Throughout my four years at Biola U., I have found myself answering the infamous “What do I do?” question when it comes to the lovely world of complex metaphysical nature of the heart (also known as relationships and dating). These thoughts are not limited to just dating though – often they can be applied to all relationships. So, with all of that in mind, let’s dig in!
Question: What do I do if they don’t feel the same?
1. Don’t forcefully change your entire being.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5 44-45, ESV.
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is to try and over protect themselves. By deleting the contact number and Facebook friendship, ignoring them around town (and campus), and sheepishly and awkwardly running the opposite direction when they see their former (or never) other, we create a mindset that’s unhealthy for our heart.
We start to pin the blame – either on ourselves or on them – and create reasons why we shouldn’t or won’t be in relationship (platonic) with them. Usually this only results in anger, bitterness, hurt, and a stoic condescending attitude. Aside from the fact this isn’t healthy for our mental well-being, it’s not what Christ did nor commands us to do.
I’m going to use this Scripture in a relatively broad manner, so work with me. We may not view another person as the “enemy” like the Jews believed the Romans were, but the same Christ-led passion prevails. We need to continue to bestow Christ like love on those who disappoint or hurt us in our relationships.
2. If at first you don’t succeed…
…Trust God, again, again, and again. To use a relatively recent example, a young woman is dealing with the disappointment that a man doesn’t share the same feelings and interest she expressed in him. She asked me what she can do – does she follow up, explain that she still wants to be friends, and awkwardly force the issue? Does she ignore it and move on? What does she do?
Well, the answer is a little of everything.
First, protect your heart. Don’t put yourself in situations that create more pain (aka still invite them everywhere, text them all the time, let your mind wander towards them). Second, refer to my first point – don’t let your heart create bitterness and keep loving them as your brother or sister in Jesus. Why? Because Christ loves them and they are probably still an okay person. Third, find natural rhythms in your life to continue to let them be in your community.
In this specific instance, this young woman was a friend with this young man before her feelings interceded and intervened. They share mutual friends, interests, and commonalities. I believe it is okay to continue to invite this young man into her natural rhythms. Going to the movies with a group of people? Invite him! Going to the Café or having people over for dinner? Let him know that he and his friends are invited. Wave when she sees him around school. Be willing to allow the friendship to grow.
As a final note on this point, don’t expect that this man (or woman) will magically fall in love with you over time…but also don’t shut that door. God knows what’s best for you. One of the most over and misused passages of the Bible comes from Jeremiah 11. God, through Jeremiah is telling the Exiles that He knows what is going on. He reminds them that He “knows the plans” He has for them! He has a plan for their future and their hope. When they pray, He will listen. Finally, if they seek Him will all their hearts, they will find Him!
How great and powerful is that reminder for our lives as well! Maybe our life won’t be prosperous and perfect, but guess what, God has a perfect plan. He already started it by sending Jesus to die for our sins and to be raised from death. Patiently and aggressively seek the Kingdom, and God’s plan will be revealed to you.
3. It’s okay to be fun.
(Queue music: Some nights I…get it? No? Never mind). I once attended a conference love, relationships, and Songs of Solomon. Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church came to Los Angeles through Reality LA and his good buddy, Tim Chaddick.
Pastor Mark gave women some advice that stuck with me, so I would like to pass it along to you.
Men often get caught up looking at the top of the hill for a woman – and don’t realize that their perfect wife is right there in front of them. So, women, it’s okay to stand on your tippy toes with a plateful of cookies (or throw a football at him, play guitar, show off your Business Presentations skills…whatever you want) to get gently remind him you are still there. Guys can be stupid. We all know that. So, I’m not saying out rightly pursue a man, but hey, it’s okay to sometimes say “Dude, you’re stupid.” After all, Martin Luther’s eventual wife did it.
For you men, there is a very, very, very fine line between sweet and creepy. If you did the right thing, and asked a lady on a nice date (and not the whole, “Want to grab coffee where I surprise you and pay then claim to all my friends we are dating” ploy., and she says no, then back off. But, if there isn’t that definite no, then do nice things. Open the door. Buy her drink. Show up with her favorite candy bar when you have class with her. Just don’t be creepy about it. If you are doing things because you are selfish and not because you want to love her like Jesus does and commands you to do, then you may want to read some of my other pieces.
4. Finally, are you idolizing or loving?
This one is short and sweet, but we tend to go off too far to one side or another. I already mentioned bitterness and hate. Did you know you can actually love someone wrongly? A lesson I learned this past year is that an unbridled love someone who isn’t ready to receive or reciprocate can end up in a lot of hurt. Love as Christ does and did – and that means to love smartly. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply pray for that person and do what you can – when space and timing allows – to love on them. Don’t go to the point of idolizing another being outside of God. It never, ever, ever works…like ever. (Get it? Song reference two? No, just me?)
I hope this holiday cheerful blog provides some sort of thought provoking wisdom into your life this week! Blessings to all – and remember those who are less fortunate than yourself…check out this list for a place to donate gifts or toys to families and children in need!
I am a person of structure. When I lack structure, it normally means I lack discipline, and when I lack discipline, I normally end up with an anxiety attack and the making of an ulcer in my system.
So when August rolled around, and I made the tough decision to talk to my parents about missing Thanksgiving 2011, I knew it was going to be an interesting Fall Semester.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go home – every ounce of flesh that embodies my soul stillyearns for the fresh air of the Columbia River Gorge, the smells of mom’s Greco/Italian/Grilling cooking, the love of my dog – that is when he isn’t trying to hump me in the morning – and the love of my family and friends whom I care about more deeply with each passing month that I continue to ride this unstoppable train called Time.
I even had a justifiable reason – my job is to coach young men to smash each other into oblivion, and we happen to be very good at it, which meant that before this season started, I knew we’d have a late playoff game.
With much dissatisfaction, my parents had to agree. It was tough, but we did it.
You see, this is a big deal for me. For the last decade we’ve done the same thing. We go to the Kopra’s house, where Jake and I eat raw croutons (don’t ask), a lot of chips and dip, the traditional turkey dinner, and then Jake and his sisters normally pass out so I baby sit the cousins. We then play some dice game that I absolutely suck at, I get super tired, I go home early, and I wake up to go Black Friday shopping.
But this year, I had to find a new home for Thanksgiving. By God’s grace, Mackenzie and his cousins took me in, and it was an absolutely beautiful time, and I am extremely grateful and blessed to have such great friends.
But with each Carpenter’s song that comes on the radio – another slightly annoying tradition of my family (dad plays that stupid CD nonstop…he won’t even use his iPod) – my heart breaks for home with a deeper cut.
It doesn’t help that this time of year, as I wrote in my last blog a few weeks ago, kills my façade of being a manly man who plays and coaches sports and changes me to about as close as I can to becoming a woman (I say this with sarcasm, because for one, I do consider myself to be pretty dudeish, secondly, I am not a woman, thirdly, it’s okay to be romantic once in awhile).
The Christmas music, the cold air, the decorations, the lights, the cooking, and the movies – it just hits me for some reason.
Seriously, I have no idea what PMS is like, other than facing it’s wrath from my friends – but I think Christmas gives me the perpetual emotional effects. Things that don’t normally make me cry make me want to cry, and God forbid, tear up.
Just for the record – the only other things that make me tear up: Jesus time, Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers, the Colts AFC Championship game against the Patriots, and getting kicked in the crouch by soccer player.
But here I am, typing away at my computer, tearing up over what happened today and in all totality, what happened the last few weeks.
As we ate cookies and drank coffee (two of my favorite things at this time of year…naw, all the time), a young lady at the brisk age of 15 started to talk about her family.
Dinner tonight was already odd enough – about 5 families with no connections except to the host, and then us Biola students who only knew the Burns and didn’t know their cousins, so I wasn’t sure if I was eating turkey or speed dating everyone. It was fantastic.
Back to that young girl. Her dad is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. She’s moved 27 times in her life. She is more mature than most of my friends, super friendly, and just about the coolest young woman I’ve ever met.
She started to talk about how much she loved her daddy – despite how much they move, despite how she wouldn’t finish high school at the same place and would probably have to attend a few more schools, and despite how friends come and go through her life because of the constant strain of being a military family on the move.
Her dad, who was on base at this point in the afternoon, sounds like an absolute stud. After she asked a few random questions about Biola, I started asking her about her experiences, because as someone who almost joined the military, is still thinking about joining, and has had nearly every other male on the Fier side of the family serve in the Navy, I felt I could empathize with her to some degree.
She immediately and bluntly responded to my peppering about her father by saying: “I love my daddy. He’s an amazing father and a good soldier” with about the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.
Talk about a gracious, graceful, and wonderful young lady (I refuse to say girl, because I still don’t think she’s only 15.)
As I drove home, I started to cry (there it is), because I want to be that type of father. A father who reflects the image of the living and Holy Father. What a beautiful moment I shared with this young lady and the rest of our table.
As I drove, I prayed that God would continue to wreck my idols, specifically of control, because I know that in order to be a father to my future children who is righteous and made holy, I must first pursue holiness at deeper level today.
Katie isn’t the only epiphany I’ve had about growing into a better young man of God lately – a student and spunky freshman young woman (still refuse to say girl) has really radically and powerfully shaken my ideas about Jesus and the pursuit of holiness.
I’d say it’s the icing on the cake to a semester filled with Psych of Marriage, Theology II,and Mars Hill Orange County, but who knows if God has finished this baking session yet.
I won’t go into details about this young lady from Biola – mainly because of time, secondly because of privacy, thirdly because it would come across wrong.
But I’ll say this:
Men – as Christians we claim to seek first a holy and righteous woman of God. So often I’ve experienced and seen differently. We seek a girl who believes in Jesus, who likes the same things as us, and who looks really good in sun-kissed California skin.
But there is something truly beautiful about finding a woman of character, grace, and love. This young Biola student knows really nothing about me. I know very little about her. But I do know her life hasn’t been necessarily easy, and it hasn’t been the picture perfect Christian home.
But when you meet a woman who understands the Doctrine of the Church, Doctrine of Family, Doctrine of Sin, and who has securely placed her identity in Jesus and not in man, her image, or by her functionality (what she does), it rocks your world.
So, for the first time in my life, my eyes filled with tears this week over not a girls beauty, or because she broke my heart (which yes, I have cried over such things I suppose I should admit) – but instead because her character so exemplifies God’s character, that I think I got a better idea and vision of what God’s complete triune character is this week.
For the first time in my life, a woman challenged me to pursue holiness. Not by direct command, not because I want to impress her, but because she loves Jesus.
That my friends, was a powerful moment.
God bless you on this Thanksgiving. For those who couldn’t go home, my hope and prayer is that you shared it with loved ones. For those that don’t get to go “home” to picture perfect families (that we pretend to have!), my hope and prayer is that you realize the power of the church and the family of God. For those of you serving or have loved ones serving in the military or protection forces of our country, thank you for your sacrifice.
Finally, for those of you that have been hurt, oppressed, broken, beat down, and abused by someone you thought loved the Lord, keep seeking the Kingdom. I can assure you that God will come through when the sinful nature of our souls and others souls gets in the way.