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Why-wont-God-give-me-a-boyfriend

Why won’t God give me a boyfriend?

Written By Debra Wong, Malaysia

I have a confession to make: I turn 25 this year, and I have never been in a relationship. It’s not just because I haven’t met the right person; it’s also because no one has ever pursued me before.

While most girls were befriending guys in high school and college, I was socially awkward. To me then, guys were different; they were “aliens” whom I was too afraid to talk to.

Thankfully, I came around in my earlier 20s, and have since opened up and gotten to know several quality friends. However, it still stings that I’m late to the relationship party that all my peers seem to be a part of.

Every time a friend or family member starts dating, I cry on the inside and quickly become overcome with bitterness, self-hate, and ultimately, anger towards God because I’m not in  a relationship like everyone else.

What’s a bitter single girl to do?

Why, God?

One particular day, while I was upset over yet another friend becoming “Facebook official”, I sat down and talked to God. Clenching my fists, I muttered through gritted teeth: Why, God? Why can’t I achieve a relationship like everyone else my age? It’s bad enough that I don’t have many friends. Now you’re going to let me look like a loser that no guy ever wanted to date?

It was during that bitter rant that God opened my eyes to three truths that I realized I needed to deal with.

 

1. I wanted a relationship for the wrong reasons.

To me, life comprised a series of boxes that I needed to check off in order to feel like I had lived it well. Do well in school? Check. Get a good job? Check.

Get a relationship? Not checked.

By checking off boxes, I wanted to prove to everyone around me that I had “arrived”, that I was finally an adult. See, I can snag myself a boyfriend just like you! He thinks the world of me! Just look at my arm candy!

However, this is not God’s design for marriage, and by extension, the relationships that lead to it. In the Bible, husbands and wives are called to sacrificial love and respect, to put the needs of the other above their own (Ephesians 5:21-33).

While a dating relationship is not yet a marriage relationship, I was certainly not looking to encourage and build up another person. Instead of seeing a boyfriend as God would see him―a child of the King, made in His image (Genesis 1:27), I simply wanted a boyfriend to validate my own worth. All in all, I was being selfish.

I am now learning to rest in the fact that God sees me. When time and again I long for someone to notice me, I remind myself that God does not just see me for who I am right now―He sees my future potential and will finish the good work He began in me (Philippians 1:6). If marriage is in God’s plan for me, at the right time He will open the eyes of the right guy to “see” me too.

 

2. God’s plans for me are good―whether or not they involve a spouse.

Doubting God’s goodness was the root of the very first sin recorded in the Bible. When Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say . . . ?” a seed of doubt was planted, and Eve believed that God was withholding something good from her. He wasn’t―but she fell for it anyway.

I needed to be careful that I wasn’t swinging from the statement, “God is good” to the question, “Is God good?” One change, big difference. Although my limited experience had caused me to doubt, it does not change the fact that God is sovereign and that His plans for my life are infinitely better than my own (Romans 8:28).

It can be hard to believe that God’s plans for my love life are good when no prospects lie on the horizon and when other girls seemingly have it easier. But when I doubt what the future holds, I meditate instead on how intimately God knows me, loves me, and holds me in His arms.

 

3. It is not good for me to be alone.

When God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals, He realized that none of them were suitable partners for Adam. So God took a rib out of Adam, fashioned a woman from it, and brought her to his side as a human partner (Genesis 2:22).

Though I have yet to find a suitable life partner, God has given me an extended family―His people. By serving and interacting with fellow believers, I get to give and experience relationship.

When I wallow in self-pity, God’s family invites me into their lives, to worship Him, and live out the Gospel together. When I invest my time in the lives of other people, I don’t spend as much time dwelling on my singleness.

Investing in other relationships helps me even when the lights go out and I’m alone in my room. That’s when the timely words of fellow brothers and sisters come to mind and build me up in the midst of my disappointments. Truly, no man is an island!

 

Do I still mope about my singleness? Sure, the temptation to doubt is strong. However, trusting God is a choice that I can make daily, and I rest in the knowledge that God has great plans for my life, with or without a boyfriend.

When-Not-to-Follow-Your-Feelings

When (Not) to Follow Your Feelings

Written By Debra Valley, USA

As Christians striving to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we will encounter instances that require us to battle our flesh. It could be moments where we have to deliberately choose to act against our emotions, such as choosing to forgive a person who has hurt us, being kind to someone who has been unkind to us, or refusing to let our anger lead us to violence.

More often than not, the struggle is tough. Though we know that our feelings are categorically wrong and acting on them may even lead us to take actions contrary to God’s will, we may find ourselves trying to justify our emotions.

A few years back, I found myself in such a situation. Yes, it was all about a boy. A boy I fell in love with, a boy that made me consider choosing this mister over the Master. I can almost see you shaking your head in disapproval. It seems as though there are far too many accounts of good Christian girls being “led astray” by their unbelieving boyfriends. But I am grateful for those stories, because they served as words of caution in my time of need.

I met him at work, and as they say, there was instant chemistry. I was attracted to him, not just to his looks, but to his character. He was funny, kind, thoughtful, hardworking, generous, and intelligent. Soon enough, I developed feelings for him. But there was one problem: he was an atheist and hated Christianity.

Every time he praised my work ethic or my generosity, I would tell him it wasn’t me—it was Christ in me. But he would have none of it; he called it “religious jargon”. He insisted that the good in me was because I was a decent person, not because of God. I tried to invite him to church but he would always reject the invitation, saying that religious people were “brainwashed and naïve”. He never gave the reason behind his dislike for God—or any religion for that matter. It was just one subject he would refuse to discuss, and soon enough I stopped asking. I just trusted (and still trust today) that God would reach his heart someday.

Though I knew fully well that the Bible instructs Christians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), my mind had all the “right” arguments. Like missionary dating, for instance. I thought that as long as I prayed for him and kept living out a good Christian witness, he would come to realize that it was Christ in me. My heart told me that I could change him. After all, how do we bring others to Christ if we don’t befriend them?

But my mind reminded me that it is only God who can change the heart, not man (Ezekiel 36:26). All I could do was to continue to bear witness through my life. Ultimately, it was his choice to make about whom he would serve.

With this realization, I knew that getting myself involved with someone who had fundamentally different standards and beliefs from me would only lead to heartache in the future. Through praying for him and praying for God’s will to be done in my life, I began to seriously consider some pertinent questions: What did I want from the relationship? He had already told me he didn’t believe in waiting till marriage for sex, so would I compromise my faith for him? Could I continue to withstand the pressure? Did I want to get married? Would our children be nurtured in a Christian background? Would we tithe? Would we be engaged in our local church? Would we base our values on God’s word? Would Christ be a part of our home? Would we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God?

The answer was obvious. It was a clear no.

So I prayed for grace to control my feelings. It was difficult avoiding him at work, but God gave me the grace to gradually steer my thoughts to only that of friendship. I did this by focusing more on the work itself, and developing closer ties with the other ladies at work. I took the opportunity to move to the opposite end of the office from him and restricted our conversations to strictly professional matters.

Was the decision to part with someone I fancied but didn’t share my faith difficult? Yes. Did I regret doing it? Absolutely not. I do not regret my decision because I knew all things work for good to those that love God (Romans 8:28). I also knew that God wanted to protect me from a relationship that could lead to harm in the future.

So while reining in my feelings hurt during that period, I believe that the experience strengthened my faith. Now, I am less prone to let my feelings wander beyond control, such as at times when I feel angry or resentful, or when I’m tempted to misplace my love and loyalty. Though it is not easy overcoming my own emotions, I know that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). I have learned to wait on God and to guard my heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). I have also learned to fully trust God and wait on His leading before making any decision in life (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Will-You-Ship-Others(2)

Will You Ship Others?

Photo taken by Blake Wisz

The week before Valentine’s Day, my students taught me a new word, “ship”. According to them, to “ship” means to support or be in favor of two people getting together. For example, “I ship Mr. A and Ms. B together” would mean, “I hope Mr. A and Ms. B would be in a relationship”.

Curious, I probed further and asked them what “shippers” did. They proceeded to show me through Instagram how shippers would create “ship names”, usually a combination of the names of both parties, as well as edit “ship photos”, capturing the couples in matching outfits, gestures, etc.

They also showed me a photo of Korean popstar Rain and his wife Kim Tae Hee, a popular Korean actress, leaving for their honeymoon. Some of the students went on to say that married couples didn’t need to be “shipped”, while others argued that one could ship whoever he or she liked, regardless of marital status.

In my own journey with my husband—first as friends, then as a couple, and eventually as spouses—I cannot help but disagree with the former view.

When we were teenagers, we led a cell group together. At first, our friends teased us and cajoled us to get together. As we grew older, we realized how similar we were—from the way we counselled our cell members to the way we led Bible study. Needless to say, we ended up getting together.

Throughout our relationship, our friends were constantly there; they witnessed our quarrels and cheered us on. On our wedding day, they lovingly decorated the church, filling the place with a joy and simplicity so aligned to both our personalities. Today, we’ve also become their “shippers” as they involve us in their own journey towards marriage or their struggles as singles; we rejoice with those getting married, mourn alongside those who are walking out of broken relationships, and lend a listening ear as well as reach out to those who are single.

The “shippers” we’ve come to value the most are those who journeyed with us and gave us counsel. Whether single or married themselves, they spent hours with us during pre-marital counselling, were vulnerable, and shared their lives honesty and openly. Hearing how they resolved their differences, or even how they could serve God together in spite of challenges, encouraged and inspired us to do the same when we had our own doubts and challenges.

They brought us out to coffee and prayed for us—as individuals then, and as one entity now. They were always a phone call away when we got into intense arguments; they cried with us, listened to us, and most importantly, shared godly counsel with us. These precious ones constantly pointed us back to the creator of marriage, the God of love. And they reminded us that the sole purpose of marriage—in fact of any Christian—was to reflect His glory.

More than any other point in the relationship timeline, marriage would require “shippers” the most. I say this not in pride, but in utter humility and out of sheer need. Because I know how hard it is to be married and more so, to stay married. Sure, there are many wonderful things about being married, but the reality doesn’t reflect this truth so well. We are confronted with broken relationships on all sides. A friend just filed for divorce last month and another has been living separately from her husband and son for two years now. I myself come from a broken family and will always remember the confusion, hurt and betrayal my brother and I felt as children when our parents got divorced.

The wedding lasts but a day, but marriage is for a lifetime. I think a large part of the latter can only be possible if married couples have support from their community—from like-minded Christian individuals, couples, parents, and others who will be a part of their lives and come into their homes. At every stage of our relationship, we have been blessed and encouraged by the “shippers” that came alongside and today, continue to journey with us.

Will you “ship” others?

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4 Questions God Asked Me When I Got Attached

Photo taken by Rebecca Roberts

For some seven years of my life, I longed to be in a romantic relationship almost every single day.

I imagined that a relationship would bring me someone who truly knew and loved me, and vice versa. We’d be so happy sharing our life, joys and fears, and helping each other grow closer to God. We’d understand each other all the time and weather the storms of life together. Our love would bring us both self-fulfillment and fullness of life.

When I got into a relationship around two years ago however, I found that the reality was quite different from my ideals. God had to lead me to confront many unhealthy defense mechanisms I never knew I had.

 

1. “Do you trust Me?”

There were many times—especially during moments of misunderstanding and conflict between my girlfriend and I—when I strongly felt the need to defend myself. I did whatever it took to prove my point to her, to defend my position so that I didn’t have to apologize, to manipulatively use what she said to me before against her, to withdraw from her emotionally when I didn’t want to get hurt further, and to undermine her in a passive-aggressive way, among other things.

Over time, God helped me to understand that these defense tactics arose from my underlying fear of being hurt. Furthermore, He led me to realize that this boiled down to the fact that I didn’t trust God enough to protect me from hurts. I eventually learned to apologize to my girlfriend and repent before God.

God brought to mind that my best role model comes in the person of Jesus. When He was arrested, beaten, spat on, mocked, whipped, and crucified, He kept silent throughout this ordeal and chose not to retaliate even though He was never in the wrong and could have called upon legions of angels to crush those who were mistreating Him (Matthew 26:53). Jesus trusted the Father totally. He knew that God would vindicate Him and right the wrongs done to Him.

So when God asked me, “Do you trust Me?”, He was asking me if I would trust Him, just as Jesus did—enough to give up my “rights” and to let Him work in me and my relationship in the midst of my fears and wounds.

 

2.“Why don’t you live out what you want to see?”

Another major defense mechanism I’ve had to come face to face with was blaming. When God asked Adam why he ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam blamed Eve for giving it to him, and Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her (Genesis 3:8-13). Whenever issues arose, I too found myself blaming my girlfriend. “If only she’d change,” I’d think, “then things would be fine.”

This was something God wanted me to die to as well. He convicted me to take ownership of my own issues and to work on changing myself first. One day, as I was grappling internally over some issues between us, God asked me, “Why don’t you live out what you want to see?” Instead of me expecting her to change to fit me, God challenged me to set the tone for what I’d like to see in our relationship.

He brought to my mind the picture of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. When Jesus served His disciples in this manner, He modelled for them what the full extent of love looked like, and told them to do likewise (John 13:1-17). In the same way, I am to take leadership by role modelling the kind of behavior I would like to see in my relationship with my girlfriend.

 

3. “If she doesn’t change, would you still love her?”

Another time when I was wrestling with an issue that I perceived as a problem with my girlfriend, God asked me, “If she doesn’t change, would you still love her?” That question caused me to search my heart and ask myself if I really loved her as unconditionally as I claimed.

God was reminding me to accept and love her—unconditionally.

 

4. “How does Jesus love you?”

One night, after an argument with my girlfriend, I lapsed into another one of my unhealthy thought patterns: comparing and complaining. I thought of how I would do certain things for her, but she didn’t seem to do the same for me. As I began comparing, I began complaining about things I felt were unfair in our relationship.

In the midst of this, it occurred to me that since my girlfriend and I were journeying towards marriage—in which the husband is to love his wife as Jesus loves the Church and the wife is to love her husband as the Church loves Jesus (Ephesians 5:22-33)—I had to prepare for that by learning how to love her in a Christ-like way.

That’s when God asked me, “How does Jesus love you?” It stopped me in my tracks, because I realized that Jesus’ relationship with me is very unfair. He reached out to me in love even when I was God’s enemy (Romans 5:10). Now that I am a Christian, He still loves me more lavishly than I can ever love Him, He gives me more than I can ever give back to Him, He forgives me much more than I deserved to be forgiven, and He gives me more grace than I should ever dare to ask.

I understood at that point that I was to love my girlfriend in this way. Instead of complaining about any perceived unfairness between us, I was to commit to out-give and out-forgive her, and to always give her more love and grace, because that’s how Jesus loves me. The Holy Spirit was reminding me to be like Jesus and to love like Jesus.

 

It’s really about how much I love Jesus

One year ago, when I was telling a pastor about the various difficulties I was facing in my relationship with my girlfriend, he said, “Your relationship with her is actually about your relationship with Jesus.” I didn’t fully understand what he meant back then, but I now see his point: Unless I know Jesus and grow in living and loving like Him, I cannot love my girlfriend well. American writer Liz Wann, addressing women, wrote, “If you want your boyfriend to turn into a husband who loves you like Christ, make sure he is walking with Christ. How else can he love you like Him?”

So, in order for me to be more Christ-like, I need to first know Jesus and walk with Him so closely that, as I’m more and more transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18), it becomes clear to others that I have been with Him (Acts 4:13). This involves me being willing to die to myself, so that Jesus can live in me (John 12:24-25).

 

Dying to myself, loving like Jesus

To be sure, my girlfriend and I are very happy together and we do share our joys and fears with each other. We’re growing in knowing and loving each other better over time and in drawing each other closer to God. But the intimacy and understanding we have now didn’t just occur easily, but came through a hard-won process of learning to be more Christ-like.

Throughout this time, God has taught me that giving up the self is the way to true self-fulfillment, and that dying is the way to fullness of life. I don’t get it right all the time, but I am committed to dying to myself, so that I can love my girlfriend—and, God willing, future wife—with the love that our Bridegroom Jesus has for His Bride, the Church.