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    He’s Not Your Husband

    Thursday, June 25, 2020

    There are many struggles and temptations that can arise in a season of singleness. Some are more common and easier to talk about, while others can be difficult to share. My unmarried friend, who has chosen to remain anonymous, shares her heart on a temptation that arose in her life seemingly out of nowhere.

    I don’t know who I’m writing this article for . . . but I know this: I needed to hear this advice earlier this year, and I couldn’t find it. There was this man in my life. He was funny, godly, and intelligent. He made me laugh. He complimented my intellect. He told me how much he enjoyed my company. He even leaned on me for emotional support and advice.

    Just one glaring issue: he was another woman’s husband.

    No one looks to crush on a married man, but it can happen. If it does, how do we deal with it as Christian women?

    The advice I found online ranged from harsh articles from married women yelling at homewreckers to Christians calling for public confessions of your feelings to the church. Some recommended women quit their jobs and leave town to avoid any potential snare. Certain articles took the opposing view and encouraged girls who really loved their man to go for it, just know that the road ahead is difficult! As Christians obviously, we know that it’s wrong (Ex. 20:17, Matt.5:28), but how should we handle this sin? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as flipping off a switch. I, by no means, have all of the answers, but these are a few practical steps that have helped me along the way.

    Guard Friendships

    Every crush starts somewhere. Work, church, and various ministries require us to interact with men. This is not a bad thing! I grew up with a brother, and I’ve always felt comfortable with guys. Unfortunately, that presents unique challenges. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having male friendships, but you must guard these friendships from becoming too intimate. I have had different men in my life open up about personal struggles, and it feels good to be trusted with that information. But if they’re married, they should be sharing their fears, insecurities and ambitions with their wives. If you truly want to be a good friend, keep them accountable in this way. Try to direct conversations with “what does your wife think about that?” Tell him that you’ll pray for him (just like you would any friend), but don’t delve into his feelings or other personal details. (Side note: it is absolutely never healthy to serve as a sounding board when a man complains to you about his wife! Never.)

    The reverse is also true. Be careful in sharing personal matters with these men in your life. As fellow Christians, we should be able to bear one another’s burdens. They are our brothers in Christ. However, share some of the more intimate requests with your Bible study group or small group, your girlfriends, and your family. You don’t need to lay out your heartaches and vulnerabilities in a one-on-one conversation with your married friend. I’m not saying that it’s sin, but it may not be wise.

    Call Sin, Sin, and Confess It

    Maybe you’ve already let a friendship get a little too close. You are extremely emotionally invested. Everything he says is hilarious. Every time he smiles at you, you’re melting. Your mind wanders to him constantly. Deep down, you know that you’re in trouble.  Once you begin fantasizing, it’s sin. “But, I don’t fantasize about anything sexual just that his wife will leave him.” If you need me, I’m here to tell you . . .that’s also sin! Own it as sin, so that you can fight it as sin. “I only flirt a little.” “I’d never actually do anything.” Stop giving yourself excuses. Sin can be conquered; excuses grow into license.

    Fight Sin with Scripture

    Luckily for us, now that we know that it’s sin, we know how to fight it. I am not armed with sheer willpower but with the strength and power of the Lord (Eph. 6:10). I can pour out my heart to God and let Him know exactly what I am experiencing. I don’t have to be ashamed, but I can experience his peace which promises to guard my mind (Phil. 4:6-8). This sin doesn’t forever mar and disqualify me from serving God. I can confess the sin and with a pure conscience continue to serve the living God (Heb. 9:13). I am not the only Christian woman to experience this, and God will provide a way of escape for me (I Cor. 10:13). Don’t expect an instant victory, but by dwelling on Scripture God will transform your mind and heart.

    Get Accountability

    Nothing makes this more real than speaking it out loud to someone. Fear of judgment was almost insurmountable for me, but I finally shared with an older wiser Christian woman and one very close Christian friend. Thankfully, I was met with understanding, verses, prayer and accountability. This is so important! This godly woman I greatly admired shared a similar experience from her days as a single woman in her twenties. God was still using her past sin struggle to encourage others. My close friend kept me accountable in some of the more practical ways listed below. Both were extremely helpful for me, but please choose your counsel wisely.

    Take Practical Actions

    Don’t text him.
    This is one simple step to resetting boundaries. Take it.
    - You’re shopping and that sign makes you think of this hilarious joke you were talking about earlier. Don’t send him that picture or GIF.
    - You really should ask him this question now; it’s important. It’s 9 PM at night; it can wait until tomorrow when you see him at work.
    - He just wants to know how I am. Responding to him is harmless. Maybe for him, but right now it’s not harmless for you.

    Don’t talk about him.
    You may not even realize how much he permeates your conversations until you try this exercise.

    Don’t be alone together.
    Maybe you can’t totally avoid contact with him, but one-one-one lunches or coffees, need to stop. Don’t carpool for work or other events. Avoid situations where you are the only two in the room. This may require creativity, but please make it happen.

    Do think of him as a brother-in-Christ.
    Some articles recommend picking apart your crush’s character or focusing on annoying habits that make him less attractive. This presents two problems if he is a Christian man. One, you may actually be very attracted to his character. Two, as Christians, we are not called to tear each other down in this way.

    I would encourage you to pray specifically for your crush and his family. Practice treating him as a brother in Christ from afar while you get your thought life and feelings in check. Eventually, your relationship may normalize. God can transform your mind and emotions!

    Maybe you’re in this situation, but this man has already progressed to more than a crush. Maybe he’s pursuing you with everything he has. Maybe you’ve already sinned not only emotionally with your thought life but physically. There is still hope in Christ. The principles of fighting sin are still true. Christ still offers a clean conscience when we confess our sins to him. He is the only one who can truly change us. Call your sin, sin and confess it. Fight sin with scripture; get accountability; and experience the joy of freedom in Christ.

    Making Decisions

    Monday, June 15, 2020

    I love the freedom I have of making decisions on my own as a single woman. I can hang out last minute. I can commit to leading small groups on Tuesday nights. I can go on that beach trip. 

    But there are some times when I hate making decisions, especially big decisions. On my own. As a single woman.

    There is no safety net of “we” made this decision. The responsibility and the weight of it is on me. “I” made this decision. So if there are any consequences or hard circumstances that come of it, I am held accountable for it. 

    To be fair, I’m sure my married friends have the same love/hate relationships with decisions. They don’t have the freedom of doing whatever they want because they have to consider another person. But then they also get to fall back on the safety of deciding things together. 

    I’m planning to move to a new apartment in July and it’s a really hard decision for me. Is it the wisest financially? Is it in the best location? I feel the weight of being a single woman deciding things on my own when it comes to these big decisions. Maybe you are wrestling with big decisions too - Should I move to a new city? Should I change careers? Can I afford to go back to school? Is it wise to buy a house? 

    The hardest part for me is making decisions that involve putting down roots and investing in a certain direction. The “what ifs” haunt me. What if I buy a house and then someone comes along and I get married within a year and I should’ve just stayed in that apartment? But then what if I never buy that house and I miss out on the delights of having my own place because I am putting my life on hold for a possibility or unknown? 

    The “what ifs” can hold us back. They can immobilize us from taking steps and living by faith. They make you feel stuck in the in-between. One message of singleness I preach to myself and others is to never put your life and dreams on hold for the hopes of a husband or waiting for marriage. But I find myself still being held back sometimes by those wonderings and longings. 

    So don’t put your life on hold. Make those decisions - big and little. And believe that when you trust the Lord with all your heart, you don’t lean on your own understanding, and you acknowledge Him in all your ways, then He promises to direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    (To clarify, I’m not saying to make decisions on your own. The beauty of the Church is that we have a multitude of counselors that we can depend on (Proverbs 11:14). God doesn’t leave you to make decisions on your own. You have brothers and sisters in Christ and you have the Holy Spirit.) 
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