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Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield

As a thirty-two-year-old virgin, I haven’t used sex as a weapon. Yet.

But I soon will.

Sex is not a weapon to use against your spouse; sex is a weapon to use against Satan.

I’m not talking about denying my soon-to-be husband sex because he hasn’t lifted a finger around the house or complimented me often enough. I don’t intend to use sex as a weapon against my husband; I intend to wield the weapon of sex against Satan.

Where’d I get a crazy idea like that?

As an engaged woman preparing for marriage, I’m reading This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. In this book, Piper suggests that “faith makes use of sexual intercourse as a means of grace.”

Wait. Whaaaaaat? Where’d he come up with that?

You’ve probably read 1 Corinthians 7:3–5 before, but pay particular attention to the last line:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (emphasis added).

When a husband and wife are not coming together often, Satan is given a wide-open door for temptation.

John Piper continues:

A married couple gives a severe blow to the head of that ancient serpent when they aim to give as much sexual satisfaction to each other as possible. Is it not a mark of amazing grace that on top of all the pleasure that the sexual side of marriage brings, it also proves to be a fearsome weapon against our ancient foe?

This should not surprise us. Marriage at its exquisite peak of pleasure speaks powerfully the truth of covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. And that love is the most powerful force in the world. It is not surprising then that Satan’s defeat, Christ’s glory, and our pleasure should come together in this undefiled marriage bed.

Sex is not a weapon to use against your spouse; sex is a weapon to use against Satan.

I don’t know how often my future husband and I will end up having sex after we marry, but I hope it is the exception, and not the norm, to not “play” together every day post-marriage. Why not glorify God, fight Satan, and pleasure each other every day? Sounds like a win-win to me.

(I realize that not every woman’s husband is all that interested in having sex. In that case, I would encourage you to pray for desire on his part and for protection for your marriage. Make sure you are making yourself attractive to him—not just physically—but relationally. Finally, if he’s open to it, seek medical and/or spiritual help.)

How about you? If you’re married, are you using sex as a weapon against your husband . . . or against Satan?

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

 

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Freebie Friday: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl

Freebie Friday: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl

All this week on the blog I’ve been sharing my story from “boy-craziness to my man.” If you missed the details, ironically God used my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, to kick off my friendship with my future hubby.

So now that I’m getting married, will I be leaving the message of this book far behind?

Not on your life.

The message of Confessions will be just as relevant for me as a married woman as it was for me as a single woman.

How so?

Because married or single, my hope is still in God, not in a man. After all, as Jani Ortlund says, “Marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.” Only God is perfect and will never disappoint me.

If I look to my future hubby (or you look to a potential boyfriend) for our worth, identity, or happiness . . . we will end up bitter, angry women. As one pastor often said, “What you idolize you will eventually demonize.”

But if we continually pursue and are satisfied in the far-surpassing treasure that Jesus Christ is, we will be able to love our guy when he’s acting wonderful . . . and when he’s being a pill.

Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl is ultimately a book about the “little g” gods (idols) we worship—and how we can move from worshiping worthless gods to worshiping the one true, living God.

Married or single, you’ll benefit from the message of this book.

Freebie Friday: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him

All week I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey from “boy-crazy to my man” with you. Thanks for being interested in the love story God scripted for us! If you’ve missed the first three parts to this story, you can read them here:

It wasn’t always easy, getting to where we are today. There were lots of ups and downs; many times I wondered if we’d make it. But my doubts never lasted long. I think this journal entry will explain why:

It seems our relationship is characterized by the most important things: Christ; communication that’s open, humble, loving, and excellent; and community. I couldn’t move forward without a single one of these.

1. Relationship Secret #1: Christ

Trevor and I are fairly different, but Jesus Christ truly is the foundation of our relationship, which is more than enough common ground. Here are two entries from my journal to give you a taste of how Trevor has consistently pointed me to Christ rather than away from Him:

Trevor prayed last night, thanking God for bringing us together from so far apart, asking that in some small way we could reflect the gospel to those around us. I realized that when I asked friends to pray that I’d enjoy God and I’d enjoy Trevor, I didn’t see those two as intersecting at all. To me, romance has always been something to hide from God, not something to share with God and thank Him for and revel in Him. (How wrong I was!)

And one more entry, from a visit I made to New York:

We played “What Am I Thinking” and “Would You Rather.” His options were hilarious. Then he asked if we wanted to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. It was hard for me to turn my mind toward worshiping God, but so sweet and needed.”

2. Relationship Secret #2: Communication

Trevor and I have had excellent communication. Sure, starting out long distance helped. Talking was our only option, other than a monthly visit. But it’s more than that.

Mostly it’s been Trevor’s humble responses and probing questions that have given me more and more courage to share openly with him. I can’t tell you how huge this has been in my life; until Trevor, I always “held back.” Here’s one example from my journal, about a Skype conversation:

As were were about to go, I asked Trevor if he’d pray for me. I got teary. I told him I was kinda anxious about his visit . . . His response was beautiful . . . He asked if there was more.

I didn’t want to tell him, but I admitted that I worry I might be getting into a relationship with an angry man. He responded amazingly and thoughtfully.

He said he was sorry multiple times.
That I didn’t deserve that.
That he didn’t want me to have to have any caution flags with him.
That he would be repenting of his sin.
That he’s still growing out of selfishly thinking his sin only impacts him and the person he’s sinned against.

He said he already has some action ideas for what to do next. And he said a lot, “Anything I say feels worthless ’til you see some change.” Although he’s also confessed he’s a sinner and this will probably be a life-long process, but he didn’t want that to be an excuse.

Trevor has modeled humility time and time again in our conversations. He has also not hidden sin from me, but confessed it. As a result, I trust him—with my inmost thoughts, fears, and struggles.

3. Relationship Secret #3: Community

The fact that Trevor is so deeply rooted in community has given me great confidence. He loves his local church body. In addition to running sound, playing guitar, and doing their books, he leads a small group and participates in a discipleship group an elder leads. Because he’s surrounded himself with people, I’ve been able to hear from others who have known Trevor a lot longer than I have what they think of him. (That’s invaluable as a girl considers marriage!)

From the start Trevor was intentional about introducing me to his friends (he even tried to get some girls to host a girls’ night while I was in town!). This has meant that when I moved to New York a couple months ago (to live with a family from his church until our wedding day), I’ve had instant community through the relationships he’s already built.

We’ve also been able to do premarital counseling with an elder/counselor, and get a wise, outside perspective on our relationship.

All three of these C’s—Christ, communication, and community—caused me to joyfully and confidently said “yes!” when Trevor got down on one knee this past April and read me a Shakespearean sonnet he’d written:

. . . I journeyed far to gain this precious rose,
By land and air through darkness deep inside.
I’ll carry her through thorns and fears below,
Held by His hand in raging storms and tides.

The rising Day will banish soon the night,
Sojourn with me ’til then, and be my wife.

How about you? Would you ever consider marrying a man without Christ, communication, and community being a part of your relationship? Why or why not?

Then, check back tomorrow for a wrap-up to this series as well as a chance to win a copy of my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom.

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta

Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta

Trevor and I met in “The Promised Land” (a.k.a. Chick-fil-A) on a Saturday night last summer. (If you’re just joining us, I’m sharing my journey from “boy-crazy to my man” this week on the blog. Click here and here for the first two posts.)

We’d never even talked on the phone before—just written back and forth on Facebook for the past four months, but it was as comfortable as could be from the get-go. He was sitting at a table when I walked in—not holding a rose like in romance novels—but reading a book in true Trevor-fashion.

We did all sorts of “manly” things together that long weekend (remember, I was trying to show him a good time!), like exploring an abandoned house, shooting guns, lifting weights, hiking through a riverbed, canoeing, swimming in the lake, and making a bonfire. We ate. And talked. That was my favorite part. We talked about what we were looking for in a spouse, theological beliefs, and past experiences.

Tuesday morning, as we met at Chick-fil-A for one last meal before he headed back to New York, I fought back tears. We’d become even better friends over the long weekend, but I had no idea if I’d ever see this guy again. I wasn’t about to put him on the spot and ask, “Sooooo . . . what are you thinking about us?”

But while I prepared to say goodbye for good, he did it. He did what God created men to do; he initiated. It went something like this:

T: “So, how do you think this weekend went?”
Me: “It was fun!”
T: “Where do you see our relationship going?”
Me: “You tell me. I’m wide open.” (I’m not sure he was expecting that answer!)

He let me know he had qualms about a long-distance relationship, so he wanted to take a few days to seek advice about how to pursue me from nine hours away.

I sent him on his way with some black licorice Swedish dogs, overwhelmed by God’s wonderful surprise and by Trevor acting like a man should. I was on top of the world . . . until the morning.

All too soon I pulled out my journal, and my sin spilled out:

Today I was ungrateful for all God has done and just wanted more. I wanted Trevor to pursue me now.

He’s seeking the Lord about how to do that, but I want and expect to be fawned over and contacted and pursued hotly from his first admission of liking me.

Thank You, God, for this training ground. I want to learn now how to thank You for what he does rather than focusing on what he doesn’t do.

So thank You for his sensitivity and leadership in texting me this today:

“I don’t know if I said this when we had breakfast yesterday, but I want to make sure I’m clear on this—I like you, too, and the question I face is, ‘How might a relationship like this work?’ So that’s the main thing I’m going to try to work through in the coming days and such. Just wanted to maintain the clarity a bit. “

I continued writing,

I also confess that when I responded to his text and admitted my struggle with him only telling me I “had a good head on my shoulders,” I didn’t think of how that would sound to him (probably like “You failed”). I wanted him to text me back saying,

“Of course! Dumb me. You must be wondering WHY I like you. WHAT I like about you. Where should I start?!” (This is where I imagined him rattling off a long list.)

Forgive me for seeking to manipulate him. For trying to gauge my worth on his praise of me.

Here it is again. I want to be worshipped rather than to worship the only worthy God. I am an idolater. A breaker of the first commandment. Rescue me, Abba.

Almost instantly I came face to face with my ugly expectations for a dating relationship. It was as if I no longer cherished our friendship; I only wanted romance . . . and now! How patient Trevor was with me as I worked through my junk. I’ve already written about that season in these two posts: “When a Fantasy Romance Seems So Much Better Than a Real One” and “My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend.” They’ll give you a good idea of what this man has put up with!

So . . . what gave me the confidence to move forward with this man even when he wasn’t meeting all my crazy expectations for 24/7 romance? Check back tomorrow to hear the three main things that caused me to joyfully and confidently say “yes!” when Trevor asked me to be his wife this past April.

Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Is Marriage a Get-Out-Of-Work-Free Card?

Is Marriage a Get-Out-Of-Work-Free Card?

This October I’ll marry a “rich” (in my mind, anyway!) CPA husband. Money has never been a big priority to me; I think I always imagined marrying a poor seminary student.

So I’ve been pleasantly taken back by this surprising twist. Truth be told, I’ve looked forward to mooching off of him, to not having to put in forty hours at the office each week, to benefiting from his labors.

But then I read this in The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian:

“Show me how I can help increase our finances and not decrease them unwisely.”

What an intriguing concept!

I mean, I’d definitely imagined blessing him physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually, but . . . financially? Not so much.

Turns out, marriage is not an excuse for laziness.

I’m a little slow. I should’ve already known that from Proverbs 31, right?

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

In other words, she herself makes her husband rich.

But just because she herself offers her husband precious value doesn’t earn her a get-out-of-work-free card. The passage continues,

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (emphasis added).

If you’re skeptical that this gain could include actual physical, material wealth, keep on reading:

“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. . . . She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household . . . She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard . . . She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night . . . She makes linen garments and sells them . . . She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:12–27).

So I have a new aim: to bless my future husband in every area, including our finances.

How about you? Is there a way you can help increase your husband’s finances while still “looking well to the ways of your household”? Or, at a minimum, are there ways you can take care that you’re not decreasing your husband’s finances unwisely?

(Singles, this starts right now, with what you do with your money even before you meet your someday husband!)

Am I the only one, or does anyone else out there need to repent of a mooch-like attitude?

Let’s get to work, ladies, and bless our husbands in every way. Yes, even financially.

Is Marriage a Get-Out-Of-Work-Free Card? was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

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Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Today, a blockbuster romanticizing BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism) will hit the big screens near you. In case you’re not familiar with these terms, a sadist receives sexual gratification by dishing out pain; a masochist receives sexual gratification by receiving pain.

A Strong Woman’s Dilemma

At first glance, it appears downright puzzling that women would consider this to be enjoyable entertainment . . . and flock to it in droves. Dr. Juli Slattery asks,

In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, do you find it strange that a book about bondage is spreading like wildfire? All of a sudden, words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable but sexy.

In a conversation about Fifty Shades on The View, Barbara Walters suggested that the reason women love this book so much is because, “when you go home, you want the guy to be in charge.”

Really?!

Well, yes. Women want strong, confident men . . . and we want to be in control. But unfortunately, through insisting on control, we’ve contributed to the very thing we despise: a culture of increasingly weak men.

Christian Grey to the Rescue

Enter counterfeit solution Christian Grey and the dark world of BDSM. Dannah Gresh and Dr. Slattery write,

Although Fifty Shades is fiction, we assure you that the world of BDSM is not. Since the book’s release there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of bondage gear. What was once viewed as a strange, aberrant practice is becoming increasingly mainstream for married couples and for those looking for an exciting affair.

But, they warn,

Solving the “weak man” problem with BDSM is about as logical as curing obesity by promoting anorexia. Both are dangerous distortions of appetite. The true answer is for us to grasp what health looks like.

So what is healthy in the bedroom?

Great Sex Is Not Grey

First, a couple of basic reminders about sex. Because, while E.L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, would have you believe that sex is grey, God is not grey on this topic. He’s black and white, so that you might catch a glimpse of His unrivaled beauty:

  1. Great sex was God’s idea (Gen. 1:18–25)! If that blows your mind, that’s because, as Dr. Slattery says, “Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” Oh, and “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman.
  2. Great sex is not ultimately about us; it’s about God. God designed marriage and sex to tell the story of His loving sacrificial leadership toward His Bride, the Church, and of the Church’s joyful submission to Him (Eph. 5). Again, I appreciate Dr. Slattery’s reminder:

    Christ taught and modeled that authoritative leadership is for the purpose of loving sacrifice, not domination, control, abuse, or humiliation.

    Submission is all about power—not weakness. . . . God’s design for women to submit is not to take away her power but to channel it in a way that builds a courageous lover and leader in her husband. God’s plan works!

Christ Jesus to the Rescue

So what if you don’t have a strong man to love and serve and lead you?

Actually, you do.

Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, left His powerful position and riches in Paradise to stoop low to serve you. He became a man so He could receive the righteous blows of God’s justice as the willing Substitute for your sin.

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Christ Jesus became a man so He could bleed, so that His blood might wash your dirty heart and body white as snow. He experienced physical and emotional pain unlike any you will ever know—so that you, through His wounds, might be healed.

He did all this to restore your broken relationship with God, so that you might glorify and enjoy Him forever, “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6).

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Calling Out the Hibernating Strong Man in Your Husband

Until you are with Him in person, God has given you the means to fulfill your sexual desires, married woman. Not through dark, harmful, twisted sexuality, but in the God-blessed, sanctified context of biblical marriage.

Some of you are experiencing this joyful gift right now. Others of you wonder if your husband even has a sex drive.

I’ll share a secret with you that I learned from reading Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart. Great sex will not begin in the bedroom. Here are a few excerpts that speak to this:

Becoming a great lover requires you to exercise the muscles of temporarily suspending what you want in order to understand and bring joy to your husband. . . .

Sex in marriage will always take on the form of the relationship, even for couples that try to use it to cover up other problems or to think of it as a separate issue. Many couples come to counseling complaining of problems sexually. Almost invariably, their sexual dynamics are a perfect illustration of what is happening throughout their entire relationship. . . .

If God created and defines sex as a “deep knowing” (“yada”), we can reason that the ultimate sexual satisfaction will be found when we are truly known by one another. If you want a satisfying sex life—to truly experience yada—friendship with your husband is the pathway to achieve it. When the deep knowing is given priority in our love lives, the physical aspect of sex just works better. . . .

Regardless of whether your sex life is sizzling or hibernating, my challenge to you is this: How can you begin to call out the strong leader in your husband?

If you have no idea where to start, may I encourage you sign up for the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge? Even if you’ve taken it before, would you consider taking it again?

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

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Will You Get a Divorce Someday?

Will You Get a Divorce Someday?

You probably know someone who’s divorced. Maybe an aunt or uncle, one of the leaders in your church, or your own parents. If so, I’m so very, very sorry for the pain it’s caused—and maybe still is causing—you.

With divorce so common, I wonder, What’s to keep you from heading down that same road someday?

My desire in writing this post is to save your marriage before you even meet your future husband.

Before we go any further, do me a favor, and don’t rub what you’re about to read in any divorced person’s face. That’s not the point! My desire in writing this post is to save your marriage before you even meet your future husband by introducing you to God’s thoughts on marriage and divorce.

Oh, I know you’re not married yet. But someday, you probably will be. And there may be days—possibly even long months that turn into even longer years—when you shake your head and mutter to yourself, This is no marriage. I didn’t sign up for this.

So I wonder, If the going gets tough for you, will you choose to divorce?

I’m afraid you will—unless you get ahold of the mind-blowing truths found in Mark 10:2–12. This passage finds the Pharisees (think “the squeaky-clean, religious, we’re-something-special leaders of Jesus’ day”) trying to trick Jesus with a question:

“Jesus, is it allowed—is it kosher—for a man to divorce his wife?”

“You tell me,” Jesus answered. “What did Moses command you?” (These guys knew the law of Moses like junior highers know their A-B-Cs!) Immediately they rattled off, “Yup, Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife and send her away.”

Doesn’t sound much different than today, huh? A lot of people in the Church will encourage you to get a divorce when the going gets tough.

But not Jesus.

He responds,

“Moses (not God!) wrote this commandment because your hearts were hard.” In other words, you wanted a divorce so bad, he let you have it.

But . . .

“But from the very beginning of time,” Jesus dug in, “God made humans in two varieties: male and female. Man and woman. And He designed them to leave their parents and hold fast to each other, so that the two would become one.”

Then, just in case they missed this mind-blowing math, Jesus repeated Himself,

“Married people are no longer two people but one person.”

Whoa!

“So,” Jesus concludes, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.”

You would never think of cutting yourself in half. God has joined you together. Don’t let others—or yourself—separate what God has fused together.

Did you catch that?! Marriage has always been God’s marvelous plan for one man plus one woman. And when they marry, it’s ultimately God who’s turned two into one.

So, sweet girl, when your marvelous, God-designed marriage starts to seem mighty un-marvelous due to your sin or your hubby’s sin, remember these marriage-preserving truths. You are no longer two but one.

You would never think of cutting yourself in half. God has joined you together. Don’t let others—or yourself—separate what God has fused together.

Okay, your turn to talk back to me. Does divorce seem acceptable to you? Would you consider it if your own marriage got tough? How does Jesus’ teaching crack the way you naturally think about divorce?

Will You Get a Divorce Someday?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

You asked me to write a post about how to pray for your future husband. I’m happy to do that, but first, two disclaimers:

  1. Marriage isn’t a guarantee for any of us. God is not our personal genie. That’s why I like to pray these sorts of things for the men who are currently in my life (my dad, brothers, brothers-in-Christ, coworkers, etc.) and then I tack on, “And my future hubby, if such a man exists.”
  2. Just because you’re praying these grand characteristics for your future husband does not mean you’re free to date and marry just anyone, and that they’ll somehow magically materialize into this person after marriage simply because you’ve been praying “spiritual” things. Wrong! Choose a man who—while not perfect—is already obviously headed in this direction.

Okay, with that behind us, here are just five ways to pray for your future husband. (If you’re already married, these are great ways to pray for your husband. And if you’re divorced, by all means, pray these into your ex’s life!)

  1. Pray that he would re-believe the gospel every single time he hears it, rather than believing it once and then leaving it far behind (1 Cor. 15:1–3).
  2. Pray that he would be captivated by God’s beauty so that saying no to lust would be like turning down a McDonald’s hamburger in favor of a grilled, New York strip. Pray that he would be ruthless in fleeing sexual immorality and would fly to Christ instead (Ps. 27:4, 1 Cor. 6:18).
  3. Pray that when he gets angry he wouldn’t sin. Pray that he would be angry over the things God is angry over and not angry over petty irritations (Eph. 4:26).
  4. Pray that God would prepare and empower him to love you as much as he loves himself—to cherish you the way Christ cherishes you (Eph. 5:28–29).
  5. Pray that he would not be lazy or a workaholic, but that he would work wholeheartedly for God in order to provide for his family. Pray that God would keep him from greed. Pray that he would have wisdom to know how to balance work, service, rest, and play (Col. 3:23, 1 Tim. 6:10).

Obviously, there are so many more ways to pray for a future husband. Would you add your prayer(s) by clicking on the green link at the top of this post?

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Before Getting Married, I Wish I’d . . .

Before Getting Married, I Wish I’d . . .

Last week I shared some mail I just couldn’t keep to myself. You were so encouraged that this week I want to share more advice with you from married women. So . . . I asked a group of married women of all ages the following question:

What do you wish you’d done before getting married (either to prepare for marriage or just to take advantage of your singleness)?

You may be wondering, Why should I care what a bunch of married women think? Well, did you know God’s plan is that we learn the ins and outs of marriage from women who are “older and wiser?” Titus 2:3–5 says,

“Older women are to . . . teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands . . . that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Part of that training takes place before you’re even in a relationship! With that in mind, here’s what several married women wish they’d done before getting married:

“I wish I had spent more time growing as a Christian instead of assuming that I would ‘follow’ my husband spiritually. I would have spent more time being myself instead of being simply available.” —Myranda

“I wish I hadn’t devoured literally every Christian romance novel and countless romance movies. The men portrayed in these stories seem to be near perfect and have caused disappointment in marriage stemming from dangerous, unrealistic expectations. It contributed to me looking to a man to satisfy my every longing when the only One who can do that is the sinless, perfect Jesus Christ.” —Kimberly

“I got married at age twenty, and I can think of a dozen or more things that have crossed my mind over the years (manage finances, finish school, travel, etc.) that if I had done before marriage would have made so many things easier. But when it gets right down to it, we have had a blast growing up together. The best marriages aren’t necessarily easy; they are committed. I am thankful for one thing I did do before marriage: moving away from home. I think that gave me a crash course in dependency upon the Lord for everything, which laid the perfect foundation for marriage.” —Julie

“I wish I would’ve taken time after high school to find out who I really was aside from being under my parents’ authority before I got married.” —Hannah

“I wish I would have enjoyed my single days more instead of concentrating on finding love. I also would have wanted to be more prepared for the reality of marriage; the work, the responsibility, the pain that is there among the joy. Forever is a much bigger commitment after all the celebrations have calmed down from the engagement and wedding and it is just the two of you left . . . you and sixty years. Single girls, MAKE SURE you marry someone you like, not just love. It has been said many times, but you really do need to marry your best friend! Let God lead you to each other.” —Heidi

“I wish I had really thought about how I’d find purpose and joy in the responsibilities of being a wife and mom apart from my other interests, which had of course monopolized my single life. ” —Laura

I wish I would have lived as a godly woman when I was single instead of thinking, I’ll be like that when I’m married. I went through a very challenging first year of marriage until God graciously showed me I can’t keep saying ‘tomorrow,’ I need to obey today! Also, I wish I would have learned how to be an organized person, how to cook meals and grocery shop, and how to live within a budget. It would have made the transition to marriage easier had I already been experienced at taking care of myself (versus trying to figure out how to take care of two people).” —Emily

“I wish I’d learned more about how the marriage covenant is a picture of Jesus’s relationship with His bride, the church. It also would have helped to be involved more in service in the church, especially where no one could see me and there was no immediate recognition. It would have helped diminish my ego as a single woman!” —Aileen

“I wish I would have traveled more, gotten involved with more ministries overseas, even spent time living overseas!” —Kara

“I wish I had learned much earlier about submission in marriage. I never really grasped that until the last several years. I marvel at the difference it has made, learning to let my husband truly be the head of the family, even when I don’t agree with every move he makes. By over-powering my husband in the early years, I caused so many issues I didn’t even realize.” —Sheila

“I wish I had lightened up and had more fun.” —Jeannie

“I wish I would have spent more time with a mature mentor couple for the purpose of laying out our expectations for marriage. We’ve grown, and after sixteen years, are still becoming one. Learning to communicate clearly about the outcomes we are expecting before we begin a project has been huge. It’s so hard to backtrack. Clarity upfront helps work out some differences before they become huge mountains to tackle.” —Jennifer

Which piece of advice resonates with you most, not-yet-married-girl? What one thing can you begin to work on today as you anticipate marriage someday?

Before Getting Married I Wish I’d …” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong

 

I’m pretty big about communicating winsomely. But would you mind terribly if I ranted . . . just a tad? (Pretty please?)

There’s a “truth” I hear tossed around Christian circles that makes my stomach churn. It goes something like this:

Marriage is the ultimate reward for living a life of purity right now.

Come again? Marriage is a great gift, but it is not the ultimate reward!

It can be hard to believe, but God really is the ultimate reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage.

Then there’s the line that:

The ultimate reward of oneness in marriage will be worth every moment of loneliness.

Yikes, that’s a looong time for tween and teen girls to wait for their reward—especially in a culture of instant gratification where the average marrying age for females is 27–30.

God really is the ultimate reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage.

So a girl’s to pine away in loneliness for three long decades? And then, suddenly, it’ll all be worth it? I don’t see how that’s good news.

But this, on the other hand, is: You and I don’t have to wait until marriage to experience the happiness we’re looking for today! It is ours for the having—right now.

Single or married, sixteen or senior citizen, joy is found in God’s presence, which can be experienced anywhere, anytime:

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

Our hope for the “good life” isn’t tied to marriage; it’s tied to the One to whom marriage faintly points.

At least, that’s what I thought . . . until I was corrected by Matthew 5:8. You know, the verse that says:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall snag a great husband.

(Oh, whoops, I grabbed the wrong translation!) Let me try that again:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

There. That’s right. Seeing God is purity’s reward. God-gazing is the greatest reward that exists.

David got that. In Psalm 27:4 he asked for just one thing,

“One thing have I asked of the Lord . . .”

What one thing would you ask God for? For most of my life, a husband would’ve been at the tip-top of my list. But when we read the context of Psalm 27, we learn that as David writes this wish, he has an enemy army encircling him. You’d expect him to ask God for weapons or a divine rescue, right? But instead, He asks to be able to gaze on God’s beauty,

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

Let’s make sure we’re not misleading our girls. God is their reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage.

And you, if you’re single, or you, if you’re in a miserable marriage, you, too, can experience the happiness you long for. Today! It’s found in His presence.

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com

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