n., An issue of water from the earth; a spring; a fountain. v.intr., To rise to the surface, ready to flow; to rise or surge from an inner source. v.tr., To pour forth. adj., In a satisfactory condition; right or proper. interj., Used to introduce a remark, resume a narrative, or fill a pause during conversation; used to express surprise.dictionary.com
Wednesday, March 03, 2004 I'm back!
Ever been kicked (where you needed kicking) by something you wrote or said yourself?
Happened to me again yesterday.
So, here's to the me that wrote this way back in September of 2002...& here's to hopes that I'll start writing (& posting) more regularly from here on out--I think the time is getting right.... (the one caveat being that once I get writing, I start writing, as amply demonstrated by the length of this post!)
If it is not by not-loving that one guards one’s heart, how does one guard one’s heart, particularly as a single person in relation to members of the opposite sex to whom one is not married?
There are four parts: Trust, Surrender, Freedom, and Modesty (& again, I’m not discussing clothes...)
"God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." One of my most frequent quotes because it summarizes the truth so neatly. God loves you. God, your heavenly Father, your Papa, your Abba. Watch the delight of brand-new parents with their tiny little baby—-it is that delight that your heavenly Father has for you, one whom He formed to be unique, unlike any other in all of history, and never to be repeated. He is your Papa; He knows the road He has set you on, He knows the "good works He has prepared in advance for you to do" (Eph. 2:10)—-and He would hold your hand, if you will only let Him.
We are all three-year-olds sometimes: "I can do it myself," "Are we there yet?" "Yet?" "Yet?!!" Trust Him, hold His hand, and keep on walking. What does He ask of you? He asks you to look to Him and do the next thing, and then the next thing, and then the next thing. Not to leap three miles ahead of yourself (the "next thing" might involve planning for the future, but it does not mean *dwelling* in it), or to keep looking from side to side saying: "Is that where I'll end up?" "Is that?" "Is that?" "Are we almost there yet?" "Yet?!!" Trust Him, who loves you and knows you so much more intimately than you know yourself-—if your eyes are fixed on Him and you simply keep walking, doing the "next thing" each day, you don’t have to worry about missing anything that He might have for you! Dance with Him...
Trust also says that God is enough, and more than enough. I am walking with my Beloved, with the only One who loves me perfectly, Love Himself. He supplies my daily bread, all that I need to sustain me. It is not the relationships around me that themselves meet my needs-—they are simply vehicles for His divine love, and as such, they are not what I should cling to, but the One who placed them there for me.
"Loving" someone without this trust ultimately will not be love, but something that seeks to consume the other-—it will express a neediness rather than a true selflessness.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Surrender says again that God is enough and more than enough, and beyond that that all things are rightly His, to do with as He pleases. It says that He loves me, and therefore I can hand these things, this relationship, these possibilities to Him, because His way is love itself, a perfect plan, the best way. Surrender says, "Not my will, but Thine be done," and in its fullness it wells up from a knowledge of God’s divine love. Of course may Thy will be done! How could I ask for less, for to ask for less would be to ask for less than perfect love!
"Loving" someone without this surrender will ultimately not be love, but something that clings and cowers, grasping rather than giving.
Surrender asks: "Teach me Your way and I will walk in Your truth. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear [could be literally translated: 'reverentially trust'] Your name." (Psalm 86:11)
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)
Surrender is letting go in a God-ward direction; freedom is letting go in a man-ward (woman-ward :) direction. While surrender says to God, "Not my will, but Thine be done," freedom essentially says to another person, "Not my will in your life, but God’s will in your life be done."
To use the road analogy again, in marriage, two have become one and together walk down the road, holding God’s hand. Outside of such a covenant, however, freedom says that while we may be walking down the same road right now, our paths are nevertheless separate, and until such time as we may enter such a covenant, God’s will for my life may not necessarily be God’s will for your life, and I will neither exercise any claim on your life to the contrary nor allow you to exercise a claim on my life to the contrary. Love in the midst of this is the desiring of the other’s best good—-desiring God’s will to be fulfilled in the other’s life even if that should mean that your paths separate-—and it is a love that is possible only when it springs from trust in God’s perfect love and surrender to His goodness.
"Loving" someone without this freedom, which exists but has a different expression in marriage, is to give the reins to fear rather than love, to say in the end that you trust neither the other person nor God.
I’ve pointed out before that modesty is not really about clothing or appearance but about a personal freedom to give rather than to want or seek to be wanted. This modesty has as one expression personal appearance, but there is another expression that has nothing to do with clothes but is at least as integral to one’s sexuality as one’s physical being.
There’s a saying that I’ve run into more than once to the effect that "Men give love to get sex; women give sex to get love." That statement portrays reality about as effectively as a stick figure portrays a person (tell someone to find the person that the stick figure is a portrait of-—you won’t have much luck). Nevertheless, there is some truth in a stick figure and there is some truth in the saying. The word "love," however, isn’t one of the truths. A better approximation would be "emotional gratification," which can be as thoroughly divorced from real love as sex can.
What the saying does do effectively is distinguish two facets of human sexuality—-the physical and the emotional, the exterior and the interior. Many don’t realize that immodesty is possible with each.
It is fundamentally wrong to use another person as a means to one's own physical gratification. Does this make sex wrong? No. It simply means that sex is intended to an act of mutual giving (a gift which can only truly be *given* within the context of marriage) rather than a vehicle for personal pleasure. No human being should ever be treated simply as an object for use, a means to an end. [See "Love and Responsibility" by Karol Wojtyla and "The Theology of the Body" by Pope John Paul II]. Physical immodesty is the beginning of the distorting of sex into the use of another human being for one's own gratification.
It is wrong to use another person as a means to one's own physical gratification, but it is also wrong to use another person as a means to one's own emotional gratification.
Again, it is wrong to use another person as a means to one's own emotional gratification.
People are not meant to be used.
In the proper context it is not wrong to *receive* emotional gratification from another person, just as in the proper context (marriage) it is not wrong to receive physical gratification from another person. But a person should never be used simply as a means to either of those ends.
The saying above about giving love to get sex and vice versa highlights the popular perception (whether true or otherwise) that men are more oriented to the physical while women are more oriented to the emotional. Thus women and girls are often given lectures on physical modesty and emotional modesty is...generally ignored.
Guys, take note: If you want the women in your life to dress and physically relate to you in such a way that will help you guard your sexuality, there is a way that you can reciprocate. Relate to the women in your life in such a way that your words and actions do not imply a level of commitment that you and the woman in question do not have--don't relate to her as you would to a girlfriend if you're not her boyfriend, don't relate to her as you would to your fiancée if you're not her fiancé, don't relate to her as you would to your wife if you're not her husband. (And prior to all of that, if you're not interested in dating her in the first place, by all means be friendly to her, but don't act as if you're interested in dating her!)
It isn't so much an issue of not deceiving her (in other words, you can't justify it by saying that she's perfectly aware that you're not her boyfriend) as it is an issue of respecting and honoring her, the commitments themselves, and particularly honoring and respecting whomever you each might eventually make those commitments to. To do otherwise is to let your own desires (however transitory or eternal) usurp the place of real love. There was wisdom in the counsel of Elisabeth Elliot's father to his sons to not say, "I love you," unless they were prepared to follow it immediately with a proposal, because love is not about a feeling but about a commitment of the will--the feeling is simply *one* of its expressions. In love, just as in everything else, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.
Women and girls--take the last two paragraphs, flip them around to address women instead of men, and apply them to yourselves :)!
I learned something that may seem obvious while going through radiation therapy last year--the most difficult part of growing in virtue is often in the stupid little things rather than the big things. To elaborate, confronting the reality of my own mortality wasn't really a problem--I can work up plenty of grand emotion & lofty feeling about death and heaven--but feeling like I was swallowing around a golfball one week, or having an appetite that rebelled like a spoiled four-year-old, or being everlastingly tired over and over and over again--all of those stupid little things were the hard part.
In the same vein, love isn't so much about the grand feeling when all is roses and turtledoves and your beloved is the most perfect man or woman in all of creation--On the contrary, Love is about being patient when someone just doesn't get it for the umpteenth time.
It is about being kind when you're feeling overworked and underappreciated.
Love is about not being envious even when someone else got what you much more deserved, and not boasting even when your accomplishments really do outweigh the other person's egotistical blather.
It is about not being arrogant in the face of another's failings or sin, but remembering always, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
Love consists of not insisting on your own way, even when you know you're right (when else would you try to insist on your own way?).
Love keeps no record of wrongs and is not consumed with irritation or resentment even when the other person's actions seem spiteful and deliberate and it seems like you're stuck with more than your share of the work.
Love does not rejoice in evil, even if it seems like the other person's "just desserts."
Love rejoices in the truth, even when it comes at personal cost.
Protecting love bears all things, knowing that God created the other in His image.
Love always trusts, leaning on God and not on appearances.
Love always hopes, knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Love always perseveres, knowing that though what is asked is impossible for man, nothing is impossible with God.
And yes, I'm preaching to myself.
posted by Heidi | 3.3.04
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