A Cup of Confidence & A Spoonful of Strategy

Strategy: “First, pillage the nest. Clip wings. Now, blunt his beak. Crack eggs. Scramble, pinch of salt. Touch of pepper. Flip the omelet. Additional seasoning required. Breakfast is served.” –Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows.

Smart people strategize in life. They don’t “Just Do It” unless they understand the reasons and repercussions. They weigh the options and go with the best choice.

Strategy also works in dating scenarios. And first dates are the perfect opportunity. It’s exciting, tense, nerve-racking, and exhilarating. It is fun to ask questions, discover common ground, laugh, and even find chemistry when the date goes well. So how does one have a good date? Yes, we must keep in mind that there are two people making choices that determine if the date will go well. But there are many tactics we can use in order to make the environment comfortable, have plenty of questions to ask, and determine what the next step should be, if any.

Usually, women can tell if they like someone within the first five minutes of talking to the guy. A first date can make or break a relationship. This is probably why so many people feel pressure, nerves, and anxiety in the moments leading up to, and even throughout the date. If we could find a way to alleviate some of that pressure, wouldn’t we want to at least give it a try?

7 Strategic Tips For Successful Dates:

1. Make a mental note of questions to ask throughout the night when things get dull or awkwardly quiet. What do we want to know about these guys? We must keep in mind it’s a first date so questions concerning his thoughts on kids, what he’s looking for in a wife, and are we prettier than his ex are completely out of the question-no pun intended. We scratch the surface of these incredible human beings as we spend time with and get to know them. “Where did you grow up?” “What are some of your favorite memories of that place?” “If you had a chance to go back in time to one place in your life, where would it be, what would you change?” “What do you enjoy recreationally?” “What job do you have/want?” “What is your favorite aspect of God and why is that important to you?”

The main purpose to these questions is to find some of the depth in these guys and whether their interests meld with our own. Truly, I have a hard time connecting with guys that don’t have a sense of humor, an appreciation for life, a taste of optimism in their character, and security in Christ. When these are lacking, it is as though we are walking on two paths. First and foremost, there should be a foundational connection through Christ. If that relationship isn’t established in both parties, something innately necessary is amiss. It does help to find common ground within our two distinct personalities. I’ve heard opposites attract, but even in that, there is always some common ground. The bits of opposite are meager differences that can actually complement the two people. One is strong where the other is weak.

2. It is important to pay attention to his stories. We should ask specific questions to show we are listening.  Jared was a sweet, smart gentleman. On our first date he mentioned he was pursuing a Kinesiology major. ”Why did you choose Kinesiology, Jared?” “Originally,” he smiled, “I was going to be a doctor.” “Oh! What changed your mind?” He paused thoughtfully, and then continued, “My sister was paralyzed in a car accident when she was little. I’ve been taking care of her all her life. I guess I finally realized I wanted to help more people like her. I want to be a Physical Therapist. I want to see people reach for the stars and accomplish things they never dreamed they could do again after an accident.” It was amazing for me to hear him share such a deep part of his world. It was building a connection between us. He was uncovering something beautiful about his heart and passion. This was all possible with a few of the right questions and a tuned ear to listen.

3. When answering a guy’s questions, the first date is not intended to be a tell-all right away. Guys crave challenge and mystery. Talking/telling too much can put a major damper on a potential relationship. There is mystery in a woman who discloses information at the proper time in a relationship. It goes along the same lines as being intentional about everything. We must be intentional about the details we share. If we share our entire life stories within the first few weeks of a friendship, where can it go from there? There isn’t anything more to find out because we’ve disclosed it. Especially when it comes to deeper parts of our personalities, meaningful stories, and childhood insecurities, we hold them dear for the right time. We are worth the pursuit. Let him pursue. There is a perfect time to share stories and experiences. It just may not be within the opening five minutes of a first date.  

4. It is so important to be comfortable in our own skin. Being shy is one thing, but deathly insecure is another. We must come to a place of acceptance. We are all different and all beautiful in unique ways. Beauty isn’t a physical appearance, but how we feel inside. The true test of confidence is when we know and embrace our uniqueness and immeasurable worth in our Father’s eyes. When we know the God in Heaven approves of us and MADE us the way we are, confidence will exude from our beaming smile and balanced posture. Oh yes, posture is a part of this. Posture is the sweet little sister of Body Language. When observing someone’s posture it says numerous things about a person.

  • Girl with slumped shoulders: I don’t feel good about myself.
  • Girl with an overextended chest and swayed back: either I have back problems or I’m trying to get you to notice my assets.
  • Girl with her head down, sneaking into the room with darting eyes: I’m terrified the mob will get me. If someone even notices me I will bolt.

Bad posture is more than just bad posture. It makes a woman less flattering and seemingly less confident than she may actually be. Sometimes we get lazy and allow our shoulders to slump. But it is valuable to make a habit of holding our shoulders back, our smiles wide, and our heads up. This is a pure and simple sign of confidence. It is also very attractive to see, whether it is in a guy or a girl, and we will always notice a person who walks tall and smiles bright. There is something appealing about those people.

Now that the first-date jitters are over, it’s time to strategically work through other obstacles.

5. Be comfortable with silence. Give these guys the chance to think of their own questions. It’s time to throw the ball back into their court. It is fun to be on first dates because we can guide the conversations by asking specific questions and getting to know if these guys are good for us or better suited for another girl. But there is also a point when silence is golden. It gives these guys a chance to weigh their moves and ask their own set of inquiries. It also shows how collected we can be–as women–to allow silent moments. Just relax, smile, and enjoy the trickles of sweat that start forming on his forehead.

6. “Intentional” and “Communication” are two words that should go hand in hand in relationships. We need relationships. We need to learn from each other. Not every friendship with someone of the opposite sex will enter intimate territory. I have a friend who set clear guidelines from the beginning of her relationship- no talk of marriage, just get to know each other for a few months. They decided when the three-month mark hit they would reevaluate and make sure the friendship was satisfactory for both. If they had stronger feelings by that time, they would pray about taking the next step in the relationship. There were no false expectations or confusion as to where the relationship was headed. If they reached that three-month mark and one did not desire the next step, it was easy enough to say so. No pressure. No obligation to move toward a commitment neither wanted to make.

7. We should tell the guy if we don’t want to be in a relationship straight off (which we shouldn’t). Take the time to get to know these guys as friends. Sometimes, we have certain guy friends in our lives for a specific season, but then in the next season the friendship may not be as close. God continually brings people into our lives to teach us something. We learn from every relationship. It could be good, positive lessons, or sad, hurtful ones. Let’s hope for and practice the former. Let’s aim for all of our relationships to be beneficial and positive from start to finish. It may not always work, because there is another human being involved, making independent decisions as well. We can’t control the outcome of a relationship. However, we can control OUR part.

Every encounter we have is a gift. Every guy we meet is valuable. We gain small treasures and simple designs in our memory bank from every relationship we have. These tips are not meant to manipulate guys into relationships or put the best foot forward in order to snag a boyfriend. There is a great way to experience relationships and a rocky way. Dates are not just fun little activities to ward off boredom. There is a purpose to each of them. Strategies such as the above help us make smart decisions and prevent us from wasting anyone’s time. I respect men far too much to play games and date them for a free meal. Everyone deserves a first date, but they also deserve the decency of truth if the relationship is not going anywhere. And women are worth more than blind affection and quick relationship statuses.

In the land of the ‘savvy’ society, body language is a woman’s greatest weapon. She uses it to toy with men. She reels them in like fish on a hook, but isn’t able to detect whether the fish is a tender, exquisite Salmon or a bottom-feeding carp.

Before reeling in the next stranger with seductive body language and risqué clothing, let’s imagine how it would feel if some girl was behaving in that manner in front of our men or even our brothers. We should protect all of these guys as if they were someone else’s future husband. Not saying that to deter anyone from ever dating again, but we should take into account the guy has a heart as well, and it can be just as easily broken as ours. We should always behave respectfully, and expect the same treatment. These dates are opportunities to showcase God’s beauty and His guidelines for first dates. Dating can be fun, exciting, and healthy with the proper mindset and a holy purpose. We bring Jesus into every first date, every relationship, and every friendly encounter. We glorify Him with our attitudes, body language, posture, and conversations. Dating truly is one of the greatest opportunities in life.

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The Pretense of Perfection

There is a deep, innate desire in each of us for relationship. We want someone to share in our adventure. But so often, we dive into relationships with only pretense and fantasy as our basis. Not quite the foundation for a solid commitment, now is it? As the façade peels away, a dark, lurking creature stems forth. We see the real colors of our beloved. “Wait! He never used to blow up with such anger!” or, “She used to let me go out with the guys but now she’s suctioned to my shoulder and won’t let me out of her sight!” Was trust ever a part of the relationship? Before we step foot into a serious relationship, we should be able to trust, not only the other person, but God to lead the relationship. If He is not leading a relationship, it is not the right one.

I went shopping for shampoo one day. I liked the looks of a pretty gold bottle. The shampoo smelled really good, too. Score! The next day before work, I used my new shampoo. While blow-drying my hair, I noticed it felt a little greasy. I rationalized that it just needed to air dry a little more. I thought nothing of it and went on with my day. A few hours later, I looked like I had been without a shower for weeks. My hair was shining. It felt like someone poured olive oil all over my head. By the time I arrived at home, I was angry at my new shampoo. It was the nightmare of all shampoos and seemed to cause anything but a clean feeling. I reached for it, ready to throw it into the closest trash bin, when I scanned the label… finally. There it was, “X-treme Silk for African-American hair.” No wonder it turned my fine blonde hair into a mane of dripping oil. It was meant for gorgeous thick, coarse hair.

This whole concept works the same way in relationships. We see a good-looking guy and automatically picture a perfect personality and compatible fit in our world. Sometimes we jump head-first in a relationship. Later, we realize his personality just doesn’t mesh with ours and his interests complement ours like mayonnaise and jelly. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

However, that knowledge sure doesn’t make it easy when it comes to attraction. Every time I see a good-looking, possibly interesting guy, the wheels inevitably start to turn in my head, “Wonder what he’s like? Does he have a good personality, depth, humility?”

Case in point, a gorgeous guy works at a coffee shop I frequently visit. We’ve hardly spoken, but he sure is handsome. So here I am, with fluttering butterflies and shaky hands as I sip my grande, half-pump, triple-shot Caramel Macchiato. There’s a mystery that draws me in and a desire to dream up his potential personality. This is the moment so many are tempted to jump in with both feet, but I am patient and cautious. What if he’s psychotic? What if he likes to suck on his own toes while watching TV, sing out his order in the food court, or gallop through the grocery store? It would not be fair to him if I just gave the relationship a test-run all in the name of attraction. Dating shouldn’t be for the sake of physical attraction alone. A foundational friendship should be built first. I have walked into attraction with an eager attitude and friendly smile only to find an overboard suitor smothering me with serious promises and crazy plans involving white picket fences and tire swings for “our” children… we haven’t even held hands yet! We must hold a bit of that emotion back in the beginning. However we start a relationship, it will only build from there. When I start relationships at the ‘best friend’ level, I’m suffocated by their affection and need to be together all the time. Things need to start off slowly and at an acquaintance level first. It’s easier to grow into a friendship than to back out of a relationship.

It’s not like buying a skateboard or a new dress, or even a new car. Relationships are more equivalent to buying a house. We have to consider everything: the electric bills, water bills, trash bills, monthly grocery bills and this goes on for years, if not decades. It’s actually hard to even put it into those terms. The difference is relationships involve another person. It’s not just a choice we make for ourselves. God created all of us equal. He loves that other person just as much as He loves us and He wants the best for both people involved.

I may have an aspiration for companionship, but I refuse to fall prey to the weakness of lust and desperation! I can and will wait for that perfect fit! Something wild, dangerous, daring, and free! Someone made up of all the right ingredients. A little of this guy’s character, a little of that one’s humor, his leadership skills, and the right dash of that other guy’s rugged good looks! I’ve had some amazing friendships and some zealous crushes, but all the while, something in my heart always protests, “Wait!” Something deep within me senses, “There is something inexplicably more satisfying further down the road. I must wait for it!” The beauty of this journey is that I am learning right now, as a single woman, what Christ is supposed to mean to me. I must fall in love with Him first and foremost! I’m not ready for the chunk of muscular tissue and characteristically delicious ingredients that construct my Knight. I have not hit the spot in my path where another path forks into it. I’m still free-sailing with Jesus. And I’m excited! No one has crossed this ground before; it’s my trail. Christ knows what kind of journey will spark the passion inside of me. I want to discover treasures and fight battles as a single woman who does not pine away or wistfully peer beyond the horizon for a Prince and White Stallion. I want adventure, to see the unknown, conquer the intellectual world of education, breathe air only found at the highest peaks, sail through uncharted waters, cross jungle floors too dangerous for guides and tours! I want to LIVE! The potential He has created in me from the beginning of time is exponentially more marvelous than I could ever imagine! My desire is to strive with determination and tenacity. I want to persevere through thick and thin. I want to learn true commitment. I must learn this before I ever dare reach for that *human relationship* that is to mirror a commitment between Christ and his bride.


Test Drives & Motocross Riders

“Let’s take it for a test drive.” John was a good-looking, successful bachelor. He liked organization and perfection. He would not compromise on one particular issue. He fell in love with Janis, but wouldn’t marry her until they took the [sexual] test drive to prove their compatibility. Janis stood firm in her belief to wait until marriage. Inevitably, their great relationship dissipated since neither would compromise on this important issue. However, in many cases, women are duped into the test-drive pit-stop. They start dating a guy who is nice, independent, financially set, and virtually perfect… until he drops this line, “How will we know we’re a perfect fit unless we take the test drive?” It makes a little sense, but most women aren’t convinced and need more coaxing, so the next lines ensue, “It’s an important investment so I’m not willing to commit unless I know it works for me. Like buying a house, or a new car, I have to make sure everything is perfect.” So it’s a big investment for him, that’s understandable. Unlike his material investments, he’s not buying a woman. Unless, she’s in a country where dowries are set and brides are purchased. To be blunt, he can’t demand to test drive a human being.

We think it’s our responsibility to take care of these guys and keep them happy. At what expense though? Is it our own virtue? That is a line that should not be crossed. God will never ask us to give our purity away. Why should we listen to a guy when he asks or demands it?

I was enamored by a pro motocross rider named Jake. He was an adrenaline-junkie, manly to the max, ruggedly handsome good looks, and purebred bad boy. He ignited the rebel in me. The fire in his eyes was mesmerizing. There was a great allure to fall for this impossible relationship. It was easy to get sucked in with no commitments attached. We were extremely affectionate with each other, but my boundaries were as intact as an electric fence. I wouldn’t go beyond my comfort zone or into roll-around-the-floor-“wrestling”-territory. He was respectful, surprisingly. One day, we had a little conversation about my stance. He inquisitively asked, “So, you won’t sleep with anyone until you get married?” “Yes, that’s right.” “Why on earth would you do that? Don’t you want to practice and have a little fun first?” “I’ll have plenty of fun when I get married. Until then, I don’t need to go there.” He sputtered, “Well then, marry me! We can fix this right now!” I wish I could say I wasn’t flattered by his words. But he was something special. Still, I couldn’t imagine myself with him. I liked him, but would never tether myself to this tempestuous man. And truly, he was really just asking for the thing I wouldn’t give until the seal of matrimony. Guys are smart and some know exactly which manipulation tactic brings results. Some use the “test drive” theory, while others stride down the commitment tract under pretense in order to get what they want. We have to see past the users and abusers, the bad boys and the rebels. I’ve encountered the bad boys and had my heart flutter from the whirlwind of risk and danger. But as my heart grows softer toward Christ and the life He has for me, I find my attraction taste has changed. The bad boy, no matter how great looking his shell, does not appeal to me in the same manner. I wouldn’t marry him so why waste my attraction and affection on him? There is something beautiful about the heart of a man after God’s will. I want to be the kind of person I would look for in a relationship. If I chase after God and pursue His will above all, I will encounter like-minded guys. If we know this and keep pursuing the wrong relationships, our hearts will grow harder and colder toward purity. It is crucial to see the truth and turn from old patterns, especially when it comes to bad boys and the temptation to let our hair down in the presence of fleshly freedom.

The philosophy that we can play now and not pay later is a lie. There will always be consequences attached to games with the bad boys and test drives with the rebels.


The Shape of Confidence

 

 “Does this dress make me look fat?”

Most of the time it is asked by women who already feel they might be too big for the tight jeans or dress they just huffed and puffed their way into. Men lie through gritted teeth, “No baby, you look great!” If they actually admitted the truth, there would be tears, silent treatment, a screaming fit, or bulimia summoned straight on the spot. So what is the real answer to this question and many others we’ve heard: “Do I look prettier than her?” “Am I beautiful?” “Would you love me if I got fat?”

Weight has always been an issue for women. It’s a hard topic to discuss because it’s been swept under the rug. According to the Center of Disease Control, that pile of dust has caused a pretty big lump under our United States rug. Over 35% of women in the U.S. are obese. Some women eat unhealthy food, sit idly all day, and then, in a moment of reality, can no longer fit in their clothes. They need to justify their laziness by putting pressure on the guy to answer that awful question. When a guy says, “Uh, no, of course you don’t look fat!” it validates the woman to continue the pattern: fatty foods, idle movement, and shopping in the wrong sizes. This lifestyle also fosters insecurity, health problems, and a genetic disposition for their children. Not only is it damaging to these women, it is harming their husbands and kids, which balloon just as quickly under such habits.

I’ve seen many women ‘let themselves go’ after they married. After the vows, “For better or for worse,” some feel safe that they finally made it to ‘wife’ status and refuse to practice fitness. If anything, the opposite mindset should be the aim: now that I have a husband, I am going to take extra good care of my body-for him, as well as myself. We must remember two become one. Our bodies are no longer just our own after marriage. When we are joined to the life of another person, our choices will include and affect them. The shopping list, the meal choices, and thus, the loved ones living under the same roof are all affected. Even parenting is affected, “Eat all your Twinkies so you can grow up to be big and sturdy.” Oh wait! That’s not how the saying goes. As a kid, I was told to eat all my vegetables. I disliked some of them, but cultivated healthy habits under the guidance of my parents. Once, they jokingly told my older brother that if he didn’t eat all his veggies he would blow away with the wind. He took their words literally. In Alaska, the wind could get a bit feisty. Next time he went outside, he stuffed his little blue overalls full of teddy bears and his pockets with rocks. When the wind blew harder, he held on to the stair railing for dear life. Children are influenced by their parents’ words and habits. Good habits are so important for our own health, as well as the precious little people we bring into the world. It is no surprise that those same healthy habits will build our confidence and outlook on life, whether married, dating, or single.

The aim is not to change our genetics. Society does it’s best to replicate a “perfect image” for everyone through cosmetics and plastic surgery. We shouldn’t be about self-absorption and duplication. We must learn to accept the way God created us: unique—not a fingerprint is identical. But we must also learn discipline and healthy lifestyles. It’s about our health and our daily choices. It does take effort to maintain healthy habits, but they are well worth every sacrifice and heart-pounding, sweat-streaming exercise.

While I’m single, I work out for myself: to build my confidence, keep fit, feel safe, and be comfortable in my own skin. I do not rely on any man to make me feel beautiful or to build my confidence. That pressure is completely unrealistic. Sure, we can use the line: women are just insecure and that is why they need reassurance. But let’s dig into the ugly truth of insecurity: it’s a sin. It’s a blatant disregard for the Creator and His beautiful creation. He made each of us incomparable. For us to dislike ourselves or wish we looked like another is a slap in His face. Coveting and jealousy also tear down the beauty God designed in us. Of course I’m not perfect and I have definitely wondered what it would be like to be someone else. But at the end of the day, there is only one me on this earth. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” -Oscar Wilde. There is a God-stamped authenticity in each person on the face of the earth. The more we discover it and live out of that knowledge, the more beautiful we become. It is so much better to be ourselves than scramble exhaustively toward unrealistic, shallow pursuits to look like another person.

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else” -Judy Garland.

It is not up to our guys to reassure us or make us feel confident. We need to know who we are and how to take care of our bodies. When we work out, we get fit. When we get fit, we get confident. When we are confident, we don’t need to ask the question, “Am I beautiful?” Because we already know the answer: “I am beautiful.”

Women are absolutely beautiful just as they are, no matter the size. When I see bigger girls jogging down the road, lifting in the gym, or even jiving to Zumba, it makes me proud. If a girl is genetically big-boned, has a true thyroid condition, or tragically suffers from health conditions, there’s no fault in that. Those women can still do their best. The goal is not to become skinny, modelisque material. I have an average build. I take care of that shape by strengthening the estimated 640 muscles within it. We must do something beneficial for our physical and emotional health. Fitness is not just about physical beauty. For health reasons alone, it is crucial to exercise at least 20 minutes a day. What does that look like? It varies between people. Basically it is any activity that increases the heart rate, draws a little sweat out of the pores, and activates the muscles.

For some, it is hard to learn discipline. Exercise can be considered a drudgery. It is important to understand anything that makes us sweaty and sore is not eagerly anticipated at the beginning. The key is to find activities that suit individual interests. Many of my friends are avid surfers, snowboarders, and hikers. Fitness doesn’t need to be the conventional trip to the gym. There are some incredible hobbies, sports, and extreme adrenaline rushes that can activate muscles and spike the heart rate. “I don’t want to get all buff and macho.” I hear this all the time from my dainty female friends. This is an excuse to resist fitness. Some girls think that if they are skinny they don’t need to work out. They may be genetically blessed with a high metabolism so weight is never an issue. But health goes so much deeper than the surface and size of a woman. Some of the skinniest girls in the world die from malnutrition. Everyone needs exercise: energetic children, wobbly geriatrics, paralyzed patients, and average individuals with hectic lifestyles and poor food choices. There are some hard choices that must be made daily. “I don’t want to do this, but I need to do it.”

Obsessing over fitness is not a healthy mindset. Anorexia is more than depriving one’s body of food. It is also about a paralyzing fear of weight gain, and an obsession with exercise. There is a balance to everything. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor. 10:23). Likewise, an excessive amount of exercise can be harmful. It is important, but like all other things, it should come second to God Almighty. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” -1 John 5:21

Start small with a walk around the block to enjoy fresh air and conversation with the Creator. And then, increase the intensity. Make conscious efforts to park a little further from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and set goals to accomplish each week.

“Hey honey! I look gooooood in this new dress, don’t I?!” Confidence makes a woman feel beautiful.


Artificially Modified Personalities

Have you ever changed a bit of your personality to fit into some guy’s world? Have you ever caught yourself telling exaggerated truths or enduring activities you care nothing about in order to snag some guy’s attention? Everyone is guilty of a personality tweak now and again to impress another. If this becomes a pattern, a flip-flop of personalities soon inhabits the person who was meant to live unique and free from such bondage. The fabricated lifestyle is tiring and confusing. “Who am I, really?” It’s an honest question. But it’s hard to find the answer if you’ve been mutating into so many characters to impress the likes of this month’s crush.

I was interacting with a dear friend about her recent break-up and she said something that made me cringe, “I tried and tried, but it was never enough. I kept changing my personality to keep him happy. But it didn’t work.” Often, women are eager to adapt to the current boyfriend. On one end of the spectrum, he may be affecting an area that God needs to work on: a sin or weakness. But never should there be condemnation or embarrassment concerning our personalities and interests. If the happy-go-lucky jokester dates a serious intellect that just wants to have meaningful conversations and sip tea on the balcony, the conversation goes something like this, [his words] “Honey, I was just noticing how you tend to laugh a lot. Would you mind terribly, I’d truly enjoy a calm and meek you, instead.” Reading this incredulous scenario play out, we all laugh. There is no reason we should become more like the guy unless it is a reflection of Christ. If he is so admirable that his actions point us toward Christ then those are qualities to follow. But they only enhance our lively, joyful spirit, not tear us down or make us feel unworthy. Just because a guy doesn’t enjoy something we’re interested in does not mean he can take it away from us. We are different people. We will inevitably have different interests. There are dozens of layers to all of us. We are mysterious beings with intricate detail and matchless worth. Every part of us makes us unique. If we start morphing into the likeness of our man, we will lose a part of ourselves in the process. There is a reason we are different from our guys. Many of our qualities are meant to encourage and challenge them. And the unique qualities of men are meant to do the same for us. The guy we are supposed to be with appreciates and accepts all those qualities and idiosyncrasies.

When an attractive and fascinating guy comes along, the average girl subconsciously makes files in her brain as he shares his interests and hobbies. Oh! He loves bouldering. I could like that too. I should go to the YMCA next week and learn to climb. After speaking with guy-of-interest she changes a bit of her personality to impress him. The façade cannot be held forever. Say the pretense was a success and the guy falls head-over-heels. It was the plan. But as reality unfolds and the crush wears off, there are two drastically different people sitting across the table from one another.

It was tragic to hear my friend talk about her attempt to make things work with her boyfriend to no avail. She changed her personality from an intellectual, soft-spoken woman to an avid huntress, motocross rider, boisterous Calamity Jane. She was straining to make this relationship work while the guy was just in the relationship until someone better came along. And my friend put up with it because she was terrified of being alone. A lot of people give up the respect they undoubtedly deserve just to pacify their insecurities.

Insecurity takes its toll on relationships. If we don’t understand ourselves or have confidence in who Christ has created us to be we will inevitably fall into an artificial personality just to win a guy’s approval.

 


Control Freak

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

Here we have the initial and lasting curse of woman. I wondered the meaning behind this punishment that affects all womankind. Desire in this context is not referring to the sexual kind. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a desire for sex. Why on earth would that be a punishment? God had already blessed Adam and Eve’s union and gave them the ability to delight in one another, “to be fruitful and multiply.” The interpretation comes from a Hebrew word to seek control. In essence it means, “You shall seek control over your husband.”

We want control. When we like someone, we let our emotions run rampant if the guy moves too slowly. We want things done a certain way. We see it playing out in our minds a lot quicker than it is in reality. Only God knows perfect timing. We can learn how to move in His timing when we listen to Him. Only He knows whether something should be set in motion with a relationship. It must be so hard for Him to see us walk blindly into a relationship that isn’t meant for us. I know my Father allows me to make choices-some with painful consequences. Sadly, some of those choices will affect others in the process. Ever since I read Song of Songs, one phrase was branded into my memory. No, it was not the thing about pillar legs and apple breasts. And we all thought pear-shaped women were imperfect. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was all for it. Seriously, the phrase was: “Do not awaken love before its proper time.” This is important to note. It is relevant not only in the timing of godly relationships and the moments to pursue someone, but also for a potential relationship that won’t work out. It gives us time to get to know the other person and realize, ‘love’ is the last thing we want to awaken toward that person.

It may be painful. Some even go through withdrawals as an addict does. I can only paint you a limited view from my own experience. I choose purity over flesh time and time again. As a matter of fact, I still have to make those decisions daily. I am tempted faintly at times to turn my back on this stance and run reckless like any other girl. But I will always have the aftertaste of darkness in the back of my throat from bad choices: the angry outbursts, disloyalty to friends, and the kisses I handed out like sugarfree lollipops at a doctor’s office. I know better than to turn back and lick that bile off the ground. I’m not extra special. I’m not extra protected. My mistakes went against my heart’s standards. But what I consider major regrets the next girl might consider petty child’s play. I didn’t go off the proverbial deep end, but I saw many people who did. The conclusion is the same for every girl no matter the past.

It’s time to throw off the old ways of doing things! Redemption is here.

“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” –Ephesians 4:21-23.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” –Ephesians 5:1-2.

Let us create and foster godly relationships so that all mankind will know to Whom we belong. Let the world see authenticity at its finest. There is power in our testimonies. I’m not saying that dating is wrong. I’m not saying celibacy is best, courtship is the healthiest method, or dowries and arranged marriages are the way to go. I believe wholeheartedly in relationships. I love having guy friends, crushes, and brother-types. I think it is crucial for us to spend time with guys and get to know them. There’s a right way and a wrong way. I know we all believe our circumstances are unique and we are the only ones going through that certain thing, but it’s not true. We’ve all experienced pain in many forms, love, lust, and even a bit of envy. Each of us goes on our own journey to find God and find out who we are, but I also know we could use a little guidance along the way. The challenges bring us closer to Christ and the blessings bring more people into our circles with which we share life, hope, and most importantly God’s love. Anything is possible with Christ on our side. It only takes one to start a revolution.


Flirtatious Fire

In the moment, when the heat of his breath is so close and hearts are beating a hundred miles an hour as if they could visibly pump right out of each chest, it is hard-if not impossible-to say no. If we wait until we are in a situation that begs to steal our purity, our stance is harder to take. In that moment, whether we want to be pure or not, our flesh is the loudest voice. The argument may go through our heads a dozen times, but the outcome is usually the same: “I don’t care what the consequences are, I can’t say no.” We hit the crossroads and don’t have the time to think through the situation with clarity. Our minds are clouded from good judgment. We can get into two different scenarios under this lack of discipline. Either it’s too hard to say no, or we come in contact with guys who won’t listen to our “no’s.”

I was in one such situation in my party days. My best girl friend and I went to her ex-boyfriend’s house. He and his roommate were looking for fun and she answered the call. I felt uncomfortable when I arrived, but doused the discomfort with alcohol and flirtation. My friend disappeared and I was stuck on the couch with the roommate. I was bored out of my mind and ready to leave. He was building his courage and attempting small talk. A few drinks later, he was showing me his room. Was it my naivety that kept warning bells from shooting off in my head? I walked in, looked around. It was ugly and cluttered. Suddenly, I’m pinned on his bed and he is trying to kiss me. Okay, now the warning bells are working. Pop, pop, crack—they’re going off like firecrackers and my mind is racing for a quick get-away. I pushed with all my strength, but he must have been a wrestler in his earlier years because I was immobilized. My legs weren’t working, but my voice was growing louder and sterner by the second, “Get OFF right now! This is not funny and I am NOT going to sleep with you. If you do not get up, I will hurt you.” This may have been more convincing if my voice wasn’t shaking and my breath coming out in labored clumps from his weighty pressure. When he just laughed at my command, hope waned momentarily. But I’m fighter. Finally, I got a hand free and shot my fist into his throat. Cough, choke, sway… this was my chance. I squirmed free just in time to get his elbow in my eye. I took two steps back and bluffed with a fighting stance. I had one chance to connect with his face and show him that I meant business. Adrenaline thundered through my bloodstream and anger rallied toward this obnoxious creature in front of me. I saw a look of uncertainty in his eyes and took my shot. By now we’re both a bit bloody but finally at a truce. I grabbed my friend and we went home. That was my first–and hopefully last–black eye from a guy. If we play with fire we WILL get burned.

When we “harmlessly” flirt with someone just for the sake of flirting we open the door to trouble. I had no attraction for this guy. I was bored and he was the only available target for my entertainment. Playing the game of flirtation is not pure in the least. It is not fostering godly relationships, nor is it protecting the hearts of others. There is such a power trip to flirtation and the attention it ignites. It gives us a false sense of control. We call the shots, we draw the lines. So we assume “purity” is just about holding a V-card, but it is more than that. We must be aware of our surroundings and refrain from our dance around the fire.

Even though I don’t know the painful memories of a sexual encounter, I do realize that whatever tactics Satan has used on me when I’ve fallen short of my standards are increased and intensified for a girl who feels as though she’s lost her greatest gift: her virginity. Often, the stories I hear from girls who gave their virginity away and had their hearts broken, felt they had nothing left to protect so they continued the pattern of sleeping with boyfriend after boyfriend. It is hard to protect what you fear is lost. I did that with my first kiss. After that, I kissed a lot of people because I had already missed the goal of saving that kiss for the altar. I cannot imagine the pain some have gone through after losing their virginity. But here is where redemption shines through the hopelessness. No matter what we’ve done we cannot give up! With God on our side, our sins are washed away, our slate is wiped clean, and our garments are made as white as snow. Redemption gives us a story to tell with a brave and joyful ending. Redemption gives us the strength to say no and to respect ourselves enough to break the cycle and live righteously. “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17). We can start over at any point in our lives. We cannot continue to sin with the expectation that God will forgive us later when we decide to repent. “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies” Hebrews 10:26-27. It is a serious issue when we sin while knowing it is sin. We have a freedom in Christianity that no other religion allows: freedom of choice. We don’t serve our Master out of fear or condemnation. We serve Him out of love. “We love because He first loved us.” He taught us how to love when He gave up His life for us. We live righteously because we want to be more like Christ. He said, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” He isn’t just Master anymore; He is Savior and Friend.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”  -Isaiah 1:18

 

It is there for the asking. And the Spirit will always make a way of escape. Always!

 


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