From the Archives: 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Letdown

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This weekend, I’ll be very busy Nutcracker-ing. (Is that a verb? It is now.) I’ll return next week with a regularly scheduled post, but for now enjoy this holiday post I originally published in 2015. 

Christmas is almost upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you’re getting very excited about it!

But even as we hype ourselves up for the wonderful morning, we also expect the letdown when everything is over. You know the feeling: the presents are opened, there isn’t anything left to do, and you start feeling disappointed, sad, or frustrated that it’s all over.

How can we avoid this holiday letdown and spend more time focusing on the true joy that Christmas is supposed to bring? Here are four things you can do to help prevent and offset those feelings of disappointment.

1. Don’t build up unrealistic expectations.

We are all prone to building up and anticipating Christmas much more than we actually should be. We hype up the gift part of it so much and expect everything to be perfect and wonderful for the entire day.

This is dangerous; don’t allow yourself to imagine Christmas being perfect. The world is still fallen on Christmas, the presents don’t last forever, and things will not be magically perfect on the twenty-fifth of December. Don’t imagine it that way.

2. Make God the center from the start of the day. 

If you wake up before your siblings or have to wait for your parents to get ready in the morning, spend that time before you open gifts reading the Christmas story in your Bible and praying that God would give you the right heart during the day’s festivities.

This will help remind you of the purpose of the day before the gift-unwrapping starts. And even if you don’t have time to read your Bible beforehand, you can still say a quick prayer to yourself to help center your mind on God.

3. Focus on the right things while opening gifts. 

While you are opening gifts, take your time. Don’t rush through it. Focus on enjoying the delight of others when they receive the things you picked out for them. Focus on appreciating each gift that you open. Take it slowly and keep yourself in a generous and thankful mindset.

4. When the presents are gone, spend time in the Word. 

The letdown usually hits in the time between the end of gift-opening and the next order of business for the day. You are just sitting around staring at the piles of gifts that have all been opened, waiting for whatever happens next.

Avoid this by immediately spending some time reading your Bible or a devotional and praying after all of the gifts have been opened. Thank God for the blessings He has given you and refocus yourself on the greatest Gift of all: Christ Himself.

Will you try these strategies? Have you experienced letdown in the past? How else have you dealt with it? 

love, grace

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4 Reasons to Read the Bible

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We’ve all been told many times that to be good Christians, we should read our Bibles. But have you ever actually thought about why?

Well, duh, you say, rolling your eyes, it’s the Bible, Grace. Obviously we have to read it if we’re Christians.

But so often, we read it without really knowing what the point is, why it’s important, and what we’re trying to get out of it. We wander aimlessly through the pages, looking for that “spiritual growth” we’re supposed to find if we read for fifteen minutes every day. But without a clear purpose, growth is hard to come by. We need to know what the Bible is, what it is for, and how we can truly get the most out of it.

We’ll talk about the “how” part later. But for now, let’s talk about the “what for” part. Why should we read our Bibles? What is, truly, the purpose of it?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 sums it up best:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

From that verse, here are four reasons to read your Bible.

1. Scripture is God’s literal Word to us.

First of all, the most obvious reason. The God of the universe gave us a book of truth. Why wouldn’t you want to read that?

The Bible is not just a human book summarizing the history of the Christian faith and the dos and don’ts of the Christian life. Everything the Bible holds is God’s truth, breathed out for us to use. Hebrews 4:12 puts it this way:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Every time we read the Bible, God is working through the power of His Holy Spirit, opening our eyes and our hearts, teaching and training and correcting and inspiring. Fundamentally, the Bible is an amazing gift, and to neglect it is to neglect the one thing that will help your Christian walk the most.

2. Scripture shows us our sin and our need for a Savior.

So what, specifically, does the Bible show us and teach us? First: it reveals our sin in all of its ugliness. As we read God’s law, and see what He requires for a righteous life, we see all the ways in which we fail to measure up.

This does away with conceit and shows us our need for Christ. There is no way, after reading the Bible, that we can delude ourselves into thinking we are “good people”. And so we come away humbled and ready to accept the salvation that God requires, leaning on Him, knowing that on our own we could never live a truly upright life.

3. Scripture shows us who God is and what He has done.

As we read the Bible, we are humbled. We see ourselves for who we are. But we also see God for who He is.

The entire Bible is the saga of a people who rebelled and a God who loved them anyway, so much that He sent His Son to die. The more we see our sin, the more we realize the wonder of salvation, and the wonder of God’s love. Through the Bible, we come to love God more and more, as we learn more and more about His love for us.

We also learn about His character. God is so complex, and the best way to know Him better is by reading the Bible. Every time you read about God, you will learn something new about who He is.

4. Scripture shows us how to live a godly life.

And finally, once we have seen our sin and God’s love, and once we accept salvation, the Bible gives us a blueprint for our lives. Because while we will never be able to perfectly measure up to the righteousness God requires, through His work of sanctification we begin to change, growing more and more like Christ.

The Christian life is a hard walk, and the Bible is the guidebook. It is there for us to go back to again and again, seeking the way we should go in every situation. We should be familiar with it from cover to cover, learning to base our entire life upon the truth it contains.

If you’ve never read your Bible, or if this overwhelms you, don’t worry! This is the beginning of a new series I’m going to do on Bible reading. Next week we’ll start getting into the practical details, so stay tuned for that, and let me know if you have any questions I can address during the series!

What do you think? Do you read your Bible regularly? How have you seen these four benefits play out in your own life? 

love, grace

Read more:

Lessons from the Law: How to Get Into the Old Testament for Yourself

24 Resolution Ideas for Christian Teens

How I Enjoyed Reading Deuteronomy

Three Habits to Cultivate Now (+giveaway winner!)

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I’m so excited to announce that the winner of my very first giveaway is Jazzy Belle! Congrats! Please use the Contact form to send me your address sometime in the next few days, and I’ll mail you your goodies! 

For me, a new school year has always been my favorite time to set goals for myself, even more so than January. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to come one step closer to the person who you were made to be.

But if you try to change everything about yourself overnight, it won’t last (trust me). The better method is to slowly, patiently cultivate some new habits, making some small but lasting changes that will have an impact on your whole life. Focus on a few areas where you know you could improve, a few things that will have a positive effect on your physical, mental, or spiritual health as you move forward in life.

If you’re stumped, here are three habits that would be especially good to cultivate while you’re a teenager.

1. Memorizing Scripture.

This is one of those things that will only get harder as you get older (or so I hear…). So take advantage of your young brain and memorize chunks of the Bible now to comfort, encourage, and inspire you when things get tough down the road.

If you have no idea how to begin, here are a few great resources to help:

2. Attending church every week.

For some of you, this is a no-brainer. On Sundays, your families get up and go to church; it’s just what you do. Even though this might be something you’ve done for as long as you can remember, make sure to actually think about why you do it, to own the practice for yourself, so that when you’re on your own it will still be a weekly habit.

And if your family doesn’t go to church every week, it should still be a priority for you to find a church family and a way to get there on Sundays! There is no greater gift that God has given us than the church, and regular fellowship with other believers is one of the most essential aspects of the Christian life. Rooting yourself in a Christian community, no matter where in the world you end up over the course of your life, will be one of the best things you can do for your spiritual health.

3. Setting aside regular time to read.

Reading for school doesn’t count in this category – I’m encouraging you to read books that you choose! Whether that’s fantasy novels, biographies, or Christian nonfiction, regularly reading outside of your assigned books is a much more productive use of your time than always watching TV or scrolling through social media. Some of that is fine, of course, but reading helps stimulate your brain and your creativity. Getting in the habit of always having a book on hand now, as a teenager, means you’ll probably read a lot of really great books in the years to come!

To get started, check out these previous posts:

And if you’re looking for more recommendations, I’ve done lots of book reviews, so browse through some of those for ideas!

 

I’m not going to claim that these three habits will totally change your life. But each of them will have a small, positive impact that will ultimately last longer and have a greater effect on your well-being than all of those superficial, overnight changes that disappear in a month.

Don’t feel like you have to “remake yourself” this school year – start small, and gradually you will build a life to be proud of.

What do you think? Are you already cultivating any of these habits? What habits do you want to add to your life this school year? Share in the comments! 

A final note before I go: School starts for me on Monday, so I’ll be switching back to my weekly Saturday posts. I love posting more often when I can, but weekly posting is always the most realistic schedule for me during the school year! 

love, grace

Read more:

24 Resolution Ideas for Christian Teens

Why You Need to Overcome Procrastination

4 Time Management Tips

Stop Waiting for Friday

Hi everyone! Today I’m so excited to bring you a guest post from the wonderful Miriam at Crafted by Christ.  Be sure to subscribe to her blog! She has wonderful insights on Christianity, life, and being a teenager, and I’m honored to exchange posts with her. 

It was the most boring month of my life.

In May of 2016, at the end of my sophomore year of high school, I had nothing to do but anticipate the future. The end of that month began the whirlwind of working and taking college classes that I am still caught up in today. But this was the beginning of the month, and all I could do was imagine what my life would be like after I started my first job while simultaneously taking classes for dual credit at the local university. So, day after day I went through the motions of my uneventful school days, impatiently waiting for my life to begin.

But one day, it dawned on me—here I was, sitting around waiting for life to “start,” when God purposely gave me this time to prepare me for what was next. I asked Him what He wanted me to do with these few short weeks of waiting. He led me to this poem, which I promptly copied into my journal, adding my own personal applications:

“Stop waiting for Friday,

for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life.

Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you’re in now.”

[God’s will is for you to thrive in waiting. He has given you this time of waiting for a purpose. Take advantage of it]

~Anonymous

What did God want me to do with this time? He wanted me to learn how to thrive.

No matter how much we deny it, the school year is coming upon us very quickly. In the summer, we tend to have a little bit more time to spare, even for those of us with jobs. Making time for Christ is hard during the school year when our schedules are full to the max. So why not use the time we have now to build healthy habits that help us thrive during the coming weeks?

But what are the characteristics of a thriving Christian? Here are just a few that I have learned since those weeks of waiting back in 2016.

⦁ Someone who prioritizes God’s Word.

The only way for any healthy tree to grow and thrive is to have a solid root system. The same goes for Christians. Nothing is more important for a believer than spending daily, quiet time with God. Reading the Bible and praying are the food and water that every Christian must have to stay strong and healthy. Without these things, you and I will never grow. Use these last few weeks of summer to develop a time and place every day to read the Bible and pray. You will never, ever regret it.

⦁ Someone who puts others first.

We are each so overwhelmingly selfish. This is something that I have been struggling against a lot this summer. To combat this sin, I challenge myself to purposely do one completely selfless thing every day. By doing this, I hope to make selflessness a habit. I am failing miserably at this, so I intend to use my last few weeks of summer to develop an attitude of selflessness.

⦁ Someone who lives in the now.

Some days when I am at work, I am doing all that I can to survive my shift so that I can go home, sleep, and do it all over again the next day. But should our lives really be like this? Just going through the motions is not thriving. To be a thriving Christian, I must intentionally live in the here and now. Sometimes that will mean forcing myself to smile. At work, I do this by praying for my customers and co-workers and humming worship music while I perform monotonous tasks. Each moment is a gift from God, so I want to use it for His glory.

The days of summer are dwindling quickly. Are we just going to let them aimlessly slip through our fingers, or are we going to seize these days, using them to develop habits that we can carry with us throughout the school year and the rest of our lives?

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the type of Christian that thrives. I am going to use these last few weeks of summer to their fullest to glorify my Creator. Will you join me?

Click here to read my post over on Miriam’s blog, about making God a priority during the school year. 

Share in the comments below: What are you doing to live this last little phase of summer to the fullest? How are you learning how to thrive in your own life? 

Another Way to Think About the Christian Life

I wrote a post about works vs. grace a long time ago: Why Be Good if Jesus Died?

Today I want to elaborate on everything I said in that post, and use an illustration that will hopefully help you understand this concept even better. I know that it really helped me.

Because this can be a tough thing to get- if we aren’t saved by our works, why do we then have to live in holiness? What’s the point? If God forgives sin, why do we have to fight against it? Obviously it’s a complicated question with a lot of facets, but here is one way to think about it.

Leviticus talks about several different types of offerings. One is the guilt offering. This was an offering given when someone broke God’s law, in order to cleanse them and restore them to favor with God.

Another type of offerings were thank offerings. These were given to God from gratitude for the many blessings He had provided.

Think of your good works as offerings to God, something that you give Him. As guilt offerings, they will always be temporary and inadequate, just like the sacrifices of the Old Testament.

The good news is that those sacrifices were symbolic of Christ, as I talked about in this post. Each sacrifice was temporary, a shedding of blood to pay for the sins of the people. And then Christ came, and paid the ultimate sacrifice, and His was not temporary. It was eternal. And we have nothing else to do to earn salvation. It is finished. He was the ultimate guilt offering.

But our good works are still offerings. In Christ, they become thank offerings, something that we give to God because of who He is and what He has done, a way of thanking Him for all of His blessings. When we get to know God, we want to please Him. We owe so much to Him for the salvation we have from Christ, and so we seek to live in a way that honors Him because we know He deserves it.

The catch? Both of these lives will look the same on the outside. Whether you are living your life as a guilt offering or a thank offering, the outward form will be pretty much the same. It’s about your heart, your motivation. Are you trying to earn your way to heaven, to pay for your own sins by doing good things? Or are you trusting in God’s salvation and doing your best to live in a way that shows how much you love Him?

What do you think? Do you like this way of thinking about it? How else have you wrestled with this concept? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Lessons from the Law: How to Get Into the Old Testament for Yourself

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The Old Testament is so important for us to read if we are to grow as Christians. I hope that in this series I’ve convinced you of that with my few examples (sacrificesworshipsocial justice), but there is so much more to learn! That’s why I want to encourage you to get into the Old Testament yourself, to dig deep and seek to understand and appreciate this often-overlooked part of Scripture.

Here are four tips to help you:

1. Pray for guidance and understanding.

Prayer is always a good idea when you read the Bible, since you won’t be able to understand anything without the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart. But it’s especially important when you’re struggling to understand something.

Pray that God would open your eyes to see how the Old Testament, especially the law books, apply to you. Pray that He would teach you through them, teach you about Himself and about the gospel and about the Christian life. Pray that He would help you to understand the parts that you just can’t get through.

2. Don’t read too much at once.

If you read too quickly, skimming through the “boring” parts, you won’t get anything out of it. Don’t try to read more than a chapter or two at a time, and really focus your attention on that chapter or two. The less you read, the more time you have to think about each part of what you read, and being thoughtful as you read the Old Testament is incredibly important.

3. Make notes, journal, or something…don’t just read.

If you’re having trouble being thoughtful, write things down!

My understanding of the Old Testament shifted dramatically when I started reading with pencil in hand. The physical act of making notes and writing down my thoughts got me out of skimming mode and into thinking mode relatively quickly. You can write directly in your Bible (what I do), or use a separate notebook or journal. Whatever you choose to do, writing down the things you are learning will prime your brain to learn even more.

4. Look for application in everything.

And what are you supposed to be thinking about? Applications. Whenever you read the Old Testament, think about how it applies to you. What can you learn about God that will affect how you worship Him? What can you learn about yourself that will affect how you live? How does what you are reading connect with the New Testament, with the gospels? Why did God include this particular chapter in the Bible?

Everything in the Bible is there for a reason, and there is always something you can learn from any section. Read slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully, and search for the purpose of the text. In doing so you will discover the beauty of the Old Testament.

What do you think? How have you been able to find meaning in the Old Testament? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

Podcast Review: Age of Minority

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My Rating: Five Stars

Age Suggestion: 12+

Website: ageofminority.com

This is the podcast started by Jaquelle Crowe, the editor-in-chief of The Rebelution, and her dad. I started listening to it basically as soon as it came out, and it is by far my favorite podcast that I listen to. It makes me laugh, makes me think, and makes the drive to dance class (same route, there and back, four times a week…) much more interesting!

About the Podcast

The website describes it this way:

The Age of Minority Podcast is a podcast for young people about the gospel. Jaquelle and Sean talk about all things related to being a young person who is interested in having the gospel transform his or her life.

Basically, it’s a podcast where a girl and her dad sit down and talk together about a wide range of topics that all relate to Christian teens. There’s plenty of fun involved too (conversations about food, anyone…?).

A few prior episodes to give you an idea of the content: church, TV/movies, the Trinity, evangelism, reading, and the Sabbath.

My Thoughts

This podcast is the best.

Everyone should listen to it.

Can I be done now?

All jokes aside, this truly is my favorite podcast. Jaquelle and Sean talk about so many important topics and have tons of good things to say; each one is practical, inspirational, and truly helpful.

There’s plenty of fun, random conversation and joking, but it never overtakes the real message of each podcast. There is always helpful, substantial content, coming from two people who really love the Lord and live for Him and want to help others do the same. I find the two of them so inspiring and always come away encouraged.

And the fun, random stuff is what makes the podcast so special! The joking interaction between the two of them makes them relatable and proves that Christians don’t have to be solemn and sour-faced to talk about serious things. I often laugh out loud while driving down the street and I’m sure I look like an idiot to anyone who happens to be looking my direction. But I don’t care.

This podcast should be a part of every single Christian teen’s life. You can listen to it while you do chores, or work out, or drive…basically you have no excuse not to. I think you will find it entertaining and encouraging.

love, grace

Have you listened to Age of Minority? If so, do you like it? If not, will you start listening to it? Let me know in the comments!

Read more:

My Goodreads review of Jaquelle’s new bookThis Changes Everything

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

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Surprise! A post on a Friday. I had something I really wanted to share while it was still fresh in my mind. I think I’ll continue to do this; I plan my Saturday posts ahead, but sometimes I get ideas that just can’t wait. So you may get a surprise post every now and then.

There’s Christian music and Christian books and Christian movies.

There’s also secular music and secular books and secular movies.

So what do we listen to, read, and watch, and what do we avoid? Do we only consume explicitly Christian media, or is secular entertainment fine as long as it is appropriate?

Here are my thoughts on this:

God created the world. God is truth. The created world cannot help but reflect God’s truth. Secular media may unknowingly reflect deep and profound truths about God and who we are in God.

Of course, there are many sources of entertainment that are completely inappropriate or promote messages absolutely contrary to Christianity. Those are a no-no, no questions asked, no exceptions.

But in the vaguer areas, the songs that are appropriate but don’t really have a “Christian” message, the children’s movies that aren’t inappropriate but aren’t particular Christ-centered either, the books by secular authors, look for little nuggets of truth.

They may be unintentional, but they will be there.

This train of thought, for me, was sparked by the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. I was listening to it on the way home from dance and started wondering whether, as a Christian, I should limit myself only to Christian music.

Then I started paying attention to the words of the song.

Here’s just a few lines that really hit me.

“Everybody’s been there,

Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy

“Fallen for the fear

“And done some disappearing…

“Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue…

“And since your history of silence

“Won’t do you any good

“Did you think it would?

“Let your words be anything but empty

“Why don’t you tell them the truth?”

That could be a Christian song, couldn’t it? As I listened to these words, I felt myself inspired to be a witness, to stand up for what I believe without fear, to stop my shy silence and speak up. Even though it doesn’t specifically mention God or Christianity, this song got me thinking about spiritual things. And anything that does that, to me, is good.

If we really listen, we can find truth all around us. And that can be so encouraging.

So use discernment. Don’t limit yourself just to Christian media. When you do consume secular entertainment, pay close attention to the worldviews and messages. When you find anti-Christian messages, avoid them, as I’m sure you’ve been told many times before.

But there is a flip-side to that, too, that rarely gets mentioned. When you find truth in secular media, rejoice! Let it encourage you.

God can speak through sources that aren’t explicitly Christian. Secular media can portray truth and beauty as well as, or better than, “Christian” entertainment. God is the creator of all art, everything that is lovely and good, and art is meant to be enjoyed.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you ever found exciting nuggets of truth in secular entertainment? Do you disagree with me, and limit yourself to strictly “Christian” media? How do you use discernment in your entertainment choices? Share in the comments below! 

Read more:

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

A Peek Inside My Music Library

Thoughts on Unrealistic Expectations and “Happily Ever After”

4 Ways to Stay Content in Singleness (The Relationship Series, part 5)

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Read the other posts here: God’s Purpose for RomanceGod’s Purpose for SinglenessAvoiding Drama and TemptationDeveloping Your Convictions

 

For the final post of this series, I want to address singleness one more time. Because it’s one thing to decide you aren’t going to date in high school, and it’s something else altogether to actually rest in that decision with contentment in the everyday.

So how do we make the most of our singleness, not spending this whole season just waiting for the next, but truly living in it?

Develop a full, dedicated relationship with God.

Our primary focus while we are single is learning and growing in our relationship with God, pouring all that love out to him that will someday be given to another person. He is our first love, our focus, and where we get all of our joy and contentment. When you’re single, you’re not “alone”. You’re with God.

So spend lots of time getting to know Him and getting close to Him. Read your Bible consistently. Spend daily time in prayer and praise. Center your entire life around this most important relationship you will ever have.

Take advantage of your freedom.

When you are single, you have much more freedom, time and energy available. God put you in a season of singleness so that you could avoid distractions and focus completely on His work (1 Corinthians 7).

Take advantage of the time, resources, and emotional energy that you aren’t investing a relationship and invest them into the work of God’s kingdom. Pursue your calling with diligence and faith. Seek opportunities to further God’s glory in the world, maybe through traveling or mission work.

For more on this, I HIGHLY recommend this incredible talk from Breakaway Ministries. (The whole series is great if you’re looking for more Christian opinions on dating and marriage.)

Be ready if someone expresses interest.

So…you’re committed to singleness. You’re living a life dedicated to God. And then someone starts acting interested in you, or even directly asks you out. How do you handle this situation?

First of all, never lead anyone on. If someone starts flirting with you or acting interested, do not lead them on if you have no intention of actually dating them. It’s fun in the moment, but will only lead to hurt feelings. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Know what to say ahead of time. If someone asks you to date directly, you will probably be too flustered to be able to graciously refuse in the moment. Depending on your emotions to carry you through could lead to disaster, so plan a response ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be completely scripted, but you should have a general plan. Refuse graciously, but firmly, and don’t be afraid to explain your convictions if necessary.

And when you refuse someone, don’t leave loopholes that could lead to a just-friends-but-not-actually unofficial dating situation. That is not a good situation to be in.

Be ready when jealousy sets in.

Even if you are single and living a full, wonderful life devoted to God, there will be moments. You will see a couple in the hallway at school. You will read a story with a really sweet romance. One of your friends will start dating, get engaged, get married…and you will start thinking about how much you desperately want that to be you.

When this happens, first of all, remember that romance is never as smooth as it looks from the outside. Books and movies make it look perfect and wonderful, and it is that idealized image that is likely making you jealous.

Then remember your reasons for singleness. Instead of letting the seeds of jealousy grow in your mind, turn Satan’s intentions against him and use the moment to renew and refresh your commitment to singleness and to God.

Finally, remember that God is in control. His plan for your love story is infinitely better than anything you could come up with on your own. Trust in that.

 

What do you think? Have you enjoyed this series? Are there other relationship-related topics that you would like to see me address in the future? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

 

Developing Your Convictions on Dating (The Relationship Series, part 4)

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If you missed the first three parts to this series, find them here: God’s Purpose for RomanceGod’s Purpose for Singleness, and Avoiding Drama and Temptation.

I’ve spent several weeks sharing the reasons for my choice not to date in high school. To recap:

  • The purpose of dating is to see if someone is potential husband or wife material. Dating for fun has no value.
  • High school is a season of life where it’s important to be developing a close relationship with God as we figure out where we’re going in adulthood. Anything that distracts from that with no purpose is not a good idea.
  • Dating adds a lot of potential for drama into life, as well as temptations to compromise purity. Those things are better avoided as long as possible.

But now, I want to clarify something: Not everyone is going to have the same convictions on this. 

There is no verse in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not date in high school.” So this is an area in which everyone has to weigh the pros and cons and come to their own decision.

For me, the cons greatly outweighed the pros, and I felt that God was calling me to avoid dating in this season of life. But that may not be the same for everyone. For one person, they may decide to date as soon as their parents will let them. Someone else may feel called to remain single until their twenties. And there will be many in between those two extremes.

So how do you determine what your convictions are? Spend time in the Word, as well as reading articles and/or books by Christian people you trust (I would recommend I Kissed Dating Goodbye)Once you have a good idea of the arguments on both sides, and where those arguments are coming from in the Bible, spend time in prayer that God would show you what He wants you to do.

I would encourage you to seriously challenge any arguments, whether for or against something, that have to do with personal benefits, having fun, or looking good to other people. Don’t be afraid to confront any wrong motivations you discover and make the hard choice to let those reasons go.

It’s important to note, as well, that convictions may change or be adapted as time goes by and you mature in your faith. Be open to God’s prompting and willing to learn and grow when the time comes.

What If I’ve Already Messed Up?

Maybe you’re reading this as someone who has already been in their share of bad relationships, who started dating young, who has compromised their purity, or done other things relationship-wise that you regret. There are two things I want you to know:

1. God does not condemn you. There is grace to cover all things. 

The whole message of Christianity centers around grace, forgiveness of sins. No one is perfect, or even close to it, and that is why Jesus came! God will forgive you no matter what, absolutely, with no conditions, over and over. Trust in that.

2. It’s never too late to start living to honor God. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your past looks like; if you feel convicted now, start now! Ask that the Holy Spirit would give you grace to change your habits and seek to honor God in your romantic life. There is no reason to dwell on the past, and by God’s grace it is not too late to change.

Relationships and romance are tricky to navigate, but as Christians we have somewhere to run when we have no idea what to do, when we need comfort, when we need counsel. We have to be in tune with God and His Word every step of the way in order to navigate dating wisely and in a way that glorifies Him.

Next week, I’ll wrap up the series with one more post addressing singleness. Stay tuned!

What do you think? What are your convictions on this subject, and why? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace