If you're like me, you're curious about what I'm going to say on this topic. :P Yeah, I don't quite know yet either.
I would most definitely not have gone near this subject with a ten foot bargepole (at this stage in my life, anyway) if one of my readers hadn't emailed me this:
I'm not sure if you know anything about this topic or not, but I was wondering if you could do a post on relationships.
Like, what to do if you like a boy, and then you don't, and the boy stops talking to you, and you're hurt inside, or whatever. (I'm not having these issues, but it would be helpful if I could read something about this to help someone else. Do you know any good articles that talk about this?) And how to control your feelings and turn things over to God. And how young is too young to date, etc.
Wow. Um... thanks... now, how do I tackle this???!!
I start off by saying that I do not have all the answers.
I am a young single female who is not married and has never been in a serious relationship. So I am not exactly qualified to discuss this subject. Others more qualified than I have tackled this subject.
I highly recommend, for example, reading "Growing Up Duggar" which is all about relationships: with your family, your friends, the world, and boys. It is written by the four oldest Duggar girls Jana, Jessa, Jill and Jinger, and has a lot of practical advice.
But we go back to the question. I was asked to do a post on relationships. (This is it, by the way, just in case you were confused.)
I was more specifically asked "what to do if you like a boy, and then you don't, and the boy stops talking to you, and you're hurt inside, or whatever." Firstly, I don't know that "whatever" describes this very well. This is clearly a very specific occasion and has obviously happened to someone! :)
Feelings are unavoidable. We can't help noticing others. As we grow up, hormones and all sorts of lovely things like that start whizzing around in our bodies and we begin to notice that people of the other gender exist. I don't think that the problem is us 'liking' others. Because that sometimes just happens, and I don't neccessarily think that can be helped, in every situation. I think that the problem is more what to do with your 'liking'.
Do you think about that person a lot? Do you find yourself flirting with them when the two of you meet in public? Do you allow yourself the freedom to imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship with that person?
Those are all very dangerous things to do, in my opinion. And the reason is this. If you find yourself getting more and more emotionally attached to them (which will happen if you think about them) then you're getting stuck in a tricky situation.
Feelings can be unavoidable. It's what you do with the feelings that is up to you.
Unless you are ready for marriage and are praying for God to bring along the right life partner for you, my advice is to try not to think about the opposite gender. I know, I know, God works in mysterious ways and He may well decide to bring someone along when you aren't looking/ready for them. But I think it's a good general rule of thumb.
I am not going to go into the whole courtship vs. dating debate here. I'd just like to say that I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way to do it. I think it's more about the heart attitude behind what you do than which system you use and what you call it. Because I've seen couples dating who are pretty much courting, only, they call it dating, and I'm sure it works the other way too. No system is perfect. I think you need to do what you feel God wants you to do (and of course pray about it lots and talk to wise older people like your parents!).
I think you also need to analyse your reasons for wanting to get into a relationship. I think it's pointless to play around with peoples hearts for no reason! My advice is that if you are doing it because you like the idea of it, or because you crave approval from someone of the opposite gender, or because all your friends are doing it and you feel left out, or because you're getting older and you feel lonely.... those are all the wrong reasons, in my humble opinion. I think that relationships are serious things and should be treated as such. You do realise, don't you, that the decision you make about who you marry will affect the entire rest of your life??!!? No pressure! :)
So I've talked about my perspective on 'liking' people of the opposite gender. My advice is whenever you think about the subject, submit it to the Lord. A lot of people take their burdens to God in prayer, then take them away with them again! We need to 'cast' our cares on the Lord. And leave them there for Him to deal with. He is perfectly able to deal with our little situations! Whenever you think about that person that you 'like', take them to the Lord. Tell the Lord you don't know what to do about your feelings. Ask the Lord to take away that feeling of longing in your heart and replace it with His peace. And He will.
My advice to the person who found herself 'liking' a guy, then not 'liking' him, then feeling hurt because he stopped talking to her is this. People are fickle. You are fickle (You stop 'liking' him then feel hurt because he stopped talking to you? I mean.... lol!). I don't think that this is massively to be concerned about, to be honest. I know what I'm talking about when I say that in life you will find disappointments. People change. You change. Only God remains the same.
My advice is to chase God, not boys. Because if you find God, everything else falls into place. But if you chase boys, your life will still be empty, no matter how loved you thought you would feel. Nothing is fulfilling except a life devoted to God alone.
I'm really sorry that you feel hurt about the boy not talking to you. But my advice is still the same. Focus on God. Focus on loving your family, and your friends, and shining Jesus into the world. Practice being a wonderful sister, a wonderful daughter and a blessing to those around you, so that someday, Lord willing, you will be a wonderful wife.
I think something that has been very important in my life is the relinquishing of singleness. (I wasn't going to mention this, because it's a personal thing, and I want to keep this post as general as possible, but I felt like it was important to mention, so here goes...) *plucks up courage*
I used to worry that I would never get married. That no guy would ever be interested in little, silly me. And I don't know if I will ever get married. Which makes me feel scared and sad because I don't want to be a spinster all my life!! (Much as spinsters are lovely people!) I want to have children and a husband.... and I've had to face the fact that I may never. I think that no matter how sure you are that you will get married, you should still give the Lord your life and your singleness. Every time I worry about it, I take it to the Lord, like I said above. And He brings me His peace to replace the ache in my heart. :) Because God is in charge of my life. And if His perfect plan is that I remain single to glorify Him and serve Him singly, then I will do that cheerfully because He knows what I need better than myself. It's a great comfort to have Him in charge. Saves me worrying about life!
Real quickly, because I know this post is getting long! The last part of the question: "And how to control your feelings and turn things over to God. And how young is too young to date, etc."
I think I've talked about how to control your feelings and turn things over to God. Basically, just pray. Tell the Lord that you can't control your feelings and you don't know what to do. Give your life, your dreams, your hopes to God... and step back, peaceful and happy in the knowledge that He will do what He knows is best. And so you can trust Him.
How young is too young to date. I think that twenty is too young to date. "What?" you say? :)
Twenty is too young to date if you are doing it for the wrong reasons, like I briefly touched on earlier in this post. Twenty is too young to date if you are not ready for it. I think that each person on this planet is different from every other. So there is no set age that is too young. Obviously, let's not go overboard, because I know sixteen year olds that are very mature and if the Lord was in it, maybe it would be His will for them to date and marry young. But I think that it's different for everyone and for that reason, we can't really set boundaries.
I will say that in my opinion, anything under about sixteenish is quite young and if you were dating that young, maybe you should evaluate your reasons and spend some time seriously seeking the Lord.
I'd like to close with a bit of a recap. :)
I am no expert on this subject.
The best thing to do is pray a lot. This is a difficult and confusing time of life, so it is wise to be as close to God as possible!
Feelings are unavoidable. It's what we do with them that we can change.
Try not to think about anyone of the opposite gender.
Take every feeling and every conflicting or confusing thought to the Lord. And leave all your burdens with Him. He can deal with them.
Be very, very careful about getting emotionally attached to people at the wrong time.
Courtship vs. Dating: no right answer. Talk to your parents, and pray about it.
Chase God, not boys/girls.
The decision you make about who you marry will affect the rest of your life.
Take the issue of you remaining single to the Lord, if it's something you're worried about. Keep doing that. The Lord will give you His peace.
We can't set one specific age as being 'too young to date' because everyone's different. Be very careful, whenever you do it, and carefully monitor your reasons for doing it.
Thanks for reading my humble opinion on this very complicated subject!!