Friday, November 5, 2010

Protecting yourself and resting in Him

I was listening to a Q and A session from one of Paul Washer's ministry sessions on the college campus. I am guessing by the accents of the kids that it was somewhere in Texas. And I could sense the frustration in some of the voices, even through the polite southern accents, in the questions that the young campus ladies were asking.

After much discussion over what is the ideal setting for a young lady and a young man to enter a courtship relationship (parental involvement, proprietary arrangements, i.e. built in protection), the young ladies at campus are faced with some daunting realizations which they may not even be able to articulate, but may sound like this,

"but no one loves me enough to protect me"
"the last thing I want is to be burdensome to my church in going through this procedure"
"if God hasn't provided protection through my family, is it safe to assume that I am able to make my own decisions, then?" and on and on..

As I was listening to them, my heart leapt in their direction. I know the pain and the shame of wondering what to do in my own situation. At the time of my conversion, I was the first in my family to know Christ. What I was planning to do to protect myself seemed archaic and foreign to my parents who just shook their heads in amazement at my "purity plan".

I did not have the freedom to "relax" about these issues, since I knew that I was the only one taking care of things here on earth. In other words, my earthly parents weren't out there looking for someone for me, nor did they have any sense of protecting me, except what would pose itself as obvious danger. That is not to say that they did not love me--they most certainly did! But without Christ, it is so limited.

So, what is a young lady to do? What's the proper plan of trusting God to provide a husband for you and still maintain a sense of protection, if your family and local church is unable or unwilling to help you?

1) Submit where they are willing to lead. It was hard for my parents to reassume an authority role in my life after so many years of me leading an independent life (from the age of 3, I'm guessing?) But I assured them that I wanted their guidance, and if they were willing to get involved, I would do my best to follow their advice.

During this time, my mother ended up getting saved, and that made it much easier. My father is still holding out, but we are still praying for him. Actually, submitting to my parents was, for the most part, fairly straightforward at this stage. I was in college, and there wasn't much I was involved with. Occasionally I would be asked to do something that I didn't like, but I think it was good training overall.

2) Set up your own purity guidelines. Because I had dated before getting saved and had involved myself emotionally and otherwise with boys, I knew there was all too much I enjoyed about being "liked" by a boy. I set up a legal system for myself, that, with God's help, I was able to maintain. My guidelines were very strict, but I knew myself and it had to be this way.

Perhaps, a young lady with the protection of family wouldn't need to become such a stalwart as I felt I needed to be, but this was my calling for that time of my life. And God did provide much help and self control, as I trusted in him.

3) Accountability. I found this to be extremely important during this phase of my life. When I got married, my husband and I were accountable to each other, and the issues were very different. My college friends and I would get up and have a 7:00 a.m. prayer meeting on most mornings and hymn sings on Friday nights. We tried to involve ourselves with prayer and Bible study and fellowship/ outreach things when we weren't doing school work.

4) Confession. I set up guidelines to protect myself, but I also knew that the flesh was so weak. It's so easy to develop a "crush" on a guy, even though you know it's not God's best. Protecting my own emotions was (and probably still is) the hardest hurdle in protecting yourself. Letting God meet all of our emotional needs and not looking to boys and others to meet them is a huge issue. And when (not if) things go wrong, going to the Lord with a smitten, repentant heart is the only way to have victory over these things.

5) Faith. Nothing says, "I trust you, Lord" more than attempting to live a pure single life as a woman without giving in the emotional roller coasters of the feminine existence. I wish I could quantify and bottle up some of the faith I had from those days and disperse it here and there. But the reality is that my trials are not the same as they were then. You see, God did provide for me a godly husband. All the protection I lacked, he provided so abundantly. I can count on one hand the number of times that it actually has felt like work to submit to him in course of 20 years.

But I know that it is no accident that it turned out the way it did. Did I go flitting about from boy to boy and then stopping at a godly one and deciding to get married to him?

Absolutely not. I made up my mind to not even accept ONE date from a young man unless he already possessed all that it took to lead me in a godly marriage. Yes. You read that correctly. No casual dating. In essence, it was courtship. We didn't call it that back then. That was before "Vision Forum" hit the scene. But whatever it wasn't called, it was definitely weird--even for those who knew Christ.

And guess what? I was my husband's first girlfriend/ date/ love! Can you imagine the privilege for me?

And so, regardless of whether or not you come up with the same decisions and guidelines for protection that I did, I wanted to share my story with you in order that you may have hope. I am so weak. Only God could take an emotional wreck like myself and give me the grace to carry out a plan for purity. Before Christ, I used to try to protect myself out of fear. Now, I just sense His protection and operate out of confidence. And God gave me a sense of His protection and the confidence that comes with it probably from the moment I was truly converted (age 19). And this joy and peace that came from trusting in Him (although it was very hard at times!!) was one of the evidences to me that Christ really was dwelling in my heart by faith.


Mrs. Parunak said...

This is AWESOME!!! What a needed post, and what great advice! Go, Jena!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I loved reading this! How awesome!

I'm "lucky" (ha ha) to have godly parents... I can't imagine going through dating/courtship/engagement/marriage without my parents. But isn't God good to lead, and protect, and provide :D

Ruby said...

Wow. That is great to read and see the faithfulness of God. That is a great witness to young people.

The dB family said...

Jena, thank you for sharing this with us! God is so good! As our children are getting older, the subject of dating comes up on occasion. I keep putting out there the idea of courtship. I'm glad to read that there are more like-minded people out there.

Blessings to you, my friend!