I talk about friendships a lot. I am very passionate about people, especially ones that the Lord uses to teach me about Him. This is going to be a tough blog for me to write- I have been praying about it since September. But, the Lord called me to use this blog to transparently talk about what I have learned about Him through my personal experiences. So here it goes…
After my first summer in Missouri working at Kamp, I was so excited to return to College Station. I hadn’t seen my friends in what felt like forever. I was really excited to share what I had learned with my friends and hear about their summers and experiences. I began the year vulnerable and open. From the get-go, I failed at setting up emotional boundaries with particularly one my guy friends, my best friend. Through poor choices of being too open and emotional about my personal and spiritual life, I began to develop feelings for him.
I know what you’re thinking: that won’t happen to me. Guys and girls can totally be friends, nothing will happen.
Sorry, you’re wrong.
I fought the feelings- feelings that I hadn’t really experienced due to the fact that the Lord blessed me with singleness. I used the word blessed boldly here because I believe the Lord really protected me from potential heartbreak. I was confused and frustrated with myself because I found myself constantly disappointed with him. I found myself venting to my mentor and best friend about the same problems day after day. I knew one thing to be true: I liked him and I shouldn’t. Not because he had bad character or morals. Actually, he is one of the best guys I know- still to this day. But because in trying to deal with these emotions I did nothing to separate myself from him.”Did he like me? Is it even possible? Why not? We spend a lot of time together? We like the same things? uuuuugggghhhh.. I wish these feelings would leave my head” – circled through my mind all the time. I debated what to do…
So, I told him.
I know what you’re thinking: You are crazy?! Why?! How???
He responded that he didn’t feel the same way- so kindly and respectfully. Even through his “things don’t have to change- they don’t have to be weird now” I left the conversation hurt and sad. I felt like I destroyed one of my favorite friendships.
I never thought I would have the guts to do it. Never thought it would happen. For sure never thought I would be writing a blog about it.
Girls, please read this carefully.
I did. My friendship with him after that was different but it forced me to put up boundaries that were not there before. Shortly after, I returned to Kamp for the second summer and it literally changed my life- I am a new person after how my summer stretched me.
I returned back to school with completely new priorities, my outlook on dating completely changed. I don’t regret telling him and I don’t miss how things used to be because I was no longer finding my identity in what others thought of me- how he thought of me.
I was forced to look at the original issue:
I had little respect for myself, I was a pro at wearing the ‘I am putting all my faith in the Lord- even my dating life’ mask, I had no idea what healthy boundaries actually were. Returning to school with a new perspective and attitude I had my favorite semester of college so far: I began to disciple girls, my friendships with my girlfriends grew deeper, I fell in love with photography- heck, I started a business!
All this to say, I am a daughter of the most loving King.
Girls, I want you to picture yourself on a track (yes, a running track.. yes, I still hate running). So you’re on this track running toward Jesus. You’re in the most outside lane. One day you look over and see a God-fearing boy running on the same track. This is where it gets tricky: let him pursue you and if he doesn’t, don’t doubt yourself just keep running. So he decides to pursue you, getting one lane closer to you. You begin to date each other, he moves one lane closer. You should never move a lane closer to him because he should lead you in your relationship as you begin to get to know each other, allow him to move closer with clear boundaries and intentions. Never sharing a lane until you get to run a relay the day you get married.
I love this analogy because it has clear borders and boundaries. I sat down with the people who keep me accountable and we set up boundaries. I strongly believe they are in place to guard my heart. They are so good, boundaries have a negative connotation- that having too many boundaries make a friendship lack trust and vulnerability. But I disagree, I think if anything it is healthy to know what makes you stumble and ask the Lord to help you through that.
When you read any Christian dating book, sit through enough dating series at church, or spend time in any Christian circle, “Guard your heart” is said constantly. I think guarding your heart is so important to practice before you begin dating. Generally referring to Proverbs 4:23,
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
I knew this, it has been a verse thrown at me since I was a child. But…
- They don’t tell you how
- They don’t tell you when
- They don’t tell you for how long
The Bible uses the phrase “guard your heart” one other time. That verse gives us the answer to the question of how to guard your heart in life, particularly, in dating.
Philippians 4:6-7, Paul says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Paul tells us that prayer is the pathway to guarding our hearts and minds with the peace of God. Peace comes as a comfort rooted in our trust in God that is expressed in the process of prayer. So, guarding your heart is the result of clear communication.
Hearts become unguarded when you are not seeking God’s desires. Instead of depending on your own understanding and priorities, you must seek God’s heart.
Second, hearts become unguarded when there is poor communication about the friendship or relationship. This can include poor communication with God in prayer or poor communication with the other person in the discussion, mixed signals, etc.. Starting as friends, is beneficial, but only when you do not have the mindset “I am going to be friends with you so we can date eventually”- ladies, it will fail and it will hurt.
How long- well that’s the Lord timing there. You should always be protecting your character. In other words, it’s a perpetual process.
Guarding your heart is one of the most important yet least understood facets of Christian dating. It can paralyze you, or it can liberate you. Guarding your heart is the key to allowing the Lord to grow you- when you’re single- you get to grow your relationship with the Lord freely and independently.
Maybe you have thought about this a lot, but until I was hurt and I experienced what this heartbreak actually felt like I never realized how important boundaries and guarding your heart are when you’re single.
Start a conversation with your girlfriends, ask them to keep you accountable. I promise it’ll be so worth it. I am so thankful the Lord broke my heart to pull me toward Him.
Let’s talk someday, single life is a good life, dating life is a good life, but hey if Jesus isn’t in the center you’re doing it wrong.
You are worthy of being loved, the Lord has a vision for you.. Go talk to Him about it.