When Friends Know too Much - Part 1

Guy – Girl Attraction: that magnetic pull which elicits the secret ingredient in all cross-gender relationships.  The mystery of these relationships began with the creation of male and female at the beginning of time.  When we consider all the pitfalls in relationships, how past experiences play in, the way people were raised, their “norms” and the intricacies of how guys and girls communicate on two completely different levels – it’s really a miracle any relationships form, flourish in the differences and last. Oil and water, Mars and Venus, waffles and spaghetti – these are never things which sane people put together. How does this magnetic pull fit into our friendships with the opposite gender?

I’m not sure it does very well.  God created us male and female – to be attracted to each other, to be fruitful and multiply. He designed guy/girl relationships to go somewhere. (Read Song of Solomon – the Lord delights in the guy/girl relationship as He created it to be).  I used to believe that it was possible to have a close or best friend of the opposite gender and have it stay completely platonic. I have been proven wrong over and over again. In my life and in the lives of those around me, I have yet to see a deep guy/girl friendship stay platonic on both sides. Inevitably, one will develop romantic feelings for the other or desire more than the friendship they currently have.

Let me clarify for a minute- I’m talking about close guy/girl friendships. When your best friend is of the opposite gender and they are the first person you go to when have something to share, good or bad.

If God designed us to be drawn to members of the opposite gender, then it’s natural we want to be close friends with them. Even if we’re not romantically drawn to them, we still want a friendship with them. But in having and wanting these close friendships outside of dating and marriage, are we going against God’s design? Against the natural order of things?

To my knowledge there aren’t any examples in scripture of close one-on-one guy/girl friendships. Arranged marriages worked in days of old, because when people spend a lot of time together and become emotionally attached, attraction forms. It’s the natural order of things.  In the 20th century as courting went from a serious structured thing, to our now causal dating scene, friendship entered the picture. “Oh, we’re not dating, we’re just friends”.   Because our approach to relationships has changed so much there is now a lot of room for freedom, but also for grey areas.

Believe me, I love the new freedom we have. I have a lot of guy friends and, until recently, had a lot of close guy friends. The more I learn about guys and girls the more I see how cross-gender close friendships ultimately don’t work. They might work for a while, but in time one of three things will happen:
(1)    One party will fall for the other, and the feelings won’t be returned
(2)    The couple will cross boundaries, either emotional or physical (usually crossing the emotional boundaries leads to crossing the physical ones.).
(3)    They will acknowledge they have more than a friendship and talk about pursuing more.  If they decide not to, the friendship deteriorates.

In any of these three cases, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy friendship afterwards. Where do you think the phrase “friends with benefits” came from? Guy/girl friendships don’t even work on TV. Watch an episode of “FRIENDS” or When Harry Met Sally.

If you know from early on that you wouldn’t want to date or marry the other person, don’t let a deep friendship grow without boundaries.

Here’s why close guy/girl friendships don’t work: There’s a theory that love’s design is triangular and has three components – Intimacy, Passion and Commitment. The version I’m presenting was the illustration presented in a marriage and family class I took at the Focus Leadership Institute this past semester. 

Friendship starts with intimacy – it’s that emotional closeness – knowing each other deeply and really well.  Passion will follow at its heels because of the emotion, even if you’re not attracted to the other person. Frustration, heartbreak and sin will follow without the commitment of marriage or a relationship heading there. If you start with the attraction/passion and it doesn’t work; pursuing the intimacy of friendship afterwards will lead you to the same place of frustration as when you have intimacy first.  It’s not meant to work that way.

So how is it supposed to work?  What should healthy guy/girl friendships look like? I’ll be addressing those questions in my next post!

Of Mountains and Passion

In my last blog, I brought attention to the seemingly obvious lack of godly men in the church and in our homes.  But what to do about it is the most important question. More specifically, what can we as women, do about it?  In asking the godly men in my life what I could do to help inspire the men around me to live courageously for the Lord, the answers were almost universal and seem almost too simplistic to be true! Yet I know it works and is true because I have lived it!

The there were a couple of things that came up when I talked to the men. The main thing was: Prayer

Sounds pretty simple, huh? Even easy? I thought so at first! Come on, prayer? It’s gotta be a little more complicated than that!

It is, but at the same time it is not.  When we pray – truly pray – the Lord changes things.  He says that the ‘fervent effective prayer of a righteous man avails much’ (James 5:16b). Even in the Old Testament, look how many times the Lord determines to bring judgment on Israel, and they repent, pray and the Lord shows mercy.

I said I knew that the Lord works and moves when we pray for our men because I have lived it. Several years ago, the Lord brought a young man into my life and after being friends for a while we started dating. During that time and for a while after, the Lord taught me what it meant to really pray for someone. I knew this man could be so much more than he was living.  But what could I do?

After we broke up, I prayed the Lord would allow me to see this man as He saw him. I prayed the Lord would continue to make him into the man I knew the Lord had created him to be.  For months the Lord gave me a deep love for him and a heart and eyes that saw and loved him for who he was and for who he could be.

These weren’t just ‘oh Lord, bless him’ prayers; often they were gut-wrenching intercessory prayers. Two things happened – first, the Lord allowed me the privilege to watch him grow into the godly man I knew he could be. And second the Lord changed me. When I first started praying for this man, I was praying because I wanted him to change. The Lord had to painfully teach me I needed to be praying for him so the Lord could be glorified in his life, not so that he could meet my needs.

Warning, this is NOT a Hollywood story – It’s better! As he grew in the Lord and became more of a godly man, he met and married a wonderful girl and they are pursuing the Lord together.  I walked away with some of the most life-changing and molding lessons of my life. I learned one facet of true, godly love means seeing a person for who they are and who they can be and loving them for that. Not for what they can give you in return.
“When we love someone we delight in that person’s existence, and we want to help that person be all the God designed him or her to be, even if that design may not have anything to do with us.” Laura Smit

When we love some like that, it fuels a fire to passionately pray for them! The best part is prayer works!

Here is the thing with prayer though – it changes you just as much as it changes the circumstances. I previously challenged that praying for our men is a call that will take more from you than you might be willing to give.  It will be a sacrifice – are the men in your life worth it?  How serious are you about doing what it takes to encourage the men around you? Will you complain or will you act? And are you ready for what you will get?

I say it might take more than you are willing to give because when we pray that the Lord will get the glory, he must often change our selfish desires first. Are you willing to be a tool that the Lord uses? To the possibility of being a part of someone else’s story – one that may have different results than you expected, but is ultimately better?

Wives, this could mean that as you pray the Lord points out things in your life that need changing too – He often starts with us first and it can be times like this where you realize holiness is much better, but much harder, than happiness.

Are we ready for what we will get? A friend of mine was attending a Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage® seminar by Mark Gungor and heard him say the following: “Most women, if asked to describe the perfect man, describe another woman.” Often godly manhood looks differently than we think it should. Are we prepared to let the Lord work in the lives of our men regardless of how that meshes with our idea of the ‘perfect’ man?

I believe the men around us ARE worth it! We are called to love as Christ first loved us. He sacrificed everything for us – can we sacrifice a little and pray for our husbands, brothers and friends?

The Lord has strongly convicted me to stop complaining about the lack of godly leadership in our homes, culture and churches and DO something about it. So I am! I have committed to pray every day for my future husband (who ever he may be) and one of my brothers for this next year. I’m praying that the Lord would help me to see them through His eyes and that they would grow into the men the Lord created them to be for His glory.

Who’s with me? I’m serious. Old, young, married, single – if you are a women and have a heart and passion to pray for your husbands, future husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, and friends and want to commit to regular prayer for them, please contact me. I’m setting up a private Facebook group where we can hold each other accountable to be praying for these men and share with each other what the Lord is showing us about Himself, prayer and those men through this. Email me at notunredeemed@gmail.com or comment on this blog or ask to join - Women of Prayer for Courageous Men of God.

Whatever you do – don’t complain. Take your frustration and turn it into the power of prayer! Praying passionately TODAY moves mountains!

Edit thanks to J & T Holden and C Brittin!
Photo Credit

Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?

Whether it’s Paula Cole singing it, a pastor preaching it, or girlfriends chatting about it in a coffee shop, we all want to know where the cowboys have gone.

Photo Compliments of Kasper Photography
And unlike the song lyrics, I’m not talking about the ‘Marlboro man’ who does what he wants, when he wants and rides off into the sunset without looking back to whom or what he leaves behind. I’m talking about men who treat women, their families, God and country with respect. Who willingly and sacrificially do everything it takes to protect and honor those they lead and care for.  Men after God’s heart. Sold out, on fire men; who love and passionately seek after the Lord above all else. They lead and provide for their families and future families. They live intentionally and courageously. Where are these men today?

I’m not in any way trying to bash or disrespect the men around me! On the contrary! The Lord has blessed me abundantly by giving me a father, brothers and some friends who strive to be men of God in a culture that shoots them down at every turn. Because I have met real men, I now look around and my heart breaks at everything the media and culture projects as manhood. Even in the church, we let the culture rather than scriptures dictate how we view masculinity.

I could go on at length about why the men in our culture and in our churches aren’t stepping up. It’s a spiritual battle and a cultural battle – some of it is the fault of women as much as it is the men. Books, movies and research are produced explaining men’s roles and then and encouraging them to be men. But the end result is that neither men, nor women are living out what the Lord calls us to be.

The lack of godly men is nowhere felt as acutely as it is in the realm of Christian singles. The divorce courtroom full of broken promises and families perhaps follows that. Walk into almost any church and the number of Christian young women doubles that of the young men. It really hit home for me during my time in Colorado where the ratio of women to men in my class at Focus on the Family’s Leadership Institute was 3 to 1. And if you allow me to extrapolate and ask the question – Is this the state of the church and nation?  Where 3 times the numbers of women over men are stepping up to be leaders?

So, where have all the men gone? And what can we do about it? I’m sick of others, and myself complaining about it and doing nothing. In reality, I don’t think the men have gone anywhere. They are still here right in front of us. All around us are men created in the image of God, called for a specific purpose. They are ripe with potential!

Here’s the thing though, only men can mentor and teach other men how to step up and be men. As a woman how can I tell a guy how to ‘man up’? I overstep my bounds if and as I attempt to teach him to be a man. I end up stepping into the leadership role I’m frustrated with him for not filling in the first place!

Women, whether married or single, we are called to stand with the men in our lives through prayer. We can also live in such a way as to inspire men to be men. When we act as women and are comfortable in whom God made us to be, we challenge them to be all they can be in the Lord, simply through the way we live.   Nagging and asking the men to step up in our lives in a manner that demeans in any way simply comes across as disrespect to them. It creates an atmosphere of defeat rather than encouragement.  So how do we effectively communicate this to them? How can we have an impact without stepping out of our God-ordained roles?

I had the supreme privilege to watch a pre showing for Sherwood Picture’s newest movie Courageous. I can’t talk enough about how the movie will inspire men. I walked out of that theater even more broken for my brothers all around me. But I want to do something about it!

So what can I do? I started asking the men around me whom I respected, including actor Ken Bevell from the films Fireproof and Courageous: ‘What can we as women do to inspire the men around us to live courageously for the Lord?’

The answer was almost universal and seemed almost too simplistic to be true – Yet I know it works and is true because I have lived it! But ladies, it is a call that will take more from you than you might be willing to give.  It will be a sacrifice – are the men in your life worth it?  How serious are you about doing what it takes to encourage the men around you? Will you complain or will you act? And are you ready for what you will get?

The answers in the next post!

Blog Edits - Thanks to J & T Holden and C Brittin! I love you guys and thanks for your constant encouragement! <3 

I Dont Deserve You... (Part 2)

“I don’t deserve you…” It’s sadly a line that most of us have probably heard before. What we don’t realize is the depth of the pain, brokenness and belief that lends it’s self to the meaning behind that phrase. What are they really saying? In blog Part 1, IDDY was talked about in the light of manipulation, because in the world of relationships it’s a phrase that is heard or thought often. Granted, none of us deserve anything, it’s all because of Christ’s mercy and grace that we have what we have. I’m not talking about it that way.

I’m talking about the “I don’t deserve you…”(IDDY) that is said in all sincerity. The IDDY said because honestly believe we don’t deserve or aren’t worthy enough of the other person. We have all done things we are ashamed of, but in the light of something or some one “good” we cower back into our prisons of the past because of the fear that we really aren’t forgiven. Or maybe we fear they won’t see us as forgiven.

Last time I checked, the ground was level at the foot of the cross. The Lord redeemed us, so why do we act and live as though He did not? To the Lord all sin is sin – big or little, ugly or pretty, intentional or unintentional – it’s all still sin.

This maybe a little harsh, but what if IDDY is a sign of being a ‘Christian Atheist’? (Christian Atheist: When we believe in the Lord, but live as though He doesn’t exist.) We say we believe in the Lord’s forgiving power, but do we really? Can we say and act like we don’t deserve someone because of our past and yet still believe in the Lord’s power to forgive and heal?

2 Tim 3:5 says that in the last days there will be people “having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” I think Christians are the best example of this! We have the Lord’s power and forgiveness – they are right there at our fingertips – yet we continue to believe and live in the ‘comfort’ of our muck. We Christians have, in essence, become atheists; believing in the Lord’s grace and having a form of godliness but denying it’s power to make us worthy. Christ came to sanctify us!

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1Cor. 6:11
We have been washed, justified and sanctified – why are we thinking of ourselves (and allowing others think of themselves) as unworthy?!?

Sometimes IDDY sounds good. It sounds humble. But is it? Oswald Chambers has some insight into this:

“The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. …how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they [our words/perspectives] are to Him. We say things such as, “Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint.” But to say that before God means, “No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.” That may sound wonderfully humble to others, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.”
Hebrews talks a lot about being careful to not accept the grace of God in vain, and crucify for ourselves again the Son of God. Is rejecting His grace, in a false sense of humility, doing that?

Only you, and only the person saying IDDY, can accept the redemption and sanctification the Lord offers. We can’t change perceptions of others (as discussed in Post 1). But we can point them back to the Lord and help them see that being truly humble means walking out in confidence the worthiness we gain from being in Christ.

C.S. Lewis says ‘humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it is thinking of ourselves less’.
I love to see humility as seeing yourself as God sees you. What a beautiful picture!

How do we do help people see this picture? – By first letting go of our own perfectionism and trying to do it on our own. Receive the grace yourself and then you can extend it to others. Immerse yourself in the Word. Pray for your friends. Love them enough to gently speak the truth into their lives. Accept and love them for who they are now, while challenging them (winsomely) to be all they can be. Your example of unconditional love, no matter how long they are on the road of struggling with accepting grace, will be the love of Christ to them - until they can see the love of Christ for themselves.

So – the next time you hear yourself or someone else say they DDY, please recognize it as the red flag it is! See past the curtain of brokenness into the light of His grace! Challenge yourself/them out of Christian Atheism to true humility!

And now on to post #3 – I don’t deserve you…. or are you really trying to say “You just deserve someone better than me”? Is this a cop out?

I Dont Deserve You... (Part 1)

“I don’t deserve you…” It’s sadly a line that most of us have probably heard before. If it hasn’t been said to you, or if you haven’t said it yourself, you probably know some who believes it. In the world of relationships it’s a phrase that is heard or thought often. Granted, none of us deserve anything, it’s all because of Christ’s mercy and grace that we have what we have. I’m not talking about it that way.

Most often the “I don’t deserve you”, comes from a false sense of identity/humility and elicits a reaction in me along the lines of, ah, how shall I say it politely… “male cow poo”? The Lord redeemed us, why do we act and live as though He did not? We don’t deserve the Lord’s grace and forgiveness, but outside of a “God has been so good to me, I don’t deserve you, but am thankful you are in my life…” line, it’s not ok. Look at the 3 ways this phrase is usually used:

(1) The first “I don’t deserve you…” (IDDY) is used to manipulate. I’ve watched dating couples say this to each other - It’s been said to me. The Newsboy’s Truth and Consequences song gives a prime example of this:

“I've had lots of destructive relationships, and I know I don't deserve someone like you anyway. It's just, there's this strange purity about you... almost a radiance. Maybe it comes from your religious beliefs, I don't know....”

Sound familiar? At first glace what’s wrong with saying that? Or responding to it? Isn't it good to be honest about where you have been before? Yes. But look deeper.

I don’t think the IDDY line is always intentionally used to manipulate, but it often turns that way. If they really believe they don’t deserve you, (in my opinion then they don’t, and I’ll explain why later) it is coming from a place of deep hurt, brokenness, insecurity and false humility in their own lives (this is the second reason which I’ll discuss in the next post).

When some says they don’t deserve you, what is your first response? Mine is usually, ‘Oh, that’s not true, we all have messed up!’ This kind of response usually elicits further protest that they ‘really don’t deserve you’. You would think they were trying to shoot themselves in the foot, or scare you away. But it doesn’t. 95 % of us stick around and if it is a romantic relationship, that IDDY is the first sign of trouble. Why?

Because as women, God created us to nurture, that is a huge part of our genetic make up. And the Lord created men to the same extent with a deep sense of protection. We stay around and enter into destructive relationships, because it goes against our nature to walk away. We want to help fix what is wrong with the other person and help show them how we see them and that they do have worth and deserve us. This is where the unintentional (and sadly, sometimes intentional) manipulation comes in.

We are trying to help and fix something that only the Lord can. Sure we can point this person to the Lord and encourage them to see themselves as the Lord sees them. But we can’t fix the brokenness. Only the Lord can do that. When we try to fix the other person’s brokenness we end up playing God, or even start manipulating back. We start wanting the other person to change for us not for the sake of changing so they can be a whole person in the Lord. The only one that can mend a broken heart is the maker of the heart. When we try to take the Lord’s place in the mending we essentially set ourselves up to be worshiped -taking God's place- we can become as an idol in there lives.

I’m not saying run the next time you hear this line, but don’t just take it in. Think about it. If you say this, please think about the reason why you’re saying it.

(2) The second reason I think is the most common. You or the other person honestly doesn’t think they deserve the other person. You don’t believe yourself worthy – and it’s not coming from manipulation. It’s just how you feel about yourself in comparison with the other person. Nothing is wrong with feeling that way, right?


Read why in my next post, and in the mean time check out the rest of the Newsboy's Song:

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I'm a fun loving, people person, with a passion for ministry and the Lord. My greatest desire is to see people come to realize who they are in Christ and how that effects every area of their relationships and lives.I want to know Him more.