Posts Tagged ‘ boundless ’

A New Take on Emotional Purity

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

A close girlfriend and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about Godly relationships, singleness, and Christian friendships. When we got to the topic of male-female friendships, she posed an interesting question to me:  “how would you rate your emotional purity in your relationships with male friends?” This was a concept about which I had never heard or thought. I inquired more from my friend, but she encouraged me to search the Word on my own, something for which I am so grateful.

Side-note: I think we need to do this more often with each other. It is so easy to just rely on each other for explanations of the Word, instead of finding the truth ourselves. In encouraging each other to independently meditate on the Word, we encourage growth in our brothers/sisters’ relationship with Christ. Now that is love.

Back on topic: So, in thinking about emotional purity and comparing it to physical purity, I garnered that the basic concept is not revealing too much of your emotional self or fostering too much emotional intimacy with male friends, so as not to raise one’s expectations (for singles) or the temptation (married) for a committed relationship. It seems especially important for women, since we are the more emotional sex. But I’m not going to get into emotional purity for married women in this post… I’m single, so I will mainly address the emotional purity of single ladies (“all my single ladies, now put your hands up!” – sorry. i couldn’t resist, haha).

Not Your Buddy

By chance, I found an article on Boundless.org, which describes the reasons for this purity:  Not Your Buddy. At first thought, this explanation of emotional purity made sense to me, especially given that I had begun harboring some similar concerns in my own life. It made sense to just avoid conjuring any emotions by keeping distance between yourself and guys and not revealing anything too personal to them. However, new clarity came through a discussion with my mom and challenged this notion.

When I described the above definition of emotional purity and how it may be wise to back away from friendships with males, she immediately looked dubious. “I don’t think I agree with that,” she said. “It seems to me like the problem is expectation.” She left it at that, giving me something more to think about on my own. After pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that I agreed with her more.

The real problem isn’t having relationships with guys or even opening up to them. I think guys can teach us women a lot and provide us with different ways of thinking and seeing our situations (and vice versa!). Yet, we say that we should limit our emotional selves regarding our friendships with men because we as sisters can start to expect more from our brothers… and by more, I mean a romantic, committed relationship. We start interpreting their communications as laced with romantic interest and start expecting that they should return our friendliness and interest with an advancement toward a relationship. I have personal experience of this. I know, I’ve done it too. But I would encourage you to consider what is going on in this case… to consider how we as ladies may be contributing to this potentially hurtful situations with our expectations.

It seems like we ladies are always one step ahead of ourselves. If we have something good, we wonder what the next step will be and try to put a rush order on getting there, rather than enjoying where we are and what we have now. And even as the Boundless article said:

“You never have to wonder if your brother is romantically interested in you”

… because, being a Godly man, if he’s interested in you, He would let you know. So what are we doing by feeding our expectations and getting frustrated when the guy in mind doesn’t fulfill them? If he hasn’t explicitly expressed his interest, then that means he’s not interested in that way. <– now, there may be aberrations to this if we consider the shy guys who are too afraid to be open and blunt with the girl they’re interested in, but that’s more than I care to get into right now.

To further this point about the danger of expectation, I would encourage you to think about our female-female relationships. Oftentimes, when we become close to another female, spend more one-on-one time with her, and reveal more about ourselves to her, what do we begin to develop? It’s the same deal here:  Expectations. Oftentimes, we ladies find ourselves hoping that she’ll call so we can chat or disappointed when she doesn’t pick up because we have something from our day that we’d like to share about. We expect her to make time for us when we need her, or hang out with us, and are a little disappointed when she can’t. Expectation also arises in the development of a close, female friendship, not just something that we must face in our friendships with men.

I guess I just can’t help but think that we are restricting ourselves from what could be a spiritually beneficial relationship just because the person we would share it with is of the opposite sex. Must the rules really be different just because he is male? I think it is better that we recognize our tendency to expect more than we have and challenge ourselves to grow emotionally and spiritually.

And if you find yourself developing expectations or confused by his behavior with you, then you should be mature about it and talk about it with him. If he’s a brother in the Lord, I would think that your feelings would be important to him and that he would be more than willing to curb his actions in a way that wouldn’t suggest that he wants more than a friendship. I know, I know. “Easier said than done.” Trust me, I realize that. But I just have a hard time accepting the easy way out of avoiding meaningful spiritual relationships with men altogether. I think we as Christians should strive to harness our own weaknesses and grow beyond our faults.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

This verse is often quoted as a defense for the first definition of emotional purity that I shared at the beginning of this post. However, I think this verse can also be interpreted as a warning to guard our hearts from ourselves and our own actions. How are you contributing to your heart’s unhappiness and vulnerability? Why are we so quick to point the finger?

When I continued this talk with my mom, she said something to me that stuck out. I really want to adopt this type of living for myself:

“Don’t expect more. Only give more. If you give without expecting return, then your giving is great and you are never disappointed. Because the only person you can control is yourself.” ~ Mommy 🙂

There is joy in giving, and only disappointment and dissatisfaction in expecting. Only you have the power to control your mind, your will, your emotions, and your worldview. We must be constantly striving to place these things in the Lord. He is the only One from which we should expect anything because He is the only One who cannot disappoint us.

How are you seeing your situation? How are you approaching your male-female relationships? What changes can you make within yourself to improve them?

And yes, I realize this may sound idealistic to many. We are human and therefore fallible. But what are we doing when we use that as a crutch? When we focus too much on our flesh, we face the danger of using the fact that we are not perfect as an excuse for not trying to live up to a higher standard. In striving to be like Jesus, are we not aiming for perfection? This is the same thing. And like I wrote in another post, when you focus on the limiting factor, that’s the thing toward which you begin gravitate. So I will set my eyes on the Lord and focus my sights, and thus the direction and movement of my whole being, on His ideals and on becoming the person that He says I am in Him.

But by all means, I am not an expert on emotional purity. These are just thoughts of mine and I would love to hear your views as well! I’m always open to differing perspectives.

4/15 – Today, I found a blog post on Emotional Purity by a fellow wordpresser, Dan. I thought it was excellent! I totally agreed with his emphasis on having self-control. You might want to check it out:  Sparky Danny Man’s Take on Emotional Purity

Marriage & Timing

It’s the summer, and as I mentioned in a previous post, summer = marriage is on my mind. Another blogger had a link to this article about the right timing for marriage: Get Married or Break Up . I agreed with some of what the article said, but then I disagreed with other things it said.

I agree that the longer a couple is dating, the more difficult it is to maintain the dating relationship. To me, the ultimate purpose of dating is to marry, so naturally, I believe, the dynamics of a relationship progress toward that ultimate goal. I do believe that at a point, two people can reach a point where they’re just acting through the motions of their dating relationship. It fizzles, if you will, and that ultimate (marriage) connection is just not there. But I just don’t agree with this timetable that they’ve set up. It adds so much pressure to dating. Like, “a year’s gone by and he hasn’t proposed. Time to hop off this boat so I can make the next sail in time.” I just can’t accept that you’re supposed to know if you want to marry someone in that short of a time! I’ve always said to myself that I would wait at least 2 or 3 years before even getting engaged. But I also feel premature in such conclusions since I still have yet to even go on a date with someone. Yes… entering my 20’s without even the experience of a date. Perhaps I just can’t relate to the mindset of the dating person. Is it possible to really know after only 6 months or a year that you want to marry someone? Since entering college, I’ve heard so many accounts from adults of how they and their spouse married after only a couple months of dating. This seems like such a foreign concept to me

Haha, right as I typed that Coldplay’s song, “Death and all His Friends” played my playlist. The line, “Let’s get married,” stuck out like a sore thumb. haha. That and “don’t worry.” Is it trying to speak to me?

By the way, the song is so beautiful. I suggest you take a listen if you haven’t heard it yet. Actually, listen to the whole album (Viva la Vida). The entire cd is fantastic.

COLDPLAY\'S NEW BEST ALBUM!

But back to my topic, maybe I have qualms about marrying quickly because of the advice I’ve received from my mom. My parent’s marriage has had it’s ups and downs… or perhaps I should flip that around. There seem to be more unhappy times than happy. She’s always advised me to pay close attention to the character of the person I date and not to write off tell-tail signs as insignificant traits. In other words, maintain a level head in love. I think this is great advice, personally. I have friends who are willing to overlook some major personality flaws just to keep the person they’re dating, which is a risky thing, in my view. But, given the importance of learning a person’s character, how on earth can a person accomplish that in 6 mos to a year’s time? That just seems way too short when you factor in the reality that people are not always their most honest self at the beginning of a relationship and take time to peel the layers to reveal the truth. Some people can’t even accomplish that after a great period of time and you end up with some surprises regardless. But still, isn’t it better to reduce the surprises as much as possible by dating longer?

Now I totally agree with the article when it talks about the increased difficulty to remain physically pure the longer a relationship continues. I have abstinent friends who have warned me on the difficulties of withstanding sexual temptation once in a relationship. So sex definitely poses as a reason to push for a fast marriage, but then… listen to what was just said? Doesn’t that imply that sex should motivate a couple’s marriage? As if they’re getting married for sex? So, I have to shoot that reason down as well. If you’re dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s mandate for physical purity in marriage, then I would hope that you and your partner would each dedicate yourself to remaining pure. Now please, don’t mistake me for some doe-eyed naive girl. I am a realist, and although I am abstinent, I realize that sexual temptation is very real and can only imagine how much more intense it is when one is involved in a relationship. I’m sure there are times when some Christian couples come darn close to going all the way, but, as a woman of faith, I know that faith can overcome one’s physical desire. Although I would hope, my Christian brothers and sisters, that you wouldn’t let yourself get so close! “Don’t start none, won’t be none,” I always say!

If you’re not a Christian, having a spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, then what I just said may not make any sense to you. You may be asking yourself, “How on earth can faith defeat my in-the-moment physical need for sex?” It can and it does for those truly devoted to abstaining from sex.

This next article, however, I agree with wholly: Get Married, Young Man. In fact, after reading it, I feel a peace about not dating now, about the whole “timing of marriage” issue, and about my concerns on when I’ll start dating and finally marry. I’ll explain more on this later. Right now, it’s time to get intimate with my pillow. SLEEP!