Are You Too Busy for Friendship?

{By Samantha Nicole}

Dear friend,

I’m busy, really busy. So, yes, I chose work over responding to your text. I chose reading and quieting my mind before answering your email. I’m putting me above our friendship. I just wanted to let you know so you can stop pestering me about not meeting you for dinner. But I love you and always refer to you as “one of my best friends” so there’s that. You should be happy with what you can get, because my life is overwhelmingly full.

That’s the honest text/email I could send you, but instead I’ve just left your message unanswered.

are you too busy for friendship

During these days when life is busy with work and college and serious boyfriends, it’s hard for me to make time for my friends. I’ve had huge changes that steal hours upon hours from my week and new relationships that need to be fed and grown. I keep justifying to myself that you’ll understand my lack of communication, but I still feel so guilty every time I see your note in my inbox.

I find myself reminiscing about the “good ‘ole days” when we were close friends, but then I realize that it’s my fault those days aren’t still going on. When we do finally get the chance to talk, I feel like all I do is ramble on about all the stuff I’m doing and the dreams I living, and I forget to focus on you and why we’re such dear friends in the first place.

My pastor recently pointed out that we as Americans are proud of our busyness, not of our productivity.

That really hit me in regards to our friendship and the way I’ve let us slide over the last months. If I took just a few moments every day and scheduled my life just a tad differently, I could easily make time to send you a quick text or even give you a call. But instead I choose to be busy with “life”. Because I’m always busy with “life”.

I guess I’m writing all of this to say that I’m sorry. I know that life isn’t going to change overnight, but I want you to know that I’m going to try to prioritize better. I don’t want the craziness of a schedule and the thrill of new acquaintances to drown out the joy and love of friendships that took years of cultivating. I need you, I need your smile and goofiness, I need your stress and tears, and I think you need mine. Our two-way street has been blocked into a frustrating one-way that needs the barriers removed.

I’m promising to try to knock pieces of those walls down.

I guess this calls for a different text, now doesn’t it?

It’s been forever since we’ve talked! I started a new job, switch majors, continued an awesome relationship, and forgot about you. I slid right past your texts every time I turned on my phone, and for that I’m so sorry. I need another chance. The chance to love you and be invested in you like a dear friend should. I miss you, and we need to find a time to talk as soon as we can!

I’ll be perfectly honest, that little message only took me two minute to write.

You’re worth way more than two minutes of my time. I promise to give you more.

I’m so sorry.

With love,

Samantha Nicole

What do you think? How do you balance busyness with keeping up friends? Comment below! 

 

8 Keys to Texting Girls

{By Ellery Sadler}

Every guy texts girls, but texting isn’t as simple as you may think.

Guys, there are a few things you should know before texting a girl (especially a girl you ‘like’ like).

Being on the receiving end of guys’ texts, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn what works and what could be done better. I’ve gotten texts ranging from poetry to promises that are never kept to strange questions to hilarious comebacks to random things that just leave me wondering why the person bothered to text me at all.

To all you guys texting girls out there, here are some things that you should know.

1. Ask Questions

This may seem very basic, but in any conversation it is critical that you ask questions. Otherwise, you’re placing the entire burden of the conversation on the girl. If you instigate a conversation, be ready and willing to actually communicate by showing interest in how she’s doing and what she’s been up to. A question is an expression of interest; it shows you aren’t just self-centered and that you are actually a good friend.

 2. But Remember This is Not an Interview

Yes, it is important to ask questions, but don’t make your texting sound like the script from an interview. Instead of just asking “How are you?” and then moving to “What have you been up to lately?”, when she answers about how she’s doing, follow up with another question about what she’s just told you. Dig a little deeper. Ask open-ended follow-up questions. If this is a girl you’re actually interested in, you should go beyond just the bare minimum of conversation.

3. Would I Say This to Her Face Test

Always ask yourself this before sending that semi-questionable text. Would you say this to her face? It’s very easy to be charming or sweet or funny via text. And that can be ok, but texting has given guys (& girls) an easy cop-out. You can say nice things, flirty things, risky things, without actually having to say them at all. But unless you are man enough to say ‘You’re beautiful’ or ‘You’re cute ;)’ or ‘I really like you’ to her face, you really shouldn’t be texting that to her. Besides, while it is riskier to say something like that to a girl in person, it makes you ten times more respect-worthy. Texting sweet things (if you haven’t had the guts to tell her in person as well) is just a flirtatious cop-out and it’s basically unimpressive.

[Also, girls generally take your words more seriously than you probably meant them. So if you don’t really mean it: do not text it. And if you do, then tell her in person.]

4. Be Interesting & Engaging 

Always start with a piece of information and/or a question. “Hi, how’ve you been?” or “Hey, I loved that picture you posted on FB, looks like you had a blast in NYC. How was it?” Get the focus off of yourself and onto her. Try not to start a conversation with merely a ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. What girl is going to text back to that? It’s boring. Everyone likes to have someone interested in them and their life, so if you are interested in her act like it.

5. Stop Being Afraid

We live in a culture ensnared in the fear of commitment. We’re terrified to commit to anything: jobs, friends, relationships etc. But commitment is cool and it is the gentleman’s way. If you are interested in a girl and have been texting her consistently for a while, it’s probably time to move to the next step. Don’t leave her hanging or wondering what you’re thinking. Don’t leave her to interpret your hints at something more. Be honest and upfront. Always. And it impresses a girl when you are willing to show some interest and instigate interaction.

Don’t be so hesitant that you miss out. If you’ve ‘like’ liked a girl for six months and never texted her anything but the occasional ‘Hi, how are you?’ she is not going to know. [You can get the message across a lot better in person, just FYI.]

6. Ask Her Out

[2015 Edit]  If you can’t think of something creative – like writing an anonymous letter and putting it in a secret place only you two know about, or writing it on the sidewalk where she goes to work, or giving her a puppy with a note around its neck (& for the guys out there this is definitely the way that I would like to be asked out – with a puppy please) – ask her in real life.

Or, if you want to keep it low key & aren’t sure if she’s going to say yes or don’t want to put her in an awkward position, you can ask her to get coffee via text. But don’t just let the relationship hang. If you like her enough to be texting her all the time, you probably should ask her out.

7. If You’re Not Interested Don’t Text Her Too Much

I was talking with one of my best friend’s about this article and asked if there was anything she thought I should add.  “The amount you text,” she said. “That’s really important. Because the more you text someone, the more interest you are showing.”

Interest is frequently expressed by the amount of time you spend with someone or talking to someone. Time is love. If you’re texting a girl all day every day but just think of it as a casual friendship, you may want to take another look. The signal you are sending her (whether you mean to be or not) is that you are interested in her. If you want to keep your relationship with a girl ‘just friends’ don’t text her too much.

8. Be A Good Friend When You’re Texting

You should always be a good friend. This means that you should treat her with respect, care about her as a person, and not play with her emotions. This goes for more than just texting, but treat her how you would want someone to treat your sister (or how you want someone to treat you). Don’t say more than you mean. Don’t leave her hanging. Do treat her with respect. Do have fun with her. Do make her laugh. Do call her on the phone. (No, guys, it really isn’t that big of a deal. It isn’t a marriage proposal.  And it’s a way better way to get to know someone than texting. In fact, believe it or not, that’s how everyone used to communicate. Lighten up & give her a call.)

 

So, be sure you ask questions (but not too many), think about her and not yourself, man up and tell her whatever that great line/compliment is in person and only text her a lot if you’re genuinely interested in her.  But it still holds true that texting is not a great way to get to know someone, so if you really are interested – talk to her in person.

Yes, I’m hoping chivalry isn’t dead and it’s just in a coma. If it’s dead, please don’t tell me, I don’t want to hear it.

 

Why You Should Stop Looking for Someone Similar to Date

{By Samantha Nicole}

courtship opposites attract

“Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots.” ~Forrest Gump

Peas and Carrots. Peas are green and small and round and mushy and grow on a vine. Carrots are orange and long and skinny and crunchy and grow underground. Looking at them, you’d never put the two together. They’re so different. Yet for years people have been putting bowls of peas and carrots on their dining room tables at dinnertime.

Everyone has heard the phrase “opposites attract”, but yet when it comes to dating, courtship, and marriage you often hear people talk about finding someone with similar tastes.

I’d like to challenge that thought process for a few minutes.

Aside from core matters of faith and spirituality, what if we stopped looking for someone like us and started seeking out a life companion who is very different from who we are?

Each person has a unique skill set given to them by God. In First Corinthians 12 Paul discusses what that means, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (v. 4-11) He goes on to talk about why it’s necessary to have so many different kinds of people. “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (v. 18-20) If we as Christians are supposed to be a variegated unit, why would we expect something different in the marriage “unit”?

Think about it for just a minute. How many times have you heard someone say “Miss-so-and-so should meet Mr-so-and-so because they have so many similarities and would get along so well!”? Then there are all the comments we hear about how “I’d never put those two together; they’re so different.” And dating sites always have you matched up by “common traits”.

What’s up with compatibility being all about similarities?

opposites attract advice

Because no one is alike, I would challenge us to define compatibility more along the lines of complementarianism. For instance, if you’re an introvert, wouldn’t it make more sense to be involved with someone who is an extrovert? Your quiet, stay-at-home personality may mellow out someone else’s let’s-go-conquer-the-world, over-excitement and their energy and spontaneity may challenge you to explore new concepts and adventures.

I have really good friends who got married a couple years ago. Jen is a sweet, quiet girl with a gentle sense of humor, but Sean was (and still is!) the loudest voice in the room, hysterically fun, and always up for a challenge. Looking at them you’d think they’re nothing alike. However, their home has become the best place to spend time… Just make sure to go over when you’re prepared to leave with your sides hurting from all the laughter and joy you’ll encounter! But if they’d been on the search to find someone just like them, we may never have come to learn that Jen is a complete goof or that Sean is one of the kindest men I know. Their opposite personalities drew characteristics out of one another that were hard to see before.

Relationships and marriage are the tools God uses to advance His kingdom at the roots. He made each person unique; it’s up to us to embrace the differences and watch what He’ll do.

Puzzle pieces are all shaped different, but they always fit together.

Finding your match for the lifelong journey of romance may not mean finding someone like you… In fact, I believe it may be just the opposite. Because in the end, we’re always going to put peas with carrots.

What are your thoughts? Do you think we should challenge the relationship status quo?

 

3 Reasons You Need to Stop ‘Saving Your Heart’

{By Taylor Turner}

If you are familiar with the “knight in shinning armor coming to save his princess” idea of relationships, the next couple paragraphs may hit home for you. [Side note, gals, if the armor is still shining, it may just be tinfoil because armor that is still shining has not been truly tested. Just sayin’.]

why you should stop saving your heart

After growing up in a community that promoted not giving your heart away and now realizing issues with it, I have called its bluff and found them to be just that, a bluff. The idea gained popularity quickly causing an extreme swing in the cultural pendulum ending in a belief system that breeds unrealistic, self-centered, and un-Christ like relationships. I don’t question the sincerity of the early proponents of this idea, the Ludys and Joshua Harris to name the most well known. I have read their books and other’s writings encouraging you to save your heart because it will almost guarantee a “good” relationship. Their catch phrase is emotional purity. However, as the saying goes, good intentions don’t equate to good policy. In fact, as C. S. Lewis is well known for saying, “good intentions can be the most oppressive” of all ideologies. And it is unfortunate this case is no exception.

What is emotional purity? What does it even mean to save your heart until marriage?

Technically, if you gave a part of your heart away, you would be dead. So not sure how that works out. The idea of emotional purity basically proposes that loving/being emotionally involved with someone before marriage is bad because once you get married you only have part of your heart to give to your spouse. And having anything but perfection is simply unacceptable. If you became emotionally vulnerable with someone or “gave part of your heart away” before marriage, you could never get back what you gave and thus you were not saving yourself for marriage. Moreover, you ended up as “damaged goods” with no room for redemption because how can God love someone who does that. (In case you wanted a reference, emotional purity is found in the Book of Second Opinions following the back cover of your Bible.)

There may be other superficial aspects, but fundamentally this is emotional purity: avoid vulnerability with anybody of the opposite sex until marriage. (There is much to say about this point, but suffice it to say that patterns you create before marriage will not magically disappear after you say “I do” – including an aversion to emotional vulnerability). There are three issues with emotional purity that stand in antithesis not only to reality but also a healthy relationship and the Gospel.

1. It’s a False View of Love

For starters, where else do you see this idea in life? Take a parent-child relationship for example. With the birth of their first kiddo, mom and dad experience a flood of love and affection toward the chunky, little baby. Here’s the rub: when they have their second child, it would be foolishness for the parents to say they have no more love to give because they “gave their heart away” to their first child. If a parent actually said that we would call them out for being unloving and preferential. This idea of love simply does not stand the test of reality.

2. It Cultivates Self-Centeredness

An even deeper problem with emotional purity is its cultivation of self-focus and pride. C. S. Lewis said of humility that it is “not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” Am I emotionally pure enough? Am I saving myself enough? Am I too vulnerable to that person? Does God still love me because I gave part of my heart away? Is there still hope? These are all questions that center on self, merit before God, and our future spouse. Not only is it self-focused but emotional purity is also condemning of those who fall short and elevates rule-keepers because “surely God loves them.” A culture of comparison and condemnation is cultivated.

3. It Forgets Jesus & Limits Love

The most fundamental problem with striving to obey the “rule” of emotional purity is its overt lack of Jesus. Life is all about Jesus: understanding Him and being in relationship with Him helps makes sense of everything else. Life will not be ducky on account of sin but we will understand the good news of Jesus and how that impacts everything else. In relationship with Him, we experience Jesus’s unending, unchanging love. Since Jesus is an infinite being, the love emanating from Him is also infinite. Thus, the love of Jesus working in us through the Holy Spirit is not finite either. As believers, we do not have a limited amount of love to give and once we run out, it’s over. This reminds me of the good ole’ days when I was about 5 years old. I would play with the hose outside my house for hours on end. The water kept coming so I kept playing. I would end up getting tired but the hose continued gushing water. Jesus’s love is like a limitless hose for a kid on a summer day – it never runs out and those who love it stay close to the hose. Purity culture says the love you have is like a jar of water. The message of Jesus, however, is one of unchanging and unconditional love. In Christ, we have a fire hydrant of love to give, not a finite mason jar.

I want to leave you with this thought from a very wise man – a hero of mine in case you couldn’t already tell. Recently, I read through C. S. Lewis’s fantastic book “The Four Loves”, which is part of the reason I sat down to write this post. As I read through Lewis’s book, I came across one of his most poignant and clear statements about love and relationships. Lewis says:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable irredeemable. To love it to be vulnerable.”

To keep your heart in one piece you must be so consumed in a hobby and other unimportant things. Remove yourself from emotions, relationship, and community that you ultimately become immune to everything – including Christ. Don’t give your heart away and it will be nice and pretty for now . . . but as time passes, it will harden. A hardened heart that is unbreakable will break other’s hearts. A heart that is impenetrable will plow through others emotions. And a heart that is irredeemable will not seek the redemption that Jesus brings into this world for our good and His glory.

Vulnerability, however, is actually the antidote for a hardened heart and a heart averse to emotional vulnerability. Reject the unrealistic, self-centered, and un-Christ like message of the “purity culture.” Instead, love as Christ loves: selflessly, unconditionally, and unendingly. What do you think about saving your heart? Comment below, we love hearing from you! 

Letting in Light: The Day I Learned to Live Again

{By The Anonymous}

I’m going to tell you a story. You don’t have to agree with this story. You don’t even have to believe it’s true. But I want you to believe it. I want you to believe it because if you believe it, you’ll want to live it.

And if you want to live it, you might just save a life.

be the sun

I spent the majority of my life learning how not to feel. It’s much harder than it sounds. I spent years learning how to rationalize euphoria, justify depression, embrace monotony, shutting down as much of myself as possible. You may think this absurd, but I assure you it was not. The same window that offers a panoramic view of pristine countryside allows a skilled archer to fire a lethal shot. I grew up surrounded by religious archers, by social archers, by academic archers. I wish I was exaggerating, but I am not. And so it became logical to cover the window, to armor myself against the barrage. People told me I needed to feel to be able to truly live, but all I knew was that not feeling kept arrows out of my heart.

Go without something long enough, and you no longer miss it. Sugar, nicotine, sex, happiness.

All supposedly addictive and yet all entirely containable. Sit inside a dark room long enough and you forget not only why you’re there, but also what the point is of going outside. Darkness, safety, armored solitude, becomes your wonderful existence. It became mine. I existed around everyone else, I interacted with everyone else, I played the game like everyone else, but I knew there was nothing anyone could do to hurt me because there was nothing to hurt. Everything was locked down, secure, emotionless.

The problem with armor, though, is that it degrades. It gets old and rusty. It weakens, maybe cracks. And the problem with emotionlessness is that you don’t care enough to fix it. Then a stray sunbeam comes by, shines through the crack. Then you remember the countryside.

The sun didn’t rise that morning any differently than any other. It wasn’t looking for the crack to shine through. It simply existed; doing what it did every other day. But on this one day, there was a crack for it to shine through.

It woke me up. It blinded me. It hurt. It was wonderful. It was terrifying.

I remembered the countryside. But I also remembered the archers. And every conflicting cognitive process came rushing back, reminding me of the risk of taking down the armor, the danger of re-opening the window, reminded me of the possibility of that arrow to the heart. It also reminded me of how long I had sat in that dark room, safe. How long I had been safe, and dead. It was a different form of death, but it was death nonetheless.

What did I have to lose?

I wasn’t really living, huddled behind an increasingly insecure barrier, desperately trying to justify my existence and the rationale for my safety. The thought of opening the window terrified me. Yes, I was miserable. But isn’t misery preferable to death? The crack widened, and the sun shown brighter. It was too much. I hadn’t felt in so long, what could be worse than this stoic mummified existence? Sacrificing all the rationality that I had heretofore clung to, I gathered what little energy remained and tore down the defenses covering the window. The light poured in all around me. I turned 360 degrees and saw emerald fields, sapphire streams, golden sun.

It was beautiful. I had never felt like this before. What was this chemical reaction? How could I make it continue forever? There must be a way. And then it hit me. Literally hit me. A perfect shot to the chest. I had never felt pain like this before. This was why I hid. This was why I didn’t want to feel.

I staggered, tripped, fell. Not to the floor, out the window. Ah, curses. I let my guard down for one instant and the means of my supposed happiness has both enabled my injury and caused my death.  But I wasn’t thinking that. One thought consumed my mind. A thought that should have never entered my neural pathways. An emotional thought. A wonderful thought.

I’m flying.

In that instant, the arrow disappeared. It disintegrated. And I stopped falling. I hadn’t hit the ground, but I stopped falling. Then I saw them. I had wings, beautiful, perfect, powerful wings. I could fly wherever I wanted, see whatever I wanted. I was no longer restricted to the ground.

I’m free. I’m alive. I’m flying.

_ _ 

A life without emotions is no life at all. A life without love is no life at all. A life without wonder, without hope, without joy, is no life at all. The arrows that pierce you will only kill you if you let them. They will hurt, but let the pain make you better. Stronger. Freer.

The sun has no special path designed to illuminate the cracks in shielded windows, in shielded souls. It doesn’t know where someone may be cowering, in desperate need of a reminder that there is beauty yet unseen.

Be the sun. Be the constant beam of sunlight. Be the one who saves a protected soul.

You may never know whom you save, but they will know. That flying soul will never be able to express the depth of his gratitude, but it will follow the sun to the horizon and beyond.

 

What do you think? How have you been set free? Comment below!  

 

3 Things Every Christian Chick Digs

{By Taylor Turner}

If you hang around me for a little bit of time, hopefully you will know these three things about me: I love Jesus. I’m a Texan raised in Virginia. And I love country music.

what do Christian girls like in a guy

About a year ago, I ran across a song by Chris Cagle called “Chick’s Dig It.” Basically, the song follows the life of a boy on mission to impress a gal from early childhood through his high school years. This song has everything from jumping off high objects resulting in broken bones and crashing trucks into barns. And its all because “Chick’s dig it” – and he gets kisses as rewards, which is a plus. Only catch is that in real life, it won’t happen that way.

For the record, jumping off high buildings and breaking your arm is stupid and so is crashing into barns. Just throwing that out there. Maybe you don’t do that kind of crazy stuff. I know I surely do not. *cough*

Let’s think of this “chick dig” stuff in another way. Consider how us guys should treat our sisters in Christ – daughters of God.

Rather than telling you everything not to do around gals, how about we consider what we should do?

Instead of giving you a list of “don’ts” let’s consider some very practical things guys can do to treat the gals a little better. And just as a disclaimer to folks reading this, I do not have all this down. C. S. Lewis said experience is “the most brutal of teachers. But, my God, do you learn!” I can totally relate to that. Here are three things that I have learned.

1. COMMUNICATION

Talk to them. Verbally – with your mouth, not your fingers (texting just doesn’t cut it). Of course there is an exception for people who are mute. Other than that, though, how humanity has communicated for the past couple thousand years, works wonderfully. And is way more enjoyable than texting. Don’t get me wrong: texting is a wonderful technology. But as a means of primary communication, it’s about as effective as France in war.

2. DOORS

A couple generations ago, this was commonplace but there are only a couple guys I know today who still open doors for the ladies – car doors included. I am not saying that girls cannot open doors. In fact, gals can open a car door just as effectively as a guy. It’s not because gals can’t open the door that we open them, it’s because treating them with love and respect is of the utmost importance. You may say, “Yeah, but its such a little thing.” True! And the little things in your life can make a big difference in someone else’s day.

3. JESUS

Last but not least pursue your relationship with Jesus because your are called to worship and love Him; not because “chicks dig it.” First, if you press hard into Jesus to impress a gal, your “relationship” with Christ will not last. And second, most girls know the difference. Jesus isn’t a resumé builder. Neither is opening doors or verbal communication.

We should treat gals this way as a rule not an exception.

As brothers in Christ, we should treat them with love and respect because of who they are: sisters in Christ.

What do you think? How do you think Christian guys should treat girls? Comment below! 

Why I Hold His Hand

{By Samantha Nicole}

watercolor holding hands

My middle school pupils recently convinced me to read Divergent by Veronica Roth. Once I finally got my hands on a copy, I started reading. Four days later, I had read all four hundred eighty-seven pages. I’m now impatiently waiting for Insurgent to arrive at my library because I’m totally hooked. That advanced calculus class I’m supposed to finish by August? Yeah, I’ll cram later on. (Just don’t tell my professor…)

As I was voraciously reading, I screeched to a halt when I came to the following line:

“I never used to understand why people bothered to hold hands as they walked, but then he runs one of his fingertips down my palm, and I shiver and understand it completely.”

This. This is why physical contact is important for a relationship.

Some of you are probably looking at me like I have ten heads right now.

How many of us have heard evangelical Christians tell us how important it is to “save” as much as we can for our wedding day? How many of us have known people who took that so far as to never even hold hands before they said “I do”? How many of us have judged unmarried couples because they showed one another affection in public? *raises her hand* I know I have.

(Disclaimer: It is quite easy to go too far in the physical department. When I speak of “physical touch”, I mean holding hands, hugging, etc. We are all aware of premarital sexual sin, so I am in no way condoning unbiblical contact… Just thought I’d get that out of the way now.)

Let’s take a moment and think about this. If your mom told you many times every day that she loves you and thinks you’re an amazing person but never gave you a hug or kissed you or put her arm around you in that awkward “my mom is showing me off to her friends again and I just want to melt into the floor” way that moms do, would you really believe that she was emotionally invested in you? Probably not. Grandparents, best friends, siblings, camp friends you haven’t seen in six years… There’s always some sort of physical touch representing your mutual “like” for each other. Why would we expect something different from a significant other?

Holding hands shouts to the world “He/she is all mine! And, no, I’m not sharing!” Tender, firm hugs interspersed throughout times together reinforce a feeling of safety and protection. Fingers sliding aimlessly through your hair show an appreciation for even the simple parts of you. And a kiss accepts vulnerability (because who else are you going to let smell the garlic on your breath?). These are all simple and innocent forms of physical contact that support the growing affection significant others share with each other.

Do I believe that a hands-off policy is wrong? No, not at all. But I also don’t believe that judging couples who choose to show affection in small, physical ways is right either. (Unless it’s a side hug; I will always judge the side hug. *wink*) Each couple is different, but as long as there is no explicit sin, I think it’s time for us to accept that we all know what’s best for ourselves.

Now I’m going to go find Paul and hold his hand while we go for a walk, because even two years later, I still get shivers down my spine just knowing that I’m his girl.

 

What do you guys think? Would you/are you maintaining a hands-off policy or are you OK with physical acts of affection?

 

 

I Will Be Free: The Manifesto of a Recovering Homeschooler & Reactionary.

{By The Anonymous}

I cannot write about that which I do not feel. Even when I feel, I often lack the emotional horsepower to collate my garbled thoughts into a coherent piece. In the rare event that I articulate some seemingly cogent sound bite, I fear its inadequacy. I attempt to avoid the above scenario entirely, by freeing myself of any requirement to write whatsoever. The supreme irony is that by freeing myself of a commitment to write I implicitly submit to the restriction of my crippling fear. This piece is as much a self-referential meditation as it is an encouragement to the reader.

My entire existence has been a massive, laughable rat race. Every fiber of my being from an early age resented who I was and attempted to be something, someone else.

making promises

I thought decorating a PhD level vocabulary with four letter words helped me fit in. I thought being an athlete would make me cool. I thought drinking excessively was a necessary escape to silence a screaming brain. I thought attending an Ivy League university would prove I wasn’t an academic screw-up. I thought working in a premier financial firm would make me happy. I thought that if I could just shake off the hyper-conservative, Christian-cult-ish, homeschooled, sheltered upbringing, if I could just be free of everything holding me back and making me an outsider, life would be amazing. I could not have been more backwards in my analysis.

In a desperate attempt to shape my own destiny, I ended up merely reacting to the conditions of my past.

Its stranglehold on me grew tighter the more I tried to escape. The more I sought to be free, the more enslaved I became. Reader, please understand that freedom is not the absence of restriction. Freedom is the ability to choose what restrictions I self-impose. My past inevitably shapes who I am and how I view the world, but it controls me, it restricts until the instant that I stop running away from who I am and start moving towards who I want to be. There is a world of difference between running from the fear of academic failure and moving towards the goal of academic excellence. Yes, it’s nuanced. But it’s true.

Promises are feared – avoided – because they seem to restrict our personal freedom. They are behavioral commitments made to others. In what world is that freeing? This analysis neglects the concept of individual agency, the idea that your freedom consists of your ability to make, or not make, certain choices. And realize that any choice by definition imposes a restriction. If I choose A, I cannot then choose B. But I have the freedom to make the initial choice. Let’s draw the link: Running from an external force, whether it’s my past, my boss, my significant other, my family, running [ostensibly towards freedom, and yet directly away from it] transfers the agency from me to the entity at issue.

I no longer make the decisions; I react to a changing environment controlled by The Other. That isn’t freedom. That’s involuntary commitment.

Juxtapose that scenario against one where I retain my agency, where I commit to academic excellence [whatever form that may take], where I commit to honorable living, where I commit to a degree of physical conditioning. Consider a scenario where I promise. Where I refuse to let externalities control me and take hold of my fate and my identity. Yes, I might be ‘restricted’, but I freely choose to put those restrictions on myself. I promise.

I promise because I am free, and I am free because I promise.

Allow me one final thought: promises are memory-less. And I switch from ‘me’ to ‘you’ because I want you to understand this fact. Your past is irrelevant. Your future is all that matters. Please do not sacrifice your ability to experience the freedom of promise based on some conceptualization that you are too far gone to change, that you never will escape. Rise above your past, start from ground zero and chart a new course, free from the weight of failure. Promises enable you to start again, free.

I will not engage in gratuitous vulgarity; I promise to speak with eloquence. I will not abuse substances for temporary escape; I promise to practice moderation. I will not seek meaning in hit-and-run sex; I promise to respect the beauty of intercourse. I will not let anger or envy or spite dictate my interactions with others; I promise to strive for gentleness. I will not let career success/failure define who me; I promise to accept the hand dealt me. I will not isolate myself; I promise to genuinely engage others. I will not hate that you are gone; I promise to always remember. I will not guard my feelings for those worthy of them; I promise to love unconditionally. I will not be a puppet of nature.

I promise, I will be free.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Successful Relationship

{By Samantha Nicole}

what you need to know before starting a relationship

1) Be ready to cry.

All growing up, I always thought falling in love and being in a relationship would be an exclusively happy and joyful experience. Boy was I wrong. I have spent more time during my relationship with Paul being challenged and broken and with red, puffy eyes. Relationships are messy.

You’re going to learn a lot about yourself. And a lot of it isn’t going to be pretty. But be willing to be vulnerable in those moments. Whether you’re alone, with an accountability partner, or with your significant other, it’s important to let the tears flow; sometimes our greatest strength is found when we’re able to admit our weaknesses. Use this time to watch how God is growing you into a man or woman after His own heart. And stock up on tissues; you’re going to need them.

2) Laughter is the best medicine.

I like to have fun. I’m normally the “extrovert” of the group when I’m with friends. I laugh and joke and tend to be very sarcastic. Yet, I’m also very intense. When you start a relationship, it’s easy to become uber focused on all the checklists of questions and topics and “deal breakers” and to forget the real learning.

As important as it is to know your significant other’s core values and life goals, it’s important to take a break from the relationship advice books and deep theological discussions and have some good old-fashioned fun. Get an ice cream cone, go swimming at the local lake and race to see who can swim faster, or make dinner and get flour all over the place. Those memories and experiences are just as important as the deep conversations you will have. (And, yes, Paul and I have done all of those things together… However, I’m a sore loser, so I’m not telling you who swims faster. *wink*)

3) Be 100% honest.

That probably seems really obvious, but it’s not. Emotions are messy, and it’s going to be really tempting to just say and do whatever will keep your significant other from seeing parts of you that aren’t rainbows and unicorns. Now, I’m not suggesting that you dump all your less-than-flattering character traits or history on the table during your first date, but don’t run away when the hard questions come out. There were parts of our past that Paul and I waited over a year to talk about. Go at your own pace, but when the time comes, be honest. Love will make it through the hard stuff, just give it a chance.

4) Everyone is going to have the BEST advice for you.

It’s ok not to listen to all of it. Sometimes sitting quietly and nodding is perfectly fine. Paul and I read a couple books and quite a few articles when we started out and had conversations with handfuls of people who knew just what we should do. We listened to each opinion and dissected them properly. Albeit, not perfectly, but we did take them apart. From physical boundaries to appropriate Christmas gifts, everyone knew what we should be doing.

In the end, though, Paul and I needed to decide for ourselves what we should do. We found that when we sat and discussed what we wanted for our relationship we were more content. This is huge for boundaries. Couples need to sit and establish their own list of boundaries; you’ll be more apt to stick to resolves that you make than rules that someone else writes for you.

5) Have a plan.

I’m not saying you should have a wedding date picked out before you don those heels for your first night out. However, it’s a good idea to have little goals laid out. For instance, after your first couple of “this is awkward, but I think I’m really starting to like you” dates, plan a time-frame for meeting the families. Or outline an “I want to know ____ about you by such and such a date” plan. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of everything and to forget that there’s a reason for all the dates. By establishing little mile markers ahead of time, you keep that goal in mind. Besides, it’s tons of fun to see those little dates growing closer. And it gives all of us anxious ones the time we need to prepare and process for the “big” steps.

The Bible mentions that “the two shall become one” four different times. Relationships are the journey from stranger to life partner. You’re essentially knitting your whole life into another person. This doesn’t happen when a ring is slipped on your left hand or when you utter “I do” before a congregation of your closest family and friends. It’s a process that happens over the months of growing friendship and love. And it’s truly the adventure of a lifetime.

What are your thoughts? What have you learned from relationships in your life?

Samantha Axberg

Samantha Nicole is a twenty-something substitute teacher and ice cream scooping pro. She currently resides outside of Boston with her parents, three siblings, two dogs and their eleven cows and two hundred chickens. She’s working on her BA in mathematics and hopes to teach at the middle and high school levels. She’s also dating Paul, a WWII history buff who happens to be the most amazing guy ever. Feel free to email her at samalam93@gmail.com

10 Ways to Impress A Girl

{By Ellery Sadler}

 

finalman

Ok first of all, girls just like guys because, you’re kinda cool. And I’m sure you’re a nice thoughtful person and a good friend. But getting a girl to like you beyond just casual friendship may actually take some effort on your part. In a generation of unfortunately wimpy guys, here are 10 things you can do to impress her. [And most of these go for being a good friend too. So even if you don’t have some special girl in mind, a lot of these apply.]

1. Play with Little Kids 

There is nothing as adorable as a guy who loves little kids. Instead of standing there talking to the girls at church, play with the preschoolers. It is very attractive. I’ve been to many places where there’ll be a group of young people talking, but inadvertently, at some point during the conversation, every girl’s eyes wander to that one crazy guy who has lost himself playing with the little kids. He’s down on his hands and knees with toddlers climbing all over him.  It is beyond sweet.

2. Be Yourself

Yeah,  you’ve probably heard that before, but seriously, be yourself. If you aren’t ‘cool’, that’s ok. Embrace it. There is nothing less attractive than a guy who is trying to be something he’s not. The world needs those bold, charismatic guys out front. But it also needs the faithful, the dedicated. The guys who are willing to do their duty and the task at hand. Sometimes it is braver to be the boots on the ground and not the guy pulling the strings. So if you can’t pull off the leather jacket and aviators, it’s ok. (If you can, that’s awesome.)  If you can’t pull off the nerdy glasses and sweater, that’s ok too. (If you can, it’s adorable.) Just be you. Whether the world deems it  ‘cool’ or not.

finalgirl

3. Stop Texting (or chatting or emailing) Her

 No, really. Stop. If you actually think she’s something special, then pick up the phone and talk to her if you live far away, or if you’re close enough (heaven forbid) spend time with her in real life. Anybody can come up with something cute to say, anyone can be charming, anyone can seem cool, anyone can act like they care via text. In real life? That’s a different story.

[Oh and don’t text someone else or be on your phone when you’re with her. Unless your mom is dying. Actually, this goes for just friends too. It’s a gesture of respect to actually be with the people you are with.]

 4. Dress Nicely

This can be within your personal style. (If you don’t know what that is or how to get one check out this or this.) But it is always a good idea to dress well, and believe me, girls definitely notice.

5. Read Her Favorite Book/Watch Her Favorite Movie 

Pay attention and pick up on things she mentions like this. If she tells you her favorite book, than order it on Amazon and get reading.  (Take a cue from Tom Hanks in ‘You’ve Got Mail’, it works. What is cuter than a guy poring over Pride & Prejudice because you told him you liked it?) It shows that you respect her opinion and that you actually care about what she thinks.

 6. Be Polite

And this  is not just saying thank you if she gets you something, but being actually polite. Maybe it’s old fashioned, but it is really sweet when a guy doesn’t swear in front of a girl (or at least catches himself when he does). It’s nice for you to open the door for her, pull out her chair for her, walk on the outside of the sidewalk with her etc. It shows that you respect and cherish her.

Make sure to do this in an unconscious sort of way though, not ostentatiously. I’ve seen guys rush from the back of a large group, elbow past other boys, nearly run into old women and make it, panting, to the door just barely in time, before a girl. This is awkward and unnecessary; so don’t take it too far. But being polite and considerate is always a good idea. Modern day chivalry is not dead, it’s just buried beneath a culture that ridicules it. [As a general rule, if most of the population is making fun of something, you might want to take another look. It’s might be the truth they’re ridiculing.]

7. Laugh

At yourself. Relax, don’t get so uptight about life that you forget to enjoy it. And make her laugh too. Sometimes young Christians are so focused on saving the world they forget Christ already did. So relax and embrace life and laugh at least once a day. (It’s charming and makes you a better person to be around.)

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“Sexiness wears thin and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that is  a real treat.” ~ Joanne Woodward.

8.  Love Your Family

Your family is probably weird. Most of ours are. Your dad might make random awkward comments, your siblings might be loud or terribly quiet, your grandparents might be creepy – that’s ok. Loving them and accepting them as they are is ridiculously attractive. Ever seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’? That family is weird. Seriously, weird. [Note the grandmother in the corner of this picture …] But awesome at the same time. So love your family. It’s pretty cool. Plus, you’re kinda stuck with them.

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9. Listen

Give your whole attention to her. There is something amazing about a person who gives you their undivided attention. Don’t let your eyes wander to your best friend that just walked in the room, or the TV that’s on, or the message on your phone. Be all there. It is one of the easiest ways to make her feel special. Give her your time.

 10. Love God Most

The way to truly impress a girl is to love God more than you love her. There is nothing as wonderful as a guy who loves God in a authentic, real way. It’s just plain awesome.

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Girls, what would you add to the list? Guys, what do you think?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Letting Go

{By The Anonymous}

let it go

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Between Passenger’s hit “Let Her Go” and Disney’s “Let It Go”, among others, the latest theme in songwriting spans the emotional spectrum when dealing with an unforeseen – and usually unwelcome – life development. It seems that at least a segment of individuals have realized that life inevitably spirals out of control and we end up facing the aftermath without that one entity that we hold most dear.

I find this theme somewhat ironic, though, given that the subjects are rarely letting anything go. They’ve either had the love of their life break up with them, or they have been banished to an (admittedly awesome) ice castle. The choice had been made for them; the “letting go” was simply a conditioned behavioral response. Perhaps I’m overanalyzing the issue, but I find this subtlety indicative of general social behavior

Homo sapiens are selfish by nature. Survival of the fittest, feudal conflict, capitalism, the information age, all have shaped a being innately focused on self-preservation, maximizing his/her ‘spoils’ (whatever realization they may take), and always shooting for the next winner-take-all opportunity. We want to keep what we have, want to obtain what we don’t have, and experience visceral pain if and when the two prior statements are violated. This is why breakups send people into spiraling depression, why missed promotions trigger primal outbursts of uncontrolled emotion, why family deaths cripple an individual’s ability to live.

The root of these life ‘ailments’ is our selfish nature.

And at some level, no fault should be found. We’ve been conditioned to believe that love is jealous, selfish, that you express care for an entity or person by ensuring you’re always with them, that you’ll never leave them. We accept it unquestioningly, but the evidence suggests that its impact on our lives is anything but beneficial. The severity of the fallout completely eclipses the indulgence of the experience. Perhaps we’ve believed a lie.

Love is a far more complex concept than the four letter English word implies. Greek has four independent words for love.  Soren Kierkegaard’s treatise on the application of love to daily life turns conventional wisdom on its head. Both Kierkegaard and the Greeks understood one concept: love is an outward facing action. Love isn’t an emotion. Love isn’t a need. Love can’t be received, in the technical sense of the term. Love can, love must, be given in action.

And in the giving of love, one receives it.

 

Under this framework, the deepest, most sincere form of love is an unparalleled expression of selflessness. The purest love is a love that wants what is best for the object of love, even at the cost of the individual loving. There is no longer an expectation for a void to be filled, behavioral criteria to be met, self-actualization to be realized. I submit that we fundamentally misunderstand love and that if we loved selflessly, if we loved in action not emotion, the world would be a tremendously different place

Understand that at their core, emotional reactions to a loss of love are an expression of self-pity. They are a version of anger, as the self comes to grip with the reality that it has lost something it had (c.f. primal desires four paragraphs above) and that with high probability, it will never regain that something. Post-breakup depression is anger that he/she left you or anger that you weren’t good enough or anger that you’re once again alone. It honestly doesn’t matter what the specific issue is, any instantiation of that response can be easily traced to a selfish drive. Same principle applies to corporate advancement and family deaths (I realize this last one is particularly sensitive, and will deal with that in just a moment).

Imagine for a moment what a world full of people who “let it go” would look like.

Individuals who loved so deeply that they sacrificed their selfishness for the wellbeing of the things/people they loved. People who proactively withdrew their claim to a person or an item, instead of waiting for life to wrench it from their clenched fists. People who would actively support the person they love finding a satisfying relationship instead of longing that he/she could be the special person. People who happily serve under their new manager instead of plotting his overthrow or rage quitting the firm. People who understood that their loved ones – however dearly missed – have moved on to a place without pain, tears, or death, a place so much better than this world. That world would be a beautiful sight to behold

I grant you that the inconvenience of human imperfection makes the realization of this ideal impossible, but I think a dramatic improvement in the way we interact with life events is possible if we shift our understanding of love from inward facing to outward facing, from a need to a gift being offered, from emotion to action.

If we truly believe the ideal of “letting it go” / “letting her go”, we must by extension believe in a world in which our interests are not held paramount. We must believe in a world where others come before ourselves. We must believe in a world where love comes before all else.

In that world, we need not fear the storm of life.

We welcome the deep freeze that turns the most insignificant amorphous drops of water into breathtaking crystalline structures, memories of love given and lives changed.

Memories of letting go.

and you let her go

 

How to Be an Awesome Girl

Ok, we talked to the guys about how to be amazing. So now it’s our turn. Whether or not you have a boyfriend, wish you had a boyfriend, or are perfectly happy by yourself this Valentine’s Day, it’s always a good idea to be awesome.

It’s more than perfect hair and perfect makeup and a perfect life, it’s about being genuine and real and awesomely YOU.

how to be awesome

7 Things to Do on Valentine’s Day if You Are Single

{By Ellery Sadler}

single valentines day

Yep. It’s back again. That ooey gooey holiday made for lovers that leaves the single people of the world feeling slightly neglected as they curl up with a bowl of ice cream to watch reruns of romantic comedies on TV. For those of us who aren’t getting or giving flowers and chocolates and love letters, here are 7 things you can do on Valentines Day. Because, in reality, Valentine’s Day is about more than just romance.

 1. Make Someone Else’s Day

Be the person you wish you had in your life. Do one purposeful act of kindness today. Buy flowers for that tired, overworked-looking mother at Wal-Mart, give a sandwich to the homeless man on the corner, or babysit for free for that couple down the street who could really use a romantic date night. Start being that awesome, loving, kind person you want in your life. Treat people like they are Jesus, and spread some joy.

 2. Watch Movies

 Hey, if you can’t be doing it in real life, you may as well watch it. Get some of the best movies you can find, make some cookies, and escape into that beautiful world of cinema. Let the soft music and romantic, candlelit dinner speak to your soul ;) Or if that just puts you in a bad mood, try an action movie instead.

 3. Study LOVE

Really, Valentines Day is about love, which doesn’t have to be just the romantic kind. Do a Biblical word study on love. See what different kinds of love there are, how they are used in 1st Corinthians 13, and how you can put that in action. Make a list of ways you can daily show love to the people around you (it can be something as small as grabbing them a coffee on your way through Starbucks or simple putting an encouraging sticky-note on their computer). Then find 10 verses about God’s love for YOU and write those down. Stick them on your fridge or make it into a screensaver or write it on your hand. Always remember that you are loved.

 4. Have a Love Letter Party

Invite your friends over and have a party. Make food, string some sparkly lights, and streamers, and get out the writing supplies. Spread out the colored paper and fancy pens and ribbon and glue. Have everyone make cards and write notes of encouragement in them and then give them away throughout the week. You can stick one in a book at the library, or in between the cereal boxes are the grocery store, or leave it on a seat in the metro.Or, if you are brave enough, actually hand it to someone. Take them to a nearby nursing home. Old people love to see young faces and spreading a little love in those silent, sterilized halls is a great way to spend an hour or two. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, so start sharing some. [Inspired by The Letter Writer. If you haven’t seen it, you need to.]

 5. Remember Who You Are

If you’ve chosen to court and not date, or you’ve decided to wait until you’re older to date, that’s awesome. Relationship status doesn’t define you. Remember what you believe and why you believe it. Or, if you don’t really know what you think in regards to relationships, sit down and make a list. It’s important to actually write it down, define it, and stick to it.

 6. Cook 

Make an elegant dinner for you and your siblings while your parents go out, for you and your roommate, or for you and a friend. And if your skills in the kitchen are somewhat lacking, grab a cookbook and start practicing. There’s nothing as cool as guy who can cook. A guy who’s at home in the kitchen is just instantly more adorable. And girls, even if guys don’t always say it, they really appreciate a girl who can cook too. It’s not old-fashioned. Cooking is a way to show you love somebody.

 7. Get Ready for the 15th!!!

This is the best time to buy chocolate and flowers and everything else fabulously pink or sweet. Treat yourself to a big bouquet if you didn’t get one yesterday and if anyone asks where it came from, just tell them Superman sent them. Yeah, you two are pretty tight.

 

Just remember, Valentine’s Day is about more than romance. It’s about the lifeblood of our very existence. Love. Without His, we wouldn’t even be here. So spread it, show it, live it.

Get out there and change the world. It doesn’t have to be big or dramatic. You can change the world by changing someone’s day. 

 

How to Be an Amazing Guy

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!! Here is how to be an amazing guy, and it’s more than just chocolate and candlelit dinners [but those are lovely too]. True amazingness lasts long after the flowers wilt and the candy disappears.

Girlfriend or single, you need to work on being totally awesome.

how to be an amazing guy

Leadership in Relationships

{By Michael Vuke}

leadership

I’m sorry. I haven’t been leading well.

I sat by a pond, opening my heart and mind up. The night was quiet—a nice contrast to the inner conflict I had been experiencing. I turned back towards my girlfriend and continued. I don’t know what I’m doing, much less where I’m going, and how can I lead if I don’t even know what the destination is?

I continued on for a while, sharing the fears, concerns, and all-round uncertainty that was filling me. My future is completely obscured right now—almost everything in my life is shifting or about to shift, and I have very little-to-no guidance about what is to come. I started to look at the enigma that is the next year, and I began to think about my relationship, and all the ways that I was learning from and being led by my girlfriend, and I realized—I’m not “the leader” here. In fact, I’m being led in many ways.

Quickly a list started to pile up in my mind:

  • I don’t have a plan for our relationship
  • I don’t even have a plan for my life (or even the next year)
  • I’m not leading
  • I’m learning so much spiritually from her, instead of me setting the pace

And it just went on and on. To be blunt, I felt emasculated. 

Years of societal conditioning screamed at me that I was doing this wrong—I was supposed to lead. Be the man—take charge. According to many in the church, I should set the tone for the relationship. According to popular entertainment, I should be working towards an end goal, whether that is a successful career (which the church would say I should then use to be the breadwinner in my family), getting married, or even just hooking up for the night.

Everywhere I turn, there are messages shouting at me telling me that I’m doing it wrong, that I’m not fulfilling the man’s role in a relationship. Many would suggest that because of my lack of direction and possible lack of leadership, I shouldn’t even be in a relationship.

No wonder I was so conflicted. 

And while it may not get talked about much, I don’t believe I’m the only guy out there who is feeling this struggle and these feelings of inadequacy—we just don’t talk about it much, because opening up and admitting it just solidifies the fact that you aren’t leading and that you aren’t the man you’re supposed to be in this relationship.

One question rose up in my mind as I wrestled with myself over all of this: What if?

What if:

–we’ve got this concept of what a male’s role is wrong?

–not having a plan isn’t a bad thing?

–leadership looks different that we think?

I started to consider these questions, and I began to form some answers and some beliefs began to take shape. I’m not going to specifically answer each of these questions, but I am going to share some of the things I’ve learned as I considered them.

Pride motivated my feelings of inadequacy.

I mentioned that I felt emasculated when I faced all of these things—why is that? My pride told me that I should be in charge, that I should be this fountain of wisdom, knowledge, and guidance, and that in this relationship, I would be constantly showing the way to greater spiritual wisdom and understanding. After all, I write for the internet!

Those thoughts were never explicitly thought, but that was the general mentality that I had—it subconsciously shaped the way I viewed spiritual leadership. It is well and good for me to desire to be a spiritual leader and to want to set a good tone for our relationship, but I have so much to learn from others, and specifically, so much to learn from my girlfriend.

We have confused being a spiritual leader with being the spiritual leader.

I should be a spiritual leader in my relationship—not just romantic relationships either, but every relationship that I am a part of. But I will never be THE spiritual leader—the source that everyone else follows, that dispenses wisdom and guidance, that is the final word on spiritual matters. That role belongs to one person, and one person alone—Jesus.

My girlfriend is a spiritual leader in our relationship. I have learned so much from her of what it looks like to truly follow Christ and to love others. I would be a fool to try and ignore that or downplay her spiritual leadership. Men and women are designed to help each other grow closer to God by supporting and encouraging each other.

Do you want to know the Biblical definition of a leader? One who serves and supports and encourages and inspires growth in others. That is what I should be doing.

And you know what? If I live my life with those understandings, I don’t need a plan. My purpose on this Earth is to (ultimately) love and glorify God which is done by loving and serving others. My purpose is not to be in a relationship, get a career, get married, procreate, or anything else but to simply love and glorify God.

The only plan I need for the future is to plan to love and glorify God the best I can. He will take care of the rest.

Let me boast as Paul boasted—not in myself, but in God. I’m proud to not be the leader. I don’t know what I’m doing, or where I’m headed, or what my life or my relationships will look like in six months.

I only know this: love God and love others.

 

If you’d like to get more into the topic of Biblical Gender Roles, there is an amazing sermon from J.D. Greear on the topic (stick with it through the whole sermon; he talks to both men and women, so if you skip out part-way through, you’ll only get half the picture, which totally skews everything). Actually, that whole series (First Love) is a fantastic resource on Biblical relationships, marriages, and singleness. Highly recommend it.

 

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