I have been taught to wait for a boy to make the first move, that courtship is good, that excessive dating is bad. I was told to kiss dating goodbye and that it’s really okay to have your first kiss on your wedding day. I have heard a lot of no and not a lot of yes. At the same time, we are learning to walk away when we don’t get what we like. We talk of boundaries as something to guard us, but not as the wall they often end up becoming. The church talks about the broken relationships in our world. We say no to divorce, but we look the other way when people turn and walk away from friendships when things get messy and don’t go as planned.
Let’s go over what I missed.
Healthy boundaries, how men & women can be friends, how to interact, how to date without the awkwardness, absurdity and eventually weirdness if it doesn’t work out. On that one, we weren’t taught what to do if it all doesn’t work out.
We are a generation in bondage to people’s struggles.
Fear. We are afraid of the unknown. We are scared to be vulnerable. We are terrified of rejection. We hide ourselves behind walls of our own making. But, we call each other out. Men tell other men to man up. Women instruct other women to be kinder, gentler, and nicer. We cannot set each other free from what is holding us back in life, only Jesus has that ability. So why are we trying to fix each other.
I sit with the most entertaining line thrown at me, “friendgirl.” The concept is simple and goes something like this: girl meets boy, girl and boy become friends, girl wants more, boy wants to avoid that awkwardness, girl doesn’t know why he doesn’t love her back, boy dates other girls, awkwardness ensues and then a friend break-up occurs.
From kissing dating goodbye to being told that I need question friendships with the opposite gender, the complicated nature of relationships in the church continues to increase, and no wonder people (male and female) are overly-cautious. At twenty-six, I have never been on a date, which already leads to people to think that either “I don’t know how to date/I’m not open” or I’m hung up on someone. People project their past and current fears and opinions onto others around them and while sometimes it leads to great advice and divinely inspired wisdom, it can also lead to hurt and heartbreak.
At the risk of insulting many people I know, let me just state my opinion. Friendgirls, friendboys, friends with benefits (emotional or physical) know exactly what they are doing. There is an end result they are attempting to achieve (friendship or relationship) and often it is based in a want to be cared for. In honest terms, they want to be known by another person.
So I am an “others-proclaimed” friendgirl. I have been in the same “friendlationship” for about four years (yes it’s absurd). We have been the been talked about, had countless interventions and even had an article or two written about us. A genuine attempt real friendship, with opinions floating in from all sides, isn’t always an easy thing to do. (I will also own to the fact that we are not without our flaws and problems, there have been many an argument, but we are human so it isn’t that surprising).
We are given a beautiful example of friendship in the Book of John, when Jesus states “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (15:12-13). The passage doesn’t command us to like our friends, or tolerate our friends until something better comes along, no it calls us to love. And this is where we get stuck in the thinking of the western world. Love is synonymous with wanting to date and marry someone. Conveniently enough, it doesn’t mean only that. A person can possess philia, a love that encompasses feelings of friendship/family based on close association and knowing one another.
People can call it what they want, but I have a friend and he’s definitely a boy. I love and care about him and his well-being in the same way I do my girlfriends. Knowing each other, knowing each other’s hopes and fears for life, keeping each other accountable in our actions and being there for one another in our struggles. That is what friendship in the Christian faith is about. It isn’t about “they seem nice, let me get to know them in the hopes that they’ll realize how great I am, ask me on a date, fall madly in love and then marry me.” But instead we either get caught up in the attention, especially in Christian communities where a lot of dating isn’t happening, or we build a protective wall to keep the hurt out and our emotions in.
That is where releasing the bondage that binds us tightly comes into play. It is not only a call to release the issues of self-loathing, anger, lust, and entitlement, but is also a call to release fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that dreams won’t be achieved. Fear that we can’t control the norm, our singleness. Releasing that fear into the hands of a God bigger then ourselves frees us up to walk in tandem with our brothers and sisters while they do the same. A community based in love and peace. Interacting based on the love that Christ has poured out for us.
Searching for the perfect will of loving God.