Five Things Fridays {Relationships} // Meg

Continuing on the trend of love and relationships, with last week’s post about singleness, I thought I’d share five things about relationships that we tend to forget in the moment. There are so many things I could share – and even all five things I wrote that I learned in singleness, I further learned in dating – but here are five things about relationships I thought would be worth sharing.  Things we often forget.
1.  There’s no perfect formula. It’s easy often to want to create boundaries or limitations on certain things to avoid hurt, pain, conflict, or even awkwardness. But one thing I’ve learned about relationships – my own and in seeing others’ – is that there is no perfect formula. The Bible doesn’t lay out a plan of attack so to speak about how to navigate dating.  Maybe that’s for our good. We each have different journeys spiritually, and of course there are some boundaries that God has established for our good and within the confines of marriage or in how we relate with one another. But in terms of how things should happen – and when – as you begin to date, I wonder if God creates us to have different journeys in relationships for a greater dependence on Him.  Remember how comparison is the thief of joy in singleness? It’s also the thief of joy in relationships.  There’s no perfect formula.

2.  Jesus matters. We often hear in relationship talks or at retreats or on Christian blogs that it is important keep Jesus at the center of our relationships. But what does that mean? Maybe it means asking yourself things regularly like: Am I walking with Jesus? Am I growing in my faith? Does this person encourage me in that? Am I praying for our relationship, for him, or for things in general?  Is the person I’m dating someone who walks with Jesus on their own, or are they solely walking with me as I walk with Jesus?  As my former campus director always would say, look for someone who looks to you and says “you’re second” behind God.  Maybe that means taking time on your own to put God first, and other things second before you date. Maybe you’re learning what that looks like while dating. Regardless, it matters that we treasure Jesus. For you, and for your relationship.

3.  Habits we create now are habits we continue with.  There are ups and downs in our walks with Jesus and with relationships in general. We won’t always be on a spiritual incline in our growth, and there will be times when things are hard or where we slip up.  In anything, though, in our purity, our interactions, even our conflict resolution, the habits we create now are often the habits we continue with and the habits we have a hard time turning around.  So, consider, single or dating, what it means to create healthy, Biblical/godly habits in your life personally and in your relationship. The further you get in, the more you’ll see that those things initially that seemed “not a big deal” or just occasional instances have now become routine or led into deeper issues.  Surrender to Jesus now, yielding to the Holy Spirit and seeking Him to change you.  Create those good habits.  They’ll continue with you.

4.  Girl friends are irreplaceable.  When you’re dating someone – especially in the early stages when everything is all fun and exciting and lacking in any conflict or reality – it can be easy to focus solely on that one person.  Your life begins to revolve around them.  But in the same way that Jesus is our identity as singles, He’s also our identity as dating/engaged/married.  And in the same way that our friendships matter when we’re single, they’re so significant when we’re not.  I love my husband and he’s my best friend.  But there are just some things that I need women’s insight into, or companionship for.  God created us for relationship, yes. But don’t let all else go.  Friendships are so valuable and women are so significant in our lives.  Maintain those friendships.  You’ll need them more than you think.

5.  Relationships are a really good thing, but they’re not the only thing. Let’s be real: relationships are fun!  Learning to love someone and put someone before yourself is great.  Dating and getting engaged and married is sweet. Sure, you may go through breakups and hard times and make questionable choices along the way… but still they’re worth it. God created us to be know others deeply and care for them as well.  The first relationship we see between people in the Bible is marriage – that’s how much he prizes relationships.  But they’re not everything.  They don’t replace God on the throne of our lives.  So, enjoy where you are.  Have fun.  Learn all that you can in and out of a relationship.  But keep God as your focus, and walk in the Spirit, sensitive to His direction. Lean in. Learn. Grow.  Be willing to let God direct you. Relationships are a good thing, but they’re not the only thing.

For a helpful resource about way more dating topics than I could ever dream of covering, check out this book by Shelby Abbott: I am a Tool. He covers all the things you’re probably wondering about that I don’t cover in this post, with lots more wisdom, experience, research, and insight. I highly recommend it!

Five Things Fridays {Singleness} // Meg

Before I start I want to clarify something. Often times we see marriage/relationships vs. singleness with a “one-up/one-down” mentality. Either marriage is above singleness, meaning marriage and accomplishing “every” person’s dream of love and happiness at whatever age you did (the earlier the better) and settling into your own corner of happily ever after is a one up, and singleness – “I just wish you were as happy as us” – is one down. Or, singleness is above marriage, meaning if you’re single, free, living the life, without anyone or anything to tie you down, you’ve got a leg up on the rest of everyone else who sold their souls to the ancient “ball and chain” trap that we call marriage. Sometimes you have marriage as a one up when you’re single, or singleness as one up when you’re married. Sometimes it’s the opposite.

But does the scale work like that? 

If we’re comparing the two, I’m pretty sure instead of a vertical comparison (one-up/one-down), your relationship status is horizontal (side by side) when compared with others.  Not that one is better or worse off than the other, but instead that you’re living your life and they are living their lives and you are experiencing different parts of life. Not better. Not worse.

So… here we go. From that perspective. Five things that I learned to value in singleness.

1.  It’s worth learning.  I’ve been through all the stages in my overwhelmingly longer experience as a single (vs dating/married) woman. Bitter. Sad. Lonely. Envious. Joyful. Content. Apathetic. Embracing it. I have to say, though, one thing I learned to value in singleness is the learning part. I’m so thankful for the time I had in college and post-college to learn to be content and embrace where God had me in life.  Regardless of how long or short your single life is, it’s worth learning through it, processing through it, and leaning into God for what He wants to teach you – in the hard and the not so hard parts.

2.  Embracing that life started when Jesus saved my soul and not in my future “ideal” scenario. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times.  Abundant, eternal LIFE started the moment I became a believer. Not the day I got married. Is it worth it to do things or buy things or enjoy things that I used to look forward to beginning to do once I got married? Yes! Budgeting. Decorating. Growing in my faith. Learning to cook. Going on adventures. Are those things that only can happen within the confines of marriage? Definitely not. I learned to embrace the life God had given me.  I had great value as a single woman. I have great value now.  My status doesn’t change that.  Jesus did.

3.  Cultivating deeper relationships with my dating/engaged/married/married with kids friends in addition to my single friends. This one I can’t emphasize more. I LOVED the way I got to be close with my single friends in a unique way. But also, I absolutely LOVE that I learned how to be friends with people in different life stages than me. One of my dearest friends and I are like that. She married at 20, had baby boy at 21 and baby girl at 26. I went to grad school at 22, interned til 25 and got married at 26.  Were we/are we still in totally different life stages? Absolutely. But oh my goodness, how sweet our friendship is! I would never trade it. I’ve learned from her, loved and been loved by her family, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on that.  Just because you’re in a different stage than someone else does not deny you the ability to love and care for and learn from them well. I’d argue the opposite.  It adds richness to life.

4.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  Thanks Teddy Roosevelt for that quote. But oh my goodness.  This was me in college. Honestly, it’s me now.  Let’s be real.  The second I started to give way to comparing my life to my friends’ lives in college who were dating, the second I lost joy in where I was and where they were in life. I’m thankful for friends who loved me even when I was bitter that they were dating.  When I began to learn to be honest in conversation with them and to seek Jesus as the definer of my identity (because He is), I was able to be joyful in where God placed me.  Comparison steals joy.  It just does.
5.  Here’s the kicker: My value doesn’t come from my relationship status. It comes from Jesus.  Learning as a single woman that my identity, contentment, and value came from Jesus set me up well once I did date, get engaged, and get married.  As tempting as it can be to make my husband my identity now as a newlywed, Jesus has already rooted me in Him.  God anchored me to Him then and I’ve been able to fall back on that now. I’m SO thankful for that.  So thankful.  My identity is in Jesus and who He says I am.  It’s not whether or not I can check any given box on a survey about my relationship status.  Thankfully.  How empty would that be!?

Ultimately, I’m thankful for a God who gave me time in His sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom, to wrestle. To go through stages of acceptance of where He had me in life.  I’m thankful for a God who showed me what it meant to put my identity fully in Him regardless of my circumstances.  I failed at it, a lot, and at times it was really really hard. But I treasure that time and I’m thankful for it.  
Five things. Singleness. Value.  I’m barely scratching the surface… So…

What about you? What have you learned to value about singleness?

I’d love to hear!

Anonymous Friday//2 guys share

First of all, I am really honored to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and encouragement with you about what I think God has taught me about singleness, dating, and relationships.  In trying to answer this, I did what I always do when faced with tough questions; I asked, “What do the fairy tales and chick flicks have to say about this topic?”  Well, as it turns out, it is pretty simple.  Clearly, the guy and girl fall in love, experience a dilemma perhaps,  and then live happily ever after, giving fulfillment and worth to one another.  The end.  Of course this is not really how I would answer this question, and when we turn to the Bible,  we see that maybe the fairy tales, chick flicks, and possibly even much of the world has it wrong when it comes to relationships and love.  God has a much better plan for you.  What God says is that you have worth and value aside from anyone else, and when you chase after Him, you will find the truest satisfaction and hope.

So where does your value and worth come from and what does that mean?  Well when your value is derived from an infinite God, you are infinitely valued.  That is tough to grasp, but wow.  Ladies, no guy but Jesus Christ can do that for you.  When you truly find your value and worth in what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are freed.  “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own … But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14.  Run towards the prize, what lies in your past does not define you if your identity is found in Christ.  No longer will you find satisfaction in attention from boys. No longer is there a battle with self image.  You are free to be the woman that God has created you to be.  So keep running toward that prize.  If you look up and God has a man in your life, you better make sure he is running for that same prize.  Remember this, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. When you know that the God of the universe has sent His only son to die for you, to make you righteous before the throne of God, you know you are already loved -Anonymous, Tidewater Cru Student 
 I have been single for what seems like a long time now. So relationship advice would not be my forte! But being single for me is honestly what I believe is best for me right now. I am very involved on campus, and school work really keeps me busy as well- I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people. I’m growing with the Lord right now, too. I really believe that relationships should not distract you from God and I can honestly say for myself that I’m not there yet.             –Anonymous, Tidewater Cru student