Monday, February 1, 2010

Unfading Beauty

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
- 2 Peter 3:3-4

When I was a youth worker, I was bombarded by the comments of teenage girls that went something like, "I need a boyfriend!" The desire to have a person to relate to when we are single is normal and healthy – it’s what we do with the desire that matters. Those comments seemed to come more in the summer when students have more time to think about the feelings of loneliness or the longings for companionship. It’s normal to want to be held, comforted or cherished by someone. Sometimes even adults long for relationships. When those feelings come I've observed a few things I will share here. 

First, when women feel these desires and longings the most intensely, it’s often the most dangerous time to act on them. Second, when single women feel these yearnings they often settle for unhealthy relationships. Third, when single young women feel these desires they often focus on guys and don’t let God prepare them to be the women He wants them to be! Fourth, when women feel these yearnings they often expect another person to fill them completely, which is not possible.

When a woman desires a mate, it’s no different than what Adam felt when God paraded pairs of animals in front of him to make him aware of his need of companionship. God didn’t make us to be alone. One thing that could drive our desires to get out of hand is not spending enough time with God so He can fill our love needs – dating or getting married to meet needs only God can meet directs our hearts away from God. Dating or getting married because one’s family is failing to meet our needs makes us more vulnerable to sin and sets us up to feel even less satisfied. This is because only God can heal unmet needs from our past. Not spending enough time with other believers also makes us vulnerable to sin as they can satisfy some of our social needs. We may look to a boyfriend to give us a feeling of belonging that can be met in realizing we belong to God and His family.

The second danger is that we often settle for less than what God wants us to have when we develop unhealthy relationships. When we get married, it's God's desire that our husbands love us as Christ loved the church. To be honest the number of young men I know in high school or college who understand that is very small. They haven't grown enough in Christ yet to understand the concept. As a result, many guys who claim to be Christians have pressured girls in to sexual relationships. It’s important for young women to realize that young men are still growing and for us not to be in such a hurry for deeply committed relationships. Give God time to mature them and show them how to be the men He wants them to be. If you’re in a relationship have the courage to end it when a young man tries to lead you away from God or push you into things physically that are not right. Don't stay with a young man who isn't committed to your purity! If you stay with a young man who is violating your conscience, your conscience will be seared and you will go farther from God than you ever meant to go. Even though God will forgive you, you'll live with scars that will affect your future relationships.

Lastly, the verse in this passage is what God wants us to be in our marriages. If we get focused on getting a boyfriend we could prevent God from maturing us! We can get obsessed with the externals. I have seen young girls dress in ways that cause guys to look at them thinking that looking is "love" when it is really just lust. Some of the ways girls dress can keep guys focused on them when they should be learning about God. When you get married you want a man to love your inner qualities because that is the part of you that will not sag or wrinkle. You want them to appreciate the same qualities in you that God does. That would be character qualities like your gentleness, your quiet strength, your God-given ability to love sacrificially like Christ does. You don't want them to gravitate to you because you dress in a way that makes them lust. You want them to love you for being whom God created you to be. Let me encourage you to focus on God and growing in Him.

For the here and now, enjoy meeting lots of guys. By your modest dress and behavior and by your development of inner beauty, teach the guys in your life to value you like the Lord does. Please God in your dress and require guys respect and honor you as a child of God. Be patient and let God fill your needs and desires. He is preparing you for your spouse! If you need a hug, let your mom, dad, or mentor fill that need! If you are married, guard your marriage by developing a deep relationship with God, guarding your heart around other men, and working hard to grow your marriage into a rich and satisfying love relationship.

Prayer: Father, it was so fun to work with the young women you placed in my life. It was fun to see them recognize you have created them to need a partner. But, it was also scary because it was a vulnerable time when wrong choices were often made. Please speak into their lives the deep and pure love you have for them. Help them to be patient for Your perfect timing for a boyfriend and for a mate. Father, please surround them with people who love You and will love and encourage them as they mature. Prepare them and their future spouses for a lifetime of loving and serving You and protect them from the enemy's lies concerning dating and not being complete in You! Draw each of their minds towards You and lead them to that place of being totally intent on living lives fully devoted to You! Amen. Father for the married women who read this I pray that they will grow in You, nurture their marriages, and that they will constantly renew their minds with your truth. Let them each reflect Your tenderness as well as Your fierce devotion. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!