Thursday, October 18, 2012
"On Fire": 10 Things a Single Woman Should Have Before Becoming a Married Woman
As I was reading an article last night entitled, "20 Signs You're Dating the Wrong Person", there was one point, in particular, that the author made that really caught my attention. Now, it's not a Christian article and so I'm going to edit one word in it...just a bit: "They don’t try to make you a better person; they don’t care enough to call you out on your [stuff] or let you know when you do something wrong. Only a person who truly cares about you will kindly tell you the things you don’t want to hear. Keyword kindly."
I really liked this one because, personally, I find it...let's say "odd" that when the Word, which is God (John 1:1), states that we are to exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13) and that the wounds of a friend are faithful while the kisses of an enemy are full of deceit (Proverbs 27:6), it seems that a lot of people think that the person who they are in a relationship with should somehow bypass these verses. In other words, a lot of individuals (especially women) seem to have a problem with being called on on their, um, er, *stuff* (LOL) by the person they are dating; like seemingly the person is only there to comfort and complement them---almost to the point of coddling and enabling them.
Love says not so.
So, as I was praying about what the (main) message for this week needed to be, the Spirit (John 4:24) gave me the title: "10 Things a Single Woman Should Have Before Becoming a Married Woman". You see, because here's the thing: It's *just as bad* to be the wrong person to date/marry as it is to select the wrong one.
Here we go...
1) A relationship with God. This is not talking about going to church. Not because you shouldn't go to church but because more and more, I'm seeing that a lot of people have fellowship with like-minded believers vs. *a personal relationship with the Lord* extremely confused. So, when I say "a relationship with God", by that I mean that you take these verses in Scripture very seriously: "My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10-NKJV); "If you keep Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-7-NKJV) and "God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him." (Proverbs 28:9-Message) There's something *very telling* that happens to a woman once she has an *authentic relationship* with the Most High (Psalm 82:6): She doesn't find herself in the same cycles, doing the same things, attracting and being attracted to the same kinds of guys. So, if you are someone with that issue, this is definitely something to go to the Father about (James 1:5). Your relationship may not be as strong as you think (yet).
2) A healthy self-esteem. When I was dating (because I am not longer interested in "test runs", but that's a personal resolve not a mass recommendation), one thing that I realize was a god (Exodus 20:3) for me was looking for men to fill certain self-esteem voids. I would dress up *for them*. How they were feeling played a big part in how I was feeling. What they wanted to do, *even if it was not what God wanted me to do*, it won out. And, when the relationship came to an end, I started to question my own value. And do you know what's really the jacked up part about it? I would blame it on the guy. *I would blame a guy for how I felt about myself*. Yeah, I know. Some women will say, "No, I blame guy for not treating me right." Uh-huh, but here's the thing: When you feel about yourself the way that you're *really supposed to feel about yourself*, when you read verses in the Bible like, "Do not cast your pearls before swine" (Matthew 7:6) and you recognize yourself as being the pearl and it reminds you of the Parable of the Merchant who sold *all that he had* to get *one pearl of great value* (Matthew 13:45-46), then you start to realize that if you're in a situation long enough where someone has you doubting your worth as a daughter of the Most High and a woman (in that order), then there is something within you that needs some "self-esteem fine tuning". Your sense of self-worth will be esteemed in the eyes of a godly man *quickly* because godly people operate with *discernment*. You won't need to ask them to notice how special and worthy you are. And the added bonus is this: You won't want to ask them anyway because you'll already know. Whatever they have to say/think is just...a bonus.
3) Resolve regarding parental issues. It's almost a proven science, just how many women end up with some kind of variation of their father while acting like their mother. Now, if this was in a good way, then this would be a good thing; however, oftentimes, what we tend to gravitate towards are the less-than-ideal traits. I just read an article last night about women who did not grow up with a healthy father (whether in the home or out) and how they end up becoming very seductive, needy and eventually demanding individuals because they are wanting their significant other to "fix" what's wrong with them and their father by making up for all of what they didn't get from him. *A man is not looking to marry his 'daughter'. He wants to marry his wife*. You will save yourself a lot of drama and spare your future husband a lot of, honestly regret, if you make a concerted effort to work through your parental issues *before jumping the broom*. The things that you know that you do that are a lot like your mom and you don't like it, work on it now. The deep-rooted pain that you may have regarding the lack of a father or a good one, there is safety in wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6) and almost everyone knows that I think Healed Without Scars is a must-have read.
4) A clarity of purpose and spiritual gifts. This is a big one because whether women verbalize it or not, you can oftentimes tell by their consuming mission to be in a relationship or to get married that they wane in this department. Yes, we were created to be helpmates (Genesis 2:18) and yes, it is within the curse that a woman would desire her husband (Genesis 3:16). However, I have mentioned before that I found *great freedom* once I saw that the Woman was made *and then brought* (Genesis 2:22) over to Adam because I'd have to be somewhere else to be *brought over*. To me, this means that there was a period of time that she spent alone with *her Creator* as well. Which is probably a big part of the reason why we come into the world single now (just like Adam and the Woman did). It's because we need a period of time when we are *alone with the Lord* to understand *why he made us* and what he wants us to do, both as a single individual and a married person*. If someone asks you, "Why did God individually make you?" (Psalm 33:15) and you don't have a clearly-defined answer (one that is without the use of Scripture because oftentimes people manipulate the Word because they don't know what else to say), then this is something to spend some serious prayer time on as well. You're not going to be a good help to someone when you don't really get who are and why you exist. It's not *just* to help a man. There are tons of women on the planet who can do that. Go deeper. Oh, and Spiritual Gifts. I'm coming to dig those more and more as well because they show us where the Holy Spirit is *especially present* in our lives and being that he is defined as the Ultimate Helper (John 14:26), it's good to know what *kind of help* you have been given via your gifts. If you haven't taken one before, a pretty good one is found here (it's not a good idea to take it more than once because then you already know the questions and so it's easier to manipulate "the system" but traditionally, your top three highest scores are the ones to focus most on). Oh, and if you are a "book gal", Understanding the Power and Purpose of Woman is a worthwhile investment as well.
5) A year of abstinence (and at least a year since the last serious relationship). Do junkies make wise decisions? Can drunk people be trusted with their choices? Along these same lines, this is why it's a good idea to spend *a full year without sex, oral sex, masturbation, porn or whatever other "sexual alternative" (LOL) that you may defer to*. It's a good time to detox the past out of your system so that you can get clear on if you want *a healthy relationship* or you're just hormonal and looking for a release. Honestly, it's also a good time to do some confessing (James 5:16) and repenting (Revelation 3:19) because as I'm approaching six years of no sex (whew!), I see more and more how *any form of sexual activity* is out of order without a husband; therefore, I'm not interested in *any form of sexual activity* until I have a husband. Now, when I say "I'm not interested", of course, *I'm interested* (LOL) but what I mean is that honestly, I am thankful that with as much idol worship in the form of fornicating (Hebrews 13:14, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message) that I did that I still have my sanity, my uterus and a clean bill of physical/mental/emotional/spiritual health. Sex outside of covenant is nothing to play with. You have to *sober up* in order to truly understand that, though. And while we're on "sobering up"...most of us have heard that insanity is doing the same thing while expecting a different result, right? For better or for worse, when single women go into a relationship with a guy, they seem to go *all in* (not sure why "guard your heart" gets ignored so much-Proverbs 4:23). So, even if the man didn't get your body, if he got a lot of your mind and spirit, you still are a little "emotionally tipsy" (LOL). You still need some time (preferably a good 12 months) to "dry out". And what are you supposed to do in the meantime? Shoot. *Date yourself*. It might just surprise you, all of the things that you were missing out on.
6) A good credit rating. I recently read an article entitled "Financial Harmony: A Key Component of a Successful Marriage Relationship". In it, one of the paragraphs said this: "Marriage is fragile. Financial harmony is critical for validation, freedom, power, respect, security, and happiness. Couples must realize the great importance that money has in their relationships and learn to define guidelines for money management." God does all things well and personally, I think a big part of the reason why I am still single is because I'm just now getting my finances in *real and stable order*. No matter how cute you are, or how well you clean a house, how good *you think* you are sexually or how much of a praying woman that you may be, you are still going to not be an optimal helpmate if you don't know how to handle finances wisely. A man who takes on a woman with a lot of debt or a bad credit score is already dealing with a bit of a burden (not the woman, but her money issues). God does things decently and in an orderly fashion (I Corinthians 14:40). If you know that you have some financial drama as a single person that could turn into financial trauma after marriage, well, I'll put it to you this way: All of that energy that you're putting into wanting a man, you might want to put into some "Financial Peace" courses, a savings account and a part-time job to pay off your creditors.
7) Platonic male friendships. Women don't know how men think. Women *think* they know how men think. This is one of the many reasons why having *platonic* (no sexual issues or sexual history of having sexual issues) male friends is a really good idea. I remember when my first boyfriend resurfaced in my life several years ago. The women in my world were like, "Oh, you two are going to end up married" while the men in my world were like, "You haven't heard from him in 10 years and *now* he's around? He wants to hit it." Guys don't romanticize. Guys look at the facts. A lot of single women already have enough trouble not "making a movie in her mind" without some of her girlfriends playing supportive roles to a wedding that may not ever happen. Yep. If you want some emotional balance in your life, *platonic* male friends will help to give it to you. Also, while you're waiting on God's divine timing (Acts 1:7-Message), there are emotional benefits that can come with platonic male company as well. We don't always want to go to dinner or the movies with our girlfriends, but that doesn't mean that we want to go out and get groped on either (LOL). A true platonic male friend can provide the happy medium: a good time and good conversations sans all of the extra. The only real word of caution here is that there's nothing like you being on one page in one book while the other person is in another. Therefore, make sure that you are *both* friends that want *nothing* more so that you don't end up "fanny the flames" or if it gets too strange "feeding the monster" (LOL).
8) A forgiving spirit. Just last night, I read an article that said, "A happy marriage consists of two really forgiving people." Beautiful. Something that makes me nervous for a lot of women even now is that they are still holding grudges from what someone has done five, 10, 20 years ago but yet, they want to get married. If you ask any *honest* person who is either married or divorced about what marriage is teaching/has taught them, I'm willing to put some good money on the table (theoretically speaking, of course) that one of the main things that they will say is that it showed them things about themselves that they wouldn't have been able to learn *any other way*. For many individuals, this would consist of their high level of pride. A person who cannot pardon an offense is *prideful* and as we all know, pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18). As I am eradicating some control issues out of my own life, I realize just how *demonic* it is to not forgive people because God forgives me continually. As a matter of fact, I *love* how the Word says that he's "ready to forgive" (Psalm 86:5). Plus, it's *really bold* (and foolish) to know that the Word tells us that in order to be forgiven, you must forgive (Matthew 6:14-15); that God *won't forgive you* unless you do. As a single woman, if you *know* you have issues with forgiving people and letting offenses go (now, you can set healthy boundaries moving forward, but you *must* let it go), then marriage is not something that needs to be a goal for you right now. Putting forgiveness into practice is. You will be doing a lot of forgiving *and needing to be forgiven* during your marriage. Everyone involved will benefit from you becoming a master at doing it *now*.
9) An understanding of God's purpose for marriage and sex. If I were to do a drill right now and ask "What is the purpose of marriage?" and "What is the purpose of sex?", would you be confident that you had the right (meaning "biblical") answers? The Holy Spirit and I just penned a devotional this week on what becoming one is really about (if you would like me to forward it to you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me tell you: People need to be *really careful about getting married AND getting out* far more than I ever dreamed. As I was praying for some people recently, people who God revealed to me are having sex, he said "They don't understand or respect sex's purpose. If they really got what it was about, they wouldn't be having it." If you're still working through some sexual issues, I'm a huge supporter of the book Sacred Sex (it actually played a big role in getting me "clear") and Defending Traditional Marriage has some great insights into what the covenant between a husband and wife is *really* all about.
10) The accomplishment of everything that you are not willing to compromise. My mom has some nuggets of real and genuine wisdom. One of them is "Do everything that you can't compromise before getting married." That's *imperative insight* because there are a lot of people who make getting married such a priority that they forget to make living life one. A single woman can take herself to the movies or overseas on a whim (if she can afford it). A single woman can go back to school or switch up careers if she feels like it (and she's spiritually led). A single woman can live her life basically how she wants to (so long as God cosigns) because she is not responsible for anyone other than herself. This is something that a lot of singles miss out on because, kind of like a 13-year-old can't wait to be 16, they are so consumed with getting to the next phase that they miss the present moment. And that is biblically disobedient: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (James 4:13-14-NKJV) Marriage is supposed to be a one-time deal (Malachi 2:16, Matthew 19:6, I Corinthians 7:10-11). It would be a *real shame* to have your main goal in life be to get married, get married and then realize you had *a whole lot of other things on your list*. There is a *freedom* that comes with being single that is incomparable to *any other time* in a woman's life. Don't let fear or envy or coveting or your hormones or anything else rob you of it. Save a lot of wedding dreaming for when you're *actually engaged* and rechannel that focus into creating a "Single Gal's Bucket List" instead. Besides, men tend to feel safer (yes, *safer*-LOL) around a woman who has a full life and just wants him to become a part of it rather than the totality of her existence.
That was some good stuff right there, Holy Spirit. Thank you.
Oh and as far as the quote up top, I couldn't find one that said "needy" in it, but I gravitated to it because...
It's OK to want to need your husband. This list is simply what prevents you from being *needy*.
It's what makes you a *true helpmate*...by making you a *whole single woman*. FIRST.