Saturday, March 03, 2007

Getting Gutsy

I recently wrote this essay and posted it on my Facebook account, mostly for the benefit of a younger cousin. She liked it a lot, and said I should share it. Now, I don't usually care what people think of my day to day ramblings, but this was something that has been on my heart for a while now....and I really enjoyed fleshing out all my thoughts. Tell me what you think, but please, be gentle!

Shrewed as Serpents

As Christian women, we have an advantage that other women of the world cannot always claim. We have a Father who not only is looking out for us, but, if we listen, will guide us and give us wisdom beyond ourselves. As daughters of that Father, we must listen carefully and keep our eyes open for signs of trouble in men who are potential mates.

Matthew 10:16 says, “"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” Ladies, this is what we must do. We need not be abrasive or obnoxious, but filled with grace. However, as shrewdly as serpents, we must evaluate potential mates as women who have the Power to do so.

On your first date, does he ask about your life, or talk mostly about his own? If the conversations are entirely one-sided, whether it is about him or you, that is where the focus of the relationship will be. There were many a time as a young woman, when I knew after the first date that I shouldn’t continue with a certain guy. But I did anyway, out of fear of being alone. I didn’t have my eyes focused on God, wasn’t following after Him with my whole heart.

Does he have respect for and agree with your convictions? I’m not asking what he says he believes, but do his actions support what he says? Is he eager to be alone with you, out of sight of watchful eyes, or is he just happy to be near you, no matter who is around? And if you are alone, what activity fills most of that time? Whatever it is, it says much about the basis of the relationship. If he does not agree with your convictions, but says that he will follow out of love for you, beware. He will eventually begin pressuring you towards his way of thinking, even if subtly at first.

Are you in similar places in your spiritual walk? There are many ways to be “unequally yoked”. While an unbeliever and a believer is undoubtedly the worst case scenario, a seasoned and mature believer and a new believer recently removed from the world of sin, or a believer who isn’t necessarily following Christ in his life and actions, can be just as heart wrenching in the end. One of the many lies we women believe is that “our love can change him.” Ladies, it isn’t our job to change him. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit and Him alone. Only by living our lives out as Christ followers, keeping our eyes focused on Him, can we show someone the right way. Putting our spiritual walk and our purity in jeopardy is not pleasing to God, and shouldn’t be done in the name of love.

Does he look to you for fulfillment or happiness in life? Beware of people who tell you that they couldn’t make it without you, that you are the only joy in their life, that you “make him so happy”. What happens when you don’t bring happiness anymore? What happens when you aren’t there to “make him happy”? Often men like this will “pull the suicide card” as I call it. They will hint at or threaten suicide because you aren’t bringing them happiness anymore, trying to convince people (and you) that you now are the source of hopelessness, and so responsible for the threatened suicide as well. Happiness and joy should come from within a person, preferably from the Spirit, not from an external source. While we, as women, should build up our mates and not tear them down, we should not be the sole influence of their happiness or desperation. That is a man who doesn’t have Christ central in his heart.

Does he idolize you? Before you say no, think on this. Does he make comments about how much better you are than him, or that you make him live up to better standards, or that you are such a good person compared to him? If so, he is setting you on a pedestal, idolizing you, which can only keep him from God and set him up for disappointment when he realizes that you are human and flawed as well. And how will he treat you when he realizes you are a flawed, sinful human….just like him?

Yet another warning sign to look for is if you feel that you are living in another woman’s shadow, be she an ex-girlfriend or a mother. There is nothing wrong with having ideals, but if you feel as if you are expected to be the same as another woman in his life, be careful. What happens to you if you never “measure up”? Or what if you are pressured to become like this “ideal woman” and so miss who God wants you to become? If God wants to change you, He will put it on your heart, not on the lips of your boyfriend.

We all have the Spirit of the Almighty God who lives in our very hearts. When we are not following Christ, not listening to the still small voice, the Spirit convicts us. We have a choice to heed the warning or ignore it. But both choices reap consequences. To heed the warnings and listen to God is to grow in knowledge and grace. To ignore those warnings is to take one step after another off the narrow path that is following God’s will for our lives. So, the question is: what is your destination? Where do you want to end up in a month, six months, a year? If you have quick answers like, in a steady relationship, married, kids, house, or whatever, check yourself. All those things are fine, in God’s time. When we try to rush it, He’ll let us, but we have to deal with the mess in the end, as well.

If a man is not totally centered on Christ, he may show some or all of these warning signs. When I was young, I had no one to spell it out for me. Now I feel compelled to spell it out for whoever will listen. All the examples I gave, those are warning signs that I ignored at some point in my life. Some were with so called “Christian” guys, some were not. It doesn’t really matter what label they choose, but what actions they choose. It’s not our job as women to rehabilitate them, it’s not our job to save them from themselves, it’s not our job to be their joy. We just aren’t up to those tasks. Christ is. Sometimes we need to get out of the way and let Him do His job.


james drury said...

Actually, this is good advice for both young men and women.

sometrouble said...

I think this is right on! Nice work laying it all out!

Mainline Mom said...

D, this is seriously good writing and I think you should consider having it published somewhere. I'm not sure where the right venue would be, but I'm sure there must be a magazine or website out there geared for Christian single women.

Redhead Mommy said...

Thanks everyone. It sure did feel good to stretch my writing muscles again. It's been a very long time.

MM- maybe I will look into that. We shall see.

KayA said...

Wow, do I have your permission to print this out and have my neice and step daughter read this.

You have a gift...