Wednesday, May 28, 2008

99 Problems

To paraphrase the old adage: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, blog.” That explains why I, a very single person, am blogging about men, women, and relationships. Take everything you read here with an entire shaker of salt. Today I’ll focus on the top three problems I’ve witnessed in women I know as well as in my own life. Women, these are things we can work on. Men, these are things you can look for.

1. Find out who God is… then find out who you are.
Geez, this is a big one, right? It’s pretty much a life-long deal. The main thing, though, is to believe that God wants a relationship with you. If you already know Him, you can trust that He has your best interest at heart and that He is not holding out on you. In fact, He is working to make everything work together for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28), including your sin, your pain, your mistakes. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that He loves me so much, but when I manage to get it even in the slightest way, it changes the way I view my life. Suddenly I don’t have to strive and scrape to make life be what I want it to be… I am free to trust Him, free to live and walk with Him wherever He calls me. And in this freedom, I find the fullness of who He is and the fullness of who I am. I don’t have to try so hard to impress others, because my life isn’t centered on their approval – it’s founded on the unchanging holiness and goodness of God. Easier said than done, especially in a world of thin, blond specimens with fair skin and radiant smiles. Maybe you didn’t hit the genetic lottery, but there is so much more to you than that. In fact, your appearance is the part of you that will fade the fastest – so find out what’s underneath all that… and attach it to what you know of Him.

2. Tend your garden.
I have a beautiful friend who is a devastated wreck of a woman. She was wounded by a man, then by another, then another. And it’s like a tornado came through her life and ripped out everything good. The ground is cracked and dry. Honestly, she isn’t even trying to heal. She’s clinging to her bitterness as though it were her lifeblood. It is the most unattractive thing I can think of. The tragic juxtaposition of her physical beauty and the state of her heart sends people running—men and women both. Ladies, your life is a garden. You can either spend your time living in the devastation, or you can get down to the hard business of healing and planting and tending. There's so much more to this than I have space to address, especially since I can’t even begin to tackle the pain of abuse or divorce or loss of a child… but the main thing I'm hoping to leave you with is this: every day we have the choice to either sit on the barren soil or make the tiniest step to develop the garden. Maybe some days you can't even breathe and all you have the strength to do is to offer up a prayer for rain. Our God is a Healer – it’s one of His names (Jehovah-Rapha). It may take some serious time and effort, but He longs to heal you and turn your life into a lush, lavish garden, overflowing with beauty and joy and the fragrance of God!! What person doesn't want that for their own life - a radiant, colorful testimony to God's goodness? What other women wouldn’t be drawn into a friendship with that kind of woman? And what man wouldn’t be attracted to that?

3. Don’t let just anyone into it.
Let me be clear here right off the bat: Stop dating guys who aren’t Christians. Stop it. And seriously, stop dating guys who aren’t deeply in love with Jesus. It’s not enough that he goes to church or that he believes in God or that he has a cross tattoo. I don’t care. If his life and choices and decisions aren’t founded on the active, passionate pursuit of the glory of God, it’s time for you to expect more from yourself and from him. How can you tell if a guy is walking with Christ? Check out John 15:5 - “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” How can you believe that God wants more for you than some crappy relationship with a pseudo Christian? Ephesians 3:20 says that He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Every day that you persist in wasting your time is a day that your deepest joy will be stolen.

Surely there are some of you who will disagree with what I've said here. Feel free to hit me up in the comments!

Much love,


steph said...

A hefty, but lovely reminder.

palomita said...

I completely agree with you on every point, every word, every letter.

jt said...

once again you encourage my heart! :) did i mention to you the other week that i had been listening to "follow" again? i had gotten off track and let my heart wander down a path it shouldn't wander down and thankfully God pulled me out of it when I didn't have the strength to rescue myself or even attempt to stop the emotional train from running.. and wrecking.

thanks for writing this, it is always good to remind ourselves what we are waiting for and looking for.

p.s. i hope you had a fabulous birthday :-)

Christine said...

I love all this, and I love you.

Jud said...

I'm going to moderately disagree with your final point. Keep in mind ladies that we (guys) are screwed up, broken, imperfect creatures too. Expecting too much from a man can lead him to try to hide his flaws instead of being forthcoming and honest. That'll stop the healthy growth of a relationship in its tracks.

If you'll settle for nothing less than a super-Christian man then get ready to be single forever, cause there ain't no such thing.

Then again, perhaps if we define "super Christian" in terms of honesty and brokenness, your point still stands.

Abbyrose said...

Thanks for the timely reminder. I especially appreciated the last one. Perfect timing for my life right now.

mandy foster said...

you are amazing and i think you are so right on.

in response to jud, i don't think it is about perfection. i think it is about finding a guy whose heart is seeking God genuinely. i know that my husband is flawed and by no means a super, perfect Christian, BUT he does seek God recklessly in his heart. it is evident in our relationship, his relationships with others, and his life. so it is not about setting the bar too high, but about making sure you are looking for someone who is seeking God's own heart, just like David did in the Bible.

steph said...

Hi Jud:
I see your point. Super-Christian to me = confessional, grace-thirsting, & God-seeking. Not perfect... but committed.

TLC said...

Jud, yes, the other commenters have really summarized my thoughts on this well. I don't think anyone (male or female) should demand perfection in any area -- I certainly would be offended if a man demand that a woman be physically flawless. It's just as pointless for a woman to demand that a man be fully sanctified, because we all know that's impossible here anyway.

However, I do think it's important to be discerning about the direction of a man's heart. And I see far more women with standards that are too lax than too high. Typically a woman will think something along the lines of "Well, he's really starting to show an interest in church" or "He says he's a Christian, but I'm just not sure if he's a Christian-Christian... it's hard to tell."

My rule of thumb is: If I can't tell if he's a "real Christian" or not, then I haven't seen the things that should prompt a deeper interest in him. And chances are, if his faith is something that is a real part of his life, it will be obvious. If it's not obvious... next!

Again, I'm not suggesting that we demand perfection, just encouraging a woman to wait for more, instead of settling for the first thing that comes along and asks for her number.

Tiffany Anne said...

can't disagree with you anywhere tara-leigh. it's good stuff.

Brad Ruggles said...

Dang Tara, for a single person you hit the nail right on the head. Good stuff.

Brad Ruggles //

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Hey there! First time here. I just finished Crowded Skies and really enjoyed it! Looking forward to reading your blog, now, too! Blessings to you!

Sarah McGalliard said...

Beautiful post. I am praying about sharing your third point with a close friend who continues to date "Christian" men who bear no fruit...

also, in response to jud, I think we should make it a requirement to marry men who are completely and wholly dedicated to the Lord. Who are willing to pur forth effort to lead us spiritually. I wouldn't say this is impossible, by any means. While my husband isn't a perfect Christian, he is one of the most Godly men I know. I am so glad that I didn't settle for less...