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Demystified (Part II)

Part 1: http://jilds.tumblr.com/post/59991037844/demystified-part-i

How are we to respond?

 

In college I saw how ates and kuyas in the faith met each other, and how God brought them together. Their love stories were inspiring, and I thought it’s a breath of fresh air for its antithesis to how the world sees relationships. The latter believes it is merely founded on attraction and chemistry, the former goes beyond what is merely superficial. My mentor once said, attraction is important but it’s not the end-all, be-all of things. So by all means Im shocked to hear how things may be different now in Christian circles. It’s either I’ve been living in oblivion all the while, or that times have really changed.

 

We grew up being told that we are to value our walk with God – as well as the molding of our character to be more Christ-like – is important. How does that change knowing men around us may not see things the same way?

 

Nothing changes — what the Bible says is still what the Bible says.

 

For a time I’ve been observing these things, had these at the back of my head, and revisited these from time to time. As I read through the scriptures I didn’t get answers specific to the questions that ran in my head, but over time I learned of certain principles that made me stop asking. I was reminded once again of what ought to be really important, and what I should focus my eyes on. (Please also take note that the verses here are those I encountered in various times, and that it isn’t specific to dating. The principles Id present here are rather general and applicable to many situations instead of just one, hence one needs to consider the context in reading and interpreting these verses).

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Set standards

 

Going back to the conversation with my friend, before we parted I told her one thing: “You are a wonderful woman of God, and you deserve nothing less than a committed guy – committed to Him, and then to you.” It’s one thing for the man to be godly, and another one for him to be completely set to love you. Maybe all people have standards – there are men who’d never settle for anything other than a supermodel girlfriend, whereas there are women would never date someone who’s “less significant” than a fortune 500 company CEO, and the list goes on. Everyone have their own things to write in their lists, I guess it’s just a matter of whether or not it’s valid.

 

 

When our conversation ended, I thought it’s time for me to revisit my standards. My list isn’t long to be honest, there are only 3 non-negotiable things, and a lot of many others are negotiable. My non-negotiable (godliness and spiritual maturity, leadership, and financial independence) remained to be non-negotiable. I added a note to the first trait though – that he ought to be a man of substance; not shallow and superficial who’s too fixated on the physical or on things that are of little importance. For me that can’t be more important. One day, out of submission, he is going to make decisions for you, for your kids, and he should make wise ones. That won’t be possible if he’s too rigid and shallow. His world and his perspective can’t be too small to contain your big dreams, or the ideologies you’re passionate about.

 

Take care of yourself

 

Much has been emphasized on being godly, and it is often misconstrued for being very busy at ministry work that one no longer finds enough time to take care of one self. On the contrary, some take it too far – they do it out of insecurity or looking for men’s validation.

 

A friend once said, “you are a masterpiece to be enhanced, not a mistake to be corrected,” and I believe that can be a good view of self. When a perfect God created man, He said it’s beautiful. But whatever God made beautiful, sin destroys either through insecure thoughts, or one’s lack of self-discipline. Hence I think the proper response is to groom and take care of one’s self. Little by little I’m starting to learn that although one can’t be vain, a woman should groom in such a manner that she’s celebrating the beauty God gave her. 

 

http://inhisgraces.blogspot.com/2011/11/godly-womans-journey-spiritual-vibrancy.html

Moreover, be all you can be for the Lord

 

This is what the wife of our senior pastor from CCF Alabang told us. It seems too simple, but when you really come to look at it, that principle entails a lot already — from grooming, to improving one’s intellect and knowing more, to growing one’s character, progressing in one’s career, maturing in the faith, and basically doing well in all other aspects of life. That also means that you try to be all-out in all of your life’s roles – as a Christian, a daughter, a boss, a subordinate, a servant in the ministry, a responsible citizen, etc.

 

In this pursuit I thought it’s necessary to be always reminded of who you’re doing this for. They say for us women, we have to pray for God “to open his eyes” so that maybe he’ll start to notice you. But what if his eyes are perpetually closed, and that he may never really look your way and see you? Would that make you feel that your efforts to be a godly woman is wasted?

 

Is it lack of faith to see things that way? I don’t think so, because in truth God may give us painful NOs when we’re praying for something. There was this time I casually blurted out in prayer, “could it be possible Lord for him and I to end up together?” Over time I thought it’s not His will for us, and I realized he may never see me in a romantic light, and that was hard. For a time a controller in me hates losing that I was tempted to exhaust all possible alternatives for him to change his mind, but I thought it’s a waste of time. Life is better spent chasing after more noble pursuits, and once you realize that you know how very small of a concern this love game is.

 

Whenever you feel unappreciated by the people, learn to ask yourself “for whom am I really doing this for? Whose validation am I really after?” That guy would choose to keep his eyes shut, but take comfort over the fact that God saw everything you did. And I shared in in my blog before, I dream of that one day – after going through all the pains, hurts, and heartbreaks of life – Id be face to face with my Father one day. And that He’d tell me that I have finished well… I have run the race… I have fought the good fight.

 

Godliness brings true contentment

 

I had a study of 1Timothy 6:6-10 (godliness vs the danger of the love of money) and there was one striking realization I got from it: true godliness brings contentment. Contentment here springs from knowing that Christ is all sufficient, that who He is in our lives being Lord and Savior is much better than what He gives. Although the context here is about money, the application can go beyond our contentment with material things. I thought godliness, if it’s genuine, should bring real contentment in every area of my life. And by godliness, that ought to mean I embrace with great joy what God wills me to be.

 

Trust on the Sovereign God

 

I encountered this verse on Isaiah 45:6-7 (NASB)* that reminded me of one all-encompassing truth

                “There is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.”

 

God being sovereign means he allows things to happen in our life. That includes the blessings that come our way, the trials — He allows all these things to happen. This has been my comfort when we were going through rough times in the family, or why heartbreaking wars take place, or devastating calamities wipe out nations, and thought this is true even for the less important things in life like the matters of the heart. Like in all things it may not happen how you thought you’d want it to happen, but God causes all things to work for good — our response is to trust.

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http://www.cranaleith.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/woman_praying.jpg

There are many things Ive learned, but for this post I picked on just a few for brevity. The purpose of the post is not to say Ive been ahead and that I sorted everything out, it’s more like putting into writing what I once knew. Hopefully it would serve as a good reminder to me in the future.

 

So to summarize and answer the question, is godliness overrated compared to looks? To best answer this question, ask Him who ought to have the final say on things. Consider what He has to say in His word. In Proverbs it says “Charm is deceptive and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

 

Prioritize the things and the traits He values. 

Demystified (Part I)

Our dilemma as women

 

“Hey how are you?”

This is how we usually greet people we meet after not seeing them for a week or longer.

The response to this simple question varies – sometimes there are template answers out of being civil, while there are instances that some would give more elaborate answers opening doors for long meaningful conversations. Usually we get the latter response from our friends, but there was one time I greeted a gal friend and was surprised with the way she responded: “Im fine” she said without much emotion. Then not long after that short chat she was nowhere in sight, and quickly vanished from the crowd.

 

I guess it’s no longer a new thing to say that for girls, we aren’t very literal unlike men. When we try to convey messages, one cannot take us very plainly through the words we say, otherwise we could be really misunderstood. For this case, she gave me a blank stare, which is very uncommon and from there I had the feeling she might be going through something. The morning after, I did send her an SMS inviting her over coffee so I may get to talk with her and check how she’s doing. That night we met and I learned she’s feeling sad upon knowing that a man she really admires is already considering someone.

 

Not on the same page

 

I guess that would be a common response after closely interacting with the person for quite some time, only to find out the guy is pursuing someone he has yet to spend more time with, someone he barely interacted with, hence someone he barely knows.

 

I may be very skeptic, but I shared that I my opinion nevertheless. I don’t really think anyone can accurately gauge a person’s character via very few interactions, most especially if the person is anything but outspoken. I think that’s more likely true regardless of whether or not the person is very observant. How can you admire something you have yet to know? So if it weren’t for the gal’s character, what is it?

 

Perhaps it’s mainly about physical attraction — face value, physique, and everything in between more or less. It doesn’t take a genius for us to both understand.

 

“I guess you’re right. That is what they’re really after, isn’t it?”

 

I hint a bit of disappointment in her voice – and I think I can share her sentiments. I think in my circle of Christian gal friends, this isn’t very uncommon for she’s not the first person I know who had the same experience. And I guess what adds to this disappointment is that we were both told that godliness is an important thing. We share our concerns, and check on each other to be accountable, work on these things, only to find out that at the end of the day some things seem to be more important to men other than that.

 

Of course, grooming is important. But it’s not as if she neglected herself – she’s one of those gals who’s in constant effort to improve the way she looks, but men may view things a bit too differently. Men they say are more visual than women. It’s not that we women are blind but we’re fully aware the men we admire don’t have six-pack abs, model-like statures and perfectly-chiseled jawlines. It’s more like we saw them beyond all their physical flaws. Maybe we have this tendency to forget about the fact that they could take better care of themselves physically, that they could be less passive and more committed about their ministries, that they could be more driven pursuing their personal goals, or that they could be more successful with their careers knowing they have to be providers someday.

 

But didn’t we see them as admirable men despite that? For we didn’t look at them for what they lacked; we were looking at how much they were trying to be that man after God’s own heart. I can say that in full honesty, for I have experienced it myself.  Although the guy whom I used to like is physically attractive, I never really gave him a second glance though we had several interactions and that I knew him for months… until I saw how much of a godly leader he is, my view of him changed. Only after that did I really start to admire him. If it weren’t for that, I would have never really paid any special attention.

 

Having said all that, do men look at us women the same way? Do they try to see what’s in our heart, or do they completely get fixated with physique?

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Turning the tables

 

I was told men are wired like that, and that we just have to accept it. Should women start turning the tables then? Should we start looking at them through their achievements (or the lack of it)? I’ve seen a lot of women these days who are over achievers – corporate officers and managers at mid-20s with graduate degrees on the side; some are even prominent entrepreneurs featured in national magazines. There are men, those who were said to be designed to lead, could be more passionate and certain about their craft. Many of them apparently have a lot of catching up to do, and a smaller portion of them still haven’t figured out exactly what they want to do. If they were put into a scrutiny for this particular aspect, wouldn’t they most likely fall short of standards?

 

But like what was mentioned above, we didn’t look at them for what they lacked, or how they’ve fallen short of the ideals. Are we wrong to see things this way? I don’t think so.

 

As I process these arguments I just said, I realized that the moment I prioritize money, material success, or beauty and physical attraction, my worldview becomes ultimately utilitarian. In a way I may be saying that this Christianity for whom Jesus died for – that which tells me to die to myself daily, and never to fix my eyes on earthly things — is not good enough to be my life’s ultimate pursuit. That, for me, sounds wrong.

 

Is godliness overrated?


If they say godliness is an important aspect, then how important? Is it the most important aspect in looking for a mate?

 

I heard that men have this tendency to look at women’s appearance before they even consider their traits. One pastor shared the same in a single’s fellowship, and he noted that there’s no sense to ask men to behave differently. On the other hand, there was another pastor who said it ought to be “godliness first, and everything follows.”

 

Which should really come first? Considering the order of things, there’s wisdom to saying that what we first look for in a partner is the one that takes topmost priority in our list. If attractiveness is the first thing guys look for – that they wont even consider you if they don’t see you attractive enough to begin with – then isn’t it the primary sieve they use in selecting their mate? Is it like going for the prettiest churchgoer, then from that pool hope that there’s some admirable character in her? Should this be the order?

 

 

On settling and of letting my hopes die

 

One guy even advised me to just focus on those who will pursue me, because we can’t force men to like us if they won’t find us attractive at all. Do we women really have to settle for just what’s there? Where’s my freedom of choice? Did God intend us women to be this helpless? Is this love game a pursuit only the men can enjoy? I don’t think so. If it were true, then my high view of this whole thing has been demystified. It’s better to remain single than to be with someone who sees you less than how God sees you.

 

(to be continued: How should we respond?)

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