I am so glad to be here with you girls!! I have such good memories from being here. This is where I met my lifelong friends and also my husband.
Would you like to know our little story of getting together? We came the same year to college, but I don’t know that I even spoke to John for the first two years. I was pretty shy. Our class had made a cassette tape that we sold as a fundraising project. A few of them didn’t work and they got turned in to my roommate and me for replacement. I came home from work one evening late and the night watchman gave me a tape. I didn’t think anything about it, but after I got into the room I thought maybe I should check it. A note was wrapped around it! I read it and then sat right down on the floor. My roommate said, “Who’s it from?!!” “John Parker! He asked me to the picnic!” He was going to ask me that evening, not knowing I had to leave for work. To be honest, it really scared me to think about accepting his invitation! An all day date is a pretty long time for a first date!! What if he got bored stiff?!! Well, apparently he didn’t, even though I ran out of words many times! However, I found out later from my roommate that he liked us riding together quietly in the car.
Today I doubt I will say anything that other people haven’t said already…and said very well. But if many people are saying the same things, you’re wise to pay attention!!
I don’t know all of you, but I have a heart for you! I have three girls and a daughter-in-law all of whom I love very much. And I remember being right where you are now!!
Recently some women were saying to me, “I wish so badly that someone had stepped into my life and convinced me of how important (education, money management, how to choose relationships well, etc) was!!”
If we don’t “hear with our heart” the truth about the importance of education, about basic money management, and about relationships during this window of opportunity while we’re young before the big decisions of life are made, we will probably just make emotional decisions day by day…what seems best at the moment…or follow our friends’ advice and approval.
However, it’s not any less painful to have to reap emotionally difficult consequences to poor decisions just because the rest of your peers are in the same boat and experiencing the same consequences!! Some things I was taught well…other things I’m still learning! I’d like to just talk about just a few of these. I hope you’ll listen hard.
Most of all, know that God is on your side!! God is good-willed. Beth Moore says that God does not withhold anything from us to frustrate us but to give us His best! It wasn’t until I had children and recognized my own goodwill toward my children even while I was putting limits on their behavior and boundaries into their lives that suddenly the light bulb came on and I realized with my heart that God was just as good-willed toward me!!! My attitude changed from guardedness, thinking God was going to take from me what I didn’t want to give to openness!! That was a wonderful change of heart!!
Here are at least three very simple understandings and choices that lead to peace!!
First, remember that life involves stages!! Now is the best time for your education…before you have a husband and kids. Stay focused. It can be done later, but then something has to give. The time involved studying robs your children and husband of time with you! Don’t try to work full-time, go to school and be a mother all at the same time!! There are stages for that!
Two of the best decisions I made were going to college…and then waiting until after college to marry!
My second comment is in regard to money. Learn from someone like Dave Ramsey to put meat on this. If you from the very beginning will make a habit of this, it’s a good place to start and you’ll not regret it.
Simply Give 10% to God first before paying any bills!! Otherwise, it will never be there!
Give 10% to yourself in long term savings…the most difficult thing to do, because it seems so unimportant when you’re young but now is the time to start!! It doesn’t get any easier …. and it IS important for future peace in your life!!
Live on the rest.
My third “topic” will be the longest! The choice of your God and the choice of your mate are the two most important decisions of life.
Everything I say rest on the fact that choosing to love God at 17 years old and submitting to his leadership has totally changed my life from what it would have been. ( If you’re interested, go to “firstname.lastname@example.org and read my testimony letter.)
I would like to spend more time on the subject of choosing your mate. I like the way William Harley describes three stages of relationship. I hope they will stick in your mind! He compares them to the relationship people have with their houses.
Harley calls the stages Buyers, Renters and Freeloaders. This is from his book.
Relationships thrive on mutual care, and they die when that care is not forthcoming.
A freeloader is unwilling to put much effort into the care of his or her partner in a romantic relationship. He/she does only what comes naturally and expects only what comes naturally. It’s like a person who tries to live in a house without paying rent or doing anything to improve it unless the person is in the mood to do so.
A Freeloader’s Creed:
1. Romantic relationships shouldn’t be work.
2. Love me as I am or not at all.
3. Bargaining is for businessmen, not lovers.
There is something to be said for the freeloader’s approach, especially at the beginning of a relationship. It has to do with the fact that some men and women have a certain “chemistry” with each other, and others do not. There really is something to the idea of being right or wrong for each other.
But love has a way of changing our philosophy of life and we decide to try to be more considerate of his/her feelings. We have been converted into a renter.
A renter is willing to provide limited care as long as it’s in his /her best interest. The romantic relationship is considered tentative, so the care is viewed as short-term. It’s like a person who rents a house and is willing to stay as long as the conditions seem fair, or until he/she finds something better. The person is willing to pay reasonable rent and keep the house clean but is not willing to make repairs or improvements.
A Renter’s Creed:
1. Romantic relationships require care—but that’s only okay if it’s fair.
2. I’ll change for you if it’s worth my while.
3. I’ll sacrifice for you if you sacrifice for me.
IF love is not real love yet!
The renter’s agreement is an essential stage in the development of any romantic relationship. Renters do better than freeloaders in a romantic relationship, but they cannot experience sustained fulfillment until they become buyers.
A buyer is willing to demonstrate an extraordinary sense of care by making permanent changes in his/her own behavior and lifestyle to make the romantic relationship mutually fulfilling. Solutions to problems are long-term solutions and must work well for both partners because the romantic relationship is viewed as exclusive and permanent. It’s like a person who buys a home for life with a willingness to make repairs that accommodate changing needs so that it can be comfortable and useful.
A Buyer’s Creed:
1. Romantic relationships require consistent and effective mutual care.
2. We’ll adjust to each other as often as necessary.
3. We want long-term solutions that make us both happy, not short-term fixes that work for one and not the other.
If you really care about your partner, you won’t encourage him or her to suffer on your behalf—not even once.
End of quote.
There is a risk factor in young marriages…kids can get stuck in one of these stages. Take time to see if the person you are attracted to is committed to the maturing that is required for relationships! These three word pictures of freeloaders, renters and buyers are another way of talking about maturing!!
Maturity takes time. It involves becoming less and less self-centered and learning how to trust others and letting go of control. It’s the nature of maturity that sometimes you can’t see the results for 15-20 years! Satan works hard to interfere or block maturing because maturity means we become less emotion driven (which is a prime tool of his!) and that we think more clearly and rationally!
The next thought is: Understand that there really are good “walls of protection” that come from our commitment to and obedience to God! Unhealthy walls isolate us and prevent growth. But healthy walls or boundaries let in the good and keep out the bad! God is healthy!!
Too often we have believed Satan’s lie….”What is best must be boring!” “I may be missing out!” There is a danger zone outside the wall of our obedience to God. David got in trouble when he went outside those walls of obedience to find his excitement. (a Beth Moore thought from When Godly People Do Ungodly Things) As a consequence, his relationships became very troubled even into the next generations! I would guess that his impulsive “fling” became one of the greatest regrets of his life!!!!
Satan is a liar! The best may be slow …but it’s NOT boring!!! God’s ways are fulfilling!!!
God’s best is not difficult to understand! Sexual relationships are to be between one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage.
I would like to encourage you to not ignore the Old Testament!! The New Testament builds on the Old Testament. The Old Testament teaches us about the maturing of Israel!
Leviticus 18 is about purity in sexual practices. The Chronological Bible says this chapter is the formal end to the early period during which extremely close relatives married each other.”
Please hear what I’m saying!! This came together in my mind one day. The relationships mentioned in this chapter were never meant to be sexual relationships! And there is a reason! They bring pain, confusion, or chaos to at least one of those involved in these relationship!!!
In our sex saturated world today, nothing is off limits. There are no boundaries! Sister Wives? NO! Verse 18 says “nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.” If you want to know the emotional reality of polygamy and sister wives read Leah’s story in Genesis 29, starting at vs 21 Her story breaks my heart every time I read it, especially the more I understand relationship dynamics!!
What is one of Satan’s lies to young women especially? He wants to push you to have sex before marriage…. but after marriage he thinks of every barrier he can devise so that you don’t have sex! Sex is not a cure for marriage disagreements and problems but it is a thermometer of the relationship! If you feel distant or life is overwhelming you, then you both need to start talking and listening to each other, and/or involving a counselor!!
In today’s world, premarital sex with a boyfriend is not the only temptation. I don’t have to tell you of the many possibilities of sexual impurity through I-phones and the internet.
Please be careful of what you expose yourself to or practice! Don’t give into curiosity! Beware of lust substituting itself for the delayed gratification of love. Song of Solomon 2:7 says “Don’t awaken or stir up love until it pleases.” In other words, wait until it’s the right person AND the right timing.
I like to illustrate our relationship priorities though the idea of concentric circles. God is in the center circle, next is the circle of our spouse, then the circle of children, then immediate family, close friends, etc. Each circle has its appropriate level of emotional intimacy.
God is in our first circle. He knows us completely and we can share anything with Him. The next circle is with our spouse. We share more with them than with anyone in the world! God and a couple in the first two circles mean more intimacy! But letting anyone or anything beyond those two circles into our circle means LESS intimacy! Allowing even virtual people or personally unknown people into your second circle with your spouse will lessen intimacy! Beware of being robbed of God’s gift of unselfish love and emotional and physical intimacy with your spouse!
Focus your attention on your husband when even the smallest temptation threatens. No! I will love God! I will love my husband—even if I don’t know him yet!!! When tempted, I will actively put healthy truth into my mind that will bless my life later, not cause me problems, pain and regrets!!
Cloud and Townsend say in Boundaries in Dating that it’s important to set appropriate physical limits…and I say it must be beyond our emotions. Invite someone you trust to let you be accountable to them.
• You need a boundary against sex outside of marriage. God gives you this boundary to protect you, and it will, in a number of ways.
• Sex has a very high purpose, great value, dignity, and esteem. Do not treat it or your sexuality lightly, failing to give it the place it deserves.
• Sex is the highest way of expressing romantic love for a person; therefore it must be reserved for the highest romantic relationship you will have—the one with your spouse.
• Keeping your sexual boundaries will let you know of the other person’s self-control, delay of gratification, ability to love sacrificially, and willingness to submit to God.
• Do not act out of lust. It prevents love, integration, and healing. And, it guarantees relational problems.
• No matter what your partner says, saying no to sex will be the only way you find out what he or she is like when he or she has to respect a limit.
• God’s forgiveness is available to anyone, no matter what you have done. It will allow you to have a clean slate and start over with good sexual boundaries.
End of quote
I would like to mention one more thing I have noticed over the years. Many times, our first serious attraction is not always the one to marry…maybe not even usually the one to marry! I know there are some couples who were high school sweethearts and are still married today but the ones I’m thinking of gave themselves several years to mature before marrying! But I can think of many couples who, if they had waited even one year to see if their relationship was going to continue to develop could have saved themselves some real sorrow! This is not set in stone…but it is something to think about.
Some choices start opening the wrong doors. On the other hand, other choices start opening the right doors. I call it spirals. Some choices send us up the spiral of life. Other choices start us down the spiral. The direction of the spiral can be changed…but it takes prayer and work…and different choices!
In conclusion, may I encourage you to constantly fill your mind with truth?!! Read or listen to a chapter in a “teaching” book in your devotions just like you read the Bible! Otherwise, by default, lies will enter your mind through a multitude of venues and you don’t even realize it!!
God Bless you…!
Boundaries in Dating by Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Buyers, Renters, and Freeloaders by William Harley
When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore