Becoming the Completely Clingy Type

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Here it is–the moment every American girl is raised to live for…

 

I’m not sure, but I think it’s some kind of law that every chick flick must include this scene in one form or another. Why? Probably because movie producers know that we women absolutely love to dream of experiencing a moment like this. You know that dream I’m talking about…the one where the man who completes you finally confesses that he desperately needs you to complete him too. Ah, yes, two partial people coming together to make one whole…so romantic.

While this idea is certainly romantic, it can also be incredibly problematic. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with romantic stories or dramatic confessions of love; it’s the notion that one person actually needs another to be complete that can so completely wreak havoc on a girl’s heart. Having a boyfriend is great; having a husband is even better, but neither is necessary to make a woman complete. Although companionship can be provided by a man; completeness will only be found in Christ. It’s an important distinction to keep in mind.

Understanding this distinction is another characteristic of a woman of wisdom. In a chapter entitled “Neediness,” Mary Kassian explains that while a foolish woman depends on man to fulfill her deepest longings, a wise woman depends fully upon the Lord: 

A Girl-Gone-Wild relies on her own devices to quench her thirsty heart. She hews out a relationship and expects that it will meet her needs. She scoops out as much water from the leaky cistern as she can, but as some point, realizes that she’s still not satisfied, and that the water she has greedily sipped has left a bitter taste in her mouth. Her heart feels parched–like a dry, brittle bush in a desolate desert. She has no roots. She feels her spirit wither up. But instead of planting herself next to the stream, she desperately tries to suck more water from her cistern, or she hews out another cistern with the unrealistic hope that there she will find water that is plentiful and sweet.

The Girl-Gone-Wise does not “trust in man and make flesh her strength.” Her heart relies on the Lord. She is “like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

(Girls Gone Wise, pp. 184-185)

Are you the clingy type? As long as you’re holding tightly to Christ, clinginess is a good thing! Learn more…


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Illustration: Chris Hurtado

Purely Satisfied

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

About once a week or so at a local pregnancy resource center, I sit down to counsel young women and tell them truths about life that they’ve already experienced but have not yet understood. These truths have to do with love, sex, and God. For most of the young ladies that I see, talking about the first two topics on that list is a perfectly normal part of life, so discussing them with me is fairly easy. It’s when I throw in that third topic, that many girls start to feel a little bit uncomfortable. They want to enjoy love and sex, and somehow it’s difficult for them to grasp how connecting God to those two areas of their life could help them in that quest. They don’t want to hear what I have to say, but I love them, so I say it anyway.

God has a design for sex, and if we ignore that design, we’re going to get hurt. Most of the girls I see are young, unwed, and not even finished with high school, but they can identify with the last word of the previous sentence. Hurt. They’ve experienced it, but can’t really understand why. Until they learn a different way of handling love and sex–a better way of dealing with relationships, they’ll go on experiencing hurt and pain in ever-increasing amounts. They need to understand that God’s way is better.

The girls that come into pregnancy resource centers aren’t the only ones who need persuading that God’s design for sex is the best. There are a lot of single people in the church who need to hear this message as well. Sexual impurity is a sin–that fact alone gives us sufficient reason to flee immorality, but the Scriptures provide us with further incentives for pursuing purity. In his book, Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris elaborates on this point: 

“Among you,” God tells His children, “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity” (Ephesians 5:3). It’s because of clear commands like this and the reality of our God-given sexual appetites that we face…moments when we must choose between what our bodies crave and what we know our Lord has instructed…

In the heat of passion, we need more than just knowledge about sexual purity. To stand firm against sin, we can’t simply intellectually agree with the merits of chastity. We must be captivated by the beauty and greater pleasure of God’s way. This involves agreeing with God about the goodness of pure sex within marriage, refusing the counterfeits offered by the world, and fearing the consequences of illicit sex.

Being captivated by God’s way won’t happen by accident–it requires purposeful effort before marriage. Author Ken Myers once told me, “True love doesn’t just wait; it plans.” He’s right. While we’re single or in a courtship, we need to do more than just avoid what’s wrong–we need to plan and work hard at being captivated by the good…

To plan ahead for a great sex life, we have to realize that the message of Scripture is not for us to disdain sex, but to love God’s original design so much that we see the world’s persversions of it as revolting. “Enjoy pure sex!” God practically shouts in Proverbs 5:18-19: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth….May her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

There’s that word again–captivated. It means to be amazed and taken prisoner by the beauty of something. “Be captivated, be ravished by the body of your spouse,” God tells us. “Be entranced by the true and lasting pleasure of the marriage bed.” (pp. 143-145)

In order to maintain sexual purity, both before and after marriage (abstinence ends at marriage, purity doesn’t!), we must be fully persuaded that God’s design is best. It’s not only the fact that disobeying Him is bad that should motivate us to pursue purity; it’s the fact that obeying Him is so very good.   

Photo: Mike Thorn

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Dating, Decisions, & Dancing

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

1 Peter 3:1-2

When it comes to dating and marriage, it’s a whole lot easier to choose the right kind of man than to change the man you choose. And all the married ladies said, “A-A-A-M-E-N!” I remember when I was single; it was tough to know exactly what I should be looking for in a potential husband. Was I expecting too much? I often wondered. On more than one occasion, people I knew had intimated as much.

Some of you who are single now may be troubled by the same concerns. Am I being too demanding? Should I lower my standards? Is close enough good enough? Let me put your minds at ease, girls. The answers are No. No. And you guessed it, No. It has often been said but is worth repeating: It’s far better to be single and wish you were married than to be married and wish you weren’t. Write it on a post-it note and stick it to your forehead. Think up a little tune and set it to music. It’s a truth worth remembering.

Now, here to expound further on this topic are authors Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall. The following excerpts are taken from their book Lady in Waiting:

You want to marry someone for the qualities he possesses now, not for the qualities you hope he will develop. The most common mistake made by marriage partners is marrying someone they intend to change. Since it is nearly impossible to change a person, you will want to set standards of dating, or of building friendships, with men who are characterized by the qualities below.* A single woman can sidestep a lifetime of tragedy by seriously considering these characteristics in a prospective steady date.

  • Puts the needs of others ahead of his own.
  • Rejoices in his relationship with Christ.
  • Maintains proper relationships.
  • Refuses to jump ahead of God’s timing.
  • Seeks to meet the practical needs of others.
  • Stands for what is right.
  • Follows through on his God-given responsibilities.
  • Understands the importance of feelings and emotions.
  • Flees temptations to compromise…

None of the men you date will have all these qualities perfected. All of us are at differing levels of maturity. A man of God is one who works toward being conformed to the character of Christ. But be careful when a quality of God’s Spirit is completely missing in a man’s life and he is unwilling to deal with it before marriage. Realize that if character is absent before the wedding ceremony, it will be missing after the wedding ceremony and cause considerable problems during marriage.

Was Boaz, Ruth’s knight, the last man of godly character, or was he just one of many? We are convinced that God still grooms Boazs for His daughters today. This does not mean a guy has to be perfect in order for you to go out with him. It does mean that he needs to be growing in Christlikeness by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit before you start to date him.

(pp. 131-134) *Each point is explained more fully in the book.

Now, I imagine there are ladies reading this who are thinking, “If only I’d heard this kind of information ten years ago, back when I still had the option of choosing the right kind of man.” Perhaps you’ve experienced firsthand just how futile it is to focus your efforts on changing your husband. But if you can’t change him, is there any hope for you and your marriage? I have an answer for you too, yes, yes, and yes! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, there is always hope.

In the following video, Winston Smith, a counselor and teacher from the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, provides some helpful thoughts on the topic of change within marriage:

 

Instead of focusing our attention on our husband’s dancing deficiencies, let’s aim our efforts at mastering the steps ourselves. We’ll be more contented, our husbands will be less cramped (the corner of the rooftop is a bit confining—Prov. 25:24), and our marriages will be changed. Most importantly of all, our Lord will be glorified as we earnestly seek to follow His lead.

Photo: Watje11

Single-Minded Holiness

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment…”

1 Timothy 6:6a

I’ve been married for 5 1/2 years now, but I have not yet forgotten what it was like to be a single woman. Both marriage and singleness have their own sets of joys, challenges, and heartaches. Learning to be content with the life that God has given can be tough, and it always helps to have some encouragement channeled your way as you press on toward the goal of Christlikeness. I hope that today’s post will provide some of that encouragement to all my single friends out there.  

First off, let’s have a little laugh or two, shall we?

Since we’re on the topic of single ladies, I thought this song was fitting. I have not yet heard if it’s up for any awards…  :)

Next up, Matt Chandler provides some humor as he teaches on the topics of singleness, contentment, and intentionality.

Finally, a more serious item:

Dr. Russell Moore, a pastor, author, and seminary professor, recently responded to a letter he received from a single woman who needed advice regarding the issues of dating and purity. She is in a relationship with a young man and had a serious question to ask Dr. Moore:

I am wondering what his sexual past looks like, in order to know what I’m getting into. Has he been with other women, sexually? If so, how many and in what way? Has he ever had a problem with pornography? With every week that goes by, I’m more and more in love with him, and I’m afraid to keep getting my hopes up only to have them dashed when we’re right at the point of marriage. 

This is a tough issue with which many single Christian women (and men) have had to wrestle in one way or another. I thought that Dr. Moore provided wise counsel that was well worth passing on to you. Read the entire letter and response here. I loved the fact that in his response, he emphasized the importance of purity and forgiveness. Praise the Lord that through Him we can have both!

Well, single friend, I hope that you have enjoyed today’s post. Now, go out there and show the world that you’re a holy lady!