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Cool Your Jets and Embrace Your Role

Boundaries in dating?
That’s really difficult to say.
Search the Bible.
It’s completely devoid of dating advice.
Well, because people didn’t date in Bible times.
They did a little something called “arranged marriages.”
I know, petrifying right?
Yeah, I used to think so too,
until I thought about how many people bring baggage and pain into marriage
because of their past dating relationships.
One thing you can say about arranged marriages,
you don’t usually have to figure out “how far is too far?” in your friendships.
Kind of wish I had gone that route with my wife.
I mean, do you know anyone who says,
“Man, I really wish I had hooked up with more people before I got married.
I feel like I really missed out?”
Of course not.
And you know, if you think about it,
don’t you think that on some level, dating is cultivating a spirit of divorce in our culture?
Think about it.
You get to know each other, get somewhat physical,
and then once you get bored of them or find out something you don’t like,
you jump ship.
Insecurity abounds.
How in the world do you expect to grow trust and have intimacy blossom between you and your significant other
when you’re constantly worried that the other person will leave at the drop of a hat?
I’m not saying that you should have an arranged marriage,
but I am saying that covenant precedes intimacy.  Not the other way around.
It seems to me, that a good rule of thumb for boundaries in dating would be,
what will I be comfortable telling my spouse I did with another person before we were married.
After all, if they’re not your spouse, then they’re someone else’s.
And if you’re pretty sure they’re going to be your spouse someday, why not wait till they are?
As a father, I think I’ve adopted a really good policy for my daughters in the future.
I heard this statement in a movie once, and I think it’s a wonderful rule to follow.
The gentlemen that’s about to leave with my daughter, I’ll simply remind him that he can do anything he’d like with my daughter,
but whatever he does to her, I’m going to do to him.

You also might find the history of the phrase “dating” interesting.
The term was coined in the late 1800′s, and was used to describe a liaison between a man and a prostitute.
At that time, if a single woman was seen out and about with any male who she wasn’t related to,
it was assumed she was a prostitute.
And if you were a lady at that time, and you wanted a suitor to court you,
he would have had to jump on his horse and come visit you at your house, with all your family hanging on the scene.
But once the automobile was invented, men started picking up the lady they were interested in, and taking her off wherever they pleased.
Interestingly enough,
Since that time, abortion, divorce, STD’s and homosexuality have all risen at an exponential rate.
Whatever you want to say about boundaries, I’ll just say that we are commanded in Ephesians 5,
that since we are God’s beloved children, there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality named among us.
In the greek, sexual immorality is simply defined as “sex with anyone you are not married to.”
So then, because we are loved infinitely, overwhelmingly and undeservingly by Christ,
we ought to have a certain level of patience and self-control about us.
We don’t need to run to the arms of whatever lover fancies us at the moment,
because we have been loved in a way that no person will ever be able to come close to.
Therefore, there ought not be even a hint of promiscuity in us.
Not even a hint.
That means, when you’re asking “how far is too far?”
A better question might be, “Am I sexually aroused?”
According to Ephesians, that’s too far.
Because you are loved.
Because you’ve experienced Christ’s covenantal love,
and once you’ve had that, it ruins you for the cheap and easy versions of love the world tries to sell to us.

Listen here ladies,
you might think that the more boundaries you create, the less likely it will be that you’ll get a man.
That’s sort of true and sort of false.
If you are guarded, and “walled up,” there is a whole group of males who will quickly lose interest.
But I cannot stress this next point enough…
I mean, don’t you want to be pursued?
Don’t you want to be fought for?
Won over?
I can tell you as a guy,
half the reason I ran hard after my wife was because she was one of the few
ladies that played hard to get.
And deep in the heart of every man, is a desire to fight.
Guys love a fight.
And there are few better fights in this life than the fight to win a woman’s heart.
Problem is,
so many girls are so desperate for love they don’t even give guys the chance to fight for them.
And consequently, they keep ending up with guys
who hook up with them and then quickly move on.
That’s because that man needs a battle, whether he realizes it or not.
And if you don’t make him work for it,
he’s gonna keep searching.

This comes as quite a shock in a time and culture where every magazine in the grocery aisle instructs you otherwise.
“How to Get Your Man.” is usually plastered across some front page in some form or fashion.
“Win Him Over.” “Be in Control.” I’ve read all kinds of stuff while tossing some mac & cheese on the little magic conveyer belt.
I swear though, if I have to see “100 Hot Sex Tips,” in neon pink lettering one more time, I’m gonna hit somebody.
It’s here where everything gets screwed up.
Women are taking the God-given role of the man away from him.
Not that it’s entirely their fault, but you can definitely sense a growing confusion between the sexes these days.
There seems to be such a desire for us to see each other as equal,
that it has caused us to reject any idea of particular roles or inherent responsibilities we might possess.
But of course, confusion ensues.
Who asks out who?
Who makes the first move?
Who calls who?
Who cares?
Well, in Ephesians 5, we’re told that in a marriage relationship, the man represents Christ, and the woman represents the church.
The man alludes to the pursuer.  The instigator.  The fire-starter. The covenant maker.
The woman is the reciprocator.  The receiver.  The responder.
And it’s been my experience, that there’s something really beautiful cultivated when men and women walk in those roles toward one another.
You may disagree with me here, but one thing you have to admit is that every woman wants to be wanted.
Every man wants to win a prize.
So, why not at least give that God-given role a try?
Have you ever tried laying low, and waiting for the guy to come to you?
Could it be that your “go get em” attitude has actually scared away your potential mates, because
he’s been given a desire from God to be the initiator?

Believe that you are loved.
Believe that you are a prize.
A treasure.
Believe that you are worth fighting for.
Christ died for you while you were yet a sinner,
and because of that sacrifice, He has bestowed a worth on you, that you could have never
given yourself. Until another man sees you as worth sacrificing for, don’t give him an inch.
To love is to sacrifice.
To truly love is to give all.
And until there is a promise in place, to share all of your life with another,
I would argue, No real exchange of love can commence.

Mirror Mirror…

"The authentic self is the soul made visible."

In a self-reflection, there is always room for improvement. The decision to keep moving forward in that direction is up to the owner of that reflection. As I start a new semester, I find myself taking a step towards change. People are constantly changing. I think that’s the beauty of life. To learn to enjoy the transformations as they come. 
I have had a few tough goings in past years dealing with relationships. And though I hate to admit it, each one of them have left me with some trust issues to sort out. I wish there was a button in life to erase the hurt and painful memories that are associated with every encounter I have had with the opposite sex. But alas, one can only bury emotions for so long and so deep before they threaten to overtake your rational thoughts. So I’ve learned to sort through my problems. My mistrust in men and people is far from being completely uprooted, but with each day there is a step. As they like to say (and they do it a lot), time heals wounds. 

Indefinitely, time brings with it, uncertainty. No one person is certain of the future. I only can tell you the most accurate prediction of my future is when I’ll take my next breath. And even that has underlinings of unpredictability. But spending each day not at your full potential is like a flower always hiding its petals. Allow yourself to bloom and bring color to the world. Doubt is the very wheels that move our confidence and self-worth. Embracing uncertainty brings us to embrace our potential. For if you can see past your short-comings, you will soon realize the miles of greatness at your fingertips.

Wardrobe Malfunction

Some nights ago, as I was lying in bed, a thought popped up in my head. I had been thinking about my past relationships and how each experience has brought me to the exact spot in my life now. I can’t say that I was glad I had to go through every one of them, but I am content to know that I have learned from my mistakes so far. But one issue lingered on as I was drifting into slumberland, how hearts are never truly revealed with every new relationship.  

I see so many bouncing from one relationship to another at the speed of lightning. It’s like a game of hopscotch for feelings. Someone throws the stone and you follow with no idea of how to make it to the end without faltering. I’ve heard dating referred to as the “divorce game”, “marriage game”, and whatever else that has “game” at the end. When had the precursor of a sacred union become nothing more than a belittled game? What used to be considered courting, is now just  passable flirting. The importance of weighted words and actions seem to disintegrate with every generation. And every other person seem so accepting of these new conditions that new relationships come wrapped in. 

I guess the problems also stem from the fact that no one relationship is the same as another. And people seem content with comparing one to the other. But the kicker is that the two individuals aren’t the only ones involved in the relationship. Half the time it’s the family members and friends who think they have an opinion to express, to dictate the course of the relationship. What is suppose to be reserved for just two persons, turn into a group effort. Last I checked, group therapy only works for AA. 

Now back to the issue at hand, the many costume changes that we force our hearts to make with every new love interest. The giddy and twitterpated sensations remain the same every time. But I have to wonder when the wardrobe that the heart is forced to don will do more damage than good. Having to mask our true thought and emotions become a tiring fashion show. To make a more striking pose on the subject, think models. How is a model going to walk down the catwalk if she’s got on mismatched stilettos? Connect that to our hearts. When you put on a mask on your heart and still expect it to exude feelings based on only what it’s suppose to show, how is that healthy? 

Hearts should be smiling at all times, if anyone can help it. And most of the time, they can. Don’t waste your time trying to put on a persona that you yourself know doesn’t exist inside of you. In public, your appearance matter. In relationships, your heart matters more. I told myself this one phrase throughout one failed relationship: “Your actions define the state of your heart”. No matter how much you try to make yourself feel one thing besides what your true feelings are, soon enough, your actions will show which feelings are authentic. 

So clean out your closets. Hollow out those thick, calloused lies you’re hiding behind. Be truthful, be your beautiful self, but most of all, be honest. With yourself and your significant other. Dress up your heart and don’t try to cover up the dents and scratches. Where feelings are concerned, better be comfortable than have a wardrobe malfunction.

"A heart has no bones, you say, so it won’t break. But the purpose of loving is the pounding it takes."

- Josh Ritter (via wrists)

"Summer night—
even the stars
are whispering to each other."

- Kobayashi Issa (via vvolare)

"She was like the moon—part of her was always hidden away."

- Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (via lostinthesounds)