Sunday, November 20, 2022

Setting New Boundaries


New pathways.  A new life.

Never forget that.  Christ creates all things new again.

Sometimes, we have to start over.  From scratch.  I have no idea what that looks like, but I think I am about to find out.

This morning, Pastor Ben gives us the guiding Principles on how we should approach new things, like dating.  While this doesn't specifically apply to me at the moment, I feel inclined to share it.  Maybe it applies to you.

So let's jump in and explore God's Principles.  GOD'S Principles, not mine.  Not yours.  (...But this will still be a "note-taking" blog post for me today.)

I am so weak in this area!  My heart (despite current beliefs) is soft and bends pretty easily.  I give in way too easy when I should be strong - when I know God's Word and I still turn a blind eye toward it.

In this season of REST for me, I am going to try and work on these Principles.  Without Principles, what do you have to stand on?  Solid or shaky ground?  Rocky or sandy ground?  It's time for change, and I so hope I can be strong the next go round...

Principle #1:

  • Invite the GOD of the Universe into the process

    "Allow the truth about who He is to influence your thoughts and actions.  Prayer frees you from the terror of being alone — and protects you from compromising your standards. You can relax and enjoy every moment because you rest in the knowledge your strong and loving God is leading you in a good way. When you have a clear connection with God, you can see people as precious creations in his image—not to use, but to honor."
I want to interject something here.  When I lost my Partner about two weeks ago, I felt broken and lost.  I felt like going straight and directly into a fetal position in my bed for a month.  Okay, so maybe that is a little bit of embellishment, but I was pretty shocked and broken and I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and cry.

After trying first to process losing the one person that knows me intimately and best and whom I loved intimately and best, came a common thought process I find most women go through who are left alone.  Whether it is a breakup, a military spouse has died, or a loving partner and spouse has passed away of natural causes or disease.  Women immediately wonder about companionship and things like, "Who will fix my car if it breaks down?" "Who fill finish the projects left half- and undone?"  It's just natural.  As strong and independent as most of us are, we were still created by an awesome Creator and God to be second.  Second as in "not the leader."  God has fashioned us, as women, to stand beside our Partners but also to fall to a slight "behind" position, so it is perfectly and 100% natural to wonder through these questions.

For me, the "terror of being alone" was immediately answered - without having ever uttering those fears, speaking them into existence, or asking anyone for help.  Immediately one of my best friends said, "My son fixes cars.  If anything goes wrong with your car, [he] will work on it for you."  Another friend said, "I can come over and fix the deck.  Just call me, and I'll come."  My brother said, "Deb, don't worry about the deck.  I'll handle it."

God sometimes (well, always really...) knows our thoughts, and He can calm your fears without you even having to process them or lay them before the Cross.

Principle #2:

  • Provide clarity to the other person

    "It is a sign of respect and love to tell someone the truth. So muster the courage to graciously tell the other person what you think, how you feel, and what you would like to do.  

    Be sure to keep your meaning clear when you are on a date. Let the other person know how you are feeling about the experience—don’t keep him or her wondering about what will happen next. Ambiguity is uncomfortable. Also, be clear about how this process of dating might end. Share your comfort level with your experience at any time, and be willing to stop without putting pressure on each other if one of you feels uncomfortable. There should be a clear door out. When you give people clarity, you give them peace and the opportunity to be themselves.

    Believers in Jesus do not need to play games. Life is short. You don’t have time to mess around with people’s emotions. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Be clear about the process."

Say what you mean.  Mean what you say.

I'm probably older than most of you reading this post.  I should be past this part of life, but I'm not.  Here I am - one more time.  Trying to figure out my purpose in life, while I'm still here on Earth.

Be clear with who you are and what you want.  For me, dating had turned into years once again.  I thought I had found my forever partner and the end of that part of life for me.  But, for my partner, they didn't feel the same way.  It was still dating to them.

For me, my home had turned into "our" home, as we picked out flooring, paint colors, and more together - transforming my home into something we made and created together.  I felt it was a logical transition to move from dating into the next level(s) of the relationship.

My partner did not.  He felt it was still "Debbie's," and it quickly became apparent my home was just another task on the list of To Dos.  So - I share all that to say, be clear and open with who you date.  Life is too short for playing games.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Where there is clarity, there is peace.

Principle #3:
  • Dating should be between believers in Christ:

    The Bible is clear those who trust in Jesus are to date (and marry) those who trust in Jesus. You are to love those who do not believe, but you are not to extend a romantic relationship with them. As a believer in Jesus, dating is part of being in community with other believers — a covenant relationship. God does not recognize dating as a “status.” You are either brother and sister in Christ, or you are husband and wife. There is no intermediate sphere. So don’t get this confused.

    In the same way, the Bible draws a hard boundary between what is permissible sexually. In marriage, much is permissible. In singleness, none is permissible. And in dating, still none is permissible. True love does not request access to your body while simultaneously avoiding any responsibility to care for you emotionally and financially. So, until the two of you are married before God, you are still two. You are separate."

Oh my sweet goodness!  I love that line, "TRUE LOVE does not request access TO YOUR BODY while simultaneously avoiding any responsibility to care for you emotionally and financially."

Raise your hand if you struggle with this. Okay, ME!  Who doesn't?  I don't have any friends that are sticking to this last Principle in their dating relationships these days and at this later stage of life.

But wow.  I will say that I have brought it up multiple times, and it is never met with an, "Okay, yes.  I agree.  We are going to stand by God's Principles."  Sometimes, you will have to be the strong one for both you and your Partner, and it may not be pretty or even end pretty - but at least then you will know where you stand and how deep and intimate your relationship really is.

You are not using it as an excuse to not have sex.  It is not a secret code for, "I don't love you," "You don't like me at all," or "You don't think I'm attractive."  If your Partner gives you any of those (and I say this strictly out of love for all involved), it is on them.

In your heart, you know the reasons and Principles are you are standing on, and in the end, God will honor you for your stand.  Do not give in to what other people think.  Maybe they have a lower opinion of themselves, and that is a vessel to project some of it into your wheelbarrow to carry with them.  It is not!  Politely and out of love keep expressing and explaining why you are doing it, and try your best to remain strong.  I know it is difficult, as sex and physical touch and intimacy are a gift from God to the human race and it is a natural process - but only within the confines of marriage.  Tough, tough process to work through - but a reward in the end!

I also love that Pastor Ben ties it to caring for you emotionally and financially.  My partner was great in helping financially with projects around the house and other areas in our relationship, but he was not able to financially or emotionally commit to an "us."  His true emotions rested elsewhere, and even financially, he could not commit to a financial plan we could work out together.  

To be fair, my (our) story is not over yet.  There are battles raging within each of us, and (I believe) evil is working mighty hard to tear some things apart in our journey together.  I can see it so plainly.

So - these Principles - though I share them today in this post for the entire internet world to read - are also for me.  I need to keep them in a note on my phone or (better yet) in my heart to memorize and internalize.  I know if I continue to cling to the Cross, I will be rewarded.

Jesus gave me the sweetest day yesterday, and I could feel the last nine days of clinging to the Cross seeping through my Spirit.  I left my comfort zone of home and traveled two hours to a beautiful city here in Georgia to say goodbye to a friend of 33 years.  I was able to catch up on his life and see how it had turned out.  I was able to visit with friends I love so, so much and others I had not seen in decades.

It was a sweet time of honor, remembering, and love.  I am thankful that Jesus honors us and opens doors to new experiences when we cling to the Cross.  We will begin to see transformations in our own lives when the Cross comes first.

Go out and make today the best Sunday you possibly can.  Cling to the Cross; study God's Word intently; and love others well - keeping God's Principles and boundaries tucked quietly away in your heart.

Eph. 4:15-16, "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

Do yourself a favor this morning - play this song LOUD, raise your hands, and SING.  This was played at my friend's funeral yesterday - and no one does it better than the Gaithers and Michael English.  Enjoy.

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