Refuse to Fear Judgement

Refuse to Fear Judgement

I have been overwhelmed this week by comment threads. Between more yoga pants/modesty pieces, countless Fifty Shades of Gray articles, and the hordes of women on social media, I should have known better than to go perusing through those deep dark places. But, because I’ve been able to find pieces of wisdom hidden among the muck on occasion, or evidence of more general cultural attitudes, I still did a little bit of looking. This week I’ve recognized a strong trend of defensiveness, especially within the comments on articles about “Christian issues.”

“Don’t judge me.” “You have no right to judge me.” “You don’t know my relationship with God.” “That’s your opinion, I don’t have to share it.”

Sound familiar?

When I read these, I hear the World.

If you read through any secular blog or media piece, it is likely you will encounter something designed to normalize what people may be offended by, or think is wrong. There is this huge movement against judgement in areas of employment, appearance, pregnancy, sexuality, and gender expression. Basically within any area where you could have a different opinion than someone (especially one based on religious values), they are trying to build an “anti-judgement” space.

This really scares me, especially when I see it happening within Christian media.

I understand. Being judged is the thing we seem to fear most. We do our best to avoid it by trying to follow all the rules and avoid judgement (my preferred method), or by proclaiming that none of our choices deserve to be judged. Judgement attacks the places we are vulnerable. It targets our insecurities.

What causes our defensive reactions?

It is the truth. Whether or not the person addressing us is speaking truth, the truth in our hearts recognizes the voice of judgement and recoils. We, as humans, are meant to be judged.

Since the beginning, it has been clear that sin is a part of who we are as people. Wrong priorities, skewed morals, and dark ambitions are just a few of the things that we can’t shake off on our own. Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is some corner in our hearts that knows the Voice of Truth, and is terrified of it. When we feel judged, we are being punched there.

I know, I spent most of my life fearing judgement. Even though I was generally confident, I feared judgement by friends, and began hiding parts of who I was. I feared judgement from a God who could see the sins that no one else could, and I became more and more attached to behaviours and habits that would make me seem better from the outside. I tried to fix myself, to put myself in a place where I could no longer be judged, but the harder I tried the worse it got. Ask my mother, I am someone who easily becomes defensive, always have been. But, I’m learning what that really means for the condition of my heart. When I become defensive, it is a symptom of the pride I’ve built up in my image and abilities. It shows that I may not actually have confidence that I am pursuing truth in a decision or a position that I’ve taken. It shows a struggle that I may be ignoring.

In the past couple of years, I’ve learned something. It wasn’t a sudden realization but a very drawn out process. Looking back, I can see that when I gradually began to understand grace, and to personally, relationally pursue Christ, it went hand in hand with being able to start letting go of my fear of judgement.

Have you heard this story?

There is a King. He rules over all the land, but there was a time in the past when He had no one with whom to share the beauty of life. But, The King had a plan. He gathered up the dust of the Earth, and breathed His life into it. “The Man came alive-a living soul!” The King also gave the Man a partner to work with and love, the Woman.

Now, the Man and the Woman cared for the Earth, and they lived with The King in true community. But the Man and the Woman were faced with a problem. The King had given them a great gift, called Choice. It was a beautiful gift, but they weren’t sure what it meant. They thanked The King, and He showed them how they were meant  to live and use their Choice. When the Man and Woman found Temptation however, they used Choice in a way The King had asked them not to. They opened the gate of the Earth and allowed Shame to enter, and they hid from The King, for they knew He  was also The Judge, and they feared Judgement.

Because The King ruled over all the land, He knew immediately that Shame had entered His Kingdom. It broke His heart, and He reached out to the Man and Woman. They could no longer live with Him in true community, but He clothed them and sent them on their way unharmed, the beginning of His People. The King knew that it was time to put the next part of His plan into action.

Throughout the following ages, The King tried to love His People. The monster Shame had brought with it Pride, and Greed, Power, and Immorality. When these beasts combined forces, they lured His People away from Him, and built walls of Defensiveness around their hearts. His People did not allow The King to love them, but His plan was still in motion.

Some of His People began to have dreams, and to prophesy that they were going to be rescued from the monsters attacking them. Those who listened lived with hope that The King would rescue them, but they went a long time without hearing from Him, or knowing what He was going to do.

Then one day, The King gave them a piece of Himself. He put His heart into a Woman, in the form of a Child. This Child grew up to become a Warrior. He began teaching His people how to fight Shame and his fellow monsters. He showed them that Truth was the way to free themselves. Those who had built up Defensiveness around their hearts however were unable to see the Warrior as anything but a threat. 

Some of those who had Defensiveness had tried to live as they thought The King wanted them to. They followed all the laws of the land, even creating their own in order to protect themselves from Shame. These were those taken by Pride. There were others who tried to cheat The King, these were taken by Greed. There were still others who ignored The King, these fell to Immorality and Power. Those taken by Shame continued to hide from the Warrior, while the rest spat in His face. 

Those who served Pride were offended by the Warrior, and began plotting to kill Him. They tricked those serving Power into executing Him. What they didn’t know, was that this action was the climax of The King’s plan. Though His People thought they had killed His heart, The King knew that He had defeated Shame.

You see, The King’s heart cannot be killed. In The King’s heart was hidden a second gift for His People, Freedom. When Pride had the Warrior killed, it broke The King’s heart, but it also released Freedom, which healed the heart, and began seeping into the Earth. It welled up as springs of Living Water for His People to find throughout the rest of time.

Those who find the Living Water have the walls around their hearts, their Defensiveness, dissolved. Their service to Shame ends, and they are no longer subject to judgement. They find Freedom, and are restored, welcomed back into true community with The King. 

I have bathed in that Living Water. I should no longer fear judgement, if I have truly accepted the grace offered by Christ. 1 John reminds us what it means to Live in the Light:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

If we are living in the light, we will seek the life that Christ offers us in him. We will understand that while we are sinners, that it is not our sin that he sees, but he sees who we can be in him. When we are living in this truth, it will destroy the defensiveness, our fear of judgement.

If others do not agree with my choices, I should not get defensive (difficult as it may be), but remember that what truly matters is that my choices line up with God’s standards. I should remember that judgment is not something I should fear any longer, as long as I keep righteousness and holiness as my goal.

While not all comments are made from a spiritually healthy place, especially on the Internet, we should seek to be a part of communities where we can receive accountability and perspective within healthy, personal relationships. It is in those spaces we are called to speak life and truth in the choices we make as the Body of Christ. We cannot reject the comments of others, for when we accept Christ’s grace, live with humility, and refuse to fear judgement, the comments of others can reveal attitudes and standards that don’t line up with the way we are called to live. They can also encourage us as we pursue attitudes that do reflect Christ. People cannot judge our eternal fate, don’t give them power that they aren’t given in the first place. BUT, we are called to live within vulnerable, accountability with our brothers and sisters.

Fear of judgement is an attitude of the world, refuse to let yourself be chained by it.

 

The story is mine, written in a style similar to Stephen’s stories. I hope to post mores stories (mine or his) in the future. Feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Advertisements

Redemption

Redemption

The past several weeks I have been struck over and over by how broken our world is. My heart breaks in the face of the perversion of the good things our Father has gifted us. We have been redeemed by Christ, yet everything continues to break down around us. So here I am, starting a new series. Let’s call it “Redemption.” I don’t know right now what all I will cover – this could very well be an extended series. Especially right now I anticipate posting about death, love, church, and I’m really hoping to bring in a few guest writers for different topics.

When the idea of redemption was first placed on my heart, I knew it was closely tied to the idea of reconciliation, but I was fuzzy about what distinguishes the two. I asked Stephen to have a conversation about it with me, and I started to do some research. If you want to do some yourself, Google is really helpful! You’ll find everything from the literal meanings of the words, to audio sermons on the topics, to written Bible studies. Check out the Bible too, as it is the direct source of our knowledge of these concepts in the context of our faith. I’ll post links to some good sources and references at the bottom of this post.

Here is the summary of what I’ve found:

Redemption is what happened when Christ died on the cross. He bought our debt with His blood.

Reconciliation is the action that occurs because of this. The restoring of broken relationships.

The ultimate reconciliation occurs between us and God, through Christ’s blood. However, when we broke our relationship with God, we also broke the relationships between us and all good things that He gave us. Since we have been redeemed, we can do the work of reconciliation.

Though what I am really talking about in this series is participating in reconciliation, the act is inspired and made possible only by redemption. 

This is why I’m using “Redemption” as the series title. We need to remember we have been redeemed, and how incredible this idea is, before we can even dream about participating in reconciliation.

Remember to check back here to see where this series takes us! Please comment, or send a message on the Facebook page if you have questions, suggestions, or ideas!

Helpful links:

 Why do we need reconciliation? -Got Questions

What is the meaning of Christian redemption? -Got Questions

Reconciliation -Bible Study Tools

Redemption -Bible Study Tools

“I Shall Not Want:” Processing Identity

kaylaeby.wordpress.com

IDENTITY (dictionary.com)

[ahy-den-ti-tee, ih-den-] 
nounplural identities.

1. the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions: The identity of the fingerprints on  the gun with those on file provided evidence that he was the   killer.

2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another: He   doubted his own identity.

[….]

5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality overtime and sometimes disturbed in mental illnesses…

[….]
In case you haven’t realized in previous posts, I love using dictionary definitions! I’ve been thinking and processing a lot lately about what my identity is, so I googled it. Google says that my identity is defined by the way that I always am. It is the constants in my personality, and my physical self.
Honestly my thoughts have been going in a lot of different directions, and are incomplete, difficult to actually explain in a blog post (thank you, Stephen, for listening to my confusing, late-night mental overflow). This is more of a continuation of my processing than a statement of what I’m being taught.
The largest theme has been examining what my needs are-what gives me life, when do I feel loved, those kind of questions. I thought I knew the answers, but the things I’ve been doing or prioritizing may not have been reflecting those. So is this because I’ve changed? Or am I missing something? Why have I been feeling selfish and needy lately? (Besides the fact that I’m short on sleep…) Biggest of all, am I living the way God has called me to? What holds me back? As Stephen and I talk about the life we want to live, could I actually do what I say I want to? Do my needs become my fears?
A song came on my iPod the other day, by Audrey Assad. It’s called I Shall Not Want. As I listened to it, and meditated on the lyrics, I decided that I want this to become my prayer. Right now it’s scary, but I’m working on it. Take a listen, read through the lyrics, and reflect on what your needs are and how God has made you, but don’t be afraid to question when your needs become fears, and why they might hold you back. Should they? The dictionary states that our identity is a constant, one of the only in life. I don’t want this. Myself unchanged is selfish, fearful, prideful, and a whole list of other things that are not like Christ. I want to refine my identity. I want to be delivered of all that is not like Christ, but I’m scared of that too. It’s like the Skit Guys said in their piece, Chisel.
This is me processing. This is me not having all the answers, or understanding where God is leading me. This is me learning to ask for the chisel, and trusting the hand that holds it.
I Shall Not Want – Audrey Assad
From the love of my own comfort  
Thinking about what my future lifestyle will be…
From the fear of having nothing      
What do I really need? Do I trust God to be enough?  
From a life of worldly passions  
Do I trust His plan? Do my desires come from Him, or
are they from my sinful nature and insecurities?
Deliver me O God
From the need to be understood                        
Being understood, having my needs known and met is a big deal for me. 
From the need to be accepted
As an extrovert, feeling accepted in large groups matters.
From the fear of being lonely
 I’ve felt lonely, but is it because my priorities are wrong, or it’s just a current stage?
Deliver me O God  
Deliver me O God
And I shall not want, I shall not want  
I don’t want to want. I want to know You are enough, God.
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
From the fear of serving others  
I know I’m letting my selfish priorities take precedence over serving others.
From the fear of death or trial                             
From the fear of humility      
I am protective of myself in my pride, and play too safe.
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God      
Deliver me, O God. 
And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want

No, I shall not want, I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want

Boundaries: Part 2

Boundaries Part 2

If you missed Part 1, check it out here.

Part two! Time for the more expected piece on boundaries. We couldn’t talk about boundaries (especially to a group of high schoolers) and leave out those between boyfriends and girlfriends. People always talk about this as an awkward  subject, but I’ve always loved hearing other people’s ideas and thoughts, trying to define my own. I hope that is what this can be for some of you. We are obviously talking about our personal experience and what we believe. We started our relationship wanting to live as God has commanded us, and we continue to be intentional about putting him first, including in the physical side of our relationship (in more frank terms – no, we don’t sleep together, and won’t until we are married). Good intentions don’t mean things are always simple though, and we’ll be real about that. We are so thankful for God’s leading and the way he has protected us throughout our relationship, and the way he will continue to do so until we are married. So, boundaries. Here we go!

Setting boundaries is an important conversation to have initially. If you’ve gone on a few dates, hung out, things are starting to get a little more exclusive – it’s time to have that talk. But don’t leave it at that, it’s important to make sure it’s a continuous conversation (I’ll explain further, sit tight). You have to be clear and realistic about what your standards are, and how those fit into your relationship. You also have to respect others’ boundaries, especially if they are higher than your own. Then you have to consider how you will actually maintain them. When I was fifteen, in Planning 10, we had a dating and sex unit. We talked about boundaries and it was asked how you could set a boundary for kissing (such a grey area!). Nobody was speaking up, so I decided to throw my two cents in. Being the sweet, young, innocent thing that I was (hadn’t even kissed a giraffe at this point) I suggested 3 seconds seemed safe and realistic. Apparently the mental image my classmates got was me kissing a future boyfriend holding my stop watch up behind his head, or better yet, a chaperone timing us.

stock image
stock image

Boundaries within romantic relationships are funny, because there are definite lines you need to draw, but at the same time, you need room to grow as your level of commitment deepens. Letting your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical intimacy develop slowly protects you if your relationship isn’t a forever thing, but it will make your relationship healthier if the person you are with ends up being your spouse. That is something I’ve seen in several friends’ relationships – they may be quick to kiss, say I love you, have sex, etc. but then the relationship breaks up and they’ve developed all this intimacy prematurely and recovering from that break hurts a lot. Trying to fit a healthy dating relationship into our ‘hook-up’ culture is hard, but so worth being deliberate about.

Stephen and I hadn’t deliberately talked about spiritual boundaries, but looking back we have had a really healthy progression – a total God thing that has been really helpful looking at the bigger picture of our relationship. When we were first hanging out, we didn’t avoid talking about spirituality, but it was more big picture. We did not talk about our deepest struggles, worship together, or pray together. We established that faith was important to each of us, and something that we admired in the other, but kept some distance. When we started dating, we gradually deepened the conversations to things we were learning or feeling convicted about. After several months, maybe even after a year, we decided to start being deliberate about praying together. I’m so glad we didn’t do this earlier, as there is something very powerful in having truth and love prayed over you by someone you are falling in love with. I was already serious about us, but this definitely set a new tone for our relationship. Even then however, there were things we didn’t share until we were talking about getting married, and then engaged. There are still levels of spiritual intimacy that I feel are reserved for marriage, and I’m so excited to see how we grow closer to God and each other through our marriage.

A similar progression should apply emotionally and mentally. This is a place where communication is key. You need to be aware and respectful of the pace your boyfriend/girlfriend progresses at. Stephen was excellent at this. I was in high school when we started dating, and he’d been graduated a few years. This naturally put him in a mental space where he was ready to commit a lot faster than I was. We had to have a few hard and scary conversations, but he totally respected my need to take things at a significantly slower pace than felt natural to him. His willingness to put me first in the pace of our relationship blew me away. He led our relationship from me having a panic attack the first time he told me he loved me, to a place where I didn’t hesitate when he asked me to marry him.

Physical boundaries are something that we’ve definitely made a constant conversation, and we are continuing about being intentional about that into our engagement. There are so many things you don’t know about yourself and the person you are dating at the beginning of your relationship. You need to be willing to be aware and maybe put new boundaries in place, even if they seem silly. Your boundaries may not totally match up either, and so again it is important to respect things that may be more likely to cause temptation for the person you are with, even if it seems silly to you.

An example of a boundary Stephen and I put in place even after a year of dating was tickling. I know couples for whom this will never come up, yet we had be be deliberate about saying that we felt it was too intimate to be allowed outside marriage.

Especially for physical boundaries, you need to consider two main things: your reasons for setting a boundary, as well as where to set the line so that it is a guard rail instead of right at the edge of a cliff.

So why do we set boundaries in the first place? Let’s go back to Ephesians 5:25-30:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.

We set boundaries because our goal should be to present the person we are dating before the Lord, and their future spouse (whether or not it is us) as holy and blameless. If you look further back in Ephesians 5, it talks about not having even a hint of sexual immorality. This is how we love each other. Honestly, some of the times I have felt most loved by Stephen, is when I know he is being intentional about the situations we put ourselves in and reinforcing the importance of our boundaries. How incredible to know he is putting my holiness and obedience to the Lord above whatever selfish or worldy desires he may have!

So why the idea of guard rails? (thank you Andy Stanley for this analogy!) We need room to re-evaluate situations, time to put on the brakes before going over the cliff. Stephen’s sister (my future sister, yippee!) had a good thought when we were talking about this. If you think of yourself as a tiny little person (think Alice in Wonderland shrunk), standing on top of a slippery mushroom, the very top and centre is a safe place to stand. You can still hold on as you go down the sides, and you could even climb back to the top (though that would require serious effort), but it becomes easier and easier to slip right over the edge.

One of our guard rails is not putting ourselves in situations where we’re home alone. Being in a house without anyone else does not mean that we are automatically going to find ourselves crossing physical boundaries, but it certainly takes away accountability and makes it easier to “fall off the mushroom.” There have been times where we’ve found ourselves alone because people left or we were early, and we’ve let it slide. It seemed fine, because nothing happened, but we regretted it. Not because we took things too far, but because it was much to easy for us to climb over our guardrail. Once you take those initial steps towards the edge of the mushroom, it can be very difficult to back track. You’ll tell yourself, “oh, but we were fine. What’s the harm?” Your initial boundaries were set for a reason, there is never a good reason to lower your standards, but you need to fight for them.

One thing I’m really learning these days, is the importance of recognizing my own motives. Both Stephen and I have touch as our primary love language. This means that one of the best ways I can show him affection is by holding his hand, hugs, etc. This also means that I need to examine my own motives regularly. Am I giving “affection” just so I can receive personal affirmation? Love does not dishonour others, and it is not self-seeking. I cannot really love Stephen if I am trying to manipulate him into filling my needs. This can lead to dangerous places in terms of boundaries, but also just unhealthy attitudes in our relationship.

Before we can commit to another person, we need to know that God is the one who fills our needs. We were designed in a unique way, with specific needs, but we cannot expect the person we are dating to fill all of these. We would disappointed, and they would become exhausted and bitter. I hope you find someone who will love you, and strive to learn how to love you best, but they will also be a broken person with their own needs. If we look to Christ to fill our needs, He can use us to truly love the one we are committing ourselves to, without selfish motives.

Our motive in everything should be to encourage and uplift, to help them become more like Christ, to present the other as holy and blameless before the Lord. This is why boundaries matter.

Boundaries: Part 1

I had to use this as the title photo... We had some very funny candids from our engagement shoot a few weeks ago, and I've been dying to use it for something!
I had to use this as the title photo… We had some very funny candids from our engagement shoot a few weeks ago, and I’ve been dying to use it for something!

This post is adapted from the boundaries seminar we planned and taught together for a teen camp this past month.

I hope by now you all feel like you know me a little bit, but let me preface this series with a bit of a different sort of introduction.

Stephen and I have been dating since I was in Grade 12, we just got engaged and we want to honour and obey God above all else. Because of this, we chose to place physical boundaries in our relationship. However, we’ve come to realize that boundaries are about so much more than abstaining from premarital sex, and they are not just for those in relationships with the opposite gender.

We have both had great leaders and examples to follow, as well as personal experiences to learn from as well. We are so grateful for the way God has taught us and protected us, even when we have put ourselves in difficult situations. We mess up, I’ll be honest with you about that! But, boundaries are really important to us, and we are excited to share about them!

I’m going to start this series with a discussion about boundaries between friends of the opposite gender.

Why Do We Have Boundaries?

Has anyone really ever thought about these?

I hadn’t! It definitely led to some interesting situations that I wished I could have avoided. People were hurt, drama happened, and I had to learn the hard way that inter-gender friendships are way more complicated than I gave them credit for. It should go without saying that these type of boundaries are especially important if you or your friend are in committed relationships.

Setting boundaries for the way we behave with our opposite gender friends is not about preventing those around us from judging our behaviour, it’s about having integrity in our relationships-the way we maintain the standards we set for ourselves.

It’s also about trying to honour those around you. What setting are you in? What is your purpose there, or that of your friend? How will your behaviour help or hinder that? If you are at church, the purpose is to meet with God and worship Him, and enjoy His community. Is that what you are promoting? (This ties back to what I said about modesty)

Ephesians 5 reminds us that we are trying to present our friends to God, as well as to their future spouse as holy and blameless.

So, we should have boundaries within our friendships. Great, but what are we talking about, practically?

I read the book Every Young Woman’s Battle, by Shannon Etheridge in high school, and the illustration that has stayed with me is that purity can be thought of as a table top. It is one big idea, held up by four legs: spiritual, emotional, mental and physical purity. You need all four to keep the table in place. If purity is made up of these different aspects, this means that we must also consider boundaries in all these areas as well. What does this look like in a guy/girl friendship?

Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries are fairly easy to think of. There are certain behaviours that clearly separate friendship from something more romantic-kissing, holding hands etc. We also need to consider things like hugs and massages carefully. These are much more intimate behaviours. They can give those around us mixed ideas, as well as confuse ourselves and our friend.

For girls, friendships tend to be much more touchy feely, so we may just not think about changing our actions with our guy friends, but it is not hard for our intentions to be misread.

For guys, we can generally say that touch is not given or received with only friendship in mind. What are your intentions?

In high school, one of my closest friends was a boy. My family adopted him, his adopted me, and I still consider him my brother. What I didn’t consider was our boundaries. We’d established early on that dating would not end well, but decided that a sort of sibling-ship suited us well. We encouraged each other, had fun, and physical touch was (naturally) confined to him sitting on my frozen toes in the winter. On our grad trip, I ended up with an awful cold, and was sore and exhausted. If I’d been home, I would’ve cuddled up to talk with my Mama or Dad would’ve massaged my shoulders. Because I wasn’t at home, my “brother” was my go-to guy. Unfortunately, me choosing to ignore the boundaries that should have been there led to several months of drama. I was still trying to convince people that we were just friends when Stephen and I started dating. I felt awful about the whole situation.

Mental and Emotional Boundaries

Mental and emotional boundaries are harder to set than the physical ones. They are much more subtle, but cannot be ignored! When you are sharing with a person, without the pressure of impressing them (as you might try to in a romantic relationship) you can be more willing to be open and vulnerable. Friendship feels safe, but you need to be careful in these relationships where there is no real level of commitment. It is not difficult to hurt one or both of you.

Like my “brother” and I, you may have had reasons for not dating this person in the first place, but you need to keep in mind that when you open yourself up to another person, you cannot help but feel committed to them in some way. What does your friendship look like now? It is difficult to maintain a simple guy/girl friendship without the occasional thought of “what if…” This can lead to a lot of hurt and unspoken expectations, so just be aware of where you let your thoughts dwell.

This becomes further complicated if you find someone you are romantically interested in. If you’ve established an intimate friendship with someone of the opposite gender but then try to commit and open up to another person, you cannot juggle both relationships healthily. Someone will lose.

We need close, intimate friendships, but it is nearly impossible to maintain a healthy, deep friendship with a member of the opposite gender.

Spiritual Boundaries

Spiritual boundaries are the final type we need to address. It comes back again to the idea of misplaced commitment and intimacy. It is good to encourage our peers spiritually. Spiritual friendships are powerful, and are necessary as we build each other up and hold each other accountable. The difficulty comes when this moves into a one-on-one friendship between a guy and a girl.

Spirituality is a very intimate part of ourselves. When we pray together, we nourish bonds that may or may not be healthy. We grow a closeness with one another through transparency and vulnerability that is really powerful.

If you let these relationships develop, you can easily begin to view this person through rose-coloured glasses. It is our job to see our friends for the potential they have in Christ, and to help them pursue that, but falling in love with that potential can be easy and dangerous-not everyone is in a personal state that would make a healthy romantic relationship. You also need more in common than a love for Jesus to make a relationship work long term.

It is important to have spiritually focused and challenging friendships, but guys need these with other guys, and girls need this with other girls. These are relationships that are sustainable and necessary if we want to pursue God with our whole hearts.

Singleness

The last point (I promise! This has been a long one…) we’d like to make about guy/girl friendships and their boundaries, is to remind you that romantic relationships are not for everyone! We may sound crazy, especially having just gotten engaged, but people enter relationships and marriages for the wrong reasons all the time.

You need to know who you are, what your goals are, what your purpose is, and what your responsibilities are before you can commit to another person. Who knows what your future looks like, maybe your goals and purpose/calling are meant to be achieved as a single. God has adventures and plans for everyone, and you cannot assume that your story will look anything like those you compare yourself too.

Paul talks about singleness in the end of 1 Corinthians 7, but there are a lot of great posts on the subject popping up these days. Check out Relevant Magazine for a few I’ve noticed.

My one caution is to remember that being single is not to become synonymous with living selfishly, as so many secular posts against marriage want it to be. Our primary concern should be the pursuit of God and His Kingdom!!

Part 2 now up! Find it here.