Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jarod's Post

We have a guest-author in the house tonight--A very good friend and a wise man of God, Jarod Grice. Here are his thoughts on dating divinely:

"There is common misconception when we talk about the difference between men and women. We’re told that men and women have completely different emotions and we might as well not even try to understand them. We’re just destined to a life of confusion and struggle when it comes to relationships, so we had better get used to it! The truth is, men and women are equally creatures of an emotional God and that God creates us with the same emotions. We all experience fear, anger, joy, confusion, envy, doubt, insecurity.

The difference comes in expression. The reason we seem so different is in the way we express these emotions. For example, a woman often times expresses insecurity in a very different way than a man. A man might conceal his insecurity by lashing out socially and attempting to seem overly confident to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy, whereas women are likely to build up a wall to shut everyone out or become co-dependent in a relationship for validation and security.

Of course these can work both ways, but the point is that there is a tendency among men and women to deal with relationships and emotions differently. Though we express them differently, the emotions are the same. These expressions affect our expectations and opinions of the opposite sex when it comes to dating, especially for Christians.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I have the formula for the perfect Christian man. I don’t believe there is a formula or a perfect man. I’m not going to give you anything that will help you “figure out” guys, because figuring out the opposite sex is not the point. We are complex creatures with complex emotions. What I will tell you is that, though we are complex creatures, you must have standards. From a man’s perspective, developing standards for a potential mate is one of the most difficult things and most important things to do. It takes time, effort, and, most importantly, grace. It’s equally important for you as women to develop standards.

I’ve noticed two primary tendencies in women in regards to dating when godly standards are not established. First is the woman seeking a man-savior. This type of girl is looking for a man to rescue her. They tend to think of their guy as their own personal savior. When the relationship begins, everything is great. You spend every waking moment with the other person and you’re convinced that this man is flawless. You’ve placed him on the highest pedestal, and nothing could go wrong. Until… something goes wrong. Then your world has ended. A fight ensues, and the struggles of human relationship destroy you emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Nothing could be worse in your life, and you may slip into depression, and as a result become desperate and settle. It may sound drastic, but this happens on a daily basis.

The second type is the woman with the project mentality. This is the woman whose boyfriend is a loser, and I mean a LOSER. He’s lazy, unmotivated, asks for money, disrespectful to you and your family, perverted, sexually aggressive, not focused on Jesus, self-centered, and sometimes even abusive. He’s not respectable or desirable. But in the woman’s mind, he’s got every excuse in the world. “He’s looking for a job, I promise.” “He’s just dealing with stuff right now, it’ll pass.” “I can take care of him, don’t worry.” “You can’t judge him, you don’t understand our relationship.” In this situation, the woman is treating the man as if he’s a project. She’s determined to fix him and make him a good man, whatever it takes.

In this example, the problem is not the opposite sex becoming the savior, but it’s an issue of self-worship. In this woman’s mind, she’s built herself up as a savior in the relationship and she is determined to fix her wreck of a boyfriend. Hear me when I say this, you cannot save a man’s soul. As hard as you try, if he’s a loser, he will most likely remain a loser until Jesus changes his heart, and it is not your responsibility to fix him. You are not Jesus.

The common trend in both cases, and in all cases, is an issue of worship. We are all worshippers of some sort, and for a lot of us, our object of worship is not Jesus. It’s the opposite sex. Or it’s ourselves. There is no easy fix for any relationship, and there is no perfect man. Standards are important and I highly suggest developing standards, but it’s really easy for us to develop unrealistic standards that will never be met in another human. This is why the most important thing any of you can do to develop godly standards is to ensure your identity is in Jesus. Jesus is the only constant thing in this life, and he desires our affection. The beauty of this and the response that comes out of it is a right understanding of others in relationship.

When we are in love with Jesus we can truly love another person and show grace and kindness in a relationship. Relationships are a mutual effort, and when both parties are focused on Jesus as their center the storms will be endured. Notice I didn’t say the storms won’t happen. Struggles, fights, and issues will come up in your relationship that will seem impossible to overcome, but with Jesus, and only Jesus, you can overcome them.

Women, don’t settle with a boy: find a man, and not just a man that talks like a spiritual leader, but one that ACTS like a spiritual leader. Even the “Christian” guys can be losers. Find someone who truly loves Jesus and works hard at pursuing godliness, not someone who simply talks a big game. Stop making excuses for the boy you’ve chosen to date. Find a man that seeks after God’s heart and is committed to seeking your good in all circumstances. Develop standards for your future or current boyfriend, but remember that just as important as standards are, grace is. Remember the kindness that Jesus has showed you, and show that to your significant other.

Above all, remember that you are not self-sufficient. Too many women react to negative experiences in relationships by closing themselves off to any man, and they try and take care of themselves, but God has created us to be in relationship. We just have to remember that he created us to be in RIGHT relationship, and right relationship is worth the effort. Whatever stage you’re at in life, God is in control and is seeking the good of those who love him. Take comfort in that while you wait."

-Jarod Grice