So continuing the discussion on sex, relationships and the Church from a psychological and a Biblical perspective, you’d think there would be polar opposite ideas on how to deal with being single, right? Wrong!
We both agreed that you can’t reach the big 4-uh-ohh without having picked up some baggage items along the way. Some of the baggage may be sooo gorgeous like a sparkly, pink, Louis Vuitton, custom-made case, while other pieces of baggage are more identifiable as over-used, torn, ripped bin liners – not exactly the stuff you’d be proud to be seen leaving the house with!
What am I talking about? The lessons and experiences we pick up along the way which potentially leave us with healthy or unhealthy responses toward our future relationships. Whether we come at it from a Biblical or a psychological point of view, the fact remains that when you are no longer a teen, life experiences have a habit of scoring their marks on your heart – deep, where you may not even be aware of them, and so it lies dormant and out of sight, always influencing, but never going away. Some of these are positive treasures to keep us grounded in truth and hope, but there are others which will require God’s healing and an honest exploration of our hearts.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:22-23)
Not every past (failed?) relationship has to have been a negative experience. But even those really bad ones some of us have needed to escape from, can be used by God to make us stronger in Him, and walk away from our old self toward the hope of the future He holds in His hands. Idealistic? Maybe. But both the Bible and psychology agree that without hope, people can’t see the future, which is a potentially dangerous place for any person to find themselves.
And while the Church should offer a safe place for this type of healing, some Church leaders have never had the experience of a bad relationship, so don’t know how to deal with older singletons in the congregation.
I know!! Don’t shout at me!! Ultimately our healing and restoration is only found in our relationship with Jesus, but I also know, from experience, that even the strongest follower of Jesus needs the support of others while they regain their footing on ground which feels a little uncertain. If it hadn’t been for the people God brought around me as I have been walking away from a damaging situation, I don’t know where I would be.
So 2016 may not have brought the ideal relationship for you, just yet. Don’t sit around just waiting for Price (or Princess) Charming to turn up, use this time to sort through the baggage… both types. And don’t try to do it alone! Also, don’t let the positives be the defining idea of how a relationship should be. If we get fixated on nostalgic memories, we could remain in the past!
And the bin liner of stuff? Stop trying to shove it where it can’t be seen! Bring it out in the open – be real as you sort through it and get rid of the “stuff” which you have allowed to define what you thought you had to endure. This is where the Bible and psychology compliment each other. Counselling side-by-side with prayer ministry may be exactly what you need, to experience the “free indeed” part of John 8:36!
What can you learn from your experiences? Do you find yourself ending up in the same type of relationship? Do you find yourself hoping for one thing (like **sigh** Declan Donnelly, in my case) and ending up with something completely different (like Jekyll & Hyde for example)? What are the root issues at work which are causing you to settle for someone God hadn’t brought in your path? Do you even believe God has a better future for you? What state is your heart in which is allowing you to keep setting yourself up for heartache? Ouch! Tough questions, huh?!
As I actually quite enjoy reading Psychological papers and articles, I’m going to share a quote with you from Randi Gunther Ph.d. who was sometimes writes in Psychology Today:
“Many people repeatedly pick the same kind of partners – even though none of those relationships have worked. Or they haven’t really looked at what they are offering, and whether what they want is even available… Then daunted by too many losses, they settle too quickly for someone who can’t meet their standard over time.”
And the Bible’s perspective?
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
Understand who you are in Christ, and allow His definition of you show you what you have to offer, and the standards by which a significant other will need to meet in order to walk with you. Don’t wait around, use this time to work through, and break-free from the issues which have caused you problems in the past. Know who God is, and you will soon be able to recognise those wolves the enemy sends among God’s flock to “steal, kill and destroy” what God is building in your life.
Don’t let 2017 be just a repetition of your past.
Walk taller into your new God-created future.