thoughts on love & relationships//Brian Barnett

This begins a week of hearing from Cru staff and student men. We are really excited about all the wisdom and encouragement they will share. Enjoy!
Men writing advice on a women’s blog!?!? 
Yuck! Cooties! Girls Rule, Boys Drool! Ew! (Jimmy Fallon’s “Ew” sketch is ringing in my ears).
I can hear the women screaming and running away while typing “:(:(:(”. All kidding aside, we have so much we can learn from each other. I’ve been married to Brooke for 7 ½ years and she has taught me so much about myself and about the Lord.
Here’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned/noticed/admired about Brooke:
She loves God & Christ passionately more than anything else. And not in just the romanticized version of following Jesus. (And not in the dogmatic law-abiding way of following God.) Her relationship with God is authentic, takes perseverance, is full of joy in the midst of heartache, and is full of a humble dependence on God in prayer. And her relationship with God naturally flows by faith into sacrificially serving and loving people.  
By being with her I’ve experienced an authentic follower of Christ. More importantly, I’ve experienced an authentic follower in Christ.

Note: (don’t miss this!) The point isn’t Brooke, the point is faith displaying itself in love and humility and authenticity. The point is to surround yourself with these types of people. To become that person yourself. To then bring love and life to people who aren’t like you, who don’t think like you, who don’t believe like you. The point is to become all that God has made you to be. To become the person that God already views you to be! To become who you are in Christ.

There are hundreds of promises in the Bible about those who are in Christ. For example, in Christ we are a new creation, in Christ there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God, and that in Christ we have been given peace that surpasses understanding that will always guard our hearts and mind.

My favorite in Christ verse:For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6 NIV.  (Let’s read the Message Version for a little more insight.) “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is: faith expressed in love.”

When we are truly living our lives inChrist (dependent on Him, fixing our eyes on Him, letting His love live in and through us), than the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love.
Your religious laws don’t matter. 
The pressure you put on yourself to be a certain way or think a certain way, doesn’t matter. The importance of how this guy or that girl views you, doesn’t matter. 

The only thing that matters in Christ is a faith that loves God deeply and a faith that sacrificially and passionately loves people. This is what I admired the most in Brooke when I met here as a sophomore in college. This is what I love the most about her still today.

Being a follower of Christ is good. But being a follower in Christ is gooder (better!).
Check out a list of the promises of being inChrist here.

Love & Relationships//part two


What advice can you give to (All the Single Ladies!)? 


{Maggie}

Beyoncé just started playing in your head right? You’re welcome. I am here to speak to the ladies about being single. Even I see this blog title and I’m like welp, I don’t need any relationship advice because I’m not in one. But this blog is good for us single ladies too. It’s a reminder that our identity isn’t found in a boyfriend/husband it’s in Jesus, and our deep longings/desires can only be fully satisfied in the Lord. Hearing from our married ladies on staff is great because it puts into perspective what it’s like to be married, but also how it’s not the fairytale that we concoct in our heads whenever we watch a ROMcom. Being single is hard. Being in a relationship is hard. Perfect love, God’s “love is patient, kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…etc. (1 Cor 13:4-8.)  But because we have sin, our love for other people is messy. We are impatient, sometimes rude, jealous, prideful, and demanding. What’s with that? Then we go and expect the guy to fulfill 1 Cor 13:4-8 and he can’t. We are not perfect beings. There are seasons we go through in life where we are single, and where we are in a relationship. The bible doesn’t speak to how long these seasons are, but to wait on the Lord. Patience is something that I’ve been learning over the years through past relationships, and being single and wanting so badly to have someone. God calls us to be patient and wait on him.

I remember when I learned that patience isn’t just simply waiting and being annoyed or pushy about it, but having a worshipful heart whilst waiting for God’s timing. You don’t have to worry. God’s timing is perfect. He is never early, and never late. Personally I’m all about being on time, so I should appreciate this right? But it’s still hard. Once you let go of the idea that a man can make all your dreams come true, and accept that God has a plan, you grow closer to God in the waiting. He (God) delights in you, he cherishes you, he pursues you. You are worth the pursuit. Don’t settle. Don’t believe the lies that you aren’t good enough. Straight up lies. God is molding you and shaping you to be more like Him. He is preparing your heart in ways we can’t even see for what He has planned in our future whether that is marriage or singleness.

{Laura}
Remember marriage is not a promise the Lord has given you. It’s not like His promise to lead us through His Word or His promise to provide for all our needs. There is no promise for marriage. I know–it may be an easier thing for me to say now as a married woman. But my heart’s desire is for you to guard yourself from putting all your hopes and dreams into something that may not ever be a reality. It’s like dreaming about getting that brand new iPhone 6 and never getting it…but a million times worse because it involves your heart and from your heart flow the springs of life. So guard it. Be wise. Appreciate things that go along with marriage, but when your mind starts to picture yourself walking down the aisle before it’s actually a reality for you, please, dear sisters, take caution. 

When you were single what were the important things you were looking for in a future husband?

{Brooke}

1.He had to be someone that was well-respected on campus and in life. Not known as a flirt but as a man of God.
2. He loved people well and was kind to all no matter what–I noticed this right away when I met Brian. He is one of the kindest and sincerest people I have ever come across…to this day I have never heard him make a judgmental or harsh comment about anyone. I am so thankful for this about him—he challenges me to be more like Christ all the time.
3. He would live life with people that know Jesus and don’t yet know Jesus. For me, I really wanted to be in missions & ministry for the long haul. So, I wanted to make sure that the guy was already living missionally and living with eternity in mind.
4. A good time and full of laughter!

Above all—be prayerful. Ask God for a man that is upright, Godly, etc. God cares about these details in your life. You don’t have to strive and make every guy that comes along your path notice you. Rest in the Lord, pray, and if there is a guy that God wants you to be married to–He will do it. Trust in that & Rest in that.


If you haven’t already– read You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. Brian and I are reading a chapter a week together this semester and loving the challenge of living and loving in light of eternity.
Is there any scripture that you prayed single/ dating that relates to relationships that was encouraging to you during that stage?

{Heather} 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 –>> These verses were particularly meaningful to me when I was in a relationship that I felt like I needed to end because it wasn’t healthy or glorifying to God. I realized how it was hindering my relationship with God and distracting me from fixing my eyes on Jesus. It was difficult at the time, but God really worked in my life in ways that I don’t know if He would have been able to if my eyes were fixed on that relationship instead of Him.

 

Love & Relationships//part one

We’ve asked some men in our life to share with you next week things they desire for you to know about relationships and dating! First, we want to share some of our thoughts on relationships with you. So whether you are single, dating, or engaged, we hope this will spur you on to love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.


Part 1:
What advice have you heard about dating/marriage that has stuck with you?
{Brooke} 
Recently I was listening to a Matt Chandler sermon(Pastor of the Village church in Texas).  He was talking about Biblical Manhood…and he paused to address the female audience and he said something to the effect of, —> Ladies, set the bar high when it comes to who you want to marry.  You are valuable…don’t settle for a guy that is just okay!  If you are lonely-get a cat because the cat won’t cause you the heart break of some boy who can shave will.  Wait for a man– a man that loves God with his whole heart and desires to serve people and love people and live out Biblical manhood. Don’t treat yourself cheaply!. —>   Strong words from Matt Chandler but I LOVED IT.  It’s so worth it to wait for a guy that’s worth waiting for.  And, if he never comes–it’s okay and good to be single!  I’ve written a little about waiting seasons here.

To listen to the Matt Chadler series, “A Beautiful Design” go here.

{Heather}

Tim Keller’s sermon series on marriage and dating really helped prepare my heart for marriage. There was so much great stuff that it’s difficult to pick out just one thing, but I’ll try. I realized that I had an unhealthy expectation that marriage would solve all my problems and completely fulfill all my longings (or at least most of them). That thinking is dangerous when you’re dating, but it’s even more so after you’re married. Marriage is really beautiful and fulfilling in a lot of ways, but it was never meant to hold all that weight of your happiness. It will crush your spouse if you are expecting him to resolve all your loneliness, make you feel beautiful at all times, or give your life meaning.

“Why did God come down through Jesus? He was trying to get his wayward bride back. He was crucified by his own bride. As Jesus was on the cross looking down, realizing what it would take for him to stay and love us to the end, He stayed.”

Jesus is the lover of our souls, and our ultimate satisfaction can only be found in Him–whether you are married or not.


{Meg}
There were times during my time as a single woman that things were really challenging that I now treasure so much more as a (freshly!) married woman. Learning what it looks like to be content and find my identity in Jesus alone was the biggest thing. Throughout trials as a single woman, I was forced to come face to face with the fact that I didn’t actually believe that God loves me. As I sought Him and sought Scripture, I “have come to know and to believe the love that God has for me” as it says in 1 John 4:16. As I grew in my contentment in having my identity in Jesus alone, by the power of the Holy Spirit and submitting to him, I was able to see that my circumstances or my relationship status didn’t define me. Jesus did and what He says about me is my truest identity. Now that I am married (which is still weird to say), I see that God was using that time to prepare me to not find my identity in John-Mark, but instead to find my identity in Jesus. When John-Mark fails me, I still can remain secure in Jesus and His unfailing faithfulness and goodness.  Now that we are married, my life is entwined into John-Mark’s, but it is not found in John-Mark.  That key has led to a healthier relationship with him from the beginning than it would have been otherwise.
What caught your attention about your spouse? 

{Heather}

I met Ramsey at a conference for Cru staff in our region, so I knew we had similar passions from the start (for God, the Great Commission, and college students to name a few). There’s A LOT that caught my attention about Ramsey but here are two things:  This may seem like a silly one, but I found out he helped with finances for our region which showed me he was financially responsible, a hard worker, and willing to serve in ways that weren’t glamorous. Something else I learned about Ramsey not long after we met was that he lost his mom a few years before. To know that Ramsey continued to walk with God through such difficult circumstances told me a lot about his character. 

{Meg}
I had known John-Mark for a long time, so I had seen the good and the bad and I knew the things about him that could potentially bother me before we started dating.  But what really drew me to him was the fact that I saw that He was a man of character who loved Jesus, sought Him, and was a man that I respected. I saw him grow over time before we started dating seriously a year and a half ago, so I was privileged to watch God grow him and transform him into a man of maturity. He is someone who not only can I be my most true self around (which is a gift!) but who also makes me more ME and more of the woman that God is creating me into.  We have fun together and he challenges me to grow. I love that about him. It’s so not worth it to settle for someone who is less than what God has intended for you.  Find a man who loves Jesus more than he loves you and who you can respect and want to follow for the rest of your life. That’s what matters.
{Laura}
My top priority was wanting a man that would point me towards God because of his own love for Him. I wanted to thirst for God more than the man. The first time Dan and I sat to talk, we only had an hour and a half to get to know one another. There were so many things we could have talked about for 90  minutes but Dan constantly was steering the conversation towards spiritual things. It wasn’t in an awkward or forced way–it was simply because his mind was dwelling on things above. I walked away from it honestly not knowing if I would ever talk to Dan again. But rather than leaving me with my mind spinning about him, Dan left me thinking, “I want to know Jesus more like he does”. That was really special to me. 

Tomorrow we continue with Part 2.
& next week will be posts from Tidewater and RVa Cru staff & student men! 

Photo credit: Tyler & Ashley Herrinton
Models: Josh and Hannah Young