Thursday, April 23, 2015

Relationships and Faith

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Okay, I know that I have been silent here for the past week, and I know that my last post was quite similar to this one, but this topic has been on my heart for a while now, and I just really wanted to discuss it some more. 
My faith is a very big part of my life. In fact, I'd say my relationship with God colors everything about the way I am, who I am, and how I do everything I do - especially who I do it with. I want that to be present here too, because I love writing tips for graduating seniors or world travelers or just clothing posts, or whatever, but I also want Sarah Smile to be more than that...I want you to know me better than that, and because this has been coming up a lot lately, and we had a really good discussion about it at my Bible Study last night, I wanted to talk through it again, but this time, in reference to my faith. 
When I was younger, I was really thrown off when people would say "my relationship with God." I didn't understand how you could have a relationship with someone you couldn't talk to and it all seemed very cheesy.  Now that I am older and I spend a lot of time growing my faith and learning about God to build that relationship, I understand more what they mean, and what that means for my life. 
In high school, I had no clue what it meant to have a Godly relationship. Not with myself, not with my family, not with friends, and certainly not with guys. I didn't really know there was such a thing outside of the obvious 'no sex before marriage' rule. For the past few weeks in Bible Study though, we've been learning about each of those, and last night was all about romantic relationships. 
We talked first about God's love for us and how we should both acknowledge that and mold our relationships off of that. It was so nice to hear those things and really listen, because I feel like so many times I hear those verses and those words, but I don't really soak it in and feel the love in them, I glaze over it and continue with my day, but I think the real first step in any relationship, platonic or romantic, is first loving yourself that way.  I know it sounds cheesy, but you really do have to love yourself and who you are and be in a healthy relationship with yourself before you can be with anyone else, because self-deprecation and self-loathing will always seep into your relationships with others. 
We also then talked about what Godly qualities were needed in a relationship, like honesty and courage and patience and trust. And those are heavy things. It was interesting to see the guys talk about their struggles and insecurities the same way girls did and hear their side a little more, because really we all feel the same way inside and we all want those quality relationships that make us feel like we're amazing and wonderful and loved, it's not just a girl thing.
But I'd say the main point that we hit was each person's role in the relationship. We talked a lot about how it is and it should be the man's place (and I do say man because if you're going to be in a relationship you need to be a man about it) to step up and make the first move. I know not everyone will agree, but I really think God meant for it to be that way, and I think men were wired to lead the relationship, whereas women are wired to respond. And I think they should, in an honest, graceful way. 
It's a concept I very much struggle with because when I like someone, I just want to shout it at them and control everything myself, and it sucks being able to do nothing but wait and see what they'll do, but as much as it sucks, I think it really is for the best. Girls, don't you want someone who thinks you're worth pursuing, no matter what? Don't you want the man that risks being embarrassed or having his ego bruised to step up and ask you out on a date and tell you, with both his words and actions, that he likes you? And guys, don't you want that girl who will respond kindly and gracefully whether she feels the same or not, and praises you for stepping up either way? I really think that those people are out there for all of us, and they're so worth waiting for.
I think God made us to be different. And I think that makes it hard, whether you think of it in a 'turn the other cheek' sense, or a 'wait until marriage' sense, or any other sense that God calls us to, but I trust that he knows what's best, and as hard as it is to have faith that when it's meant to work out, it will, I think the plan he has for me, and each and every one of you, is greater than we could ever imagine. 
Best advice we got all night? 
Girls - Don't assume he likes you until he verbally says it. Don't assume because he likes your instagram, or he texts you good morning - show him you are worth more and you deserve more, and then when he does step up, be that girl he deserves. 
Guys - be honest and courageous. I cannot stress enough how much in this crazy world of mixed messages and hurt how much girls just want to know what you're thinking so they can quit worrying over it. Also, know that the girl you want will react so kindly and thankfully to that, and if she doesn't, that's a really good indication that she isn't what you want at all. Lead with your words and actions, and 9 times out of 10, it will go very swimmingly for you. 
So often I try to rush things, or force situations that I want instead of trusting God's plan, but it honestly never works out. I don't want to trust because I just want what I want and I think I know who is best for me and I'm so afraid to let things go because it's hard and frustrating to let go of what you think looks and seems so great for something that you don't even know is coming. However, I cannot count the times in my life God has shown me that there was something better just right around the corner, once I let go of the old stuff. And so, even while I wish I could be shouting at the boy that I currently like all the things I feel, I won't. Because he knows where to find me if he should so choose, and until then, I'm just going to go on trusting and knowing that good things are coming, with or without him. 
I don't want this to be a 'dating advice' post, I just want it to be thought provoking and encouraging I guess. I think, especially for those of us in college, we meet tons of people all the time, some we like and some we don't, and it is hard to have Godly relationships with both of those people, but I really think we're called to strive for that, and sometimes it helps to talk through what that looks like, so that's what I'm trying to do. Be the person you'd want to be in a relationship with, and strive to love people the way God loves you...end of story.
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