Friday, November 22, 2013

Honoring My Future Spouse: What I'm learning about Godly, healthy guy/girl interaction

Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to imply that I have this area of my life figured out (just ask my family). Like you, I am on a journey.  I am simply doing my best to carry out what God has shown me for me throughout the years up to this point. Please keep in mind that this post is addressing every day situations, and not special ones, such as being alone with a guy friend because he's being protective over you. -  You do not have to agree :) And beware, this may be my longest post yet! 

 Guy/Girl Interaction

   It's a subject in the church that is not brought up very often. And honestly, I can understand why. It's a touchy subject! With so many people at different places in their walk with God, we tend to have at least a few a lot of different opinions. It is also hard to talk about it without appearing like you're sharing your opinion, sounding prideful and being legalistic. Which is what I, too, am trying to avoid in this post. I can only go by the past, recent and personal experiences I have had in my short years on earth, plus what I have learned from the Bible and people, young and old, who I respect. My desire is to honor God. I am responsible for me. 

 The Lord has brought me through the progression of being a sometimes flirty 13 year old in youth group with a crush or few, to a twenty four year old woman desiring to honor her future husband now physically, mentally and emotionally(“She does him good and not evil ALL the days of her life.” ~Proverbs 31:12). The latter, of course, involves how I respond and act toward my guy friends. 

I find that focusing on two specific areas really helps me. 

  • Safety in numbers & Healthy conversation
Where there is no guidance, a people fall but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.  ~ Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) 

Back in time, it would have been very unusual for an unmarried man and an unmarried woman to be intentionally alone together. It didn't matter if they were in a public setting or even if they were just friends. To be alone implied something much bigger than friendship. I am sure there were exceptions, such as safety, but otherwise, it would have given people the opportunity to think things, perhaps, very untrue of the two people. It could have put their character in question, which would have been an embarrassment, because character was something to protect and respect. Sounds pretty old-fashioned and restricting, right? But has the way people think really changed so much?

Let's bring this scenario up to date, but keeping it in a Christian mindset. There's a young man and woman you know, who claim to be only friends. This is the first time you've seen them alone, and they are in a car. What's YOUR first thought? Are you now trying to convince yourself they are still "only friends", when before, there's was no doubt?  I can't speak for you, but I know for me, my first thought is, "Hmmmmm, I wonder...".  It's not that it may be inherently wrong, but perhaps more like bad judgement. If there is at least a third person, I think, "Well there goes a good group of friends." It also protects my brother or sister in the Lord's character from being put into question. 

"... He (the Lord) is a shield to those who walk in integrity..." ~ Proverbs 2:7

I have found that I really, really like accountability. It doesn't always feel good in the moment, but I've never known a time when I wasn't thankful for it in the end. This includes involvement from my parents, as well as friends. Unfortunately, our culture gives us the impression that accountability, especially with parents, is childish or only for pastors. But I beg to differ. It's not childish, it's safe. And there is nothing wrong with safety. I want to feel safe, especially as a woman. 
Our friends and family can help us stay focused on the Lord and what He has put in our hearts. I know for me, I tend to have an easier time talking with guys. Because of this, I have asked my family and friends to help me by pointing out when I am unintentionally going too far with my teasing and/or conversations. I will mean absolutely nothing by it, but if not careful, it could look like I'm leading someone on, which would give the appearance of an untruth. Which brings in the subject of conversations. I love this paragraph written by Leslie Ludy from her devotion "Getting to Know a Guy".
She was specifically writing to girls, but I believe, in many ways, it can also be applied to guys. 

"Protecting your feminine mystique doesn’t mean you need to hide in a corner and go out of your way to avoid guys.  It’s not more spiritual to act shy and insecure in a conversation with a guy.  You can be friendly, outgoing, and confident toward any guy you meet.  The key is to be God-honoring in the way you speak and interact with guys.  Scripture is abundantly clear that all our words must be carefully weighed before God...
Far too many of us get caught up in the “playful banter” that goes along with male/female interaction, disregarding the purity of speech that God requires of His children.  When you casually chat with a guy, don’t allow crude words, sarcastic words, impure words, profane words, sensual words, gossipy words, etc. to creep into your conversation.  Joking about the latest Hollywood comedy or T.V. sitcom might seem completely normal, but does it honor Jesus Christ?  Flirtatious or teasing comments might seem innocent and fun, but does that behavior reflect the stunning purity of our King? ...When it comes to talking casually with guys, choose to exchange all foolish, idle, flirtatious conversation for edifying words that build faith and bring glory to God. Beware of downplaying spiritual things so that a guy doesn’t think of you as strange.  Let guys know without question where you stand – that Jesus Christ is the number one passion and focus of your life and heart."

And I would add, don't share the deeper parts of your heart, even under the title of "ministry". I highly encourage others, as I too have been encouraged, if you need a friend to talk to about deep heart matters,  it is almost always healthy to go to a person, who you trust, that is of the same sex as you. From what I have personally seen, aside from the few obvious exceptions, it is never a healthy situation to share the deep parts of your heart with a person of the opposite sex. However, if you find yourself in that situation, because of your specific circumstances (cause we're all different),
 at least make sure there is a third person. That third person is an asset, and can be of more help to keep the situation from getting too deep. But you still have to be VERY cautious. Guard your heart and emotions and please make sure you really do trust the person you are talking with. Hopefully that person is encouraging you to not give up on trying to get into relationships with Christ-focused people of the same sex that you can surround yourself with. Again, I want to clarify that I am not an expert. But my family has been in ministry for a long time and we have seen the dangers that can come from men and women going too far in their conversations. I have seen perfectly good friendships be ruined because emotions got, unintentionally, too entangled. 

I want to be careful in my conversations with guys, because emotions can be very vulnerable and the innermost parts of my heart are not to be given away to another woman's future husband.  I want to build healthy friendships with the men in my life which can continue after I am married that my husband won't be jealous of or concerned about. 

At the end of the day, along with honoring God and my future spouse, my relationships with my guy friends are not to be a cause for anxiousness, wondering if I'm doing everything just right or not, but wonderful opportunities to honor them and help build them up to be mighty men of God. It's about protecting the glory of my King and the sacredness of my future marriage. 

But, in order to live out everything I have written in this post, I humbly realize that I must, must, MUST continue to meditate on Jesus. I must place my full dependence upon Him, and find my everything in Him. It is then, and only then, when I am seeking the kingdom of heaven first and foremost, that I will be able to do my future spouse and my friends any good. I pray Christ's radiance and beauty will be reflected in and through my life. 

May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and cause His face to shine upon you as you seek to honor Him in your relationships! 

Please feel free to comment, but keep them kind :)  I also welcome any "tips" you have learned that has helped you in this area. Like I said before, I am learning and have not been perfected in this area. 

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