3 Things That Happen When You Find Your Future Wife

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, each of us spends a fair amount of time looking for our future wife. Maybe it’s because we think a man isn’t a man unless he’s gotten a woman to agree to marry him. Or maybe it’s because we don’t want to be alone for the rest of our life. Regardless, quite a bit of time and energy can be put into the search for the future Mrs. You.

For some of us, this is a self-assigned mission, steeped in heartache and error-filled trials; for others, it’s an itch in the back of our brains, a passing thought of fancy that flitters in and out of our brainwaves from time to time. And whether the search is a full-time obsession or a shrug of the shoulders, what few of us fail to consider is what will happen (or not happen) once we do find the one woman we want to spend the rest of our days with.

Therein lies the majesty of the unknown.

For the sake of complete transparency, you should know that I’ve already found the woman who will soon be my wife. And I’m not just saying that in faith. I presented her a ring and she was kind enough to say yes to a lifetime with me. So when I speak of what’s to follow, I speak from a place of experience and truth, not misguided hopes and unfulfilled dreams.

First, you should know that when you find your one true love, things will change. Your life and way of thinking will change. And more importantly, you will change, as a person, a soul, and a man. But you aren’t being forced to change by her. No, she will love you just as you are, unaltered and raw. Instead, it’s that complete love that will make you want to change. You’ll want to be more considerate and thoughtful. You’ll want to be more responsible and mindful of her wants and needs. You’ll even find yourself smiling more, with no rhyme or reason to explain it. That one woman is a changer and whether you realize it now or not, she will change you from top to bottom without offering a single suggestion or passive aggressive thought. You will want to change because you know she deserves the absolute best version of yourself. And that’s what you’ll strive to give her.

Second (and this is important), when you meet your future wife, you’ll look back on the time you spent as a single chap and you’ll be able to rightly see every single mistake you made in this vicious fight known as romance. You’ll see how foolish and/or desperate you were. You’ll see the missteps and the mistakes. You’ll see where you tried too hard and when you didn’t try hard enough. You’ll see why things didn’t work out with that one girl, even though you were sure they would. You’ll see why you failed in love before because this love you have now will be impossible to compare against. [quote]You’ll see why you failed in love before because this love you have now will be impossible to compare against. [/quote]You’ll see that those past relationships couldn’t have lasted because they didn’t have what you have now. You weren’t complete in those past partners the way you are now. Through everything you’ve experienced and fought against, this love—this completeness—allows you to see why you fell short so many times before. It’s because it wasn’t with her. She’s the reason it works now and she’s the reason you know this is now forever.

Lastly, when you meet the woman you’ll marry, you’ll begin to work. And I don’t mean in the way that earns a paycheck or promotion. No, you’ll begin to work at this relationship in ways you never knew love required. Because you realize that her saying yes to your proposal isn’t the end of your journey, but only the beginning.

You’ve found her, but now you have to keep her. And through this given wisdom, you’ll realize that to make this wonderful, mesmerizing, beautiful gift work, you’re going to have to work and sweat and bleed. Because while love feels easy and breezy, it’s not. It’s a beast that requires work and struggle. And yet, while you work to make this relationship as strong as you can, you’ll do it with a smile and joyful step. Because even though you’re working and working and working, it’s with your best friend and the work isn’t a job, but a privilege.

The Bible says that he who finds a wife, finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). And once you find this one woman who captures you heart, mind, and soul, you’ll know it to be true.

If you haven’t found your one true love yet, don’t be discouraged. Personally, I had to grow through a failed marriage and numerous failed loves and relationships to find the woman who made it all worth the fight. So don’t give up, do not surrender. Just be prepared for the day that you do find her, you will change, you will be made wise, and you will begin to work. This I promise you.

Dating with Happy Feet

You know him. The quarterback with happy feet.

He drops back to pass. Looks. Scans. Nothing open. He does a jig that’s less footballish and more Riverdance, and it’s usually followed by a mistake.

Interception. Sack. Fumble. You name it, you’ve named him. The quarterback with happy feet.

I am the quarterback with happy feet. Granted, I’ve never taken a snap from under center and I’ve never been crushed by a 290-lb. defensive tackle, but that’s me. Prepare for the metaphor application… as single men, we have happy feet in the dating world.

In 2013, options are everywhere. You can theoretically find any type of woman you’d like, from Miami to Mozambique and back again. They can be writers or rodeo clowns. They can be tall/short, little/big. Whatever you want, so long as it’s reciprocated, I suppose. But this presents a problem. In the past, you dated people you ran with. If you were a member of the bourgeoisie, you dated a member of the bourgeoisie. Likewise, peasants; meet peasants. Not anymore though–––like no other time in history, it’s up to you–––and that might not be a good thing. Here are four things that quarterbacks with happy feet do:

1. They’re unhappy with their options

A quarterback has his go-to receiver. If that receiver isn’t open (maybe she’s in a relationship or engaged), he scans the defense for another matchup. If he makes it through all of his reads, the ball usually ends up in the hands of his check-down option.

2. They get anxious

If everybody’s covered, he gets anxious and begins the dance of the happy feet. Due to the mounting pressure, he looks back at his options, floating something halfway reminiscent of an actual forward pass toward his target.

3. They make a mistake

By the time that pass is thrown, the receiver is covered. Interception.

Sometimes, the quarterback is crippled by indecision and takes a sack. His future decisions are now altered due to his previous indecision, and he needs additional yardage to score a touchdown.

4. They overreact

That quarterback is thinking about the last pass he threw. In the best case scenario, he is a quick forgetter. If not, he might make another mistake, or even worse, just hand the ball off.

 ///

If there are two things I love, it’s football and dating metaphors. And unlike the Mark Sanchez’s of the world, you don’t have to have a career making questionable decisions on the field. Like Peyton Manning in the opening video, even the best quarterbacks get happy feet, but we all want a touchdown, right?

We do. But somewhere along the line, you’ll get sacked. 

You’ll fumble. You’ll turn first-and-goal into fourth-and-long, but at the end of the day, Peyton Manning was a twelve-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl winner, and four-time NFL MVP. There is a correlation between your past mistakes and your present successes. If you’re willing to learn from your mistakes, you’re more likely to run headlong into the teeth of that intimidating defense.

The Cure for Happy Feet

The cure for happy feet begins by realizing that a lack of focus is deadly in relationships, as in football. Options are great if you’re talking hamburgers or hot dogs, but when you’re driving the field, you can’t be preoccupied with multiple receivers. Without focus and a number one receiver, you’ll be more inclined to make an errant decision.

In addition, happy feet disappear when you slow down, because not all decisions are best served quickly. When we speed up the dating process, we are asking for trouble. Nowadays, we meet, greet, and delete in a fraction of the time, leading to our lack of options and unhappiness.

Let’s talk Peyton again–––and his favorite receiver, Marvin Harrison. Together, they set NFL records for QB-to-WR completions, yards, and touchdowns, but they didn’t do it overnight. They built chemistry. After awhile, their interactions on the field were almost completely in sync. It was magical (much like a great relationship should be), so if you see a receiver downfield, make sure it’s one you’re comfortable with.

Get Off The Bench

It’s gametime and it’s time to step up. We are called to be leaders on and off the field, so find your receiver and get to winning. Sure, I’m not asking you to take 11 years like Peyton and Marvin did, but making sure you can score a touchdown with a lady friend will go along way toward getting that Super Bowl ring.

 

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: Do you get dating happy feet? Do you think the football analogy was just a little over the top? Let us know in the comments below. [/alert]

Does Surprise Exist In Relationships Anymore?

I can’t imagine growing up in my parents’ generation. If my father liked a girl, he actually had to, you know… get to know her. It sounds crazy. In today’s culture, we know nothing about the “getting to know her” phase. Instead of:

Boy meets girl.
Boy asks girl out.
Boy gets to know girl.
Boy and girl date or never speak again.

It’s now:

Boy sometimes (but not always) meets girl.
Boy initiates contact via Facebook.
Boy and girl Facebook the you-know-what out of each other.
Boy and girl hang out.
Boy and girl randomly know too much about the other person, but play it off as mere coincidence.
Boy judges girl because of risque spring break pictures from Cabo in 2007.
Girl judges boy because he doesn’t have 1 Corinthians 13 listed in his “favorite quotations.”
Boy and girl grow tired of each other, and cease contact, because the fun of getting to know someone is completely minimized.

Does surprise exist in relationships anymore? I don’t think so.

What happens above happens in many (if not most) circumstances. We’re so ready to meet and marry that we’re willing to forego any semblance of getting to know another person.

With the advent of social media, nothing is shrouded in secrecy. I mean… you can easily decipher whether “Mrs. Right” is the perfect match based upon a seven-second Facebook stalk or Twitter search, right?

Wrong.

You see, the problem is that we are so willing to see if our prospective wifey meets specific dating criteria, that we are willing to forego intimacy. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4 (MSG) that God wants you to live a pure life. Prior to that, Paul says:

We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.

Paul is urging us to live a spirited dance of purity. And yes, the physical side is crucially important, but the mental side is paramount. We refuse to hear this, most times.

“As long as I’m keeping it in my pants, I’m good.”

And that’s a lie. You can marry yourself to someone in your mind if you’re not careful. You can date someone in your mind if you’re not careful. If you engage in the Facebook stalk, you’re asking to put this person under the microscope. There’s no purity there. You’re committing to somebody in your mind, or you’re leaving them for dead before they even know what’s hit them.

Embrace The Infatuation Phase

I’ve heard people rail against the infatuation phase, but really, I don’t think it’s all that bad. Sure, you might abandon all sense of self-control and go AWOL to your friends and family, but at the very least, the infatuation phase is honest.

The infatuation phase serves its’ purpose because despite the sheer amount of time spent together, it’s like one giant scavenger hunt. You’re finding something new about them, they’re finding something new about you. Repeat.

But that’s weird. And we don’t do that anymore, right? Because they could be awkward… or they might think you could be awkward. And it takes vulnerability to figure that out. So instead, we turn into miniature private eyes and seek to dissect everything about Mrs. Right before we even take our first walk together.

Hashtag awkward.

Make Her Worth The Wait

I’m preaching to myself here. Far too often, I’ve shelved great relationships with great women because they didn’t pass the test (whatever that means). Here and now, let’s commit to waiting. This seems way down the rabbit hole of what’s counter-cultural, but to see a different relationship you’re going to have to do something different. We need to keep our eyes on the prize: Jesus.

Find Jesus instead of the best possible version of her. Considering that our social media accounts are just highlight reels anyway, you’ll find that Jesus is the highlight reel God. The Bible is his immaculate Facebook. You’ll never find something about him that doesn’t meet your list of standards, because he is the standard. And I can guarantee you this:

You won’t care. The more you press in, the less she matters. And that’s not in an arrogant way, but in a “Jesus determines my love, so who cares what she did in Cabo” kind of way. It’s that simple.

The Theology of “How I Met Your Mother”

I think I understand why so many people like the TV show How I Met Your Mother.

I recently had talk with a girl who I thought was pretty cool and who I wanted to pursue. Through our honest conversation she let me know that she was not interested in me that way and I was essentially friend-zoned.

Which was fine. Honestly, I learned a lot about how I approach relationships and what is important to me. Also, I felt very pushed out of my comfort zone to even have that sort of conversation with a woman. I did learn how to bring up and discuss something as complicated as a relationship.  So despite the outcome not going quite where I would have liked. I know God has shown me a lot.

Part of the reason I have not been upset about the girl saying no is because I am starting to understand the nature of God’s story.

I know that God has my relationships in the palm of his hand. I know that my God is in control. This understanding shifted how I view relationships. The girl (or guy) you have in mind is never the sole point of your story. Instead, God wants to use the journey of getting to know another human being to bring you closer to him. I chose to view this situation as a way that my faith in God could grow. Through this process of pursuing someone, I learned how to trust him particularly in what relationship he has in store for me. Now obviously, I would have liked to pursue this certain girl, but I know deep down that God has his own story and timing for me.

 

Here is where this connects to How I Met Your Mother:

For those unfamiliar with the TV show, Ted Mosby (the main character), is telling his kids through video flashbacks all the circumstances leading up to–––you guessed it–––”How I Met Your Mother.”

In a typical episode, Ted falls in love with someone. He dates her then she breaks up with him. The reason this show doesn’t become some sad drama is that at the end of every episode we share Ted’s perspective of living in the epilogue. He is looking back at his past and seeing how all those decisions led to him meeting his wife. So we hear him voice over, “That was how I met your mother’s roommate” or “that was how I first saw your mother.” We know that he ends up with his wife in the end.

We are all craving–––desperately craving–––meaning in the stories of our lives. We want to believe that all of our hurts and mistakes will mean something someday in the light of some grander story. For those who do not know God, they can only hope to someday look back and see “how I met your mother despite all this pain and hurt.” Only in retrospect can they see where their lives have led them.

But because we serve a good and loving God we know that Romans 8:28 is true for us, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” We know that every single issue we encounter is only the middle of the story. That God has a grand unveiling waiting for us at the end of days where he will say to us “Look at that! You thought the girl was the point of that relationship, I was just trying to teach you to trust me in your relationships!” or “I know that was painful, but look at how you are able to speak to those who have been through your same pain!”

I can just picture God in heaven speaking a celestial voiceover on my life. “And that was when Luke learned to trust me with his relationships…”

I am so thankful for a God who loves me, this crazy character. No matter what plot twists and turns I go through, he is writing a story with my life!

I can’t seem to find any good theological lessons from Barney Stinson yet… I’ll get back to you on that!

[alert style=”info”] Sound Off: Are you a How I Met Your Mother fan? Do you see parallel circumstances in your life? Let us know in the comments below. [/alert]

Purity: Asking All The Wrong Questions (Plus Giveaway!)

[alert style=”info”] Ed. Note: Today’s guest post is from Ally Vesterfelt. She is a writer extraordinaire and the editor-in-chief at Prodigal. You can follow her on Twitter and scroll below for the chance to win a copy of her new book! [/alert]

I used to think that being single was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.

In some ways, I was right.

Then I met Darrell. We started dating. And really quickly I began to realize that it isn’t really fair to say that my single life was all about me. In fact, the decisions I made before I met him affected someone other than me, someone who I didn’t even know existed at the time was was making them.

There are some decisions I made as a single woman that I wish I wouldn’t have made so flippantly. I wish I would have realized that the decisions I was making in my single life were decisions that would one day impact my husband.

I grew up in church and heard the messages about “Waiting for Marriage” from the time I was young. I was part of the “True Love Waits” generation and read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story.

I even went on a retreat with my youth group where I started writing letters to my future husband. Between the ages of 15 & 18 I wrote a few hundred letters and kept them in a box under my bed.

Cute, right?

 

During late high school and college I decided I didn’t really want anything to do with God anymore. I was sick of all the rules I had to follow and I just wanted to hang out and have fun.

It was a slow change at first. I would kiss guys and make out with them, that sort of thing. What I was doing wasn’t that big of a deal (or so I told myself) It was just kissing. Right?

When I got to college I started drinking and that changed everything. I never made good decisions while I was drinking but at least I got to use alcohol as an excuse. I partied and hooked up with guys.

I acted like I was having fun living the “college life” but it never made me feel as good as I thought it would. Especially after the fact.

Here’s the thing. My story doesn’t get any “worse” from there. No stories of rape or pregnancy or STDs. Pretty typical “college girl” type things as far as the world is concerned, right?

I was just really, really broken and lonely.

I started dating a guy who said he loved me, and pretty soon we were having sex too. I figured it was okay because we were in love; and love was what I had been missing before.

But when that relationship went down in flames, I felt as awful as I did before, the morning after a college party, hungover and used.

“How had I ended up here?” I wondered.

I had grown up in church. I had a box full of letters promising myself to my future husband. And I had been told since I was a little girl that I was “worth waiting for.”

I would read the Bible or hear a pastor talk about “sexual immorality” and cringe a little because I knew I wanted to do things God’s way again but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even explain why I felt that way. It just felt right.

So I re-committed myself to purity. I wasn’t really sure I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to do it but I knew I wanted to.

It didn’t come naturally.

 

I would set rules and boundaries for myself, cross them, and get disappointed and depressed. After making mistakes, I would set stricter boundaries to safeguard myself.

Even strict boundaries were no match for the insecurity and loneliness I felt. I would do just about anything I could to get attention. I kept messing up again and again and again.

Finally, I gave up. I isolated myself. I turned down dates when they came my way. I was friends with guys, but rarely more than that, because I knew that if I let it go beyond friendship I was in danger of making the same mistakes again.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being faithful to my future husband.

But looking back I realize how much I was just managing my sin.

Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who wants to honor God with my actions, but can’t figure out how to do it. I know I’m not the only one asking, “Why are we waiting anyway?” “What’s the point?” “Is there hope for me?” and “Is it worth it?”

I’m not the only one who needs the answer to “Why should I wait for marriage to have sex?” to be more than just, “Because the Bible says so.”

That wasn’t enough for me. I needed there to be more.

And instead of fighting silently, I want to start the conversation.

So I wrote a book called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex. It talks honestly about my journey, my struggle, and the answers I’ve found to the questions I’ve asked. It also admits that there aren’t answers to every question. It highlights the nature of God, and how that helps us fill in the blank spaces.

If you want to commit yourself to purity, but you’re not sure how, or you aren’t sure it’s even practical, this book is for you. I hope it helps you in your process.

 

Book Giveaway!

Do you want a free copy of Ally’s new book, Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? We are giving away one copy of Asking All The Wrong Questions to a random Twitter follower on December 1st!

Make sure you’re following us here and then tell us why purity is important to you for another entry (tweet to @QuarterlifeMan or use the hashtag #QuarterlifeQuestion).

Good luck!

 

Allison Vesterfelt is a writer and thinker who is becoming brave enough to live and tell the truth. She loves her job as the Editor-in-Chief of Prodigal Magazine  where she gets to help people live and tell good stories. She has one foot in Portland, OR, and one in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can keep up with her by following her on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

(Full Disclosure: The link to Ally’s book is an affiliate link, which means that she/they receive a commission if you choose to purchase her book (or anything) at that link. Quarterlife Corporation does not explicitly endorse this link, so if you really feel horrible about helping their cause–––and we’re not sure why you would–––you can buy the book here.)

Singleness, Marriage, and Purity: Sifting Desires Through Scripture

For starters, let’s discuss what this is NOT.

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs- how he can please the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 7:32)

I love love. I love romance. I love unity. The desire for this is natural and innate. I am NOT against relationships, nor am I against marriage. If you know me well, you would know that it is in fact one of the strongest desires I hold. But here, in this season, I am merely a mirror of the apostle Paul in his teaching of singleness, offering up the choice of singleness as a way of life (many times just for a season!) to seek a more important purpose for our life and to stand in PEACE at the center of God’s will. There is nothing like it in the whole universe.

Before reading this, I give you one ‘warning’:

If your hearts utmost, FULL desire is to work for the Kingdom, you will naturally take heed to these words. If you are still on the fence in faith, squabbling between your desire for the world and your desire for Jesus, you will naturally not find anything here helpful. You may find a sentence or two useful for a moments time, but once your emotions or the temptation of the world begins to squeal and yearn for your attention, you will feed that lion the very meat it was asking for. Sitting on the fence gives you leeway to move in either direction, depending on what your emotions are screaming for loudest. I pray in faith that any person reading these words is filled with the all-consuming Fire, drawing you into total submission and dependence upon the Word.

 

We must understand that there is always means for a renewal of the mind and a guidance by the Spirit.

Dating, sex, love… we each have a definition for all three that has come from experience, readings, or things observed. We can be honest here and admit that much of the molding of our definitions are from the world, for we are IN it. We MUST renew if we are believers in our glorious Lord, Jesus Christ.

“…if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body (worldly ways of thinking, actions that aren’t ultimately to magnify the name of Jesus Christ, etc.), you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

I believe the very first step to this rides on verse 8:4 in Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), which says, “…never [again attempt to] stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”

As humans with such a strong desire to do this, we repeatedly stir it back up on our own time and as our desires and cravings ask of us. This is dangerous to our purity. Not just sexually, but the purity of our Spirit in dividing its’ attention between working for the Kingdom and working to appease ourselves. Again, awakening this love is not a bad thing, if it is in the proper timing; the only timing that will bring peace and blessing, God’s.

Seasons of singleness are crucial. I believe our God is intolerant to wasted time. Ephesians 5 talks about seizing the most out of every opportunity in every season. As believers, our focus should not be on becoming someone worth marrying, but our focus should be on the will of God, which is becoming like Christ. In complete focus on this, we lose sight of our tiring efforts on relationships and finding someone. A season of singleness is a time for full attention, full focus, full admiration, and eyes for the only true Romance, that of Jesus Christ.

This romance story teaches us a few things about the REAL definition of love.

Let’s first understand that the world’s belief is that love is primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of self. We seek for someone to go through life with to fill an inner craving and desire- to fill US. The world’s view is a deception by focusing first and foremost on meeting one’s own needs.

“…He began to be deeply distressed and horrified…[He] fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.'”
(Mark 14:33, 35-36)

The second deception I have come face to face with is that the world has fed the lie that love is an emotion. It is not. At least not fully. Emotions are not wrong, and they aren’t even bad. But when we use them as the measurement of love, we put ourselves at the center of importance. Our feelings, by themselves, don’t do others one bit of good. Christ showed us that true love is not measured or governed by feeling. He went to the cross when every emotion and instinct in His body told Him to turn back. “…Then an angel appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood…”  (Luke 22:43-44).

Jesus’ example shows that love is in our control. He CHOSE to love us. Love is not some strange force that tosses us around against our will. We cannot justify our wrongdoings by saying that loved grabbed a hold of us and “made” us behave irresponsibly. That’s not love. That’s what 1 Thessalonians 4:5 actually describes as passionate lust.

Christ, through the Redemption story, taught us that love is not for the fulfillment of self, but for the glory of God and the good of others. So here poses another factor in finding the right significant other. We may have good connection with someone, we may even both love Jesus Christ and serve Him and others well together. But God has a purpose for each individual, and if the other does not fit the bill of His will for you, then they are not for you. So our question then is, how do we KNOW who is then? Scripture tells us that the Spirit searches us and knows us, so with faith we have the freedom to wait on Him and not search for ourselves. The Spirit is faithful in revealing wisdom to those who ask in faith (see James 1:5-8).

Sexual purity is one of the biggest struggles and factors when dealing with desires and relationships.

“‘Sex is pleasure,’ a movie tells us. And on the radio, ‘Pleasure is all that matters’ is sung sweetly into our ears. In the midst of this harangue from the world, God’s quiet message of true love still speaks to those who choose to listen.”
–I Kissed Dating Goodbye

This is a subject that is touchy and uncomfortable. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because often times we crave this intimacy and yield to the craving outside of its intended purpose. Blessing and peace are not found outside God’s purpose. The Word repeatedly talks about the union of two people, and each time inside the covenant of Marriage. But why? What is the intended purpose of sexual intimacy if not just to show mutual affection?

The main and original purpose of sex is to “become one flesh,” meaning a complete union. Tim Keller quotes in his blog ‘The Gospel and Sex’, “Romanticism considers emotional happiness to be the main condition for marriage; if there is interpersonal happiness, sex is warranted, and then comes marriage. But when love dies, it is also allowable to walk away from the marriage. In the biblical view, however, the main condition of marriage is a binding covenant. In the romantic view, sex is self-expression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving.”

Sex is a God-invented way to say to another person,“I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you.”

That cannot be said outside the permanent, exclusive covenantal commitment of marriage.

“Purity consists of more than remaining a virgin… Where, when, and with whom you choose to spend your time reveals your true commitment to purity.”

So now, all you who read, take it and go. Remain pure in body, mind and Spirit. Take hold over your hearts desire for a significant other. We have the Spirit of Power, our flesh does not control us. These inner desires may be a working of the Lord, but we must not arouse it before due time. Go do what you are called to live for.

We are sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
–Isaiah 61:1b-3

[alert style=”info”] Sound Off: Singleness, marriage, and purity are all one intertwined mess of God’s love and how we (sometimes poorly) interpret it. If single, how can you focus on pursuing holiness in advance of marriage? If married, how are you balancing your commitment to God and your spouse? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

Be a Man and Act More Feminine

Society has done a lot to cultivate certain ideas about gender roles within relationships.  As men, we are fed misconceptions which we then hold to be truth.  Men are always supposed to be the strong ones.  Men don’t talk about their feelings.  Men don’t do housework.  Men don’t raise the children.  Well, if this is what it means to be a man, then I would say it is time to man-up and act more feminine.

 

IT’S OK TO OPEN UP

I know you’ve heard it before, but some things are cliche because they are true… relationships require communication.  Talk.  Open up.  Share your thoughts, dreams, and fears.  Nothing will ruin a relationship faster than a lack of communication.

Talk about your feelings.  You don’t always have to be the “strong one.”  Everyone has times in their life where they need to lean on someone else.  I’m not saying you have to be an emotional basket case, but don’t be ashamed of expressing how you feel.  Women want a man whose not afraid to say he needs them.

Share your thoughts, dreams, and fears.  Nothing is worse than feeling like you are going through life alone.  Discuss the things that are on your mind.  Share your excitement about goals and dreams.  Talk about what fears you face.  Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have it all figured out (after all, none of us do).

 

HOUSEWORK DOES NOT EQUAL WOMEN’S WORK

Men, this may seem like an insignificant issue, but step up and share in the responsibilities.  Clean up after yourself.  After a romantic dinner together, blow her away and do the dishes.

Whether your married or living in your bachelor pad, your floor does not equal your hamper, and your mommy, girlfriend, or wife does not have to do the laundry.

I have been constantly reminded of the impact that the simple act of sharing in the housework can have.  On several occasions, I have heard my wife tell someone how much it means to her when I help out without being asked or complaining.  I think you’ll be shocked with what these simple acts can mean.

To all the husbands out there, if you really want to shock her, vacuum… mop… dust… clean the bathroom… trust me, the rewards can very much be in your favor.  Someday, my daughter will be very embarrassed by my sharing, but we wound up with her because I painted the house.

 

DADS, THEY NEED YOU TOO

To the dads who happen upon this article (or those who want to be a dad someday), share in the joy of raising your kids.  Change the diapers.  Rock them to sleep.  Sit down to tea parties.  Take them to the park.  Let them see you helping around the house.  Tell them how much you love them and their mommy.  Make sure they (and your wife) come before work, friends, the game on TV, golf, or anything else.  Everyone needs to relax once in a while, but make sure they know they are a priority.

 

ABOVE ALL, PLACE GOD FIRST

This one doesn’t fit the title, but I cannot write about relationships without bringing it up.  In a world were we are afraid of sounding cheesy or weird if we talk about God, take a stand.  Place Him first and everything else will fall into place.

If you’re single and looking, pray that you will be the man deserving of the woman God brings into your life.

If you are dating, pray that God will protect your relationship.  Pray that His will for your relationship will be clear.  Pray that purity will remain within your relationship.

If your married, pray that you and your spouse will remain in His will.  Pray that He will protect your marriage in the midst of a world where marriages are crumbling around you.

Wherever you are in life, lead by example.  Strive to grow closer to the God who loves you and desires to see you succeed.

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: What does it mean to be a man, yet more feminine in your life? How is this different from how things normally are? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

When We Decide To Be Indecisive

[alert style=”info”]Editor’s Note: This is a post that I wrote for my personal blog in 2011. It’s too good not to share. [/alert]

I hate going to Chick-fil-A.

Well, maybe not. I hate the process.

I hate ordering at Chick-fil-A. It turns into decision overload. There’s always that one central moment (and why is it when there are 90 people behind you?) when you step to the front of the line and have no idea what to order.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I’ll have a #1.
Wait. No.
A 4-count nugget… with an ice cream.
In a cup.
Wait. A cone… definitely a cone.
And a Coke.
Wait. Lemonade.
Wait. A sweet tea.

Despite the fact that I would never-ever order a sweet tea, I still really feel for the those poor Chick-fil-A employees.

 

We’re the same way with women…

…and if there’s one area that we need to deviate, as men in our culture, it’s here. There are way too many men (boys, really) galavanting around, treating women like garbage and assuming there are ZERO consequences for their actions. Now, I know what you’re about to say:

“Hey Schmidt. I’m not some horrible person. I don’t run around having sex and making horrible decisions!”

Yes, I know. You’re not having sex; you’re leading a ‘good’ life.

Your actions still have consequences. How many girls have you lead on because you loved the attention? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably billions, but guess what: every day those women think of (or have thought of) you repeatedly and it’s not in the oh-he’s-a-really-great-friend kind of way.

Sidenote: If you weren’t about to say that you’re not making horrible decisions… and it’s because you are having sex, you need to stop and type ‘purity’ into the search bar up top. Just saying.

It’s our indecision, as men, as leaders, that has a crippling effect on Godly relationships. Have you ever heard that all of the great Christian women are wondering where the great Christian men are? This is through our indecision and it happens in two ways:

 

1. Pre-Relational Indecision.

I will begin with the following: if you like her and think she’s supa-fine… ASK HER OUT. Somewhere along the line, it became perfectly justifiable in Christian culture to stick a certain part of your body between your legs and not be a man. BE. A. MAN.

If you know her pretty well and you’re spending enough time together, it’s redundant to lead her on. She likes ya, bro. Also, despite gender-equity in all areas of 21st-Century life, she’s still a woman, and that woman wants her Boaz. I won’t pretend like I know women internally, but I will go out on a limb and say that the women who pursue men themselves are few and far between. She will put herself in front of you, very much like Ruth did, but it’s your job to take the football and score.

0251

 

2. Inter-Relational Indecision.

I referenced this briefly just a moment ago. It’s inevitable that you will meet and get to know some very cute lady friends. In secular society, you are a man by virtue of the sheer amount of women on your arm. If you want to achieve a different result, you need to do something different. You’re a man because God ordained you to follow him and lead others (including your girlfriend/fiancé/wife).

Let’s go back to the “friend” you might be leading on. If you don’t like her or don’t think she’s supa-fine… ASK HER OUT. (Just checking to make  sure you’re paying attention.)

Seriously though, if you can’t see yourself dating her, stop playing games. Nothing good ever came from leading someone on. She’s already emotionally vested in your relationship (even if it may be just a friendship), and most of the time, those feelings will only increase.

 

So how can we counteract this indecision?

I’m glad you asked. I eluded to it before: you need to be decisive. The Bible says to “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’;” (Matt 5:37). It’s much easier said than done, but here’s one helpful guideline that should help your situation dramatically:

Talk to her. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. So often, her expectations are higher than your intentions, or vice versa. If you’re communicating well, there will be no miscommunication on where you’re at relationally. Tell her, “I want to be intentional on getting to know you better,” or, “I think you’re really special and I want to date you.” If you’re not thinking like that, tell her this:

“Listen [girl], I think you’re awesome, but I don’t want to compromise the relationship you’ll have with your future husband. I cannot be that man for you and it’s unfair to both of you to be occupying your time.”

Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11). You are a man, so when interacting with women, be real. She will appreciate your honesty in the long run. God has created us to be bold and stouthearted (Psalm 138:3), so we should attack our relationships with that same vigor.

One Final, Parting Thought: She knows you’re indecisive when you say that you are “waiting on God.” You have two choices… commit to a season of singleness or get moving with the ladies. They’re all out there… and they’re waiting for some real men.
[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: How do you deal with indecisiveness? What’s your worst story of indecisiveness? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

She Loves Me, She Loves Not-Me

“I want a girl who loves me for who I am.”

“I shouldn’t have to change to be with anyone.”

Have you thought, or said, things like this before?  A popular belief about relationships, is that you should find someone who accepts you for who you are, doesn’t try to change you, and the two of you will live happily ever after. However, this is a boring, static, and warped view of true relationship.

How many times have you heard (or said) statements like, “She wants me to ________, but that’s just not me.”. We cling to ideas of individuality, claiming we should be free to be ourselves, and then are surprised when things don’t work out in a relationship which involves two people.  The truth is, relationship requires that your individuality becomes deeply and profoundly interwoven with the other.

A true relationship is two individuals finding themselves as they grow, shape, and change each other.

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The question is not if you can find someone who will not change you, but if you can find someone who changes you into someone better than you are.

This is a truth which becomes drastically apparent in marriage.  When two people join together, if they hold to individualized identity, it is inevitable that they will move apart.

Change is inevitable.

You either change together, or change separately and move further apart.

I believe this is a truth evident in the very beginning of creation.

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man. ” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:22-24 (NIV)

And affirmed again by Jesus in Mark 10:6-8.

But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. (NIV)

Two become one.

Individuality becomes communion.

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In true relationship, especially the sacred bond of marriage, identity is no longer defined by individuality, but emerges from continual, growing communion between two people.  Each constantly grows and changes to be what the other, and the relationship, needs.  Petty ideas of entitlement are traded for beautiful realizations of self-sacrificing love.  Neither is belittled, but both are uplifted, as two people strive to become a single, unified example of love.

What ideas of individuality are you clinging to, which drive a wedge between the relationship you are meant to have?

In what ways do you cling to the desires of self, and neglect the communion of two becoming one?

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If You Are Not Married

Focus on finding out what the other person needs in a relationship; talk about the things that matter most to each other.  Protect the one you are with, and do not cross the boundaries of physical relationship.

To have sex before the commitment of marriage, is to become one physically, before becoming one in identity.  It will inevitably bring confusion.

When you are not married, you protect the other by not joining into a communion that you are not ready for.  Do not take from your partner what they should only share in the communion and commitment of marriage.  This is not only about sex, but also about sharing parts of your life which you are not yet ready to share.

Be careful of the emotional dependency which can arise from becoming too close before you are committed to the other.

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If You Are Married

Your identity is deeply rooted in your spouse.  Every aspect of life is about the two of you.  Your thoughts are to be in light of what is best for the other.  Your choices are to be decisions which move you and your spouse closer together.  Even your body is to be cared for, as it is now shared with another.

Your identity is now the communion between you and your spouse.

Every decision (what you think, say, watch, or do) is now to be weighed against how it will impact the union between you and your spouse.

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For Us All

May we strive to let go of false notions of individual entitlement, and strive to discover the truth of relationship which embraces change.

[box_help]Thanks for reading. What can you do to better prepare for marriage, or to be a better husband? Let us know in the comments.[/box_help]

Coffee Shop Talk: Travel Spots, Testimonies, and How We Love

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience. We’re on the 2012 Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 and we got a little carried away yesterday. Enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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The Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 is happening right now. Name one place in the United States you’d like to be TODAY.

If I could be anywhere today, I’d love to be on a beach in Florida or roaming the streets of Chicago. Both, I would have to say are like second homes to me. If I were to choose somewhere that I have never been, then my choice would probably be Nashville. My cousin goes to school there and says I would absolutely adore downtown Nashville–––my fear is that I would never leave!

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What’s the most powerful piece of your testimony?

I don’t know if I could pinpoint the most powerful piece of my testimony because honestly, my testimony really has nothing to do with me. If I had to say something, the most powerful piece of my testimony isn’t what… but who. God & His grace. The only reason I am here and not completely falling apart in this world is because of Him. Every detail of my story was woven and stitched together by God–––ultimate highs and the extreme lows–––all now used specifically by Him and for Him.

“By the blood of The Lamb and the words of our testimony, we will overcome.” [Desperation Band]

God knows the power that our stories hold. But only by the blood of Christ. Without the cross, our stories are just that–––stories. But when they are drenched in the grace and mercy of Jesus there is power. The most power.

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How do we love people better as a Christian community?

As a Christian community I think we all need to get on the same page.

So often you’ll hear, “I just don’t feel called to that.” And that’s often times referencing things like serving food to the homeless, volunteering at a fundraiser, donating money or items to those in need; the list goes on and on. Whatever the case may be, we are limiting how God wants us to love people. We put restrictions on who is worthy of our love and if we feel “called” to love them.

God tells us that the greatest commands are to love Him & love His people (personal paraphrase from Luke 10:27). Whether we would like to admit it our not–––reality check–––we are called to such things. Are they our big dreams & passions? Maybe, maybe not… and that’s okay, really.

We love and are the hands and feet of Jesus because He has commanded us to be His hands and feet. The Christian community is sorely lacking in this truth. We are so inwardly focused on having the best dramas, lights, music, or sermon series, that we forget about the sick and dying world–––and they’re right outside our doors. [I’m talking to myself as well in all of this.] The community as a whole needs a nice jolt to the heart. It’s time we allowed God to rub the paddles together and yell out “CLEAR!” and shock us back into what life is supposed to be: true living that is centered around Kingdom loving.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]