So I Liked a Boy [part two: when it felt too stupid to pray about]

I was sleep-deprived and nervous when I wrote part one, and apparently “So I Liked a Boy” is the best I could do for a title. Apparently it’s also pretty click-baity. Most people that I know in person don’t read my blog, but I guess all one must do is throw something up with a title like “So I Liked a Boy” and half the church decides it’s high time they check out Rosalie’s blog. I’m uncomfy.

ANYWEYS.

If you missed part one, you can read it here. Otherwise, here’s what to expect from today’s post: dating, desiring, and crushing differently than the world and when it feels too stupid to pray about a crush.

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Dating, Desiring, and Crushing Differently than the World

Maybe this goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. As Christians, our approach to people of the opposite sex cannot be the same as the world’s approach to people of the opposite sex.

In our current cultural moment, romantic relationships are king. You want someone, you go get someone, using whatever means you feel like, only listening to those whose advice is what you want to hear. As Matt Chandler says in his book Mingling of Souls, “We are a culture simultaneously obsessed with relationships and sex, but dysfunctional in our approaches to them.”

You like someone, you date them, you use them, you accrue some hurt, you throw them away. You aren’t fulfilled if you aren’t in a relationship. You look to a boyfriend or girlfriend (or spouse) to meet all your needs, speak to all your insecurities and fears. Flirt, entice, cheat.

And just as Christians can’t do marriage in the same way as the world and can’t date in the same way as the world, Christians can’t crush on someone in the same way as the world. Most Christians I know already know this, but our response (my response) is to stuff it, as if that’s the Christian way of dealing with desires.

Spoiler alert: stuffing it isn’t the Christian way of doing anything. At least it’s not the truly Christian way.

So over the course of this little series of How To Like a Dude Without Marrying Him So I Liked a Boy, we’re going to talk about some ways to honor Jesus in how you approach liking someone. Obviously, I’m a girl, so this is all especially pertinent to girls, but hopefully this is helpful to anyone. Honestly, it’s pretty basic and similar to the rest of the Christian life—listen to wise counsel, be transparent with trusted and mature Christians, submit to God’s will, oh, and, yes, prayer. Start with prayer.

When It Feels Too Stupid to Pray About

So, when I was hardcore moon-eyed about The Guy (see part one), it took me a solid month (if not more) before I actually, you know, prayed about it.

It felt like I was making it into something if I prayed about it, as if praying about it brought it up to some sort of level of Important. Because apparently I only pray about Important ThingsTM. Things like my sin, seeing people hear the gospel and be saved, the up-building and keeping of my friends, etc..

In my heart, there is an unconscious category of things that I don’t pray about.

I hear things like “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths…” or “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” and other such verses, and there’s some sort of disconnect inside me.

I will go to God and acknowledge him in some of my ways, and in some things by prayer and supplication I’ll make requests known to him. But not in all of my ways, not in everything. I have a hard time praying about the little things, and that’s a symptom of

  1. unbelief/not understanding in my heart the scope and depth of God’s love for me and
  2. belief that I can and should handle the “little things” myself (aka: self-reliance).

Kids, unbelief is sin. Self-reliance is sin.

Isn’t all sin rooted in unbelief about God? Adam and Eve believed the lie that God was holding out on them in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They trusted their own judgement, their own understanding.

So when I don’t pray about things because they feel too stupid or too little or I’m embarrassed (from a crush to a pet being sick to dealing with a difficult customer at work), that’s pride manifesting in an incredibly subtle way. That was (and is) a symptom that I don’t trust God fully with my life.

Jesus is my everything. Jesus is Lord of my everything. Jesus is the Caretaker of my heart and soul. When I don’t bring things to him to be Lord over, to take care of me through, I cut him out of areas of my life and forfeit the blessing that is his affectionate, relational love and guidance.

Here is a fact: nothing is too stupid to pray about.

Prayer is communication. Prayer is honesty. Prayer is humility. Prayer is dependence. Prayer is vulnerability. Prayer is reliance. Prayer is trusting.

Let me say it again for the people in the back: nothing is too stupid to pray about.

If you believe that there are things too little, too insignificant, too stupid to pray about, you don’t know the God of the Bible. Praying about something does not imbue it with importance; praying about something simply shows that you are in fact a human trusting Jesus and submitting your life to him.

Eventually, by the grace of God, I cracked and started praying about The Guy I liked and bringing my questions and confusions to Jesus. Even though in my head I understood all the reasons why I should pray about it, it was hard.

I felt embarrassed and felt foolish and all the other stuff from the last post, except now it was all in the presence of God and I was a.w.k.w.a.r.d. But isn’t it always hard to come naked into the light? Isn’t it always hard to invite someone into the things that feel shameful? Isn’t it always hard to trust that you can be fully known and fully loved at the same time?

But bit by bit, the Holy Spirit helped me calm down and realize it wasn’t a big deal to pray about, and if I could trust Jesus to see me through the harshest storms of life and keep me to the end of this life without losing me, I can trust him enough to tell him I have a crush and admit it feels silly but I really like a dude and it’s confusing and ask Jesus to lead me through it.

When I started praying about liking The Guy, that’s when Jesus really went to work on my heart. It was in my private prayer time when I learned to start bringing up the little things that the Holy Spirit really got a hold of me and went to town on my heart. He began exposing and overturning so many lies in my heart and testing me in ways I’ve never been tested before. Everything good that grew out of that season, all the fruit and clarity I have now, came from learning to pray about it.

So when it feels too stupid to pray about your crush, pray about it anyway.

Get to know Jesus’ heart from you from the Bible and also in the real time of your life. Trust that he’s actually as interested in your life as he says he is. Trust that the God who designs blades of grass and galaxies and says that you as his child is his crowning creation and says he wants all of you and nothing less, actually wants all of you and nothing less.

Because if you’re keeping even one thing out from under his lordship and protection and guidance, you’re probably keeping other things away from him too, and you’re missing out on what he has for you in those things.

With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – coming up next week: why you shouldn’t just pray for your crush to go away (because I was for sure praying that my stirrings would just GO AWAY…. until I realized I was still holding onto my own will) and miscellaneous perspective that brought me back down to earth when I was sure I wanted to marry The Guy.

p.p.s. – little tidbit of that perspective: it can feel like foolish to like someone that you don’t end up marrying. Spoiler alert: you’re going to probably like quite a few people before you like the person you end up marrying. And that’s good. And normal. I’m proof that so much can get worked out in a human heart when you like someone you don’t end up dating (or marrying).

Mastered by Nothing [a beginner’s guide to self-control] [written by a beginner]

A couple weeks ago in my post about writing and its negative potency in my life, I talked very briefly on the idea of being mastered by everything but Jesus. Well, today, I’m digging into the idea and worthy goal of being mastered by nothing but Jesus.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and get going.

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“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12

At the core of this post is I Corinthians 6:12, and at the heart of 1 Corinthians 6:12 is self-control. Originally, this verse was specifically about self-control in the area of sexual sin, which is important to remember, however, I think there is much to be gleaned here regarding self-control in all areas of life.

As Christians, we have great freedom because of the liberty Christ bought for us with His blood (literally, He paid for every angle of our freedom as Christians with His blood; the more I think about it the wilder and more wondrous I realize it is. So don’t breeze over the truth of the high cost of our freedom.).

Not only are we free from bondage to sin and spiritual death in this life and the next (a thrilling and freeing truth by itself), we are also free from the need of a temple to offer sacrifice in because Jesus was the last sacrifice. We are free from the need of a priest to mediate between us and God because Jesus is our high priest. We’re free from every rule and ritual of the Law because Jesus fulfilled the Law.

We are free to do anything, but not everything will help us be like Christ. We are free to do anything, but we are not to be slaves to anything but Christ. What I mean when I say that we’re free to do anything is that we are able to do anything because the grace of God doesn’t ever end and will never be used up, so we are “allowed” to do anything. However, doing absolutely anything is an abuse of grace. Paul says in Romans 6: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

So, let me say it again: under grace, all things are lawful because the Law is fulfilled and ended in Christ, but just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should. Under grace, all things are lawful because Christ set us free from the rule of the Law, but we are not to be controlled by anything. I think that’s the gist of 1 Corinthians 6:12.

Yet we so easily abuse our incredibly expensive, blood-bought freedom.

I misuse my liberty in a lot of different ways. I do things that are “allowed” but aren’t all that helpful, things that don’t spur me to be like Christ. I have habits and mindsets that aren’t forbidden but they’ve grown to a place where they rule me instead of living under my control. We can be mastered by host of different things, but I’ll just give a few examples.

I am mastered by my body when my alarm goes off and I hit snooze five times because I want more sleep and don’t have enough control to just get up (it’s a simple yet telling practice of the state of my self-discipline).

I am controlled by my cell phone when every little ding and blip and whistle has me tugging my phone out of my pocket and scrolling through notifications instead of devoting myself fully to the task at hand.

I am enslaved to my cravings and emotions when I breeze into the kitchen because my story just got rejected and I need some comfort food instead of dealing with rejection in a healthy, godly way.

I am dominated by my body when my hormones are on a warpath, and my anger comes lashing off my tongue.

I am mastered by my emotions when depression creeps up and drags me down into the mud, and instead of doing the work to haul through it, I wallow in it.

I am controlled by my aspirations when writing fills my thoughts, whips my emotions, and dictates my time use (see the post from a couple weeks ago).

And there are so many other things that so often end up controlling us: anxiety, money, sex, body-image, hobbies, possessions, ambitions, etc.; the list goes on and on.

And here’s the deal: sleep is necessary; sleep is good. But my body and however sleepy or tired it is should not rule me. My cell phone is good, but my cell phone should not control my attention. Food is necessary; food is good. Food is to be enjoyed and savored! But my desire for food for any reason should not master me. I have been created with hormones and emotions, and they do need to be processed. But that’s the things: I need to process my feelings, but my feelings should never process me.

I am free to sleep in and have a cell phone and eat yummy food and experience a full range of emotions, but not all those things are always helping my new nature slay my old one. I am free to sleep in and have a cell phone and eat yummy food and experience a full range of emotions, but none of them should ever control me.

So that leaves us with the problem of self-control. Self-control (or self-disciple or self-restraint) is one of those annoying things that’s far easier said (or written or read) than it is lived. So how can we make our bodies and emotions our servants instead of our masters?

Well, we can’t. This is the part that gets my pride all fluffed up, offended, and territorial because what in the world do you mean I can’t control myself?

Self-control isn’t a matter of self; it’s a matter of Spirit. Either we are controlled by whatever our personal vices are, or we are controlled by the Holy Spirit. There is no in between or part where we actually hold the reigns; we only get to decide who/what we’re going to pass the reigns to.

Self-control is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5, and it’s one of eight attributes listed in 2 Peter 1. Both lists are like the process of sanctification in a nutshell. True believers will grow in these ways, but true growth is not a matter of willpower or work. Self-control is something to strive for, but we don’t get it overnight. It’s a process. And just like every other part of sanctification, it takes humility and time and intentionality and Spirit-reliance and daily, hourly, minutely gracious refillings of the Holy Spirit.

Recognizing that we can’t do it ourselves, that we’re still so weak, is the first step, and the next is faithful pursuit of knowing Christ and being like Christ. And then it’s a cycle of choosing to take those steps again and again and again.

In the everyday life, it looks like praying, “God, I can’t do this, but I want to because I want to be like You. I will run as hard and fast as I can to You, and I will trust that Your Holy Spirit will supply everything I lack to carve me into a better likeness of Your Son.” It looks like then asking in faith and expectation for opportunities to exercise self-control, to be shown where you need self-control, and prepare to be given lots of chances to practice self-control.

So, it is in being mastered by Jesus that we become mastered by nothing else.

Let’s drop a swanky bookend on this post.

As the title of states, this is only a beginner’s guide, and since it’s been written by a beginner, take it with a grain of salt and realize that this is barely even an introduction to self-control. For further reading on grace, sin, and self-control, I recommend Romans, 1 Corinthians, Proverbs, Ephesians, and this sermon from John Piper. (I’m recommending the whole books instead of specific verses because the fullness of the text is captured within its context, and the sermon from John Piper helped me write this post. Also, there’s a lot more to be found in Scripture about self-control; these are just the books I’ve been reading and ruminating over recently which spurred the writing of this post.)

Let’s chat it up. Anything to add? Do you struggle with self-control, or is there a different fruit of the Spirit/quality that you’re working on? What do you do to grow into the likeness of Christ?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – so, about the clickbait feature image of the Lego Loki in the tiny birdcage… well, I was racking my little brain about what I could photograph to capture the idea of self-control. I decided on the birdcage, and I was going to run with it and contrive some sort of decent explanation (like, we have to “cage our old nature” type thing; so brilliant, I know). But then I saw my little Lego Loki (curtesy of my Aunt Lis!), and then I was like: “Forget trying to make this picture relevant to the post or anything in life really. Some silliness is in order.”

And that’s how Lego Loki ended up in the tiny birdcage on Penprints.