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His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

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His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

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Can Guys and Girls Be "Just Friends"?

Nii Abrahams

It’s a picturesque fall afternoon. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her from across the park. He notices what she has and realizes he has to have it. He immediately stops what he’s doing and sheepishly approaches. She sees him coming and begins to lock her eyes with his. As he nervously steps into the sandbox, he musters up the courage and asks: “Can I play with you?”

What happened to the sandbox experience? Do you remember those times when guys and girls had no expectations of each others’ company other than the possible risk of getting cooties (which we all knew you could easily wipe off)?

Somewhere between recess and freshman orientation we’ve turned the innocence of coed relationships into this intensely awkward samba of mixed feelings and sexual frustrations. One of the biggest beliefs that society has (especially since coming to college) is that guys and girls cannot just be friends.

Apparently, guys have this innate desire to pursue every girl they meet, and girls can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with a guy because they said “hi” to them. The only thing is that God didn’t design us to live in this tension. He created men and women uniquely — each with distinctive dispositions, perceptions of the world, and social realities. Girls like to eat spaghetti on Venus, while guys like to eat the occasional waffle on Mars (I think that’s how the phrase goes… or whatever).

We were meant to grow and learn from each other in a harmonious relationship. However, because this concept has been severely warped, it affects how we see ourselves—as objects that have to be admired by the opposite sex rather than fully understanding what we can contribute to a healthy co-ed relationship. So how can we get back to where God intended for us to be?

 

Intentionality

No romantic relationship is just randomly created. Whether you want to believe it or not, somebody either did something, said something, or acted in a way that gave the other person a green light to pursue. I’ve seen too many people on one side confused and the other heart-broken because his words claimed “just friends”, but her text message inbox inferred otherwise.

People, especially but not exclusively guys, have this habit of putting themselves in relationship-like situations with no intention of pursuing. Maybe this rings a bell — have you every invited a guy or girl to “just watch a movie” with you alone? How about going on a “simple walk”? Maybe multiple study sessions when it’s just the two of you, or even texting late into the night every night? Unfortunately, we are all guilty of these actions in some shape or form. The worst part is we act so clueless when the other person acts on those perceived pursuit signals! We don’t want to take ownership of the situations we place ourselves in. And if you find yourself in that situation, don’t think “I’m not ready for commitment” is your get out of jail free card. Take ownership and be real.

When we allow someone who we have no intention of pursuing become an emotional crutch, or dare I say, pseudo boyfriend or girlfriend, we are being deceitful and setting ourselves up for failure. Let’s face it. College students are notorious for using their friends as substitute boyfriend or girlfriend. You might know them as your “favorite cuddle buddy” or maybe even “best friend.”

Understand Unique Perspectives

I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible community of guys and girls while at school. The best part is, I truly value my friends that are girls. In my quest for finding my Topanga (Boy Meets World), I have said and done some really stupid things. It’s not enough that I am a guy, which means I’m genetically disposed to Foot-In-Mouth Disease, but I haven’t had a lot of dating experience.

If it weren’t for the unique perspectives of my female friends, I would not be the guy I am today. Their advice on not just dating but life in general has been invaluable. Their encouragement to me and my encouragement to them isn’t flirting. It’s a genuine respect and mutual love. We both learn and grow from each other.

You see, our human nature only gives us one vantage point. Having the opportunity to see through another’s perspective is incredibly beneficial! Through that benefit we have a better understanding of what our friends of the opposite gender go through. I have had some incredibly deep talks with these girls and didn’t feel that I had to instantly pursue and marry them!

I have a hard time thinking that God created beings that were supposed to coexist in tension. When God made man and woman, he made them perfectly in his image. If we start viewing the pursuit of coed relationships as an act of worship, we will begin to restore the true intention of God’s desire for male and female relationships.

Even Jesus had female friends he had no intention of pursuing. I know we like to imagine Jesus and his disciples rolling around being holy bros while racing camels and whatever else they did back then, but in the Bible we see he deeply cared for Martha and Mary. In one account, he went out of his way to visit them, and another he showed great remorse when he saw them hurting because their brother Lazarus had died.

Like a lot of things, society has warped what God has intended to be pure. Especially in our young adult years, we are told that members of the opposite sex are more like objects rather than individuals. Guy or girl, don’t let anyone tell you that the opposite sex doesn’t deserve to be treated with the utmost respect!

Now in these co-ed friendships, we have to understand there has to be boundaries. As young adults, the level of accountability and the information we share should be a lot different than our same-sex friendships. Even more so, those relationships have to change when our friends or ourselves get into romantic relationships. I could say so much more about this, but that topic alone could be its own blog!

Knowing Your Worth

The only way we can truly allow ourselves to just be friends with the opposite sex is if we are confident in who we are. I’m not talking about confidence that comes from wearing your favorite outfit (I know we all that that one sweater that makes us feel like we’re invincible), but I’m talking about the confidence that comes from knowing that our identity isn’t dependent on other people.

When we rely on others to fulfill our self-worth, guy or girl, we use whomever we can find to attempt to fill that void. This always results in using our friends in a negative way. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend may be nice, but it won’t complete you! When we stop looking at every person of the opposite sex as a potential Mr. or Mrs­­­. _______________ , we are giving ourselves the freedom to explore, create, and utilize the benefits of a healthy co-ed friendship without having the pressure of trying to impress that person.

Isn’t that what friendship is? The ability to jam out to One Direction in your car without fear of persecution, or attempting to talk in a Jamaican accent all day long — just to be your goofy self? If who you are is enough for God, then it’s sure good enough for others.

You should be loved in your friendships.

You should be valued in your friendships.

You should be considered beautiful in your friendships.

Nii

2013-08-20 18.17.16Nii Abrahams is a Senior communication major/sociology minor at Missouri State University. He is a student leader and extremely involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. He has a passion for college students and quickly fell in love with the Insecurely Movement because of its incredible impact on future families. To connect with Nii, follow him on Twitter.

 

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A His Side Response: Ladies, it's our job too.

DSC_9784Last week, we featured a His Side blog by Joe Bulger called His Side: For the Guys. Tonight, we feature a response by our very own Emily Taylor, social media staff member.

Today our society has placed a lot of fault upon the men of our culture. We try to place all the blame upon the men when we, as women, are taking little responsibility for a problem that is not one-sided.

We must value the men around us enough to do whatever it takes to direct them in a path towards Christ. Here is where the issue lies: we focus more on turning his gaze towards ourselves than turning his gaze towards Christ. We are called to build each other up in faith, not tear each other down! "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..." (1 Thess 5:11). True men are not looking for a stumbling block, but rather a solid rock in whom they can rely upon!

How we treat men is how they are going to treat us back. Our actions speak volumes into a guy's ear telling him exactly how we want to be treated. Flirting with every guy, or even just one guy, who you know is not the one for you is simply selfish. Some will say, "I just have a flirty personality." I'm just going to be real here and say that notion is absolutely and totally ridiculous.

Ladies, we know when we are flirting with a guy and each little thing we do makes up a perception of who we are to him in his mind. This goes along with the way we dress. Men are much more visual than women. Do our clothing choices reflect the purity of our hearts? Are the skirts and tops we are wearing reflecting a pure spirit? Would you wear that outfit on a father/daughter date or to hang out with your brother? Are you dressing to draw attention to your body or your heart's beauty? Are we showing these men that we are solid, confident, women of God or are we telling them that we are broken, incompetent, and easy? …(and if brokenness is the place we are in, then know that no man will be able to mend our hearts aside from Christ alone.)

Where are the women of God? If we want an Ephesians 5, we better be growing into a Proverbs 31. Don't settle for less. Men, don't settle for less than a Proverbs 31, because they are out there waiting for you. Is your woman growing you closer to God or making you fall farther? Is she a stumbling block or a solid rock to lean on? Does she respect you, encourage you, and lead you on a path pursing righteousness, or is she tearing you down?

To fix this problem we must recognize our worth in Christ so that we are able to recognize the worth others have in Christ. When we do this, we are able to treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Ladies, we desire to be with a man who portrays a Godly lifestyle, yet we ourselves have not met the mark of who Christ designed us to be. We settle and in turn so do the men. We sit and demand more from men, yet often we are the ones who give in first. It's a cycle of complacency that will never end unless someone chooses to rise above. Will it be you?

Ladies, let's stop blaming the men for treating us disrespectfully and let us demand dignity by our actions. We cannot be used if our actions refuse to allow anything but the best. Let's be the change. Ladies, it's our job too.

To connect with Emily, follow her on Twitter.

 

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Inspiration of the Week: Paige White

paigePaige is featured as Insecurely Movement's "Inspiration of the Week." She is a sophomore bio/pre-med major at Cedarville University and plans on taking medicine overseas to use for medical missions. She absolutely loves Insecurely Movement because of the awareness that it’s giving young women of their God-given beauty and seeing the confidence and hope it's restoring in their lives so they can take on the world while staying secure in His love.  Ladies, the assault on our hearts as women is growing intensely harsh in today’s society. Whether its music, movies, magazine photos, high school hallways, teammates, classmates, or Heaven forbid our own friends, we are constantly rained upon with attacks from the enemy. It takes very little for us to believe that we are inadequate, worthless, and in no possession of a beautiful and captivating personality. We are told that everything we should be has to be made up with make-up and false character. We are emptied by lies until we have barely the strength to make ourselves into what we are told is “worth pursuing”, and even then we are still left feeling incomplete and…dead.

Anything that tells you that you are worthless is a lie. Anything that tells you that you lack beauty is a lie. Anything that tells you that you are powerless is a lie.

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:   Forget your people and your father’s house.  Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.” Psalm 45:10-11

Think about that for a second…The King of all Kings is absolutely captivated by your beauty. He designed you and crafted you with an intentionality and purpose unlike anything else in creation.  You have a unique beauty all to yourself that God desires for you to share with the world. Don’t get rid of that! Your beauty is utterly powerful. We women are warriors in an ongoing spiritual battle and our greatest weapon is our beauty. Our beauty reflects God’s beauty; it is something that brings rest, diminishes doubt, and gives life. The enemy knows that; he is keenly aware of our insecurities and that is why he will stop at nothing to ensure that we believe the lie that we have no beauty to offer. Our beauty must be cultivated and cared for. It takes time, fellowship, prayer, vulnerability, and lots of our attention and effort. The only weapon the enemy has against us is the one we lay in his hands. Let’s try our hardest not to let him get to our hearts. Guard your hearts ladies; everything you do, everything about your life flows from your heart.

To my brothers, hey there! This might sound harsh, but can you do all of us girls a favor and not mess with our hearts. If you’ve received the green light from Dad saying that you can pursue us because you have a purpose and intention in doing so, then go get her. But if you haven’t received the green, back off with the flirting. There is a way to be a loving, caring, strong and protective brother of Christ without sending the wrong message. Nothing is more refreshing to me than for one of my brothers to encourage me in my faith, congratulate me in my success, or challenge me in my struggles. Just please remember that our hearts are precious and tender, and I’m asking that you treat them as such. I love all you guys. Keep fighting your insecurities as well. We appreciate you and your strength and leadership. Don’t let the enemy lie to you either, and let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you guys.

For my ladies, remember this: "There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs.” -Stasi Eldredge, Captivating

Now go show the world what you’ve got, beautiful.

 

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Alyssa Moore: The Crooked Life

alyssaWhen given the challenge to write about my insecurity, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write about. For sure, I’ve had times where I didn’t have the healthiest self-esteem, but I got over that in junior high amazingly enough. I had this incredible youth leader who told me how beautiful I was every week. She told me how I was a warrior princess bride of the creator of the universe, so I felt pretty much invincible despite my braces, chubby cheeks and awkwardly curly hair (it randomly decided to turn from straight to curly…So, that was cool). I went through that time of my life feeling great, and confident of who I was in Christ. Shout out to Nicole for investing in me for those three and a half years. You rock.

When I was thirteen I was diagnosed with scoliosis. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a condition where you have a curvature in your spine. We found out that I had a double curve. It looks like a backwards ‘S.’ Super cute stuff. Well, I wore a brace for the next three years of my life, and that was horrible. Strapping plastic around my back and into my sides was a pain (metaphorically and physically).

My family and I gave the whole situation over to God. He can make a crooked path straight. Why couldn’t He straighten my spine, right? Well, after following what the Bible commands and going before the elders of my church and being anointed with oil, I still wasn’t healed. It was extremely confusing to me that I hadn’t received my healing. What else did God want from me? I had all the faith in the world, I trusted Him, and still I was left with daily pain that I’ve learned to ignore and deal with.

You really can’t tell that I have scoliosis unless you’re looking for it. I’ve gotten so used to it that I only realize it when somebody points it out, and when I lay down at night and my back muscles scream a cry of relief.

Any way, I picked out a super adorable royal blue dress for Christmas last year, and I begged my mom to let me have it early so that I could wear it to church. I wanted to impress this super attractive guy who had recently started coming to my church (who is now my boyfriend! Holla!). I tried it on the night before and went to show my brother just to make sure he approved and thought it was modest. He told me I looked great, and I was feeling awesome until his fiancé told me that you could really see my scoliosis in it. Now, I’m not much of a crier at all. Unless there’s a move of God or something in my eye. Guys, I totally lost it. I stinking cried right in front of the mirror staring at how my hips are off-center and my shoulders aren’t straight. I feel like I could cry right now just thinking about it. Although, I thought I had fully given it to God, I was still holding on to a very big piece. My brother said to me, “Wipe that insecurity off your face. You are beautiful.” I love my brother so much. He speaks an incredible amount of life into me, is always there to protect me, and remind me of my main focus, Jesus.

Honestly, I don’t really care that I have two curves in my spine. My insecurity blossomed in my relationship with Jesus. Scoliosis started to drive a wedge in between God and myself. That’s a frightening place to be. Getting over that is a daily decision. I know God will heal me, and I claim His blood and healing over myself daily. Anytime my mind starts to doubt or wonder about what’s wrong with me, I lift it up before Jesus. I find my security in Him. I find my healing in Him. He is the one who is teaching me perseverance. I feel like I’ve learned it by now, but apparently God has more for me to learn. I’m thankful for this lesson, and I’m excited about everything else God is going to teach me through this.

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His Side: You're Not Alone

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You're not alone.

Adam Wood

When the idea of Insecurely was first discussed with me, I was excited. I was very excited. Insecurity is such a big issue among girls in today's society. You are told exactly how you must look, exactly how you must act around guys, and exactly how perfect you must be. It's an incredibly harsh standard, and it's entirely fabricated and untrue. But after more thought, I realized something else: I was limiting the insecurities of women to purely physical ones--those based simply on aesthetic standards and how you must appear to guys. I was limiting it to those insecurities of relationships and how many women feel like they need a boyfriend to feel loved and to feel accepted.

But some girls don't battle with insecurities in those areas. Insecurity comes in many forms.

As a (very protective, I might add) big brother of two beautiful sisters who have never wasted their time jumping from boy to boy, I know that there are plenty of girls who don't struggle with those "cookie cutter standard" insecurities but have their other areas of struggle. And guys have those problems as well.

"I'm not funny enough." "I don't get taken seriously." "Everyone treats me like a little kid when I want to be seen as mature." "My best friends can talk to girls so easily and I have such a struggle to be myself. I'm just too awkward."

These are all insecurities that guys struggle with, and I have dealt with (and still do to some extent) all of these at some point in my life. And I know that there are girls out there who have insecurities that may not seem quite as common as others.

You're not alone.

Here's one thing that I've always had a hard time with: we men aren't able to show insecurity. I mean, after all, we're men! We're protectors! The priests of our homes! The powerful leaders of our families! To show insecurity as a male is a great sign of weakness, and weakness is the LAST aspect of personality we're allowed to come clean about. So what do we do? We overshoot, we correct ourselves to a fault. We appear to be perfectly capable on the outside when we're perfectly broken on the inside. Our insecurities lead us down a shady path that ends in the same dead-end yours often does--one that tells us we need an outside fix, whether that may be a love interest, a new sense of style, a little bit more of this, a little bit less of that, and the list goes on. These outside fixes never solve the problem.

New clothes won't change you.

Being a little bit smarter will still leave you feeling just as confused, empty, and insecure as you were before.

A better boyfriend won't make you happier.

I'm going to take a little bit of a side note here because I feel it needs to be said. Ladies, if you're in a relationship that isn't        honoring the LORD, get out. Run away from that harmful relationship! If he isn't respecting you, he's not being a man at all. And men, if you're reading this, take heart! There are plenty of girls out there who are simply waiting for you as well. It seems to me like "the good guys" always get pegged as the waiters, the Godly, the fighters, yes, the "FRIENDZONED." They're the pure warriors who feel that no ladies out there are upholding those standards anymore, and they're waiting on the ladies to come running to them. I know that isn't the truth at all. Many women have stood the test of purity and have guarded their hearts waiting for God to orchestrate their path until the time is right. Find them, pursue them, honor them, and love them as God has called you to do. Side note over now. Moving on!

Anyway, as I was saying, outside fixes never change anything. Just as a weed must be pulled from the root, we must get down to the bottom of the problem. And there's only one solution.

That Solution loved you so much that He gave what was most dear - His life. The love of Jesus was so compelling that He bore the sin of humanity just so He could be with you forever.

That's enough for me. That's enough, right there, to take into battle against every one of my insecurities.

Will I still struggle with insecurities? Of course. And you might as well. But as brothers in Christ, know that there will always be men standing with you, and we're going to help you battle through every single problem you encounter.

You're not alone.

Adam WoodAdam Wood is a sophomore at Evangel University. His passion for Insecurely began at its start – knowing that Insecurely had the capability to change lives. Adam joins us as a His Side blogger and a videographer. To know more about Adam, read his personal blog or follow him on Twitter.

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Sarah Buford: I love you for your heart

SARAH“I love you for your heart, not your face.”  That’s what Jesus said to me on a long painful drive home from youth group a couple of months ago.  We all feel ugly at one point in our life.  In my case, I had horrible acne, and a freshman 15 I couldn’t seem to get rid of.  I remember crying out to God, “Lord I just want to feel beautiful and loved!!!  I’m sick and tired of being lonely, and doing new things.” After about 10 minutes of complaining, He simply quieted me and said, “I love you for your heart, and not your face.”  I immediately started laughing.  I had always known He loved me, but it was un-attainable to me that He loved me despite my ugly cry, mascara running down my face, without anything to offer, broken and miserable. He still loved me.  I had nothing to offer Him and He loved me.  There was nothing I could do to deserve that love, and yet He felt that way about me.  Little old me.

Even from the young age of 15 I remember my Mom coming in and telling me how pretty I was.  At one point, after asking me to put on some more mascara or foundation, I remember her asking, “You don’t think you are beautiful do you?”

I didn’t.

In High School a boy told me the reason he wouldn’t date me was specifically because I was not pretty.  I spent the remaining part of that time trying to prove I was. It wasn’t until this year that I can serve others and think un-selfishly about myself.  Because I thrive on verbal affirmation, compliments mean the most to me.  God knows that.

In fact when I am ugliest, late at night, or early in the morning, those are the moments I feel the most beautiful.  Why in the world would I say that?  This is simply because it is during those times I am most consecrated to Christ.

Leslie Ludy, states it this way:

“A young woman who is deeply, passionately, intimately in love Jesus Christ glows with a radiance that overpowers even the most noticeable of flaws. I’ve seen many a godly woman light up an entire room with her presence. To study her closely, you would not think of her as beautiful; in fact she might even have major physical blemishes that would normally be distracting. But when a woman’s passion for Jesus Christ is so deep that it is the focal point of her existence, it effervesces from every corner of her being – and she glows with heavenly beauty. No matter what her physical flaws might be, they go unnoticed when Jesus Christ is center stage in her life.

Insecurity is simply an unhealthy focus on yourself, rather than a healthy focus on Jesus Christ. It’s something the enemy can easily use to keep us turned inward rather than outward. Just like the temptation toward any sin, we must nip thoughts of insecurity in the bud the moment they begin to arise.

As soon as the enemy comes in with whispers of, “Everyone is noticing your physical shortcomings. There is nothing attractive about you – no one wants to be around you,” your response must be immediate. Instead of entertaining those thoughts and meditating upon them, fight back with truth, scripture, and prayer!

If you begin to ignore thoughts of insecurity and deliberately choose to smile, reach out to others, and focus on being an example of Christ, you will soon realize that insecurity has no soil in which to grow. It may take some time before this principle becomes a habit in your life, but if you lean on the grace and strength of God, He will give you all that you need to triumph in this area.”

"I love you for your heart, not your face."

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Kaytee Mitchell: My Greatest Insecurity

KAYTEE My greatest insecurity is my greatest fear: love.

I know that this sounds totally bizarre and cliché, but this is the greatest fear I have ever had. Fear of love, to find love, to lose love, to pass love by, anything to do with it, it scares me. My entire life, love has been like weather. It has had its bright days, rainy days, storms, and tornadoes, but no matter what it is, I tend to run from it. Run from the thought of having something so good and having it fall right from my hands. Run from the thought that I will never be good enough for the love I desire. Run from the love from those who cares about me so I don’t hurt them. I run, and run, and run, and yet, God just keeps running with me.

It all started when I was little. My mom and dad divorced, and my mom married my step-dad. This was the beginning to my fear. My mother used to come into our rooms bawling some nights saying we were leaving and she was divorcing my new dad, and I didn’t mind because I wasn’t really sure what love really was. Yet, it slowly built this fear in me that I, myself, would never find true love. Over time, my family just seemed to be SO chaotic. My step-dad hated my brother, my mom used to hate my step-sister, and I was just there in the middle of it all. Eventually, I depended FULLY upon my friends and boyfriends to fill the love that I constantly needed when I was little. Nine years went by: nine hard years. I was trying everything to please my friends so that they wouldn’t leave, going boyfriend through boyfriend trying to find the “perfect” love. I could never find satisfaction.

When I finally figured out that my real dad had been lying to me and avoiding me all these years when he repetitively said, “I love you so much, and I wish I could see you,” my world stopped. There I went… running again. It was a constant marathon. It still is. I liked the same guy for a “long” time, only to find out that after waiting years for him, maybe he isn’t the one for me. We both changed, something I greatly feared was going to happen. I have found amazing friends, and yet I have breakdowns of fear about losing them. I try to not hold on too tight, but I’m constantly petrified of losing people who mean so much to me. So what caused all this? Why does fear cover the good I’m reaching for? Well, because my dad ran from what is good, and now I am afraid to be like him: losing everything that is good because I was so afraid. I’m afraid to be afraid! What in the world? I told you, my greatest insecurity is my greatest fear.

However, each day God walks with me step by step, trying to teach me to love, to show that it’s okay, but in the back of my head love seems impossible. Yet, there are people who show me love and it breaks my walls of fear. For example, Miss Hannah Beers once said, “Kaytee, when you became my friend, you stepped into our circle of friends, and I’m not letting you step out and run away. I’m not letting you go.” That night changed my life because finally, I wasn’t allowed to run away, and so I didn’t. She is now my best friend, who I love incredibly. <3

But, how do I stop running from the fear of love? Well I run to the only love that will protect me, God’s. It’s just not easy. I still have breakdowns, I still push “amazing” things in my life away, I still look down on myself, I still think that guys are too good for me, I still cry when someone shows me true love: even when it’s just a meaningful hug or the words “I love you.” It’s my greatest insecurity, but it’s also my greatest strength. It has taught me to run to God when I feel insufficient: which is a lot! There are SO many times I look in the mirror and think, “Who could ever love this?” There are tons of times that I think I laugh way too much and need to calm down. I can’t count the number of times I have depended upon someone else’s satisfaction of me for the satisfaction I have of myself. It’s because when you are constantly running from a love that is all around you, fear seems to run your life: every thought, emotion, action... it’s insane.  YET! That’s why I give love so much: because I want people to know that they are loved always. The phrase I didn’t hear enough is the phrase I say repetitively. I want to let people know that they are loved and beautiful, I just one day need to believe it for myself.

To read more of Kaytee's writing, go to her blog. 

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