“I had a dream about you.”
Usually, this disconcerting line starts a very unhealthy conversation. I didn’t think anything bad would follow because the guy sharing was a respectable, older friend. “Want to know my dream?” Well, actually I didn’t and my insides screamed as much. But I was naïve and didn’t want to embarrass my friend, “Ok… I guess.” “You were wrapped in a white sarong, walking down the beach. When you saw me, you smiled so big my heart felt like it would burst. You walked toward me, hair flowing beautifully in the wind. When you reached me, YOU KISSED ME. We walked into the sunset holding hands.” Okay, Married Man, that will happen when pigs fly and elephants talk. Why on earth was he sharing this with me? I was speechless. And that gave him just the boost he needed to continue. “If I was twenty years younger, I would marry you in a heartbeat.” I’m sure he thought he was building my confidence. However, it had the opposite effect on me. I was appalled that my older friend would tell me such a gruesome dream. I wasn’t a home-wrecker. I didn’t want a time machine to warp him into his twenties. And I sure didn’t want to kiss him! That was a bad day for me.
“The tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:6)
There are no neutral “heartfelt talks”, phrases, or words; all are hurdling in one of two directions. It is crucial for us to realize we are either speaking words of life or words of death over someone. It is up to us whether we are speaking out of selfless love for someone or selfish ambition. It is partially due to situations like the one above that have kept me in check. I am cautious when sharing my heart with people, especially members of the opposite sex. I continually allow this question to roll through my head, “Is this conversation beneficial for him?” Relationships are important and it’s essential for us to interact with one another in the most loving and edifying way. Like anything else, we learn through training. Christ petitions us to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, and self-control. All of these characteristics are integrated into every aspect of our lives. It is hard to know what an edifying relationship looks like in our world today. We all have trial and error moments. I’ve definitely had my fair share of them. That is why I am so adamant in this stance of day-to-day awareness. Self-control has been cast aside with morals, abstinence, and life-long commitment. Here’s what we can’t do; we cannot blame society for our behavior. Yes, it influences the decisions we make. But we are making personal decisions every day that affect the rest of our lives. We must live with consequences of bad choices and learn from them. We also grow through right choices. Each right decision we make in life brings us that much closer to God’s heart. He calls us to live righteously, to follow His Son’s example. Then the love of the Father will flow freely through us. Since all of life is about relationships, our success lies in how we progress from this point forward. Mistakes will occur, but it is for a desperate love of God that we not allow mistakes to become patterns. A garden can be beautiful, laden with flowers and ivy, trees and fruit. But when a weed takes up root, it quickly spreads and suffocates all the life from the garden. God cares about every part of our lives, especially relationships. And if we give Him the chance, He will teach us what real, lasting relationships look like. Take for example the awesome love expressed when He gave up His perfect Son in the most excruciatingly painful death. This was done for us, for our sins. What perfect love is this that He lay down His life for us? Now that is a love I want to mimic. Not the counterfeit version being practiced today that leaves hearts shattered throughout the earth in utter ruin. I am determined to imitate my life after His.