vital! 

"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith..." ( 1 Timothy 1:5)

"To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.  They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." (Titus 1:15-16)

 You see, as hard as it is to believe, we are flesh and blood human beings; and also fabulous architects!  All of us!  Didn't know that did you?  That's right, we are masters at building!...ego building that is.  We love our egos! (my mother has always said that "ego" stands for Edging God Out)  I have always wondered if Eggo waffles didn't formulate their name from the human "ego" just to make us love them more!  We love to have our ego's stroked and empowered!  We think we deserve to feel special.  We are amazing people, of course everyone loves us, right?  Wrong!  We're not amazing, Christ is amazing!  Christ is what makes our lives worth living!  Sure, you feel like you are on top of the world when you have all attention on you, but what if you woke up tomorrow and there had never been a Savior to rescue you from your wickedness?  What if you found out that God didn't really love you, or that you had no part in the beauty of eternal life?  What if you found out that once you died you would be sent to burn in eternal anguish and misery for the rest of your life?  What if you stood before the throne of the almighty and perfect God and the demons came upon you and drug you to hell, while the beauty of paradise faded from your view and the heat of sin and terror fell upon you?  

Would your thoughts be on how much you loved testing the boundaries with the young men?  I don't think so.  ;)  See we need to have an eternal perspective in mind.  I'm not saying that if well fall, we will be hell bound, but I am saying that we need to focus our attention on what we have been given!  We have been given something beautiful that will last forever!  Wow!  I get goosebumps thinking about it!  Do we understand it?  I don't think we comprehend that this life WILL pass away.  This?  This right here?  This isn't going to make us happy.  What we are fighting for here is what should make us happy!  

If we feel the need to procure our happiness from others and our relationships with them, we are going to make them, ourselves and others surrounding us, utterly miserable.  We were meant to be fulfilled in Christ, not human beings.  It all comes down to being content.  

As of this moment in time, I am so happy that God saved me, that I don't care if any living soul accepts me or likes me.  I don't need that.  I don't need to be loved or admired; I don't need a husband or children; I don't need someone to build up my ego and tell me how wonderful I am.  None of these things will make us happy.  Only the Lord will make us happy!  Understanding that we are part of something so gorgeous and that we belong to someone who is perfect, should make us smile and then pick up our swords and fight for whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure and whatever things are lovely.

Now let's see if I feel that way tomorrow, shall we? 


Bonnie said...

Hi Shelby, your blog has been listed at :)

Lauren Brittany said...

Very true, Shelby! Thank you for the excellent reminder. Keeping our hearts and minds focused on the Lord eliminates so many problems and also keeps them from happening in the first place! :)

Blessings on your Lord's Day,

Savannah said...

Hello Shelby,

Thank you so much for letting us see and share with you in your passion for following the ways of Christ and for reminding us to look at the eternal perspective.

I thought about this verse just a few days ago when I was thinking about this exact issue, so I thought I'd share it with you, because I know it is something I sometimes forget--and forgetting this makes my frustration worse. You know it, I am sure: "Jesus said to him [Peter], 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.' " (John 21:22) May we all submit to Him--each one of us individually, for so it must be.

For the Kingdom!

Jodi said...

Amen! You might really love SM Davis DVD or CD avoiding defruading hearts, a very biblical message on being single, whats in between and then marriage.Jonathon Lindvall also has some wonderful articles.
Blessings, Jodi

Charis said...

oh Shelby, this makes me laugh, smile and be sober. That part about the competition (esp the healthy or I would also add how many theological books you've read, or how many of the top conservative home school circle authors you've heard, etc.) made me laugh out loud! sadly too true. Some excellent thoughts...reading the Botkins book has really been convicting...just what do I want out of relationships? Am I in them to give, to serve the Lord? or as you say because it makes me feel good?

I've seen both sides of the "do not talk at all to each other 'cause that is flirting" to the other extreme. Due to my parents encouragement and also growing up with older brothers some of those issues have not been as hard for me but it is still a journey. May the Lord Jesus be totally honored and glorified in what we do!