Jan 30, 2008

A Prelude


A light once shown shines brightly still… in wisdom shrouded moved I on, yet not in truth for myself I hid!

Though I hid myself I am hid in Him and the light once shone shines brighter still, warming my heart in sweetness true... so let wisdom abound bringing fullness of joy!

-Ps 103.14

Though I usually use my own… kudos to Angela Wilcox for the picture, it was perfect!

ps – yes, the next part of the series is coming, but a new semester has also begun… kinda wish I had just waited to post any of it until it was finished, but honestly never thought I would write so much. Thus, sorry to any that are wondering ;)

Jan 24, 2008

I Have Two Boxes – Another Riddle

I have two boxes and they are empty, yet they are not.
I have two boxes that are out in the open, yet conceal much.
I have two boxes beautifully adorned, yet disparagers in my midst.
I have two boxes that taunt me, yet I can only wait.

Oh to rid myself of these and yet there is only one.
Oh to open my own box, yet for now it is sealed.

Jan 7, 2008

Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part Two B: Tickle Me Elmo Goes Berserk!


Well, I must apologize once again for taking so long between the parts of this series. The last month has proven to be a very trying one for me in every way, thus my concentration has not been what it ought to be. Hopefully the delay will prove itself worth the wait as it is much better (in my opinion) both in organization and content than what I would have posted last time. Thus, I have once again had to sub-divide this particular part due to the length. This part will be broken into three sections. Thus, the first was posted last time, this section is the second, and the third will deal with the reciprocation between the male and female actions and reactions. I hope that the third will be posted with MUCH less delay than this one, yet I must simply ask for your patience at this point. I will write each part whenever I can and post as soon as I am (at least somewhat) comfortable with it. As always, I ask that you to continue to pray for me as I sincerely desire to honor Christ in my thoughts, my life, and my writings!

Also, you may (or may not) notice a difference in my “speech” in this post. Well, I guess it always depends on my mood / mindset when I actually sit down to type, but it is also because I think I am dealing with much more sensitive issues this time and I want to make sure that my writing reflects that. Beyond that, I am speaking more to women than men in this one and believe that a little more tenderness is needed.

Oh, and one more “housekeeping” item: Though the interaction has not been what I would desire, I have had several requests for clarification or expansion. I will be including my response to those requests, as well as any that come from this one, at the end of the next post.

Previously in the Series:

*Preliminary: A Confession From the Heart
*Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part One: Intro and Background
*Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part Two: Tickle Me Elmo Goes Berserk!


Female Reactions and Related Problems

Ok, thus far, I’ve been pretty rough on the guys. However, there are two sides to this coin. With the above, the ladies generally react in one of four ways (two of which are related). The first I will only address by saying that they figure out how to be healthy, sanctified, and righteous in the midst of the insanity. How they do it, I could describe to some degree, and will address it indirectly in part 6, but really the bottom line is that Christ is their center, their focus. They derive their worth from Him and trust in Him and His plan and are confident in Him. The other reactions are to hide, to shut down, and to become prideful. These will be addressed below. Please, once again, bear in mind that I am not a girl. These are simply my observations and insights gained through conversation and life with my sisters. Also bear in mind that these three are not necessarily connected or a progression. Often, they will show up together, yet often they will not.

--Hiding (External Withdrawal)

The first way some ladies react is to externally withdraw, to hide, as it were. External withdrawal is primarily prior to the beginning of a relationship (avoidance would be the more accurate term) and can show up in numerous ways. In this section I will address the most obvious, yet ask you to bear in mind that it can be much more subtle than this. Due to the seemingly constant barrage, some simply avoid guys and sometimes refuse to date any. They often stick with only girl friends and stay away from common areas (including hiding in the dorms). I mean, experience has taught them that to show any kindness will almost inevitably bring unwanted weirdness and insanity into their lives. Further, they don’t want to be rude, but in order to be in a common area, they feel compelled to be civil, which means the possibility of unwanted attention. Much of the time, to my understanding, it is not the fact of the attention… it is that it can be overwhelming from even one guy, much less what seems like every guy that you meet. From there, by nature of the frequency, male interest seems less and less sincere as time passes. It is special when a guy or two demonstrate interest, but it can seem completely insincere from a number of guys. So, despite desiring a relationship (in many cases, not all – there’s another one for the guys to get), they are so overwhelmed that they don’t really know what do to. I guess it would be like working at a job that you love, but the boss asking you to do a week’s worth of full-time work in a 6 hour shift (can’t think of a better analogy… suggestions girls?). Thus, they are sort of stuck. They want to remain healthy, but don’t feel like they can in these circumstances. Thus, it is easier to “focus on God and trust Him for the timing” (I will address this later). I can’t say that I blame them, but hiding just further compounds the problems (on both sides). The girls become less comfortable with the guys, who are now seeing the field as that much more narrow. Not to mention that without a “breather” some girls will continue to feel like they are drowning… thus, seemingly never be “ready.” Again, I can’t really say that I blame them. I mean, as a martial artist, even within the context of “friendly sparring” two on one can be a little intimidating, especially if they are bold fighters. To bring it back to the situation at hand, with a two-to-one ratio in any context, especially one so “confused” as what is described above, it would be very hard not to want to simply remove yourself or avoid the “fight” altogether. Thus, for some girls, avoiding guys (externally withdrawing) seems the best way to handle things.

There are a few words I can say to these ladies. First, I am praying for you (no, seriously I am, if you are on this campus or if I know you, I am praying for you). Second, I can understand this reaction in part, but not truly. Third, I encourage you to really draw near to and stay close to Christ. Please understand that I don’t mean this harshly, but you were called to this institution, and you responded. Thus, this is where you are supposed to be. Every place of service and everywhere you find yourself is going to have its unique challenges. In this case, you comprise a 1/3 minority (with my made-up statistics). Until the number of single males and females balances out, you are going to have to face the “constant barrage.” Hiding may seem the best answer, but please recognize what you are doing to yourself. You are isolating yourself and hardening your heart (which leads to bitterness, among other things). It is easier than you think to become so hardened that no one will want to date you even when you are ready. There is an “air” that develops and says “back off” to everyone. If this happens, you will have set yourself up for a lot more trouble later on. A while back I wrote a note that I think applies here. It simply said “it’s hard to hug a porcupine.” (Facebook readers can look it up, for blog readers I posted it three before this one). This is precisely what I was talking about. In the process of putting up walls of protection, you block the very potential of someone being able to come alongside you. Further, becoming hardened is not honoring to Christ and if you do desire to find someone, you may be hiding when he is looking. I mean, yes Christ is in control (you would truly be hard-pressed to find someone who believes more in God’s sovereignty than I do), but that does not deny human responsibility. It is not faith and it is not wisdom to “sit back” under the pretense of “trusting in the Lord.” We are to trust in the Lord and His timing, but this does not mean that we are idle. Instead, we are to be actively involved, listening to the Lord’s direction (as best we can, for all too often our emotions block our discernment). Once again, we have the pendulum. On one end are those that are trying to “make things happen” by their own effort and force, ignoring the Lord altogether. On the other end are those that simply sit under the shade tree, complaining that God is not moving.

In the end, you may not want to date and that is between you and the Lord, but don’t become upset with men that are trying to fulfill what God has placed within their heart, misdirected as it may or may not be. They have no way to know “where you are” until it is too late… it is not their fault, it is simply the result of being human. Yours is a much different type of sanctification, but a very important one. Finally, please realize that, “hiding” is not the same as “resting.” In this section, I am not speaking of “seasons” where it may be wise not to date. Instead, I am speaking in terms of a continuum, where a young lady has decided to withdraw for illegitimate reasons. There may be legitimate seasons for not dating or being available, but they should be infrequent and almost never iron-clad. So, the bottom line from my perspective is that hiding is never the right response… understandable as it may be. Though I could certainly keep typing, I feel very unworthy to speak on this, so I would GREATLY appreciate some female input in this part especially from those that have “figured it out.”

Oh, and one final encouragement for this section… please try to take interest as a compliment. Instead of resenting it or feeling like you are drowning, try (note that word, “try”) to look at it as the blessings of God, confirming your worth in Him. Now, the worth I am speaking of is not worth in the eyes of the guys (though that can be good), but instead, in the eyes of Christ – big distinction there. The simple truth is that guys with the right motives will be seeking a woman of God. Thus, all things being equal, if you are such a woman, it should bless you to know that your relationship with the Lord is so evident that the guys can’t help but want to be around you. Oh, and one more thought, I want to remind you that I am not trying to address the philosophy (or methods) of dating. I suppose at some point in this series I will have to address it a little, but remember that is not my purpose.

--Shutting Down (Internal Withdrawal)

The second reaction I wish to address is shutting down, or internal withdrawal. Internal withdrawal is where, for a number of reasons, a lady will withdraw emotionally (often without realizing it). With internal withdrawal, a lady will go through the motions of relationship, yet the emotions have been “locked up” for purposes of protection. She literally “shuts down” the emotional realm. Unfortunately, it seems to me that these young ladies lock down all emotion, thinking themselves to be “using wisdom” and then can’t figure out why they never feel like a guy might be “the one.” The bottom line is that they are not allowing themselves to feel anything. Thus, the only thing they have left is the mental, which is overloaded, not the primary way they were created, and is never singularly sufficient for making wise choices (for anyone). Beyond that, women were created to be internal and emotional, more so than men. Thus, if ladies deny the emotional, they deny a huge part of how they were created and set themselves up for trouble.

One quick side-bar before moving on to the meat of this section: There can be any number of reasons for this reaction. I will address three in a few moments, yet I think the “guarding my heart” mentality is also worthy of mentioning. To quickly address this one, we ought to guard our hearts, we have a responsibility to, but that does not mean that we close off all (or nearly all) emotion. Emotions are a gift from God and reflect something about Him. Thus, they are good. It is when emotions are unchecked by reason that they are bad (and reason unchecked by emotion is equally bad). This is what it means to guard your heart, among other things in life. Whatever the case, internal withdrawal is usually based on mistrust and / or fear and usually occurs during the beginning, or formative part of relationship, though it may show up later if trust is violated. The sad thing is that it often kills a relationship before it has much of a chance to begin. This is a growth point for the ladies (even though it is often due to damaged emotions and / or genuine fear).

Ok, before I get ahead of myself and lose all literary structure to this post, let me say that there are three primary realms I wish to address that cause otherwise healthy young ladies to internally withdraw. I use the term realm because it is not a simple matter of cause and effect. Instead, it is quite often a complex combination of these realms which she is trying to juggle and can’t figure out. Further, this “juggling act” is usually somewhat unknown to the lady herself. Before I continue, let me explain what I mean by juggling. I think the best way to explain is to use myself as an example, so please bear with me once again as I try to set this up. As I admitted to you in the previous post, I used to be a “mole.” In everyday life, I am quite bold, especially where the Gospel is concerned (and to my shame… sometimes it spills over into arrogance). My primary gifting is the gift of prophecy (and no, I am not going to chase that rabbit right now), thus, I have zero trouble taking a stand or being bold. Yet, until about a year ago, when it came to relationship with girls, I was the polar opposite. I have always had female friends, and that was “safe” so I really didn’t have any trouble there. Yet, when it came to the thought of dating, I was a mole. I have driven myself nuts (or at least more so :) over the years trying to figure out why this was such a big deal to me. There were three primary things that I would look at, in isolation, and try to see if “that” could be the cause. Thus, in the “back of my mind” (or whatever term you prefer for that), these three things would be swirling around. Unable to pin one of them down, I would “pick up” one of the “balls” I was juggling, look at it, and say, “yeah, I can see where this might have something to do with it, but it doesn’t completely explain it. I would then place that one back in “the mix” and pick up the next one. I would repeat this over and over, but never arrive at a conclusion since none of them individually explained the issue. The problem with this method is that my problem was the combination or amalgamation of three different, but related things (this will be explained much more in-depth in a future post entitled “Analyzing Overanalyzing”). Bottom line, juggling is where we take one thing from a complex structure and try to see if that “one” explains the whole. This is logically impossible as one isolated thing can never explain a complex structure. The truth can sometimes be (and often is) revealed when “all three” are seen together. It is when we see all of the issues and the “shape” they collectively make, that we can clearly match it up to the problem. This is sort of like taking a shard from a key and trying to open a door instead of taking the collective whole and then being able to unlock the door. Unfortunately, there is only confusion until we can see how they interact. Thus, I fear for some of my sisters and pray for their healing (as well as my own).

Ok, finally to move on to the three realms, which are: being overwhelmed, having misconceptions of love, and unresolved insecurities (obviously more realms and reasons exist, such as abuse, stress, etc, but again, this is getting long). The first realm is being overwhelmed. I have heard ladies explain this concept a number of ways and still must admit that I don’t completely understand. The bottom line, again, is that women and men are created differently. Generally, men are given boldness so that they can lead while women are geared differently and look to protection first (which is part of the reason men are often more “sure” of the relationship). The best way I can think to explain this is that allowing someone “in” involves vulnerability, which is the very thing girls are often trying to avoid (and we all do to one degree or another). Thus, ladies have to fight somewhat against their nature to let someone in. This is also why guys are sometimes repelled quite quickly even after they are in. Something clicks within her, the panic button, and she forces him out in order to preserve safety (sometimes against all logic and Godly leadership / wisdom – we all have idols and often it is ourselves). I remember countless conversations with one very dear friend of mine who was interested in a guy. He approached her, very boldly, and expressed his interest. I, behind the scenes, knew she was interested in him as well. Even though she was thoroughly impressed with him and definitely interested, she would call me or email me saying she just wanted to run the other way. Herein we also have the classic situation where guys are so frustrated because girls say they want honesty and transparency, yet, when it is given, they “freak out.” Girls want honesty and transparency, yet the very thought that “this may be the one” is so overwhelming and scary, that it makes her want to bail out and run the other way. Thus, she would call me, among other friends, for a “reality check” from time to time. During these conversations, she would be noticeably distraught and a little frantic. Thankfully, she is also mature and rational, as a rule, and she made herself stick with it. Today, they are doing quite well, and I have no doubt that the Lord has put them together. Yet, even now, she still panics once in a while. My point with this is to help both the guys and the girls to gain a little insight into how difficult this can be for the other side. For the girls, to realize that this is fairly normal, yet it must be worked through, in Christ. You must let someone in if you ever hope to be in a successful relationship. I realize that this is very easy to say and quite another thing to actually live out… yet, you must. Thus, I would encourage you to draw near to Christ, gather some faithful counselors, and talk to some older women that you trust (Titus 2, among others). If you are in a relationship, make sure you have solid reasons for ending it before panicking and throwing away something potentially very good (again, bearing in mind our tendency toward self-deception). Bottom line, some confusion and a “lack of peace” do NOT equal God telling you it is not His will (and neither does a lack of anything). Also, realize that to a guy, it seems a contradiction to request honesty and then run the other way. You made a request, he honored it, and if you do this, he is being punished (in terms of his perspective). Guys just can’t grasp this. To the guys, I dare not say that I have this figured out, so I encourage you to simply love your sisters in Christ. Love them and look to their benefit above your own. This means putting their feelings and desires above your own and protecting them even above yourself… this is true love and Godly leadership! Also, it really helps to “study the other side.” In the end, if this happens, you must love her anyway and just pray for the Lord to heal her heart. As to the honesty and transparency… I wish I knew the answer to that one. They do truly want it, yet in doses. This will vary from girl to girl and situation to situation and some can handle more than others. Girls, once again, I ask for input!

The second realm is misconceptions about love. I will not address this in-depth here as it actually belongs more in the next part of the series (part 3). For now, I will simply say that the idea of romantic love, as opposed to Biblical love, tears people apart and ruins many good relationships (existing and potential). The bottom line, Biblical love grows over time and involves getting to know someone. It may involve the “butterflies” or whatever, but is not primarily composed of these things. Emotions are fleeting and fickle, love is enduring. I mean, I get “butterflies” on a rollercoaster, but that doesn’t mean I’m in love with it (and yes, I am being sarcastic). Further, there is a big difference between love and infatuation and it seems infatuation is what so many actually seek. Further, genuine love is accepting the faults of the other person, not being blind to or denying them. In fact, the deepest and purest love is a matter of deep knowledge of (and thus comfort with) the other person, which will lead to excitement IF it is allowed the time to grow (Gen 2:25 among others). As usual, we seem to have our paradigm backwards.

The third realm is unresolved insecurities (or more accurately, evaluative judgments not yet grounded in Christ). This is the most tragic realm of all to me. We all carry insecurities and feelings of being unworthy. However, I think this is an area of struggle that girls are much more prone to than guys (and at a deeper level). Guys generally find their worth or identity more in the external, in what they can do (quantitative). Girls generally find their worth or identity in who they are and how they look, in the internal (qualitative). Thus, sometimes when a girl is with a great guy, she feels very unworthy of him, as if she can’t measure up. To make it worse, she doesn’t know what his expectations are, so she doesn’t even know how high the mark is (again, enter overwhelming). Thus, she is always wondering and thinking something like, “when will he figure it out and get rid of me?” (oh, and btw girls, some guys struggle with this too). Thus, sometimes, she will make the assumption for him and withdraw in order to protect herself from being too attached when “the inevitable” happens. My sisters, this breaks my heart!!! To make it worse, some immature guys act in ways that reinforce this type of thinking, especially in terms of conditional interest / love. Anyway, the point is that much of the time girls don’t seem to realize how incredible they truly are. She assumes she is not worthy of a particular guy, could never possibly be the helper he needs, and shuts down in order to “protect” them both (and yes, I realize I am being repetitive, at least this time). The tragedy in this literally brings me to tears. First, that one of my sisters does not see her true value in Christ. Each of you are uniquely gifted and created in the Lord. Your value is not decided by yourself or by men, but by the one who created you… you are a beloved child of God! Second, it is the nature of Godly men to “lift up” women (read the book of Ruth). Thus, if he values you, then he has made his choice. Provided he has a decent level of maturity, it is not that he is settling, he is choosing. Thus, he chooses you, with all of your blessings and faults. This means that he is unconditionally choosing to discover who you are in Christ. Part of what it is to be a man of God is to be able to lead, help, and protect the women in our lives… especially / ultimately our wives. A while back I was speaking with a female friend of mine about this very thing, we learned a lot from each other. She was warning me about insecurities and I think my response summarizes my heart (what I am trying to communicate) quite well. Speaking in terms of my as yet hypothetical future wife, I said, “I understand that she will have past hurts and be in need of healing, but that is part of the beauty of how God has created us. As a man, I get to help her heal… I look forward to that!” Now, I don’t know exactly how many guys feel this way, but I do know that they exist (so be encouraged ladies). The problem is that “he” will never be able to help “her” if she won’t let him in! May the Lord grant us all wisdom, patience, love, and understanding (and smack us over the head with a 2x4 when we need it)!

---A Few Closing Thoughts on the Three Realms

So often when we are trying to figure things out, especially things as personal as relationship, we tend to either shut down emotions or rely on them entirely. Neither option is Biblical… shutting down emotions is not the same as dealing with them. Though the end result may be that you are not upset, it is not faith, it is not maturity, and it is not Christ-honoring (just like refusing to speak to someone is not the way to handle being upset with them). It is an act of escape, not an act of sanctification, much less is it allowing Christ to rule and reign in our lives. When our emotions are so heavily involved, (whether we realize it or not) our perception is greatly altered (for example, the flowers to the right may be pretty, but they are not real). This is further compounded by stress and other things. Thus, sometimes in these circumstances when we attempt to seek the Lord’s will, we are asking but not truly listening; and then confusion results, due to our internal struggle. Further, love is not all about the mental and yet it is not all about the emotional. If we don’t allow any emotion, we will never “feel in love” (much less actually give someone a chance). Now, if you combine these three things at any level (overwhelmed, misconceptions of love, and insecurities), you have one confused individual. Add to this the pressure and “fast pace” of much of the seminary dating and it is not so hard to see why some ladies tend to shut down and withdraw internally. Marriage should be the ultimate goal for those called to it, but we must be careful not to think too much of it too quickly and thus skip over the beginning steps. This particular person may or may not be “it.” But, forcing someone to fit into a marriage paradigm too early will crush ANY relationship, no matter what potential is there.

The thing that is so sad to me is that often we all shut out the very one that might be able and willing to help. I wrote a note a while back for one of my sisters addressing this very thing (though I didn’t tell her it was for her). It is entitled, “The Frail Rose.” The most frustrating thing for a man who desires to help, is the realization that she has shut him out emotionally. No matter how true what he says may be, he realizes that she will never hear a word he says until her heart is softened. He further realizes that any attempt on his part to help will only result in her pushing him farther away, as she will never trust his motives in this state. The even more saddening realization is that she may never allow him back in and it may have had nothing to do with him (directly), but is due to pain, fear, pride, and sin (or some combination thereof). She is unintentionally denying the good that God is trying to bring into her life (as we all tend to do so often).

One final (and admittedly strong) exhortation to my sisters in this section: You are surrounded by Godly men and you will not always have such godly men around you, much less so many. I am not saying you should settle (you certainly should not if your reasoning is truly Biblical), but withdrawing because you are overwhelmed is not healthy. This drives a wedge between you and the guy, which causes emotional distance, which ends in a downward spiral. Thus, go figure, you no longer feel like there is a future for the two of you. You then conclude that you were right to withdraw. Yet if these are the reasons, you probably weren’t. What you have basically done is rejected the good that God has tried to bring into your life, and then blamed the distance on the good, not the reaction. You have done it to yourself. Thus, you continue in this pattern, frustrating yourself and others around you… all the while wondering when is God going to bring someone into your life. He just tried and you rejected him! Now that I probably have every lady reading this upset with me, let me qualify... I am not saying that every single instance where you feel it is “not right” falls into this category. However, I am saying to check your motives, the problem is where withdrawing is the result of a complex of the three realms mentioned above (or others) instead of the genuine leading of the Lord. As always, I would remind you of our human tendency toward self-deception… we can “make” anything legitimate if we want to and so often we stop our ears to the Lord when we are confused (so let us search our hearts).

I am including this next paragraph as more of a reflection than necessarily part of the series, thus the difference in language and direction. I find myself overburdened sometimes in talking with and praying for my sisters in this area. Most women were not created to be alone (likewise with men). Yet, so many are alone and they have to fulfill the role of both the man and the woman, something for which they were not created. Thus, they may appear very strong, yet they admit that their strength is only “as strong as glass.” They hate it so very much, yet they have no option. Thus, especially in times of confusion, they need a strong leader to listen to them and then say ok, here’s what is going on, here’s what we need to do, and then take them by the hand and say let’s do it together, I am here for you and with you. Yet, there is no one to do that (at least right now). The fact that some of my sisters are in this position truly breaks my heart; I am literally in tears as I am typing this! It breaks my heart because I see so many of my sisters, whom I love very much in the Lord caught in these types of situations. I see (at least to some degree) what needs to be done, what needs to happen, where the growth points are, where they need to be healed, and yet, I am a man under authority and it is not always my place to help beyond a certain point. It feels like watching someone drowning in the water, seeing the life raft, having the ability to throw it in, yet not being able to because it is not my place, I do not have the right or authority to help them. Thus, I listen, encourage, sometimes exhort, and mostly pray for them, all the while not having the liberty to truly help them. To those ladies that I have spoken with, please don’t misunderstand this section. You are not a burden to me, I love being there for you as much as I am allowed to be and nothing thrills my heart more that talking with you, praying for you, and helping however I can to bear your burdens… it is my joy, my privilege, and my heart! You truly have no idea how much I love and care for you in Christ! My point is that I constantly have to fight the temptation to step in where I have no authority. You see, that authority belongs to your future husband. There is a bonding that takes place when a man “takes a woman by the hand” and leads her and only a foolish man would violate this. Now understand that I am not saying that I / we can’t help at all, but there is a level of intimacy and leadership that must not be violated (this is why when I am counseling, I only help so far). Thus, I long for the day when I can finally use the giftings the Lord has blessed me with, take my future beloved by the hand, and go to the throne of Christ for healing! Finally, to all of the ladies, be encouraged that there are Godly men around (among whom I would love to be counted, yet dare not count myself) who are ready, willing, and able to help, lead, and love you!


I have much to say on this one as I have seen it all too often, yet I want to season my speech with grace and love. So far in this part, I have discussed things that are quite troublesome and need to be corrected, yet are at least somewhat understandable as they are the result of a need for healing. Thus, in the above sections I took more time to try to explain the “whys” so that there might be more understanding. Though pride can come from a need for healing, it is a much more serious issue. Thus, in this section, I will continue to try to exhort, yet you will notice a difference in its treatment.

Ok, for this one I will go back to the supply and demand analogy. When supplies are limited and demand is high, two things happen. The first is that people go crazy (tickle me Elmo goes berserk), which we’ve already discussed. The second is that the price goes up. With so many Godly young men asking a girl out, or at least demonstrating interest, it is easy for pride to enter the picture. At this point, I must say that this observation is not directly from me. Though I recognized it in part, I had no idea how deep and wide-spread it is. One dear sister in Christ and I have spoken about these things on a number of occasions and she kept telling me “it’s pride Aaron, just pride.” I really didn’t understand for a long time. We are (or at least I am) so conditioned to think of men struggling with pride that we sometimes forget ladies fall to it as well. Also, since it is a human condition, women fall to it just as deeply… though maybe not in the same ways. I have discussed and observed three basic types of pride in the women here, which will be discussed below. Of course, I am not saying that all of the women here are necessarily prideful in all or any of the following ways… once again, speaking in terms of the grand scheme and the big picture of possibilities.

Ok the first form of pride is the “pearl necklace.” As this sister has explained to me, and several others, some girls pride themselves in the number of guys that they have interested in them. They will get together, or even in general conversation, brag about how they have this guy and that guy after them and they just can’t make up their mind who they want and so on and so on. This is the most offensive form of pride. Be sure to note that there is a BIG difference between sincerely not being sure, and becoming prideful about the decision. Also, it is only ok to be “making up your mind” for a short period of time, assuming more than one guy approached you at about the same time. It is an entirely different thing after you are in a relationship or after a period of time. Anyway, the exact quote (from my female friend) is that they “wear them like a string of pearls,” showing all of the other girls, and even the guys, how “worthy” they are. Thus, they “string along” a number of guys refusing to settle for anyone but the best, inciting competition and all manner of ungodliness (sometimes even holding out because there is probably yet another “better” one). They continue doing so, feeding their self-worth, engorging themselves in attention and pride.

I have to be very, very careful in the way that I address this one because to be quite honest, it really makes me upset (and thus, I must remind myself of my own pride). There is SO much wrong with this one, but I will address this very briefly as I don’t want to speak too harshly. First, this is the antithesis of Christian love and reveals a very carnal mind. This type of girl is using other people for her own gratification. This is not self-sacrifice, this is self-aggrandizement… and is a direct affront to God. It is bad enough to be prideful within yourself, it is another to use and hurt others to feed yourself. Second, she is proving herself unworthy in that she obviously sees him not as a brother in Christ, but as a toy, an object put on this earth to please her. The fact that she would play with her brother’s emotions and heart in this manner proves her to be the most contemptuous of women, having no regard for his wellbeing before Christ, but only her fleeting pleasure. Third, she is flaunting supposed “success” before her sisters, stirring up envy and jealousy (especially among those that already feel unworthy or don’t seem to have anyone interested in them). This too is deeply disturbing and proves her worthy of no one, not even the least of all in that she has no honor and no respect for anyone above herself. So, now, she is hurting and upsetting both her brothers and her sisters.

The second form of pride is the idea of “holding out” because there’s bound to be someone better. This will be addressed much more in the next part (part 3), though from a slightly different angle than the scope of this particular post. Nevertheless, this is where a lady, no matter how good the guy, refuses to settle for anything less than perfection. Now, if you ask her, she would say she doesn’t expect perfection, yet the moment she sees anything “wrong” with him, she moves on to the next guy. This is the most foolish of all the forms of pride (if it were actually possible to rank them). I’m just going to say this plainly… she needs to grow up. To use the cliché, there has only been one perfect man and He’s engaged and returning for the church! One last repetitive thought on this one… if you are here at the seminary and you are a single lady, you will never again be surrounded by so many Godly young men (and I would say the inverse to the men… you will never again be surrounded by so many Godly young women). Again, I will be addressing this much more in-depth in the next part, so forgive the short nature if its treatment.

The third form has already been addressed indirectly, but is worth mentioning. It is the idea that everyone is interested. This is probably the most subtle (and thus common) form of pride because, quite frankly, the ladies are in short supply and are therefore in high demand. Yet it is sinful to assume that every guy that is around you or that smiles at you is “after” you. As hard as it is, you must do as one of my other sisters has told me she does. She does not assume anything until he explicitly tells her. Thus, even though her “spidey senses” may be going off, she checks herself the best she can, and just acknowledges him as a brother in Christ. Beyond this, work on general and genuine humility. You must find the balance between seeing yourself as valuable and seeing yourself too highly. The best way to do this is to pray that God would help you see / perceive through His eyes. Thus, you will see who you really are in Him, yet be reminded (and humbled) by seeing yourself as you are outside of Him. Where pride is involved, other things naturally result, the least of which is, thinking too much of yourself, ignoring guys, and treating them poorly simply because they are guys. This is damaging to both yourself and your brothers and most importantly, it is not honoring to Christ.

--A Few Closing Thoughts

Now before closing, let me be clear; there is nothing more sinful in the female responses than the male response, or the other way around. Again, we all have our own particular weaknesses and some of them fall on gender lines. Thus, I hope that you will realize that I am not trying to be any more harsh on one side or the other (and I hope that I am, in fact, not being).

Also, there are many, many brothers and sisters on this campus that do NOT fall into the “bad” things that I have described thus far. There are many very Godly young men and women on this campus that truly “get it.” I would love to publicly praise them all, but I could never remember all of their names and wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. I guess the best example I can think of (though there are many) is one time a while back when a single young lady walked into the laundry room in Fuller Hall where a few guys (including myself) were sitting there talking (about what else :). We quickly changed to some random subject and she, knowing one of the guys, walked over and joined the conversation for about a half-hour. It is sad that I was surprised, but it sticks in my memory quite well because she was “just a sister” and wasn’t acting weird or making up her mind to come back later. No, she knew the one guy, heard a conversation, introduced herself to us, and had a good conversation with some brothers in Christ. She may or may not remember this as that is simply who she is, but it was encouraging. May God continue to lead, guide, and heal His children!!!

Jan 5, 2008

A Continued Moment of Sobriety

Don't fear, the next post in the series is coming very very soon (probably Monday :)


Hey guys, this is just a continuation of my previous post “A Moment of Sobriety.” Please take the time to read that one as I don’t want to waste time repeating myself… I am just overly burdened at realizing my sin, especially when realizing the depth of my sin. As I mentioned in that note, I have recently realized a critical attitude and form of arrogance that I have not had to fight in a while. By nature of saying that, I also admit my faults in not fighting it in the way that I ought to… once again, I have fallen into complacency and dropped my guard. I spoke on this in the last note and definitely stand by what I wrote. Yet I have come to realize that the problem is larger and deeper than I thought, even when I wrote the last note. This is not who I have grown to be in Christ, yet I have allowed myself to slip back into my old, sinful ways.

I had a group of friends over this afternoon and dearly enjoyed the fellowship. Yet, I caught myself several times making comments (subtle or otherwise) that I should not have and putting others down, instead of building them up (as I have a few other times lately). It would be easy to label this “fine tuning” in terms of sanctification, and perhaps it is somewhat; yet it is deeper than that, and much more vile. The truth is that others may or may not have noticed as they were the type of comments that normally accompany our sinful natures and that we all fall into if we don’t watch things carefully (even still, there is no excuse!). Often we preface them with, well, this person is great… except (or with some other similar qualifier). The idea is that if we “show” that we love the person first, we then have the freedom to “honestly point out” their faults. In accountability directly to this person, or in ministerial conversations (pastoral concern), etc, where the goal is to reason through things so as to help the person, I think this is fine. Yet, all too often we (I) use these premises as an excuse for “sanctified gossip / slander.” In this note I am not accusing anyone other than myself of making such comments. To those in attendance, I am very sorry for not guarding my tongue and not being the man that God has created me to be. Also, I want to apologize to any that have been around me during this season… I am deeply grieved for being a reproach on the name of Christ and for slandering any of my brothers and sisters. Again, I ask for accountability… if you hear me doing this, please call me out. Despite my sinfulness, I love each of you very much (all my friends, not just those here tonight) and am torn to pieces at the thought of offending you directly or indirectly.

Upon realizing the depth of this sin, I have “pulled out” a few older meditations. They are not profound or new, but they are true.

Bottom line, how can I judge anyone? I can declare based on the authority of scripture that something is wrong, but it is not my place to judge any person’s motives or heart… I am not the measuring stick. If on a hypothetical “holiness” scale of 1 to infinity (where Christ’s holiness is infinite), let’s assume that I am a 1.5 (and this is admittedly a nonsensical argument as there is no such thing as holiness apart from Christ, especially where I am concerned) and let’s assume that I genuinely see someone else (true perception) who is a 1.25… it is still wrong to look down on them… for what is that compared to the infinite! More importantly, by even entering into this thought, I prove myself “less” than they are. We are not comparing ourselves to others, but to Christ. Beyond this, since when is our sinful perception actually correct?! Chances are, if we perceive ourselves at a 1.5, we are quite a bit lower than that. Further, if we perceive someone else at 1.25, chances are they are higher. I mean, we make such snap judgments with such partial knowledge that we cannot possibly be correct. Use this example… take one frame from a film that is two hours long. Most 35 mm film travels at a speed of 24 frames per second. Thus, if we run the numbers, the overall averages are 24 frames per second, 1440 frames per minute, 86,400 frames per hour, and 172,800 frames in a 2 hour movie!!! Even if I take 10% of those frames, I am only “seeing” 17,280 frames and missing 155,520. That is NOT enough to “see” who that person is. Thus, not only are we condemned by our own system (if we try to use this one), but the entire paradigm is wrong as Christ is the measure… thus, there is none righteous! Second, it is a matter of rights. God is the only one with perfect perception, thus He is able to judge righteously. To judge someone (again intents, not actions clearly expressed in scripture) is to assume perfect knowledge (again, using the film illustration above) and since that is something which belongs only to God, it is blasphemy! Third, the very nature of love is to build up, not to tear down. It is the antithesis of love to speak negatively, especially to put down. This is nothing short of evil!

Thus, once again, I desperately ask forgiveness and sincerely hope that I am catching this early enough that my sin has gone unnoticed (humanly speaking), yet am not naive enough to think it so. I say this not because I want to hide my sin (otherwise I would not post this), but because once again, I am hoping that I have not hurt or offended any that I love. My offense is ultimately against God and was not and cannot be hidden. Thus, I would rather fall into the merciful and righteous hands of Christ for my own sin, than to offend one of His children and add sin upon sin (2 Sam 24 among others).