Posts Tagged ‘ spirituality ’

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

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A Simple Prayer

Lord, please keep me strong and steadfast on the path You have predestined for me. I don’t know where You’re taking me, but God, I place my trust in You. Let me not yield to former childish ways, nor the limiting thoughts that once constricted my perception. Holy Spirit, minister to me, edify me, remind me of my path. And remove my focus from any thing, person, etc. that may threaten to take me off it. Father, I pray, please remove my confusion and replace it with a resounding clarity and peace in You. Amen.

Resurrection Sunday, Resurrection Everyday

It is so appropriate that in this week’s Bible study, we went through 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. I was so blessed by verses 35-38, which state:

35But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed He gives its own body.”

This signifies that resurrection is alive and is a process manifested in our lives. A seed does not become a plant instantaneously. No, rather it first must die, and then must undergo a growing process before it sprouts from the earth in its plant form. It is the same for us. We  still in our original form:  our natural bodies. So we must be like the seed and die to our sinfulness and resurrect a spiritual lifestyle. Just as Christ’s sin-filled body on the cross died and resurrected to its spiritual form, we must strive to die to our sinful nature and live His will in our lives. This resurrection is a process because we must do this everyday. We must daily remember Christ’s sacrifice and strive to live such sacrifice in our own lives.

Thus, I would encourage you to use Resurrection Sunday as a day to:

1) to reflect on Christ’s defeat over our death/sin in order to rectify and reconnect us to God,

2) to gain renewed drive and inspiration for our individual, daily deaths to sin and daily resurrection in Christian living, and,

3) to look forward to the completion of our resurrection process with Christ’s 2nd coming, when the dead in Christ shall be resurrected and the living transfigured to their spiritual bodies ( 1 Cor 15:52).

Thank you my Christ, my All for Your sacrifice. Thank You, God, for loving  me so much and desiring to be with me so much that You would give Your only Son to set me free. His Resurrection is for me, but His Resurrection and my future resurrection are for You as well, that they would make a way for us to be together forever. I praise You God that You would view my salvation with such importance, that You would think of me, that You would die for me. I am overwhelmed by Your Love. THANK YOU!

I’m Not Who I Was (Brandon Heath)

So I was listening to a random stream of Christian music on Imeem.com, and this song, “I’m Not Who I Was” by Brandon Heath, came on. At first I really got into it because I liked the blend of the drum beat, guitar riff, and the light touch of piano in the bridge and chorus. I found myself getting happy from it. But it wasn’t until the second time around that I actually listened to lyrics and realized he was talking about forgiveness, and in particular, a specific someone he had struggled to forgive. This immediately made me think of my dad.

I didn’t post on here, but about a month ago, I took a step forward in our relationship by forgiving him for hurting my mom, which has hurt my brother and me. In that step, I also reassured him that I love him. I think he could have easily questioned my love for him given the way I have treated him.

Earlier in the semester, I spoke with a psychologist about my family and she told me that I am “too identified with my mother” and “too involved in their marriage.” Well, I knew the second was true, but I had a hard time accepting the first assessment because I felt that I had sided with *right behavior,* not a particular person. After all, I did (and do) criticize my mother when I think she has said or done something out of line toward my dad, my brother, or myself. But in talking with her more and hearing the very defensive statements that came out of my mouth, I realized that she may have a point.

I think I have put my mother on a pedestal because she has always gone over and beyond in performing her role as a mother and in showing us her love. She is more often than not the parent who displays what I would call righteous, or Godly behavior, which I defend. But the fact that I feel so intimately involved in their marriage has definitely made me feel pressured to pick a side, choose an alliance.

I try not to blame myself for this fault because being a teenager, it was hard not to feel caught in the middle. But my mistake in siding with my mom made it very difficult for me not to see his relationship with her as a reflection of his relationship with me; his sentiments toward her as a reflection of how he felt about me.

I think I realized this a while ago, or at least a partial realization because I remember asking my mom to stop talking with me about the details of their marriage because it clouded my perspective of my relationship with my dad. I remember that I felt so guilty when I asked her this because I felt like I was betraying her by wanting to know the person who has caused her so much pain.

But I praise God for where He has grown me. Being older and more mature in Him, I can now separate her relationship with him from mine. She still tells me details. She can’t help it, and I know this. She needs someone to talk to, and now I honestly am glad to be there for her because I can handle it. I have finally realized and accepted that just because their marriage is strained doesn’t mean that my relationship with him has to be strained. I shouldn’t ever feel guilty about accepting his love when he’s willing to give it. He’s her husband, not mine.

There’s more I’d like to say about my relationship with my dad, especially since I made a very important realization of another mistake I made growing up. I am so grateful that God is revealing to my my own faults. For so long I looked at him and blamed him, instead of turning the mirror on myself and realizing the hurt that I was doing to myself! God, You are magnificent! I love growing in You!

I am so glad that every day I can say with greater confidence that “I’m Not Who I Was.”

I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I’m not who I was
I used to be mad at you
A little on the hurt side too
But I’m not who I was

I found my way around
To forgiving you
Some time ago
But I never got to tell you

I found us in a photograph
I saw me and I had to laugh
You know, I’m not who I was
You were there
You were right above me
And I wondered if you ever loved me
Just for who I was

When the pain came back again
Like a bitter friend
It was all that I could do
To keep myself from blaming you

I reckon it’s a funny thing
I’ve figured out I can sing
Now I’m not who I was
I write about love and such
Maybe ’cause I want it so much
I’m not who I was

I was thinking maybe I,
I should let you know
That I am not the same
But I never did forget your name

Hello

Well the thing I find most amazing
In amazing grace
Is the chance to give it out
Maybe that’s what love is all about

I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I’m not who I was

Future Posts (April)

As I described throughout the earlier posts, I plan to continue this “Garden Principles” series and move on to discuss an all favorite topic: LOVE! I have a million notes written down and I just have to sit down and condense it all. But I will be focusing on the differences between 1) how men vs. women show love, and 2) how men vs. women expect to receive love. But warning – don’t expect this post too soon from now.

Also, I am just starting to read the book The Final Quest, by Rick Joyner.

This is my mom’s top recommended book for serious Christians. She recommended that I read it years ago, but I opted not to because I didn’t think I was spiritually mature enough. But I feel spiritually ready now and am so excited for what the Lord will reveal to me through this book. I bought a copy for a friend – which reminds me, I have to mail it out on Thursday (note to self). But I’m hoping we can bless each other as we read it.

So my next post will likely be the love post and will temporarily close out the Garden Principles series. Although there is so much I have learned from the exploring the Garden and so much more left for me to learn, I feel like God is moving me away from meditating on love relationships and onto meditating on how we are to build ourselves (and each other) up as individual members of Christ. For, in strengthening our individual selves, we strengthen and unite the body. And I think it is especially appropriate that I start The Final Quest now, after I have spent the last month studying 1st Corinthians with my Bible study group. It’s awesome how God lines things up, isn’t it? Perfect timing, Lord, as always. 🙂

God Bless you!

Garden Principles IId – Personal Note Regarding Unequally Yoked Spouses

Now I put a star at the end of the previous post because I don’t want this to be misunderstood. I feel like often people think of male-female relationships as one-sided, as though the actions of each are one-directional. Rather, I think that a synergy is supposed to exist and that synergy is achieved through intimacy. I touched on this in the section on Eve and Women, but I think it is worth emphasizing so that I am not misunderstood. Again let’s consider Christ and the Church. When we as members of the Church have a concern, do we just wait idly by for the Lord to reveal what we are supposed to do? No. What do we do? We talk to Jesus. We pray (talk) to Him. We actively seek Him. We express our concerns, our hopes, and our desires to Him. It is a two-way communication, a partnership. We move toward Him and He moves toward us. This is as it should be between a husband and wife also. They are to communicate with each other; the husband is to listen to and fully consider the concerns, hopes, and desires of his wife, and she is to listen to and fully consider his counsel.

Now, as for submitting to (trusting) your husband’s guidance, I personally only feel that a woman should trust the guidance of a Godly man who is truly striving for enlightenment and intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is my PERSONAL opinion, absolutely not me saying that I have read this in the Bible. I would encourage you to do your own searching on this and bring this question to the Lord. But for me personally, it just makes sense that a Godly woman can have peace submitting to (trusting) a Godly man because he is striving to live according to the husband role  established by God, and is therefore plugged into God and living to exemplify Christ in his daily walk. Thus, if he is submitting to (trusting) God, as she is submitting to (trusting) him (the husband), there is an overall submission (trust) in the Lord. But if the husband is not a Christian actively in the word and actively striving to live according to Christ’s principles, then she is trusting a man who is not trusting God and not weighing all of his decisions in Christ. Rather, in such a marriage, I feel that the wife should look to Christ alone to be her head and to counsel her in matters related to her marriage and life.

Now, because the roles are different, my opinion will be different for men. In my personal opinion, men should still live as the head with their non-Christian wives. They should be ever-connected with God and counsel their wives according to His principles. I would hope that in living this role, he would be successful in leading her to the Lord.

Again, this is just how I see it. I am still studying the Word on this, and Lord please reveal to me if this is wrongful thinking and, if it is, guide me in Your Word to Your truth.

NOTE: God bless Brother wellis32 for reminding me of 1Peter3:1-7:

[1] Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; [2] While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. [3] Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; [4] But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. [5] For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: [6] Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.  [7] Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

I will have to pray on this a bit more. I’ll come back to this post.

Garden Principles IIc – Thinking about the Whole Picture

I think this view of Adam and Eve is not only important for laying the foundation for what roles a husband and wife are to live (Ephesians 5), but equally important for providing us a model of a husband and wife that fail to act out these roles. When their roles were reversed, they entered into spiritual disobedience and all chaos broke loose.

Personally, it really makes a lot of sense to me that God would challenge men and women to adopt roles that are opposite those that were lived by Adam and Eve in the moment of temptation. We only grow closer to the Lord when we are challenged and challenge ourselves. Therefore, living roles opposite those of the Adam and Eve will challenge: 1) men’s temptation to just focus on their work and not counsel (i.e. communicate) with their wives, and 2) women’s temptation to be in control of their husbands and dictate the direction of their relationships. God wants to stretch us and make us stronger in Him, so I would encourage you to resist these gender-specific temptations and instead push into our Lord. Men, strive to be good spiritual examples to your wives; strive to advise and communicate with them. Women, strive to respect and trust your husband’s ability to lead you and your family in the right (Godly) direction. ** (< continue to next post for star explanation)