Friday, February 24, 2012

Girl+Guy=???

How to have healthy, sane, and biblical relationships with your brothers in Christ. (As sisters in Christ.)

I don't know about you, but that concept is pretty scary to me. Or perhaps I should say, 'was'. Until I read the following book:

Product image

You may have noticed the link on my sidebar, and I really hope that if you haven't clicked on it yet, you will today. I'd like to tell you why.

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin are best known for their revolutionary book So Much More: how visionary daughters find fulfillment under their father's roof and developing a relationship with their father. Many lives have been changed by their teaching on this area, and I found the book extremely encouraging in my walk as a stay-at-home daughter.

Personally, that book was encouraging to me. This book reformed my thinking.

Girl+Guy=???

The plain question is, how do we as ladies relate to guys even when we're not in a courtship setting? Do we duck behind the trashcan? Study our fingernails? Avert our eyes whenever we pass them? Hide behind someone taller? Or do we giggle and flirt and joke and tease and do our dead-level best to attract their attention.
The fact is that God designed men and women to complete each other. God didn't design us to work separately from men, and someday the majority of us will be blessed with a husband. That's what makes us feel awkward around them: because we're constantly focused on "If he isn't the one, I don't want to give a piece of my heart to him." And, to best avoid giving away our hearts, we decide to pretend they don't exist.

It's so unkind.

Think about it: our 'pure and holy avoidance' often comes across as "I really don't like you." "I think you have a disease." "You're sure not good enough for me." "I think boys are really beneath my notice."
And then, if we get convicted about this attitude without a proper understanding of how we should interact with them, then we often go to the other extreme: "I love all boys." "I just can't live without you." "Boys make me feel so fulfilled." "You are my one and only."

Personally, I don't want to give either of those impressions.

So, how do we interact with boys?

Defining Who We Are...and Who They Are

1. Us
-We ladies are sinners. Our sinfulness is what makes casual relationships with young men extremely complicated, because we don't want to acknowledge clear boundaries of right and wrong. ("Are you saying that dreaming about marrying -insert name- was idolatry? Oh, please. It was just a little...indiscreet.)
-We are saved. That is, as long as we have recognized our sin and cried out to Jesus Christ for his righteousness. This gives us hope that as Christian young ladies, we can interact with Christian young men in an edifying way that builds each other up in Christ rather than in foolishness and sin. We can recognize that we are both part of the kingdom of God, and on the same side.
-God designed us to help men. It's an innate need that young ladies have to be completed, secure, and restored to the side of the man God picked out for them. Even the staunchest feminist is completing some man and his ideas (Karl Marx, etc.) We are not designed to have a mission of our own, we're designed to complete a man's mission-to help him. He needs our help, because God designed it to be that way. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. And however right this concept may be, in some cases it takes a big laying-down of self-will.

2. Them
-They are sinners. Though I'm just guessing here, I could make the hypothesis that they face many of the problems we do...including trying to interact with young ladies in an appropriate manner.
-They are saved. Insert the second paragraph in the above point under "Us". 
-God designed them to be dominion-takers. As hard as it is to accept in a culture of Disneyized Prince Charmings, men are not designed to complete us. Together, we are complete, yes, but they're primary purpose is to take dominion. They have the mission. We complete the mission.

Obviously, you aren't designed to complete every man you come across. But it is okay if you spur on another on towards good deeds.

Encouraging One Another? How in the World?

As the Botkin sisters say, it might mean talking after church with him about the Art of War. So here are a few principles:
1. Avoid one-on-one
If you're constantly hanging out with one guy in a one-on-one setting, it exposes you to temptation--even if your conversation is completely profitable and Christlike. Choose interactions in mixed groups for added protection, where you're talking with several different young ladies and young men at the same time. One-on-one, should be used very rarely and for very short periods of time.
2. Avoid age-exclusiveness
If the only men you talk to are of marriageable age...you know what I mean. It's okay to respectfully talk to dads and grandfathers as well as the youth group.
3. Act the same way around everybody
You probably don't flirt with your girlfriends. You probably wouldn't around your grandmother either. Treat both men and women with a respectful, mature, and Christlike love.
4. Talk about meaningful subjects
Marianne had trouble talking about anything besides Shakespeare and Byron. You might talk a lot about the weather...or your new shoes...or the I mean, um, the really great book I kind of picked up at the library yesterday.

Is this really profitable?

How about kingdom talk? What if young people discussed how to take dominion of media, warfare, politics, and family? What if we discussed basic theology-not in a debating way, but as a source of mutual edification? Ever told Dylan and Sophia what you're memorizing? Or specific ways you've been building up your family? How about a great book you've read recently, and why you thought it was great?

5. Don't be self-conscious
Half the trouble I have is how I'm coming across. Or focusing so much on what I'm thinking. The fact is, if we truly put others before ourselves (including our brothers in Christ) then our self-consciousness disappears in a heartbeat.
6. Look to build him up, in a sisterly way
Don't be his emotional need-meeter ladies. Not even 'for prayer'. It traps us so fast and entangles our hearts, sometimes irrevocably. By this, I'm not saying don't pray for him, but don't be his one-on-one mentor and accountability partner.
7. Treat him like your brother.
And please, ladies, treat your brother well. If you wouldn't hold hands with your brother, should you really be holding hands with Justin? If you don't tell your brother about a particular struggle, should you really be sharing that with a 'brother' in Christ? Obviously, there are some things we share with our brothers that we wouldn't share outside the family. But using discretion and common sense, generally you can share much of the same conversation topics. And wouldn't it be great if you stood beside your brother in these groups, and you could interact with others together? Or even your sister for that matter. Having a family member beside you guards you in a way that you never could by yourself.
A Brief Overview
It's (Not That) Complicated covers many of the same points that I addressed above, in much more detail. It also covers confiding in our parents, matchmaking, practical interaction tips, and contentment.

But the one shining principle that I desperately needed, they gave me in full force:

What guarding our hearts really means.
In today's emotional purity movement, somehow I picked up the impression that my heart was in a cellophane wrapper--and if ever I didn't toe the line emotionally, bit by bit that wrapper would be torn away. I wouldn't be completely pure for my future husband.

It's (Not That) Complicated showed me that our hearts are already completely depraved. There is no possible way I could remain pure for my husband, because I was sinful at birth--and he who offends the law in one point offends the whole law. Only by looking to Jesus for the righteousness that I cannot even protect on my own, can I present my husband someday with a picture of the bride of Christ--cleansed by the blood of the lamb.

For more on that topic, and the others listed, I must refer you to It's (Not That) Complicated. :)

A Word About Anna Sofia and Elizabeth
I must say that theologically, these ladies exhibit the same quality that they put forth in So Much More. However, I do see a difference between 15 and 17 and 23 and 25. I think in this book, they opened up a special part of their hearts and pulled aside the curtain just a little. I felt that I knew them as friends when I finished. They showed their real, everyday side, selectively of course and their personal little testimonies and bits of humor made their teaching So Much More powerful--to me.


 To read the first chapter and table of contents, go to Vision Forum. Please order this book. We so desperately need the encouragement and application that Anna Sofia and Elizabeth set forth.

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile


5 comments:

  1. Wow. That was great! Now I need the book!

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  2. Sounds like a really good book!
    Sister

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  3. Well-written, Schuyler. That was great! I loved reading So Much More and some day I hope to read It's (Not That) Complicated. The Botkin sisters had changed my thinking by the time I got to the end of it. ;)God bless!

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  4. I read this book recently as well. It's an excellent book, so badly needed.

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  5. Thank-you all so much for your lovely feedback! I'm glad you found it encouraging. :)

    Blessings,
    Lady B.

    ReplyDelete

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