Thursday, November 13, 2008

PTGW Part Three A: Brothers in Christ

How you treat your brothers in Christ is important, whether you are married or not. Right now I want to just focus on friendships with guys.
Being friends with guys can help you to see them less as a potential husband and more as a person. At least, for a while. Then suddenly the attention that you get as his friend starts making you think that maybe you just might be just a little bit more than a friend to him. You start to want a closer friendship and when it gets closer (as it almost always does), you can't seem to stop thinking about it. You think about him all the time, wondering if he notices you. Suddenly you have a full fledged crush on your hands (yes, I know all about it, I had this happen when I was twelve). (I wrote a post about crushes if you are interested in reading it.)
But it is possible to have a casually friendly friendship with a boy without getting a serious crush on him (and, yes, I know from experience that this is possible). However, it does take some self discipline. Here are a few rules that I came up with for myself, some of them are based on my own experience, and some on the experiences of my (female) friends.

1. Never let the friendship get beyond a casual acquaintance. No telling secrets, and no making him your best friend.

2. No letting him tell you secrets. If he begins to do that, the red light should go on and you should kindly stop him. (Sometimes you can say something like "Thank you for your confidence, but I have a very open relationship with my parents, so please do not tell me anything that you do not want them to know." or if it is in an e-mail, you can remind him that your little sister reads your e-mails and so if he does not want her to know something he shouldn't tell you.)

3. Do not ever sit next to him and look into his eyes... this just doesn't do either of you any favors.

4. If you are upset about something or are insecure about something, do not tell him. Go to your parents instead.

5. If you aren't sure if you should say something, imagine telling your boy cousins... (Of course, most of the time, if you aren't sure that you should say something it means that you definitely shouldn't.)

6. Do not ever 'day dream'. No thinking about what your children would look like if he were their father (green eyes, blue eyes, brown eyes), no imagining yourself in danger and then imagining him coming and rescuing you (this one is important, a lot of young ladies have perfectly innocent friendships that suddenly turn romantic when they pretend that they were rescued or whatever). If you find yourself day dreaming get up and start doing some math, really hard math (No sewing or knitting, it is too uninteresting). ;-)

7. Even if your family is the huggy type, no hugging every week. Quick 'side hugs' are ok if it's someone's birthday. (But now that I think of it, the only hugs I give out are to my relatives, young ladies that I am friends with, and people that I only see once a year.)

8. Never fish for compliments by asking how you look or saying that you think you are ugly (that should go without saying, but I think that it is important to be reminded of).
With all of these rules you might wonder if it is even worth while to try being friends with boys at all. It is definitely worth it, and if you kind of are friends with the whole family and not just one person it makes everything a lot easier.
By now you might be wondering why this is important for preparing to be a good wife. If you are going to be a good wife shouldn't you be friends with boys? I mean, after all, how are they going to know if they like you if you aren't (close) friends with them?
Of course it is good to be (casual) friends with boys (especially in a family setting), and in some cases guys do decide to marry someone in their circle of friends at church. But this is where trusting God comes in. If God wants you to marry someone, it will happen. YOU CAN NEVER MARRY THE WRONG PERSON!!! You might end up with the right person after having done things the wrong way, but never the wrong person. And guess what? It isn't up to you to get emotionally close to boys just to see if they are the right one; that is a dating mentality.
You need to protect your purity, not just physical, but emotional and mental as well. If you have to compromise your emotional purity to 'get the guy', he's not worth it. You want someone that will be thankful that you are committed to keeping yourself pure, not someone that just wants to get the short term enjoyment of emotional closeness.
Also, if you get in the habit of getting close to one boy, and then growing apart and getting close to another boy and then growing apart (even if you have been friends for several years), it is not going to change after you get married. Oh sure, you will be close to your husband for a while, but then you will go through a time of disillusionment and suddenly you will see someone that understands you and if you aren't careful you could end up having an emotional affair with someone.

Now, some ways that you can tell if your friendship is getting too close. (Obviously I am not a guy, so I don't know exactly what these things would mean to a guy, but I do know that in a friendship they are a bad sign.)

1. If he starts telling you secrets (I know I already said this, but it bears saying again), you are getting too close.

2. If he wants to give you a hug every time you say goodbye, your friendship is too close.

3. If he starts e-mailing you every day or wanting to talk to you on the phone (phone is a big no-no... It's too easy to get close when you don't have to look at the person)

Ok, I'm sure that there are more but my mind is going blank. Now I'm going to give you a list of things that are fine in most cases.

1. Chatting (not online), or rather light hearted conversation is fine. Debating points is fine as long as it doesn't get personal.

2. E-mailing, now some families have different rules, but for me I decided that e-mails are alright as long as they're not every day and they're not too personal.

3. Being interested in what the other person is talking about (this is just common politeness as long as you're not hanging on every word).

4. Enjoying physical activities, such as freeze tag with the two families, can be fine. (But no playing "Sardines" or "Telephone Booth".) ;-)

Miss Jocelyn had a letter in her weekly section that said this.
"Dear Jocelyn,

I have a best friend who is a guy. He really likes to talk to me and is
very open with me, treats me really nice too. I’m glad that I can be a good
friend to him and encourage him in his walk with the Lord. The hard part is
knowing if the Lord will eventually make us more than “just friends.” I
know it’s all up to God and his timing but I wonder sometimes. Is this “the
one” or is there someone else? I know the best thing is just be a true friend to him but sometimes it’s hard!

He will be leaving soon to go to a cooking academy in South Africa and I’m
trying to act like that’s fine but inside I don’t want him to leave. What
do you think I should do? I know praying but anything else that might help?

Please keep me in your prayers"

Now, obviously, there is nothing wrong with this young lady. She is simply caught in the dilemma that faces every young lady that has a nice guy friend that treats her kindly and wants to talk to her. However, there are a few red flags that I saw in this letter and I'm going to show you a few of them...

1. "A best friend", you should never have a best friend that is a guy

2. "He really likes to talk to me and is very open with me". There is nothing wrong with talking, but being 'very open' doesn't sound good.

3. "I'm glad that I can be a good friend to him and encourage him in his walk with the Lord", yes it is good to encourage each other, but this should not be her job. This is for his parents and guy friends to do for him. This leads to too much closeness

4. "Is this 'the one' or is there someone else? I know the best thing is just be a true friend to him but sometimes it’s hard!" Don't try to be a true friend if you are wondering if he is one or is there someone else. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be friends, but a 'true friend' implies too much closeness. Back of a little on the friendship if it is getting too close.

5. "He will be leaving soon to go to a cooking academy in South Africa and I’m trying to act like that’s fine but inside I don’t want him to leave." This is perfectly normal; everyone hates it when people go away. But be careful that you don't start obsessing about him going away and making it up in your head that if he does go away you will never get married to him. (Well, maybe you won't, but that might mean that it is part of God's plan to take away your dependence on this boy and move it to God.)

The thing that I think is the most difficult for us is to depend on God instead of on man (literally). As women we want to be rescued, we want to be close to a man, we want him to desire us, we want his attention. And if we are not careful, we can end up in the position of never being able to be content where we are because we are always longing for something that we don't have. But I want to tell you something very important. No man on earth can fill that hole in our hearts. Oh sure, we might think that it is gone for a while, but after a little while suddenly it'll pop up again and we'll have to face the fact that this man is not a savior.
But if we can learn to allow God to fill that ache in our hearts, than when He does give us a husband we won't be devastated and think that we've married the wrong man if he can't fill that gap sometimes.

Hmm, I think that's about all I have to say for now. This was quite a long post, I hope it was clear!

Now, I want you to pray about your friendships with guys, and ask God if they are honoring to him, and if they're not then just back off a notch or two and bring it down to a more casual level. Also, look around at your friends (not to judge them) and pray for them and their friendships.

And lastly, pray that God would help you to be dependent on him and not on anyone else.

I hope that this was helpful, I'm always interested in what thoughts you have, so leave comments! :-) (And don't forget to check the comment section; often others will bring up very helpful and important points that I have forgotten.)


Hannah L. said...

Dear Joy,
Thank you so much--I really appreciate what you are doing here. It has been a blessing to read your posts.
I wanted to say, first, that has a very good post on this issue titled, "Brothers and Sisters in Christ."
It was very helpful for me.
Also, some things that I like to think about are
1) How the Proverbs 31 woman does her husband good and not evil ALL the days of her life--not just after marriage.

2) It helps to think about how God has ordained your future husband. I know many girls believe that, but if you keep it fresh in your mind you automatically don't tend to think about other boys that way. If you are going shopping with your family and a cute purse catches your eye, you might be tempted to buy it--unless you're saving your money to buy another one somewhere else. Then you aren't likely to even think about shopping through those other purses, are you?

3) Think about THEIR future wives. If you believe that your mate is ordained, then theirs must be too.
You don't want to risk their purity by (maybe unintentionally) distracting them from what God has in their future.

That was long, but it was even helpful for me to type out! Thank you so much, Joy.

Love in Christ,
Hannah L.

Joy said...

Hi Hannah L.!
Thank you for your comment! You are right on! Actually, I meant to bring up that point about them being future husbands, but by the time I got to the end of the post I forgot about it, so I am very glad that you brought it up! :-)
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the nice (long) comment! :-)
Have a great day!

Heather said...

My pastor said something very helpful in our church newsletter a couple months ago.

He (pastor) said that when men and women follow Christ He will bring them together in His own time. He also said that because the man will be head of the family it is his responsibility to take the initiative in finding a wife.

I found that very helpful because that means I don't have to worry about it, It's God's planning and PC's responsibility!

(PC stands for prince charming)


Anonymous said...

WONDERFUL answer to the letter Joy! I will tell my friend to stop over here and read this. I think she will be thankful for your input!


Krystal said...

I thought you raised a lot of good points here. It's always good to state the things that we know deep down inside. It kind of brings them to the surface.

When things are left unsaid, such as these kinds of guidelines, sometimes we act as if they're nonexistent... and that's not good!


Miss Elizabeth @ Walking In His Steps said...

Dear Joy,

I really enjoy all your post here. They are such a blessing to me. I realize I struggle with many things you post so by reading what you have to say is always an encouragement! Thank you again!!

Have a blessed day!

-Miss Elizabeth aka Ebell1993 @ homeschoolblogger

p.s. This post was excellent!

Brooke said...

Wonderfully written, Joy! You are such an encouragement to me and so many other young ladies.

Thank you for your writings and keep it up!

God bless,

Miss Herrin said...

Wonderful post Joy!!! Very encouraging! My birthday was a few weeks ago and my dad gave me a purity ring. You have so many good tips.
I have often wondered how I am to act toward boys. There is a boy in our Church who a year older than me and our families are very good friends. And I always wonder should go and say "hi" and start a conversation with him. Or would it be too froward? I have heard several times that you are to treat brothers in Christ as you treat your brothers. But my brothers will come up to and pat my back or give my a hug. So I had questions about this subject. But you answered them perfectly!! Thank you!!! God bless!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Joy,
This is my first time of reading your blog. I actually found the website by googling feminine hairstyles. :-) I really liked this post. It helped me with a friendship that I have right now. Your blog really helped me to see some points that I hadn't thought of. Thank you. God Bless.

In Christ,

Jessie-Bessie said...

Hi, just woundering what is the game telephone booth? I'm Australian and have never heard of it!

Joy said...

Hello Jessie!
The game Telephone booth is where everyone in the group tries to squeeze into the smallest space possible (ie: a telephone booth). And in my opinion it is not appropriate to be squished up against members of the opposite sex like that. :-)
Have a great day!

Bethany Anne said...

Dear Joy,
I don't want to start online arguments, but I do disagree with some of your points.
I will start out by stating that it is a tough line, especially for some Christian women who have been dreaming about marriage their whole life and get fluttery every time a guy looks at them. I have heard of several books geared towards this and waiting for the right one and I think your article touches on a similar point, focusing on not getting the flutteries or crushing on guy friends.
However, as a devoted Christian woman who does seek purity and truth, I have found many great friends in guys who have taught me so much. These friendships would never have happened if I followed the advice of not getting deep and confiding in each other. As you know, deep relationships come from openness with one another. Yes, I had a crush on both of these excellent friends at one stage in the friendship. I had to deal with it, and when the time passed, I was left with a very strong friendship which I expect to last just as long as my friendships with my high school girlies. So I applaud your article for some personalities, but I do know that great friendships with guys are possible with strength and the ability to "not ever 'day dream'", as you state in number 6. And of course, you have to make sure the guy does not have unwanted romantic thoughts about you, too. A good guy friend is a rare gem, but it can happen and is wonderful when it does.
Thank you for your article! It definitely made me reflect, as you can tell!