Dear Single Girl: What The Bible Says About What Matters in a Man

There is nothing sweeter and more innocent than a couple in the blossoming stages of young love.  The other day my 3-year-old asked me why I was smiling so big, and honestly it was because I was reading a text from a friend who is in the throes of it.  She was experiencing what almost every young woman hopes to experience.  Sadly, though, as the years inch ever forward, I still find myself with many, MANY single friends still aching to experience that and marry the “man of their dreams”.

I don’t think their singleness is their “fault” by any means, and I absolutely do not think that marriage is the end-all goal for a woman.  But I do know the growth and happiness it’s brought me, and I know that many of these single women do long for and dream of marriage.  Yet, there seems to be a general pickiness that is throwing road blocks in their path to love and marriage.

Sometimes the pickiness comes from their own high standards and expectations.  Other times, the pickiness stems from their parents and friends having too high of standards for them.  Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing wrong with having high standards!  Only, sometimes I wonder if these standards are really biblical…and whether these women might be much happier and much less single if they stopped holding fast to man-made “spouse shopping lists” and relied instead on just the Bible.  

Another friend of mine, who is very happily married, shared with me the three things her father and her thought were important in a spouse for her.  In almost every case, if the answer is “yes” to these three things, then there is very little that wouldn’t be able to be worked through.  I think these things are highly biblical and I share them with you today:

1.) Does he love the Lord and have a real relationship with him?

Frankly, I think this one should be an obvious necessity.  Why would you want to be married to someone who didn’t serve your Savior, who will not be a spiritual leader in your home, and who will not be nodded and prodded by the Holy Spirit?

But if you need more convincing than that, look no further than 2 Corinthians 6:14:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 

If marriage isn’t a yoking together, then I don’t know what is.

But, really, if he’s seeking the Lord first and you’re seeking the Lord first, then what can’t be worked through?

But how do you know he has a real, active relationship with the Lord?

Obviously there are a lot of fakers out there (Josh Duggar, anyone???).  But the Bible is pretty clear how we know the truth from the lie…look at the fruit.

Luke 6:45-45 says:

“For each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Sometimes a lack of fruit is the sign that something isn’t quite right.  A guy can talk a great talk, and even talk up his Bible reading and memorization…but what fruit is there in his life?  What ministries is he involved in?  Furthermore, does he not just attend a local church, but is an active member in it (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31)?

Finally, watch for the little signs of fruit.  One of the biggest assurances to my heart of my husband’s salvation is after we’ve had a fight.  I know that the times when I hold my tongue and just pray, he will undoubtedly come back to me and apologize and make things right.  The Holy Spirit is constantly tapping on his shoulder, and he’s listening.

2.) Does he love you?

Again, this seems like an obvious one, but it means so much more than that feeling of being in love that’s a crazy mix of emotions and hormones that people call “being in love”.  That’s usually what starts it, but from there it becomes a daily choice to love and cherish you, no matter what.

But let’s look at what the Bible says.

Ephesians 5:25, 28-33a (and I love these verses in the Amplified):

“Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members (parts) of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become [e]one flesh. 32 This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. 33 However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness]…”

The Bible doesn’t say, “Husbands, make sure you have an amazing job for your wife.  Husbands, be perfect for your wives.  Husbands, be able to stand on your own two feet without your wife.”  Its merely says love your wives, sacrificing yourself for her daily.

No man can love you perfectly as Christ does, but if he’s genuinely trying and loving you out of a love for Christ, then you’ve got a catch indeed.

3.) Will he take care of you always?

I’m not talking about providing a big house for you and making all of your dreams come true in that area (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing either!).  I’m talking about he will always work hard to provide the necessities plus some for you and your family.  Titus 2:5 says that the older woman are to exhort the younger women to be “keepers at home”.  It would follow, then that a husband is supposed to be able to provide so that his wife can do that.

1 Timothy 5:8 says that:

 “…if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

So, obviously there has to be a balance.  He can’t just sit on his rear end all day and expect money to fall off of trees, nor should he expect to be able to provide for all of his families needs by working a minimum wage job his entire life.  Yet, providing isn’t the same thing that most equate it with today.  The Bible says absolutely nothing about a man having to be ambitious, have high aspirations, or have a “good” job.  (Because we all know a “good” job means nothing more than a very well paying one.)

Look closely at other verses in the Bible as well.  The Proverbs 31 woman is bringing in money for her household  (I’m not advocating that every woman has to work, just that her bringing in money didn’t make her husband “lazy” or a “bad provider”).  The Proverbs 31 woman blesses her husband and he gains because of her.  He is lifted up to a place of honor and respect because of her.  My guess is that he wouldn’t be where he was if he didn’t have such an amazing wife standing behind him, helping and supporting him.

There’s also Matthew 6:25-34, that tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat or wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God.  And the qualifications for church elders and overseers in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus mention that he must not be a lover of money or greedy for gain.  1 Timothy 3:3 says specifically that he “must not be a bully, but gentle”.  How many “successful” men in the world today could be considered “gentle”?  Are we looking for men that are successful in the world’s eyes, or God’s?

Finally, I would add a fourth standard…

4.) Do you love him and want to marry him?

He may be a great guy and he may be crazy about you, but don’t even think about marrying someone unless you feel the same way about him too.  Make sure you know your heart.  Make sure you know that you could honor and respect and love him.

Furthermore, think carefully about whether the dreams and callings in your heart line up with his.  If he feels called to be a missionary in Africa and you feel called to raise a family in your local city, then there’s a problem right there.  Do your God given missions line up?  Can you serve God better together rather than apart?

Think of Priscilla and Aquila in the Bible.  They were an amazing husband and wife team that served the Lord together (how many women in the Bible are mentioned by name alongside their husbands?).  They were a team in occupation (Acts 18:3 says that they were tentmakers), they were a team in their knowledge and proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 18:26), and they were a team in their sacred calling and mission.  Do you feel like you could serve together in that way?    (This article is a really interesting read for more on them.)

So think hard about whether you want to marry him.  Going all the way back to Genesis 24, Rebekah was given the ultimate choice whether she wanted to go and marry Isaac (a man she had never met) or not.  Her parents wanted her to stay longer, but she agreed to go right away.  It was her choice.  Her heart.

Your friends and parents and even the guy you’re dating may love you dearly and want what’s best for you, but they aren’t you.  They don’t know the secret things God has laid on your heart, and they certainly can’t know what’s in your heart.

So don’t marry a guy just because everyone thinks you’re “perfect” for each other.  Don’t marry him even because he’s crazy for you.  Marry him because you love him and want to marry him.  Marry him because you know without a doubt that God is calling you together, for His ultimate glory.

 

 “Then Adam said,

‘This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’

 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:23-241936213_10209013585717488_7295882737241859114_n

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Introverts…God Made You Brave

Would you believe me if I told you that I used to throw up before going into a new group where I didn’t know anyone?  Because that is 100% completely true.  On the way to the airport the morning I flew out to the conference where I ended up meeting my future husband, I puked in my dad’s car.  And that wasn’t the first time…nor was it the last time.

I was born an introvert, through and through.  I liked people, but I got my energy from being alone.  And I was painfully shy.  My younger sister still reminds me of the time our mom sent us into the gas station to pay for drinks and I made her do it because I was too afraid.  As I turned from a child into a teenager, I relied on others to introduce themselves first and seek me out.  The mere thought of having to go up to a stranger and start a conversation invoked incredible anxiety in me.

And then there was the time that my 17-year-old self sat in my mother’s car crying, because I was too afraid to go into my first college class.  It was silly, and she made me go anyways, but I promise you I really was deathly afraid.

Then somewhere in the space of the next three years, I changed.  Or rather, God changed me.  Over and over and over again He put me into situations that were out of my comfort zone.  But the funny thing was, each time I stretched out of my comfort zone, my comfort zone only grew.

Today, I feel pretty comfortable going almost anywhere and talking to almost anybody.  It’s still a challenge for me and I’m still most definitely an introvert.  When it was my turn to lead the small group discussion at Bible study last month, I did so with a knot in my stomach.  I honestly still hate calling people on the phone, and I still hate public speaking, but I can obviously do them both when necessary.

What’s my secret?  I’ve come to realize that God is so much bigger than any piddly little fear I may have.  Furthermore, when I focus on my fears, I become self-focused rather than God-focused.  When we are so focused on our own fears and anxieties and insecurities, we’ve taken the focus off of God and put it squarely on ourselves.  My guess is that, if you’re an introvert, your world probably does revolve greatly around yourself and your enjoyment of alone time.  And there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert if God made you that way.  But I don’t believe that He made you an introvert so that you could use that as an excuse to be self-focused.  If anything, He wants to use your introverted ways to show you how big He is…to show you that He’s got you right in His hand, and that He can be trusted.

To quote Nelson Mandela (although, to be honest, I feel like I’m quoting Princess Diaries here…anyone in my generation know what I’m talking about?):

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

When we give in to our anxieties and let them keep us from acting, going, or saying, we may just be doing exactly what the devil wants us to do.  He knows that if he can keep us living according to our comfort zone that we will never live life fully as God intended.  He knows that if he can keep us blaming our introvertedness for our inability to act, that we will never step up and realize the bravery and courage that God has instilled in us.     

We all have fears and insecurities and comfort zones.  But, friends, God didn’t create you to live in those fears and let them dictate your life.  He never intended you to use your introverted self as an excuse to keep you from living and working for Him.  God didn’t make you to dwell and act in fear.  God made you brave.

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 “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:10-12

 

*PS: This post is the combination of some thoughts I’ve been mulling over for a while, and the Bible study I’ve recently studied…Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God.  It’s been very challenging for me…and I highly recommend it!

 

Caitlin

Dear Single Girl: True Love (and Real Men) Wait

I grew up in the area of True Love Waits pledge cards, Brio magazine, and Superchick singing about princes starting as frogs.  Saving sex for marriage was practically drilled into my head.  Looking back, one strange thing I remember was that there was a huge emphasis on “if he loves you, he’ll wait”.  Notice, the idea is that he’ll wait because you want to…not because he sees the value in it or wants to wait himself.  Over and over I read lists of ways to tell a guy “no”, tactics for making sure you didn’t “go too far”, etc.  I remember distinctly feeling like the overarching message was that guys, even good Christian ones, had no self-control.  It was up to us women to set and stick to standards…up to us to not let our raging hormones take things too far.

In certain Conservative homeschool circles, this idea has been taken as far as to include both sexes.  Apparently nobody can have convictions and standards and stick to them…hence the need for these people called “chaperones”.  Because, we all know that when we get married all temptations and the need for self-control suddenly disappears.  NOT!!!

You know what, though?  It doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it.  Ladies, I want you to know that before my husband and I were married I never had to tell him “no” or “stop”…never had to argue to him the merits of “waiting”.  You see, the truth is that if a guy actually has a real, active relationship with the Lord and is pursuing Him daily, he won’t be some brainless, hormone-controlled, sex-obsessed ape.  A guy that’s really seeking the Lord will have his own convictions and standards.  A guy worth giving a second glance will be actively fleeing temptation on his own.  Sure, we all slip up and make mistakes, but a man who has the Holy Spirit living within him will never pressure you, rely on you to keep things in check, or be unable to control himself.  A man after God’s own heart will not just submit to your convictions in this area…he will take the lead himself.

Bottom Line: A man worthy of your heart will be controlled by the Holy Spirit living within him…not by his hormones.  Don’t settle for less, Ladies.  

5 Truths About Post Partum Depression

5ppdMy husband recently suggested that we go in with his family on renting a lakehouse for Super Bowl weekend like we did last year.

Honestly…the idea sounded awful to me.  Last year during that time I was knee deep in the mire that is Post Partum Depression and didn’t yet recognize it.  I was frustrated with everyone, didn’t want to be around people, and was dealing with this heavy grey fog that I couldn’t explain or shake.  Just thinking about it puts my stomach in knots.

I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it is to not be in that fog anymore.  Yet, my heart goes out to those currently dealing with it, or thinking that they might be dealing with it.

Post Partum Depression is surrounded by a a lot of lies and hearsay.  Today, I present you with 5 truths about PPD…from someone who has been there herself:

1.) Post Partum Depression doesn’t make sense.

You may be incredibly sleep deprived or you may be getting a solid 8 hours every night.  You may be dealing with a ton of stress and worry, or you may have absolutely nothing big to be worrying about.  It doesn’t really matter or make a difference.  The worst part about PPD is that you feel a certain way in your heart, knowing full well that there is no reason that you should be feeling that way.  Why would you secretly want to run away from that sweet baby that you are so in love with and that you know is a gift?  Why would you feel hopeless when new life and hope is constantly in front of your eyes?  It just doesn’t make sense.

2.) Post Partum Depression manifests differently in different women.

Some women experiencing PPD may want to run away from their babies.  Others may be unreasonably fearful of even letting them out of their arms.   Others may switch back and forth and become extremely moody.  The common thread is that you know in your heart that something is not right…something is off.

3.) Post Partum Depression is not your fault.

One of the biggest lies about PPD is that women who have it are at fault.  They don’t eat enough nutrients or get enough sleep.  They focus too much on themselves.  They don’t focus on themselves enough.  They don’t get out of the house enough.  They aren’t thankful for the gifts they have.  They haven’t turned to God to help.  Or, heaven forbid, they didn’t encapsulate their placenta and consume it.

My friend, all of these are lies.  Post Partum Depression is a mean, hormonal mess that no woman ever deserves.  Simply put, we live in a fallen world and sometimes are bodies just don’t work right or regulate themselves as they should.  Those messed up hormones can control our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to a terrible extent.

4.) Post Partum Depression is a bully.

My biggest memory of my struggle with PPD is that I felt oppressed.  Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness overwhelmed me and I felt no power to shake them.  PPD can make you do terrible things like scream at your children or call your husband ugly names.  It can paralyze you with fear to the extent that you’re afraid to step foot outside the front door.  It can make you feel like a terrible mom for not feeling “connected” with your baby.  PPD is a bully in that it intimidates you and makes you act or feel in a way that you don’t want to.

 

5.) Post Partum Depression isn’t forever.

It may not seem like it right now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  There is help.  Hormones do shift back to normal.  The fog is not unending.  Take it from a mama whose been there.  Know that you’re not alone.  I made it through…and so can you.

 

If you’re struggling with Post Partum Depression, or think you might be, please PLEASE speak out and get help.  Don’t try to “fix” things or trudge along alone.  If you need help don’t hesitate to email me at thelifenotmyown@gmail.com . 

 

The True Path to Change

“Yahweh your God is among you,

a Warrior who saves.

He will rejoice over you with gladness.

He will bring you quietness with His love.

He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

Zephaniah 3:17

Sometimes God puts a verse in front of you and you just can’t shake it.  This verse has been burning on my heart and mind lately.  It appeared first in a Bible study, with the instructions to write it down and meditate on it.  Then it began showing up everywhere. My son’s Bible memory verse CD, a book, a song I used to like.  I began to ask God “why?”.  What did it mean for me?

Lately, other things have been burning on my heart as well.  Thoughts, convictions, prayers.  Presidential candidates to decide between.  Helpless babies being deemed not-yet-human and sold.  “Christian Conservatives” being revealed to be deceptive hypocrites and liars.  Syrian refugees desperately needing help.  Students shooting each other at my Alma Mater.

Then, in the midst of all this, Zephaniah 3:17.  But why?  What did it mean?  And more specifically, what did it mean God wanted from me?

Saturday morning there was quiet at my house for once.  My husband was gone hunting and my children’s chests were rising and falling in much-needed sleep.  I opened my Bible and read all of the words Zephaniah penned…and suddenly it all made sense.

This book?  It is us.  America.  “Land of the Free”…and land of the prideful, self-sufficient, and godless.

“I will completely sweep away everything

from the face of the earth–this is the Lord’s declaration…

those who turn back from following the Lord,

who do not seek the Lord or inquire of Him.”

Zephaniah 1:2,6

We Americans often think we’re special.  We think our nation is perfect.  We boast in ourselves and seek the wisdom of the world, yet if something doesn’t change, our judgement and fall is at hand.

“This is what they get for their pride,

because they have taunted and acted arrogantly

against the people of the Lord of Hosts.”

Zephaniah 3:10

Has anybody watched daytime television lately and see how Christians are treated?

“Woe to the city that is rebellious and defiled,

the oppressive city!

She has not obeyed;

she has not accepted discipline.

She has not trusted in Yahweh;

she has not drawn near to God.

The princes within her are roaring lions;

her judges are wolves of the night,

which leave nothing for morning.

Her prophets are reckless–treacherous men.

Her priests profane the sanctuary;

they do violence to instruction.”

Zephaniah 3:1-4

Our land fits this to a tee.  Yet we Christians aren’t really turning to the Lord either.  We think that by voting for the best man that meets all of our criteria, sharing videos of Planned Parenthood leaders on Facebook, and taking a heavy stance on the gun control issue that we can somehow fix our country.  We seek to legislate and bully change, when the true problem lies in people’s hearts.

To quote my ever-wise mother, “We do not have a gun problem, political problem, Democrat vs. Republican problem, or Obama problem. We have a spiritual problem that can only be addressed by filling the heart with the Holy Spirit of God.”

That’s where the good news comes in: God also offers hope.

“On that day you will not be put to shame

because of everything you have done

in rebelling against Me.

For then I will remove

your proud, arrogant people from among you,

and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain.

I will leave a meek and humble people among you,

and they will take refuge in the name of Yahweh.”

Zephaniah 3:11-12

Remember how man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart?  Perhaps we’re looking for answers in all the wrong things.  Perhaps instead of pridefully voting for whom we deem to be the best speaker, who would make the best “leader” in the world’s eyes, and who meets all of our “criteria”, we should be voting for someone who is humble and meek, with the Holy Spirit indwelling in them.  Perhaps we’re seeking to change people’s minds through prideful, vindictive Facebook posts instead covering them with prayer and Christ’s love.  Perhaps instead of trying to fix everybody else or win them over with emotion-driven spiritual movements, we should be humbling ourselves, seeking God, and letting Him change our own hearts.

Don’t hear me wrong…we most certainly need revival and change in America.  It’s just that revival and change begin in our own hearts first.  Don’t stop praying.  Don’t stop seeking the Lord.  Don’t stop sharing the gospel.  In fact, pursue these things more than ever.  Let’s just stop trying to fix things through our own knowledge and strength, and instead start humbling ourselves and asking God to change things His way, through people’s hearts.

True hope and change can only come through humbling ourselves and admitting that we can’t…but He can.

zeph

Worth It

I love everything about my Nora.   I love how’s she so laid back, and yet so dramatic when she wants to be.  I love the way she “dances” anytime music comes on, or the way she giggles uncontrollably at her brother’s antics.  I love her fierce, determined spirit.  I love the way little bubble skirts look on her.  I love how she’s already got her daddy wrapped around her finger.  I love the way her hair curls up when it’s humid out, and how sweet her smile is.  Basically, I am desperately in love with this little girl God gave me.

Last year about this time I looked like some mixture between a beached whale/torpedo/prize winning watermelon.  I was having painful contractions all the stinking time, my back was killing me, and I couldn’t sleep.  Then I ended up in the hospital with pre-term labor and was put on full-stop bed rest, and my misery only got worse.  At 37 weeks, when I came off bed rest, I was in so much pain I could hardly walk.  What muscle tone I had left in my legs was met with shooting pains from contractions.  The entire left side of my rib cage felt like it was going to explode.  The next two and half weeks until I was finally induced were some of the longest days I have ever experienced, and I felt wholly helpless and incapable.

This morning as I watched my sweet little Nora Jane play, my heart so hopelessly in love with her, I realized that all that pain and discomfort and waiting was more than worth it.  I would do it a thousand times over for the sweet doll that is my little girl.

If you’re going through hard times, press into God and keep persevering.  Someday soon you may look back and realize that these hard times were worth it.  You see, sometimes the hardest things we go through turn into the greatest blessings.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

We Waited

wewaited

Hilary (my sister): Did you see what T___ wrote on her friend’s Facebook wall?

Me: Yeah, I guess she and her hubby actually waited to have sex?  It surprised me a bit.

H: Yeah, me too

Me: That’s sad that it’s so surprising when a Christian couple actually waits to have sex.

My youth group years were spent smack dab in the midst of the “True Love Waits” campaign.  I signed the pledge, bought the purity ring, and watched the Joshua Harris videos, along with countless numbers of my friends.  Sex, or at least the saving of it until marriage, was talked about almost every Wednesday night.

Some years have passed and those friends and I find ourselves in our mid-twenties.  Some still single.  Many more married.  Some with kids.  The sad reality, however, is that of all those friends, I could probably count on one hand the number that actually ended up waiting to have sex until they got married.  My otherhand could probably be added to include those that ended up having sex, and then later waiting (claiming their “secondary virginity” the term coined by former-Bachelor-now-married Sean Lowe).

In light of that saddening fact, trying to save sex for marriage would seem pretty hopeless and futile for those that are unmarried, whether they be weekly youth group attendees or thirty-something and not-yet-married .  But it’s not.  I know it’s not…because my husband and I waited.    

I’ve been dreading writing this post.  I’ve had it on my heart for a very long time, but I’ve been too afraid to actually share it.  I just know that someone, or perhaps many people, will be offended or take it the wrong way.  I worry that people will think I’m prideful or judgmental or haughty.  Please believe me when I say that that’s not at all how I want to come across or what I want to portray.  My purpose in sharing my heart is not to make anyone feel guilty, but instead to bring hope.

My husband and I waited to have sex not because we were saints or prudes or not attracted to each other.  We waited because we firmly believed that that was God’s best and, by His miraculous strength, we stuck to our commitment.

It’s been over five years since our virginal selves said “I Do”, and I can tell you without a doubt that it was so worth the wait.  Sex is a beautiful, unifying, transforming blessing within the safety and confines of marriage.  Yet, so often, waiting to have sex gets a bad rap.  People’s motives are questioned, the term “legalism” is brought into play, and those that did end up waiting, like myself, find themselves almost embarrassed to admit that they did.

Now, before we go any further, let me be very clear about something: In proclaiming the value of waiting, I am in no way saying that if you didn’t wait your marriage won’t be as good as it would be had you waited.  The good Lord knows that, while I may have saved sex for marriage, my own past is full of its own set of sin and regrets.  Do those things play into and effect my marriage and my future?  Of course they do.  That’s just life…but that doesn’t mean that my marriage or my future is destined to be any less glorious than the next person’s.  On the contrary, the depths of my past mistakes only serve to illuminate the glorious redemption of Christ’s sacrifice.  However, that doesn’t mean that I want my children to repeat my mistakes.  I know that someday they’ll look back with regret about their own set of mistakes, but my hope and prayer is that they won’t be repeats of my own.

So, please know that if you weren’t a virgin on your wedding day, I am in no way condemning you or trying to shame you.  I just want those coming behind me to know that waiting is possible…and that it is very much worth it.


Waiting Is Not a Punishment

My husband is currently building the coolest treehouse for our soon-to-be 3-year-old son.  It already has three towers, a tunnel, a tube slide, a swinging bridge, and a bomb crows nest.  And this thing keeps growing.  The other day my husband asked me if I thought our son was too small for a complete-with-a-harness zipline from the top of the crows nest down to our shop (100 yards away).

“Andy,” I said (probably in a less-than-excited way), “You do realize that every other dad is going to hate you for completely out doing them?”

“Yeah, so?” was his response.  “Miles is going to love it.  The Bible does say that a good father knows how to give good gifts to his children.”

Touché

He was totally right.  In our day and age waiting to have sex is often seen as an arbitrary rule made by a god who doesn’t want us to enjoy ourselves or have fun.  The truth is that that isn’t our God at all.  Our God loves us…and He knows how to give good gifts.  Sex happens to be one of them, but you cannot fully appreciate and accept that blessing unless you enjoy it solely within the confines of marriage.

Bringing it back to my children again,as a parent I really truly want them to be happy.  Sometimes, though, that desire comes across as me being mean.  For instance, my infant daughter may see her brother’s legos and want to play with them.  You better believe that she thinks that playing with those legos will make her happy.  And you know what?  Playing with legos would be really fun for her.  As her mom, though, I don’t let her play with legos.  Why?  Because she currently puts everything in her mouth and she could choke on them.  I know that the thing that she thinks will bring her happiness and joy could in fact hurt her.  If it hurts her, the happiness that it brought will quickly dissipate.

She doesn’t understand that.  She thinks I’m just being mean and don’t want her to be happy, but you know and I know that that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  A few years from now, when she’s not trying to eat everything in reach, I’ll gladly let her play with the legos and I will enjoy watching her enjoyment of them.  I will be confidant in the fact that her enjoyment of the legos won’t dissipate with one getting lodged in her throat.

It’s the same way with God.  He created sex as this beautiful blessing, but He knows that if that blessing is enjoyed before the right time or in the wrong setting, then the enjoyment and happiness we experience from it will be incomplete.  He knows that sometimes that thing that was meant to be a wonderful blessing could, in fact, hurt us.  He doesn’t create arbitrary rules to steal our fun and make our lives miserable.  He sets specific parameters for the blessings He has given us so that we may experience and enjoy them to their fullest.


Waiting Isn’t Antiquated

In the culture we live in, saving sex for marriage is seen as an old fashioned notion.  To forfeit pleasure until you’re married is seen as a ridiculous and near-impossible idea.  Everybody has sex before marriage these days.  It’s a normal and healthy way to get to know someone.  How else are you to know if you want to marry someone if you don’t know if you’re sexually compatible?  And if you know you’re going to marry your partner eventually, why deal with the stress and tension of waiting any longer?

Of course, all of these are selfish reasons born out of a self-centered culture.  In her book Passion and Purity the late Elisabeth Elliot writes:

What do women want today? What do men want? I mean, deep down. What do they really want? If ‘times’ have changed, have human longings changed, too? How about principles? Have Christian principles changed? I say no to the last three questions, an emphatic no. I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot well do without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.

The sad fact of the matter is that we can’t actually find true fulfillment when our lives are so self-focused.  Momentary happiness, perhaps, but that soon fades.  You see, when we are so consumed with self-gratification, we actually miss out on true love.  True love is self-sacrificing.  True love wants what’s best for the other person.  If we really loved our partner, wouldn’t we a) recognize that God wants us to wait to have sex for our good and that b) if we really wanted our partner’s good, we would wait for their sake?

Waiting to have sex may be antiquated in our culture, but the reasons behind waiting are not.


Waiting Is Possible

To be honest, everyone who didn’t wait has an excuse.  Usually those excuses are completely understandable and relatable.  Things got out of hand.  We were hormonal teenagers.  We had a long engagement.  We knew we were going to get married.  All valid, but all overcome-able excuses…and I can say that from experience.

The truth is, my husband and I didn’t have chaperones or a short engagement to keep us from straying.  We were alone together a lot, and we were engaged for 13 long months.  Yet we were still able to wait.  You see, excuses may explain the temptation, but they don’t validate the sin.

And we are not alone.  They may be hard to find, but there are others that waited too.  You don’t have to be in a fundamental courtship to be able to save sex for marriage.


Waiting Is Worth It

Don’t get me wrong…saving sex for marriage isn’t easy.  Far from it.  When you love someone, are intensely attracted to them, and know you want to spend the rest of your life with them, withstanding the temptation may not seem worth it.  But I can tell you, it is.

My husband and I have a special bond because we have something that is sacred and special to our marriage.  We may have loved each other and enjoyed being with each other pre-marriage, but marriage knocks dating and being engaged out of the ball park.  Our wedding day brought to a close a very long time of waiting.  So, instead of the world’s view of marriage as a ball-and-chain that ties you down, our marriage has always symbolized freedom.

Furthermore, by waiting to have sex, we avoid a myriad of issues that come with having sex.  Birth control, unplanned pregnancies, regret…these were not problems that we had to worry about until our wedding day.

Finally, there’s also something incredibly unifying about knowing that you were tempted and overcame temptation together.  You enter into marriage without regret, and with an ability to persevere through adversity together that those who didn’t wait lack.  It really is a beautiful and peaceful thing to experience a blessing of God exactly as He intended it to be experienced.


Waiting Starts Now

But what if you’ve already had sex?

The point in all this is not to shame.  We “all have sinned and fall short” [Romans 3:23], remember?  But you know what the wonderful thing about that is?  Christ died for us and washed our slates clean.  If you’ve chosen to accept this gift, then you are a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17] and no longer a slave to the flesh [Romans 6:15-23].  This doesn’t mean that we will no longer be tempted, but that God will give us the strength to withstand temptations when they come [1 Corinthians 10:13].

We may not be able to erase our pasts, and that’s where God’s glorious grace comes in, but we do get to choose how we go forward.  We get to choose whether to let our flesh or Christ’s righteousness reign in us.  Just because you’ve already had sex outside of marriage doesn’t mean you have to again.  It’ll be hard and take some guts, but let me remind you that nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  Saving sex for marriage doesn’t have to be a one-time-and-you-blew-it thing.  It’s not something that you already lost the ability to do.  Waiting starts now.


Sometimes, I almost feel embarrassed to admit that we waited to have sex, because I feel like I will be singled-out…seen as a judgmental prude with above-average self-control.  That’s really, really sad.  If you and your spouse waited to have sex, whether your entire life or just for a time before marriage, I’d encourage you to join me in sharing that.  Share a picture of you and your spouse on Instagram with the hashtag #wewaited .  Let’s show our unmarried friends that waiting can be and has been done…and that it’s worth it. 

This is a touchy subject.  Feel free to comment and discuss…but please be respectful and kind.