Saturday, October 1, 2011

Do you like me?

I had a thought today, one that is not original, new, or brilliant. It is, however, foundational, and necessary, and lacking in today's culture. For the huge majority of my life, it has been absent in my heart. So, naturally, I tweeted about it. This is a delicate topic, and I hope that no one reading this will feel as though I am judging them or calling them out. That is not my intention. If God uses this post to move someone's heart, or convict of behaviors or attitudes, that would be great. But it's not my intention to cause guilt or shame or make people feel judged. Anyway. This is what I tweeted:

Let me give you some background in my life. This will sound familiar to many of you, so I'll be brief.

For the last 8 years of my life, the opinion and affection of girls has been a major heart idol of mine. That this is a common idol to many, many people does not excuse its presence and effects in my life. I have played with girls' hearts, I have allowed myself to become an idol in their hearts, I have hurt them through my extreme selfishness and self-centeredness...and I have moved on, time and again, without true repentance or sorrow. It may have seemed, at times, that I had gotten it (think this), but I didn't.
With that background in mind, please believe me when I tell you that it has never been fulfilling to the extent that I hoped and believed it would be to know that a girl cared for me in the way that I cared for her (and in some cases, the girl cared for me in a much more admirable and deep way than I did for her).
I believe that, finally, God has brought me to the point of repentance and true sorrow. It took years of frustrating, empty relationships and the pain resulting from them for me to realize that all of the attention I craved and built my life and actions around really wasn't going to do it. I wince at the idea of how much pain I have caused through my destructive actions, at the unrestrained, impossible words, and at the sin I have committed, alone and with/to others.
The reason I'm telling you these things that I have done are in the hope that you will not go through similar situations. To a large extent, we learn from the things that we do. But it is my hope that you can learn from hearing from what others have done, too.
Anyway...back to my original thought in this post. There are many ideas in our culture:

  •  romance is inescapable and preeminent
  • if it feels good (be it emotionally or physically), do it
  • we have to test different personalities (through dating and/or sleeping around) to determine who we are or will be compatible with 
  • love waits for no one
All of these viewpoints are lies. For years, I have built my life around the idea that if only I was in a relationship with a girl who cared for me as I did for her, I would be complete. Time and again, God has forced me to admit that it wasn't enough.

I know what it's like to feel the immense pressure and desire to make my feelings known. I also know now how stupid it was of me to think that it was necessary to make them known. By telling various girls that I liked them, I did nothing but cause hurt for both of us, whether anything came of it or not. If you think you care enough for someone to want to be in a relationship with them, it should be a relationship that is marriage. That was the point of my tweet: so often men pursue girls without understanding that if they're not ready to support that girl in marriage, beginning a relationship is going to cause pain. As a Christian, I am called to a higher standard. There's a method. For me, no romantic relationship should be initiated if my end goal in it is not marriage, and no romantic relationship should be begun until I know how I will support that marriage.
Telling a girl that I like her is pointless if I do not intend to begin an intentional relationship with her that will culminate in marriage. I have stated my feelings to girls before, and then found myself in the quandary of not knowing what to do next. This is a common conundrum...we are left to wonder, "What next?"
The saying that "True Love Waits" does not only apply only to the physical side of love, but also to the emotional side of it. True love also waits to begin a relationship until there's a clear path to walk on. Does this make sense? I hope so.
Application (for me, and maybe for you): I will not indicate interest to a girl until God indicates to me that my circumstances are right (yes, the hated requirements: maturity, financial security, long-term viability, life direction...) to pursue her with the intention of marriage. I will not attempt to decipher a girl's attitude toward me unless I have cause to believe that I am leading her on or until I've begun my attempt to win her heart for the purpose of marriage. My heart may overflow with feelings, with the need to speak, but there's no point if there's nowhere to go from there. So, for me and for other guys (perhaps), don't say anything about how you feel toward her until you're in a place where you can do something lasting with those feelings.
Girls, please: I understand how few good men there are around. I'm sorry that we're slacking off. I can only guess at how hard it is for you to wait for the right guy to come along. What will be best for you is if you don't try to figure out what a guy is thinking (romantically) toward you. If he cares enough about you to wait until he's ready to pursue a long-term relationship (meaning...for life), then he's probably worthy of you. The guys who don't wait are not worthy. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and worrying if you wait until you're approached by one of the long-term suspects. :) Playing head games just isn't worth it.
I'm not preaching, except to myself. The difference now, for me, is that my goal is Jesus. In all my friendships with Christian girls lately (the only real friendships with girls I have, in case you're wondering), I've been doing my very best to make it clear that I have one goal for a friendship with them: to pursue Jesus, and to encourage and be encouraged by them in our pursuit of Him. The choice must be to trust Him. Honesty with girls has opened up potential in my friendships for greater encouragement and joy. It's still hard, and it will continue to be hard, to battle with my deceitful heart. But if I commit to waiting, truly waiting, until the time when I am ready to actually do something about a relationship, I'm convinced that it will be far better than the poor imitations I've experienced thus far. I've got the Word on my side. :)


  1. Ok, so... my girlfriends and I from time to time will make a remark like, "He's such a flirt." But we just kinda laugh it off, like it's no big deal. But this made me realize that it IS a big deal. And it made me think about *why* we laugh it off, and why we think it's a big deal if it's a girl. I think honestly it's because we like the attention that we get from guys that flirt, and girls that are flirts are well, competition. That sounds terrible, and it kind of shocked me when I realized it, but I think that is truly why. I need to think about it more, but... I really hadn't thought about these things before, so thanks :)
    And I totally agree with you on the timing of telling a girl you like her. I think that's really important, and that you really hit the nail on the head when you said that premature relationships bring only pain. Just because you've found the right person doesn't always mean it's the right time, I guess.

  2. good for you, peter!

    that is, good for you for being willing to see what God wanted to show you. :)

    i appreciate your note to the women's side of things, too. especially the part about playing mind games. that is so easy and and has the potential to be so extraordinarily upsetting. to that i would add: women, you are not j. alfred prufrock; you do not need to force the moment to its crisis.

  3. This is so encouraging and so true. It is the greatest joy to see a brother in Christ walking with the Lord and being changed, even though it's painful. It is really beneficial for me to hear this from a guys perspective, and it sure challenged me to check my heart! Thanks for posting!

  4. Ah, I like this part: "For me, no romantic relationship should be initiated if my end goal in it is not marriage."

    I think this is probably the main point that I take from the courtship process. I agree that it's important that one views and treats relationships with long term goals in mind.

    However, I don't necessarily agree with a firm belief that all successful courtships will end with marriage. If people are going to hold off from a "deep" relationship with the opposite gender (depending on how you define deep) until the man is 100% sure that he wants to marry a certain girl, and is 100% ready for marriage, then there are going to be interesting issues, especially on the girl's side.

    Exhale. It's a tad stressful knowing that I'm probably the only person in the group that thinks the way I do.

    On a lighter note, I didn't know that Johnny Cash did the song "If You Could Read My Mind"! Was his version the original, or a cover? I'm familiar with another version....

  5. Peter!! This is really amazing, almost all the reasons I don't date myself. And laid out cleanly and clearly. Well done!!

  6. Good stuff, bro. Glad to see God working in you. I've seen (in my friends) both the advantages of not initiating until ready for marriage, and the hurt when pulling the trigger too early.

    Thanks for the reminders.