Dating: Liking Older Guys

Extra14Is it ok I like older guys, as in 2-3 years older, while I’m 14? I have always liked older guys and it seems older guys are the one’s that notice me, (no, I don’t ask them to notice me). Is this ok?

It’s natural for girls to like older boys – it’s exciting to think that we’re mature enough for someone a couple of years older to be interested! And, once we’re adults, the two to three years isn’t such a big deal. But, for now, I suggest proceeding with extreme caution. Think about the age you ideally want to be when you get married – if you want to get married when you’re 24, then you have ten years before your wedding day. If you start dating right now, that’s ten years of temptation in your face before you say “I Do.” It is extremely difficult to date for an extended period of time and remain pure.

In addition to that, we change and grow so much from the time we’re 14 until we’re 20. We’ll continue to change throughout our entire lives, but our teens and early 20s are a time we’re really learning who we are and what we want out of life. Chances are, the person you want to date now is not the person you’re going to want to date when you’re in your 20s and ready to get married, because you’ll both be completely different people than you are today. This means that dating now will likely lead to heart- ache, because you’ll eventually break up. Even if you don’t break up, you’re setting yourself for unnecessary temptation. If you wait a few years to date each other, you’ll both have had time to nurture a good friendship together without the sexual temptation that comes in a dating relationship.

At 14, you’re likely just coming out of middle school, while a 17-year-old boy can drive and is thinking about graduation. Even if you think you’re on the same maturity level, he has more life experiences, and often when an older boy wants to date a younger girl (until adulthood is reached), his intentions are not pure, whether he’ll admit it or not.

Even though you don’t verbally ask older boys to notice you, think about your attitude. Are you seeking them out and flirting a little, hoping they’ll notice you? Are you dressing older than your age, trying to get their attention? Even if you don’t go up to an older guy and say, “Hey, will you notice me?” your attitude and dress may very well be demanding their attention!

dating2Dating at a young age may be the cool thing to do, but it’s generally not the most godly, whether dating someone a few years older or the exact same age. Why set yourself up for temptation when you could be having carefree fun with your friends instead, without the heartache?

I hope that before entering any relationship, and throughout the entire relationship, you strongly seek God’s guidance by studying His Word and praying. It’s tempting to want a relationship in order to find happiness, but remember that there is “Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad” (1 Chronicles 16:10). Seek Him first, and your heart will be glad, whether there’s another guy in your life or not.

– Davonne Parks

Dating: Little Things Keep the Fire Going

Dating2Life is truly a crazy ride. There are great highs and then sometimes the lowest of lows. It’s unpredictable and wild. But with all the big things that we go through, it’s really the small stuff that counts. When we examine our pasts we all remember big events that happened, but with those events we recall the small things that impacted us. For example, when my brother gave his life to Christ, (Mark 16:16) I’m not completely able to remember all of the details, but I do remember the way my big cousin Garrett hugged him. They were, and still are, “manly” men, so to see them hug the way they did with their eyes tearing up, well that’s just something I’ll never forget. This was the most important event in my brother’s life but what I vividly remember is just a small detail. This is just one example of that and I’m sure everyone has had a similar experience.

When writing this, my thoughts were taken to my grandparents, who after 47 years of marriage are still very much in love and happy (Matt. 19:6). They are a strong Christian couple, which in itself makes a huge difference in marriage, but they also care for each other in a deep, affectionate way. On a trip to Mississippi, I asked Grandmommy and Poppa what kept them going all of those years. Poppa was in the Navy for many years, meaning they dealt with a long-distance relationship. To top that off, Grandmommy had five girls to take care of alone. Grandmommy told me willingly that this was a very difficult and stressful time in her life but that her love for God, Poppa, and her girls made it all worth it.

When I asked her what keeps the fire going now, she and Poppa rattled off many reasons, and to prove that it’s the simple things that matter, I’ll share them now. Grandmommy told me that something as easy as holding hands still means so much to her. It’s an effortless thing to do and yet still makes you feel special and loved after 47 years of doing it. As she told me this, she stretched her hand across the middle seat where it was met quickly by Poppa’s. She looked over at him with a loving smile and knowing eyes. Later they also explained that since they shared their “I do’s” they have never left each other without a kiss and saying I love you. The phrase “I love you” is a very easy thing to say, it just rolls off the tongue, but it is still a very important thing that always needs to be said. Verbal and physical affection is necessary in healthy relationships.

They also told me that since they were first married, every night that they have shared together, they have never failed to say I love you before going to sleep. She explained that even if they were still fighting about something, they made a conscious decision to put that aside for a moment and remember that they still and always will care about each other. That to me is a wonderful thing; to never let your anger blind you from your love for each other.

Dating1When they were married, they were different ages and different maturity levels. So because they were apart so often, I asked them if they ever struggled with growing in opposite directions from each other. Grandmommy looked at me and said, “Of course we did!” That response immediately had me ask how they handled it and she gave me the simplest and smartest answer, “We worked at it.” A very sincere and great response from a very wise woman! She told me that in every matter of life the way to get through it is to never give up and continue working at it.

I hope this reveals how important the small stuff is. It keeps relationships thriving and honest. Living for God and your mate rather than yourself makes all the difference in the world as to whether or not your relationship or marriage will work! “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Roman 8:28

By Shelby Garrett

The Right Role

dating11Since the theme for this month is “Pierce my heart to serve,” I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss a woman’s role in marriage and in society. My generation of women has been privileged to receive the same rights and freedoms as the men in our country. We can vote, become soldiers, work in the government, or be stay-at-home mothers. Our options are never-ending. In many ways this is a great improvement for our world and nation, but it can also hinder us from fulfilling and respecting the duties given to us by God. Sometimes we think that serving our husbands and being submissive to them is degrading or old-fashioned, but remember this: God loves us and would never command us to do something that is not for our best and His glory.

In Genesis 3:16 we find that God cursed women because Eve disobeyed His command. God said that women would have greatly increased pain during childbirth and that our husbands would rule over us. For most of us, the latter part of this curse is difficult to really grasp. How can we be equals to men in today’s society, yet be submissive to our husbands at home? That can be a hard thing to understand and a hard thing to practice, but I would like to explain it the best I can.

We are commanded to submit ourselves to our husbands in Colossians 3:18. We are to understand that he is the head of the house and is in authority to spiritually lead his family. This is a huge responsibility and takes a lot of work. Men are also given the role of authority in the church. Men are to hold positions as teachers, preachers, elders, and deacons. They have a lot of work to do, and we are to be supportive and serve God by serving them.

extra5When I was younger I used to say that no man was ever going to boss me around, but back then I didn’t understand the rest of God’s command. Not only did He command wives to be submissive, but He also commanded husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This means there will be no bossing around or controlling. But my husband will love me, and I will serve and respect him. It is meant to be a mutually loving relationship where both give of themselves so that both can be satisfied.

In the church we can teach, encourage others, and help our husbands. It takes a lot of effort to be a participating church member and helpful wife, but it is also very rewarding. God wants us to be a part of His body! Just because we are women does not mean that we cannot be strong individuals. As women, we are able to do so much for mankind and for God, and being submissive wives does not stop that at all. It only encourages our contentment!

By Shelby Garrett

The Dating Game

dating1“An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.” (1 Corinthians 7:34)

Guys. College campuses are filled with them (unless you go to an all-girl school). Guys that you don’t know and have never met. Guys you would like to meet. It can be very easy to get distracted by and caught up in the dating game. But this can be one time when just because everyone else is doing it (and it seems they really are) doesn’t mean it’s the best thing––or the right thing–––to do.

I was never much for the big dating scene, although I still did go out on occasional dates with guys. However, I believe this could lead us into major temptation (Matthew 26:41), resulting in major consequences. Many times, we think of the only consequences of dating around as being the more severe ones, such as pregnancy or STDs. But it is so much more than that. There are other consequences that can be just as devastating, occurring even when there is no sex involved in the relationship. Not only do we risk being emotionally hurt, or emotionally hurting someone else, but we become so involved in the guys we are dating that we forget Who should be our focus––God (1 Corinthians 7:34).

What am I supposed to avoid?

I know that it is very hard to stand against the crowd. But there are many times when God calls us to do just that out of obedience to His Word. Second Timothy 2:22 tells us to “flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.” As difficult as it is to admit, being a part of the dating game is a worldly desire. We feel as though we are not cool or popular if we’re not dating around. We worry that others will make fun of us. But it is God we should be trying to please––not those around us. (Romans 8:8; Galatians 1:10)

I believe it is a very bad idea to go out on dates with a guy––even a serious boyfriend––where the two of you will be alone. Nowhere in God’s Word does He tell us that it’s critical to have alone time with a guy in order to know if he’s marriage material. Just the opposite, He warns us against sexual immorality, which is all too easy to become entangled in when we are alone with a guy (1 Corinthians 6:18).

dating2Not only should we be discerning about going out on dates alone with a guy, but we also need to consider our actions when we’re around guys––even if they’re just friends. Scripture warns us about a woman’s suggestive actions, which can include a wide range of things, such as flirting, close hugging, and sitting on laps. Even our words can be inappropriately misleading. To the writer of Proverbs, a beautiful woman who shows no discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout (11:22). Nice word picture, huh? The beauty of the woman, like a gold ring in a pig’s snout, gets lost in the ugliness of her indiscretion. And while many guys will admit that they don’t mind some of these sinful indiscretions, the guys we should want to attract should care about pleasing God and finding a woman who does the same. (Ecclesiastes 7:26)

Another thing we must consider when it comes to “dating” is who we are dating. Many girls feel like they must date a hundred guys in order to find the right one for them. This is not the case. Not only does it place temptation directly in our paths, but it’s not necessary. Most often, you can tell from the start that a certain guy is not someone whom you would ever want to marry––as cool or cute as he is. We need to take finding a spouse seriously and prayerfully, asking God to lead us to the one He has been preparing for us. This is not to say that He’ll do it immediately, but we need to wait patiently on Him. (Psalms 27:14, 37:7, 37:34)

Not only should we not be dating dozens of guys in order to find Mr. Right, but God’s Word very specifically commands us to only pursue godly guys. Second Corinthians 6:14 tells us: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” If you are a believer, you have nothing important in common with an unbeliever. As nice as the idea is that as a believer, you could lead an unbelieving boyfriend to God, it is a wrong idea. You can most certainly befriend an unbeliever and pray that God will use you in his life, but if you are intending to “date” a guy for the purpose of marrying him one day (the only reason any of us should date), you should not be spending your time with guys who do not have a desire for what should be your ultimate desire––God.

So how do I meet guys?

dating3So far, this may sound like a pretty hopeless situation. You have to stand against the crowd, and you have to narrow your choices down to the minority. But there are ways to get to know if a guy is someone whom you could marry. First, start by getting to know guys as friends while you are with other friends. You may not have as many of those intimate conversations you long for, but you’ll learn a lot about them just by being around them with others. If you’re taking dating seriously as a possible covenant for life, that should make you very discerning as to who gets to know your thoughts and feelings more intimately. We shouldn’t feel like we have to share every innermost thought with every guy we might be interested in. And, when with a group, you’ll see how he treats other people, and will learn more about his character than you will if he’s trying to impress you on a date.

After you’ve gotten to know a certain guy in a friendly group setting, go out on dates with him––with others. A smaller group date is a way to get to know each other better, without other distractions, but still allows you to be around others as to not fall into tempting situations. As much as this goes against what the world teaches, and what we often want to do, Matthew 26:41 tells us to watch and pray, because our spirit may be willing to obey God, but our body is weak. Set limits beforehand on what you will do if a situation arises where you’ll be alone, such as your other group members suddenly leave. Decide that you will immediately go somewhere public, so as not to leave yourselves in a tempting situation

College is a great time to meet people and make new friends, and many people meet their future spouses while there. However, we must be discerning about how we go about the dating game and remember that we are to please God, no matter how “against the crowd” that may be.

Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

By Lisa Grimenstein

Flirting: Innocent or Not?

dating1A recent Ask A Guy article briefly discussed the topic of flirting. Since this is a struggle many young women have, I thought it’d be appropriate to talk about flirting in more detail. Many of us do things completely unaware of how we make other people feel, but we need to choose to be aware and to consider the thoughts and feelings of others before we act.

After researching by asking some of the guys I know, I’ll share with you the things guys specifically view as flirting and temptation, and I’ll give you some suggestions for alternative, pure ways to act.

Physical touch

Guys are tempted by touching. For example, if you give one of your guy friends a back massage, he could be thinking about other ways he’d like to be touched, even if your intentions are innocent, and even if he doesn’t admit it. Instead, give him a high five or a friendly pat on the upper back. Sitting in his lap is also a turn-on, so sit in the chair next to him, or, if there isn’t an available seat, sit on the floor or remain standing (hopefully he is gentlemanly enough to offer his seat!). Full frontal hugs are also tempting to guys. You may simply be hugging a friend, but he definitely notices every inch of your body that’s touching his. If you want to hug him, give him a quick, one-armed side hug.

1 Corinthians 7:1 says that “…it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” It’s important to keep our bodies completely pure for marriage, even when it means going against a desire to touch guys.

Visual Senses

A girl can easily put off a flirtatious air just by what she’s wearing. Guys are very visual and are often tempted when they see a girl dressed in clothes that don’t cover a lot of skin, so respect them, and obey God, by following I Corinthians 10:32: “Do not cause anyone to stumble…” This includes the clothes you wear each day. See our other articles on modesty for some specifics about acceptable and unacceptable clothing.

Speech matters

dating2Sometimes girls aren’t touchy with guys, and they dress modestly, but they lead guys on by the things they say. Basically, if you don’t mean it, don’t say it (and, sometimes, if you do mean it, still don’t say it)! Even if you think you’re just friends with a guy, he may have more feelings for you, and saying flirtatious things could be leading him on. Girls often think this is innocent fun, when really, it can severely bruise a guy’s feelings, and once he realizes you have no intentions of a relationship with him, it could also harm your friendship.

Proverbs 9:13 tells us that “The woman of folly is boisterous, She is naive and knows nothing.” Folly means unrestrained or uncontrolled, boisterous means loud, and naive means lacking experience or judgment, so you could look at it like this: “The uncontrolled woman is loud; she lacks judgment and knows nothing.” You may not mean to come across as uncontrolled or lacking good judgment, but that’s often the way the spontaneous act of flirting is perceived, either by the person you’re flirting with or by other people who are watching your behavior.

Instead, think before you speak, and follow the advice given in I Corinthians 4:6: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” That verse describes how to be seen in a much more positive light than the woman in Proverbs 9:13, and good guys will respect you more because of it.

God first

Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” If you’re seen flirting with and teasing the guys around you, other people are going to have a negative impression of you. We need to make sure that we’re always striving to portray godliness and to be an example to others, so choose to act in ways that are pleasing to God, instead of teasing to men.

By Davonne Parks

Parents’ Night Out

dating2Sometimes we get so wrapped up in dating, and spending fun time with our significant other, that we can easily forget to help others. Serving God is something that we should all be doing––and it is certainly something couples can do together (1 Peter 4:10). So this month, we’re going to focus on a small service we can do for other couples, specifically parents––allow them to have a free parents’ night out!

Talk to the elders at your church to get this event approved, then start planning. (If you can’t host the event at your church, host it in your home or a friend’s home.)

In advance

Choose a date and time (such as a Friday night, from 6:00 until 10:00 PM), then enlist help from a few friends. It may help to also have a responsible adult or two plan on attending the evening (but don’t stick them with the planning, clean-up, or childcare!) in order to make parents feel comfortable leaving their children, especially if the children are very young or have special needs.

Start announcing the event. This can be posted in the church bulletin, announced, and spread by word of mouth or e-mail. I suggest keeping the event limited to church members at first to keep the number of attendees smaller and familiar with one another. Once everyone has the hang of what to do, it can be spread into the community if future events are planned.

Plan food and activities. This should be kept simple. Pizza and kool-aid should be plenty, but people can also donate snacks or chips if they want to. If the church is sponsoring the event, it may be willing to pay for the food, but if not, the parents can all chip in a dollar or two per child. Keep in mind that the money is for food, not baby-sitting, so don’t overcharge! Activities can be as simple as having a few balls and board games set out to help occupy kids of all ages.

The night of

dating1Be early. If your evening begins at 6:00, be there at 5:30 to turn on the lights, set up the activities, and to make sure everything is ready and that dangerous objects are put away.

Get phone numbers. Have a sheet of paper and a pen handy––as parents arrive with their children, make sure they write down their names and cell phone numbers so you can contact them in case of an emergency. This would also be a good time to get any important information, such as allergies or special needs.

Keep track of who’s there. Know the kids’ names, and how many kids there are, then keep a running count, and don’t leave any of them alone. If someone has to use the restroom, a female babysitter can take them there while the other sitters stay with the other kids. Once a child leaves with his or her parents, simply cross that parent’s name off the list of phone numbers so you know which children are still there. Do not allow a child to leave with any other adult unless you received permission, in person, from the parent!

Clean up. After the event, clean everything up before leaving. Make sure to check the bathrooms for cleanliness, sweep all food crumbs, take out the trash, turn off the lights, and lock the doors.

Many parents don’t have the opportunity to date very often (the idea of weekly––or even monthly–– dates is often a long-forgotten concept), so feel good knowing that you gave several couples an opportunity to rejuvenate themselves and revive their romance (Proverbs 5:18).

By Davonne Parks

Outdoor Group Dates

dating1With the freshness of spring, and warmer weather in our midst, let’s enjoy His creation with a group of friends (significant others welcome)! For a quick list of fun warm-weather activities, visit our Top Ten list from June 2008.

When participating in any outdoor activity, make sure to keep plenty of water and healthy snacks handy to help keep people from getting dehydrated or overly hungry.

The ideas

Watch an outdoor movie. Some libraries offer free outdoor movie nights during warm weather, so visit your local library to see what they offer. If a free movie isn’t an option, visit the drive-in on a family– friendly movie night (just make sure the friends you go with are mature enough to not engage in impure, ungodly activities), or have a friend bring a laptop to the park. If the place you’re viewing the movie allows, bring your own snacks and drinks to save money––each person could be in charge of one item to offer a large variety of goodies.

Visit an outdoor museum or learning center. Many museums and learning centers have outdoor spaces to enjoy, so look up the ones in your area to see if they offer group discounts or special discounted days or times (many offer half price or free admission after a certain time of day).

Spend an afternoon at a state park. More than a city park of swings and picnic tables, state parks often have lakes, horseback riding, trails, caves, canoeing, and a variety of other outdoor activities. To find a park in your area, simply type “state park,” then insert your state name into a search engine. Most state parks have websites, so you can find out their specific activities, prices, and hours to find the best park for your group.

Play a sport. Many city parks have tennis courts or basketball hoops that can be used for free, as well as open field areas for baseball or soccer. They may also have sidewalks or trails for rollerblading or bike riding. Just make sure that, no matter what sport you’re planning on participating in, you bring your own equipment and follow the park’s safety procedures!

dating2Go on a picnic. This can be done anywhere from your backyard, to your local park, to a state park. Everyone can bring one item to share, and if nobody in the group is up to using a grill, people can just bring sandwich fillings or chicken salad along with the other treats.

Watch an event at an amphitheater. This is basically like an outdoor play, and can vary widely in cost and professionalism, so ask around in your area to find what suits your tastes. If you’ve never experienced the outdoor play, this could be a real treat! If there are no amphitheaters in your area, pull the talents of you and your friends together and create your own short play on somebody’s back porch.

Host a yard sale. Clean out your room (and with your parents’ permission, other areas in the house), and have your group do the same. Place an ad in your paper at least a week in advance, then have everyone bring their stuff over a few days before the sale. They can help price and set up the sale, and place well-written signs around the neighborhood. Everyone can take turns manning the booths on sale day so nobody has to sit in the sun all day. Donate the money––and the leftover items––to a worthy cause.

Serve somebody else. Nothing brings a group together faster than doing something for someone else. Whether you mow somebody’s grass, help someone clean out their garage or shed, or grill a dinner for a family in need, you’ll feel great knowing that you’re all working together to help other people.

Clean Spring

It’s important to keep our minds and hearts pure. This can be exceptionally difficult to do while dating, but we can all choose to care for His creation (in this case, you and your date) by encouraging him to participate in clean, group activities so he can have an easier time of keeping his thoughts pure as well (Psalm 24:4-5; Hebrews 10:22-25).

By Davonne Parks

Potential Living

dating1God has blessed everyone with great potential. He has designed us all with the abilities and desires necessary to accomplish the works He wants us to do (Psalm 139:14). A huge part of reaching our potential is surrounding ourselves with people who encourage and lift us up; godly people who inspire and challenge us (2 Cor.6:14). One of the most important people in our lives is the one we choose to marry.

I, personally, am not a believer in soul mates. I think that there is more than one man in this world who I could be compatible with and could choose to love. But I will not love just any guy whom I like; there must be certain qualities about him that cause me to want to be more Christ-like. I want you to think about the things in your life that encourage you to be great!

The ideal man for me would be someone who complements me; someone who has strength in areas where I may have trouble. One example would be patience; I would want the man I married to be very patient so that he could help me to not be rash. I would also want this person to appreciate my talents and encourage me to pursue them. If you are talented in sports, singing, playing instruments, hunting, or any number of things, the man you choose to love should encourage your abilities, as long as they are godly.

I know that sometimes we let ourselves fall for someone who is not good for us, someone who may pull us down rather than lift us up. But I would like to share with you one belief that I have always stood firm in. I do not believe that we fall in love, because falling is an accident–love is not. Loving someone is a choice and we don’t stop or start loving someone unless we make that decision. The love God demands of us is an active love—one that we must think about and participate in. I believe that this must be true because of God’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; it is always described as something that takes work and effort.

dating2For example, in those verses, it is written, “Love is never jealous.” Being envious is often a temptation for many people. Sometimes girls feel like they don’t want their boyfriends to even talk to other girls, or vice versa. If that is something you struggle with then you have to decide not to allow yourself to fall into Satan’s trap. You must let your love overshadow sinful feelings and trust the one you are with. In those verses you will find that everything love is being described as is an action. You choose not to be easily angered, not to be prideful, not to rejoice in sin, and to be kind. They all require thought and decisions. Therefore, when you decide to put yourself out there and love someone, you are making a choice.

So when you are getting to know a potential husband, ask yourself if this boy complements you, encourages you, and challenges you to be more Christ-like. Ask yourself if this boy will encourage you to reach the potential that God has given you.

By Shelby Garrett

Non-romantic Love

4With this month being February, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss many couples’ favorite holiday: Valentine’s Day! I have always thought it to be a day used only as an excuse to get presents, but since I’ve gotten older and more understanding, I’ve realized that even though it may be like that for some, it doesn’t have to be that way for me! I have come to recognize that I can choose to make this day about love and God’s grace and mercy (Eph. 2:8)! My boyfriend and I have decided to make this a day of appreciation for the small things, such as time spent together. We usually write letters and buy some type of candy—simple and perfect!

Before I continue on with the good things Valentine’s Day brings, let me make this suggestion: Valentine’s Day can be celebrated with many different people. For example, you could choose to do something for your mother or maybe your best friend; it really doesn’t matter. What I’m trying to say is that if you are not currently in a dating relationship, there’s no need to feel left out of this wonderful day. You can go out and tell everyone important in your life what they mean to you—and don’t be shy about it!

To me, the best thing about Valentine’s Day is the chance to express your love and positive feelings freely (of course, we shouldn’t hesitate to do this all the time)! I am one of those people who often come up with different scenarios in her mind and many times tells herself that “this may be the last chance I have to speak to or see someone.” So I have always made it a goal to part with everyone on good terms. Sometimes I worry that I don’t tell people how much I 5care about them, and so I make a point of being open with others about my feelings for them. I think that Valentine’s Day can be used as the perfect opportunity to tell all the people in our lives how much we love and appreciate them! We can do this by sending cards to the elderly, hosting a party for friends, or doing nice things for family members.

Don’t let those who care about you just assume that you care, too—tell them with kind and loving words (Rom. 12:10).  God wants us to take care of each other, and sometimes all that is needed is a simple thank you and expression of gratitude. I hope that everyone will choose to make this holiday of love a day to show love and spread God’s many gifts to His Creation.

Shelby Garrett

Shelby Garrett

The Secret: Part III

For the past two months we have studied and focused on the first six fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness, and how they make for an amazing dating or marriage relationship. This month we will wrap up this study by adding the last three parts of God’s gift. They are faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). Every aspect of this gift is very important, and one cannot thrive without the other. So let’s get started!

Faithfulness Matters

When you think about being faithful, the idea of believing in someone or something and being trustworthy or honest may come to mind. When God says He requires faithfulness from His children, He means that He not only wants us to believe in Him but to give Him everything we have. God wants us to choose and stick with His commands. We cannot go back and forth between sin and God. For example, in Matthew 6:24, it says, “…You cannot serve God and wealth.” This means you have to choose one and stand by your decision. One or the other, not both; the same goes for a husband.

When you choose a boyfriend, you really need to be faithful to him. Now this doesn’t mean that if you start dating and it turns out that you aren’t very compatible you can’t break up, but if you’re married, that’s exactly what it means. While you are in a dating relationship, breaking up is always an option, but being faithful while in the relationship is still the right thing to do. Let’s say you and a boy have decided to begin dating after talking for a while. Now that you’re exclusively dating, you shouldn’t flirt and hang out constantly with other boys. Your boyfriend needs to be able to trust that you are not cheating on him, just like you should be able to trust him. Trust is a huge part of any relationship.

If you can’t trust each other then you will never be satisfied. Having an undoubting trust means that you can rely on each other and lean on one other when something goes wrong; just like you should do with God (Matt. 11:28–30). Trust is an underlying tone of love. Trusting means that there are no little white lies, or huge black ones! When you tell your boyfriend something, he should not have to question you or check up on your “story.” Faithfulness requires the conscious choice to say no to other boys and to be there for your boyfriend. Remain faithful so that there is always trust, because without trust it will be impossible to survive as a couple.


The eighth piece of this great gift is gentleness. There is something special about your boyfriend when he is gentle and tender, right? I don’t necessarily mean mushy, but sweet and considerate. When I am sad or down, it means the world to me for my boyfriend to give me a hug or just let me talk about how I feel. His gentleness portrays the love that I know he has for me. I am always thankful for those times in our relationship.

A lot of times girls are guilty of being too hard on their boyfriends when they make a mistake. For example, when your boyfriend does something that he realizes is wrong and then confesses it to you, it is not the right attitude to yell at him or pull him down further than he’s already pulled himself. I don’t mean that you should tell him what he did was okay, but try not to rub it in his face, and do not continuously bring it up in conversation. Tell him that yes, he made a mistake, but now that he sees that he’s messed up, he can repent and be forgiven (Matt. 26:28). Encourage him for realizing his mistake, and don’t be judgmental, but be gentle. Being gentle and considerate with each other will create a stronger and more loving relationship.

Self Control

The ninth and final piece of the gift is self-control. This is a key part of a relationship and for most people can be incredibly hard. This can be thought of in a few different ways. It can include self-control from sexual sin, or from anger. We will take a look at both.

Any Christian who has studied the Bible knows that sex is a pleasure meant only as a gift for married partners (1 Cor. 7:1–2), but sometimes we mess up. We may think, Well we’re gonna get married in a few years anyway, so why wait? This is seriously wrong thinking! Having plans for marriage is drastically different than actually being married. So when you find yourself in a situation where you are extremely tempted to participate in sexual sins, remove yourself from the situation. I know the self-control it takes to walk away from that temptation, but you will never regret it. By abstaining from sexual sin you may very well be saving your relationship, because many times after sex the relationship is never the same and you can’t continue together. I suggest that you talk with your boyfriend and make the mutual decision to abstain from sexual activities until marriage to help protect your relationship. There is always the possibility that someone reading this may have been sexually impure before. What I want you to really understand is that there is still hope; there is always hope. God has promised forgiveness, but it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

Now let’s talk about controlling anger. Sometimes people do things that just cannot be explained. Often when these things involve anger they happen without thinking. I have always been taught to never be too quick to act on strong emotions. In the book of James we are told by the inspired writer to “…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20). The word wrath means anger, so he is telling us to be slow to get angry. That can be incredibly hard, especially when someone does something foolish or hurtful. What God wants you to do in your relationships is practice self-control. If someone tells you something and then you find yourself very angry, tell them that you need to go out for a while. Then come back later, after you have had time to think, and talk about it. This will help everyone from making rash decisions. This will also keep the lines of communication open, and that will make for a much happier and more successful relationship.

It’s a wrap

I sincerely hope that if you have been keeping up with this series you have benefited from it; I know I have. This gift bestowed on us by the Holy Spirit can be such a blessing if we practice it and use it in our dating and marriage relationships––and in all other relationships. God truly wants us to be happy when that is done while following Him, which it definitely can be! Love and partnership is meant to help us live in this sinful world (1 Thess. 3:12–13). If we demonstrate all of the elements of this gift in our relationships then we will thrive and harvest good fruit for God as He desires and commands (Matt. 12:33).

Shelby Garrett

Shelby Garrett