Thursday, September 2, 2010

Leaving No Room For Doubt

God continues to reveal new and unique things to me almost daily. At 4:30 in the morning, here is what’s on my mind today:

I continue to meet young men and women who express that they get along far better with the opposite sex. “I’ve just always gotten along better with guys” says a young woman. Likewise many young men say they’ve just always had better relationships with young ladies. I understand where they’re coming from because I would put myself in that category as well. I’ve found it easier to have deeper, personal, meaningful conversations with woman than with guys. I find it encouraging, enlightening and in the back of my mind somewhere, I know that I’m giving God the option to make something happen with on of them if he so chooses (as if he needs my help anyway.)

And I think that’s what many of us do. We maintain countless open “friendships” with people of the opposite sex, reasoning that we just happen to get along better with them and there is no interest beyond being friends. In my own life I can attest to that fact and yet while I am just friends with many of these young women, I’m certainly maintaining some of the relationships in the event that God wants to do something through one of them.

My question now is this: why do we maintain so many relationships with members of the opposite sex when, if we seek to honor God and someone in a future relationship, those friendships are going to have to be drastically changed if not severed completely when the time comes?

A mentor of mine in college shared that he had a best friend all through college who was a girl. They were just friends and never dated but had a significant friendship. When this guy began dating his now wife, this relationship became a problem. His wife trusted him, but it put strain on the relationship that he had this “friendship” with another woman. When they got married some years later, my friend had to painfully tell his friend that his wife is the most important and they need to stop maintaining that friendship, to which she was livid. He reasoned, “She is my wife. She is the most important, and I need to go out of my way to ensure she knows that she is the only one for me.”
I call that leaving no room for doubt.

The woman was crushed, angry and said she never cared to see or hear from him again.

I empathize with her in that she lost a good friend because he got married, but my friend was right. His wife is and needs to be his primary concern. What I’m realizing now is that what if we took steps now, before we are in relationships or married, to change our relationships with members of the opposite sex so that when that time does come, it is less drastic of a change for all of us involved.

God is working on me in this way. I recently spent two weeks back in Oregon during which time I met several girl friends for coffee or lunch. It was great. We enjoyed fellowshipping and catching up on life but the truth is, if I had a girlfriend I wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be spending this one on one time with other girls.

Some of you agree with me and some of you disagree reasoning, they’re just a friend. Your girlfriend should trust you. I agree, but I don’t think it’s an issue of trust. I think it’s a commitment thing and that I should bend over backwards to ensure that my girlfriend/wife knows that she is the only person for me. Especially in this context, if my friend and I feel like we really want to catch up, it’s just as easy for me or her to bring anther friend so it’s not a one on one deal.

Many of you probably think, well that’s fine when you’re married, but if your just dating you shouldn’t have to do that. “I had this friend before I got into a relationship so my boyfriend/girlfriend should understand.”

I recall a conversation in college with a young woman who said verbatim, “_____ has been my best friend all my life and he always will be. My husband is just going to have to deal with it.”

I do not believe for one minute that that is the attitude God intends for us to take into marriage or a dating relationship period. I see no level of respect or submission in that statement. Should your husband empathize with your situation? To some extent. But, like my friend I mentioned above, had he not invested in that relationship with the young woman, he would have spared himself and her, a great deal of pain when he had to sever the relationship for the betterment of his marriage.

So where does this place us? Do we start cutting ties with all our friends of the opposite sex reasoning, “well, it’s got to happen now or when I get in a relationship.” That’s not what I’m encouraging however I do encourage people to rethink how much time and energy they are putting into their relationships with members of the opposite sex.

If you’re a woman, do you find yourself spending significant time hanging out with guys one on one, even if you both say there is no level of interest? Guys are you constantly calling to chat and encourage your sister in Christ, with good intentions, but instead are creating a situation that ultimately will be harder to walk away from when you get into a relationship down the road?

You might argue that, “Well I hope that he/she would understand and want to be a part of those friendships.” That’s not a bad thought and it’s not out of the realm of possibility. But that needs to happen over time and only IF the other person is ok with it. Chances are ladies, if you’ve got some “best guy friend” that your boyfriend says he’s ok with, more than likely it’s weighing heavily on him whether he says it or not. Guys, you think you can go out to coffee with that busty blond or chat with her online and your girlfriend will be ok with it? Think again. She probably says she is and she probably trusts you, but deep inside, she would much rather you didn’t because she wants to feel COMPLETELY secure in your love.

Another sticky one is people remaining close friends with people they’ve dated in the past. Sure it’s a cool thing that they were able to date and then decide, you know what, this isn’t for us, and step out without completely ruining the friendship but folks, that relationship is ALWAYS going to be a struggle down the road for your significant other. Especially if you became physically involved (sexually) which unfortunately is the case in so many relationship today, both in and outside of the church.

You can argue however much you like about trust and “Well they need to allow me to have my friends” but the truth of the matter is, when you’re married, that person is your priority and leaving no room for them to doubt even ever so slightly, that they are number one and that they are secure in your love, is your number one priority.

Might I offer that you begin taking steps now to change those relationships with members of the opposite sex so that there is a less drastic change down the road when that boy or girlfriend comes along. Don’t spend quite so much time talking on the phone to that particular friend, deepening a friendship that is not going to be maintained at that level after you meet someone and fall in love. Opt not to spend time one on one with your friends of the opposite sex because you develop a pattern that is going to need to be broken when you get into a relationship.

I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t have friends of the opposite sex. I think building relationships with both men and women is part of fellowship and the community that God calls us to. I simply encourage all of us to shy away from spending time one on one with our friends of the opposite sex as this builds ties and deepens the bond between friends that will cause problems in a relationship down the road if we try to maintain that bond or fail to set that friendship aside for the good of our own relationship.

Start now on positioning yourself for that relationship with the person that God has for you someday. Then you won’t have to do what my friend did and all of a sudden painfully break off a friendship with someone that has meant a great deal to you. Ladies, do you feel that you get along better with guys than girls? Strive to find godly women within your church or community that can enlighten and encourage you as only women can do. Regardless of what you think, a guy can never meet your needs for friendship and fellowship like a woman can…we just don’t understand you that well.

Guys, build relationships with other men. That’s a huge part of why our society, even in the church, is where it’s at today because boys today go looking for affirmation and acceptance from women. While it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, there is a lack of true biblical manhood in today’s Christian culture because we guys aren’t seeking out godly men and learning from them.

Build relationships with members of the same sex because no matter what we think, guys and girls have needs that we can’t meet for each other because God made us different. Spend less time focusing on relationships of the opposite sex and more time cultivate deep meaningful relationships with members of the same sex who can instruct you on being a godly young man or young woman. If you want to spend time with your friends, always enlist a third party so it gives no indication of being a date. Even if you guys are just friends, everyone can attest to the fact that people talk and someone is going to make mention that they saw the two of you out.
But that’s a whole different topic for another time. ☺

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